We Do Recover: Part 2

Part 1

Part 2:

Hope On the Horizon

Alcoholics Anonymous history is relevant to the history of Narcotics Anonymous but we will not re-hash it at length here.  Without AA, there would be no NA.

The Grapevine

The Big Book

In 1939 AA published its Big Book and years later Bill W. (co-founder Bill Wilson) published a series of articles in a periodical called The Grapevine (which still exists today).  These writings brought about the Twelve Traditions:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

The formation of AA and the development of the steps and traditions were necessary for the miracle of the formation of NA.

“In a 1954 article in The Saturday Evening Post there is mention of a recovering alcoholic named Houston S who received a job transfer to Kentucky in 1947.  Houston had sobered up in Montgomery, Alabama, AA in 1944.  One of the drunks he tried to help, a man called Harry,was using morphine as well as alcohol.  Although Harry had stopped drinking, he was unable to stop using morphine.  He was eventually arrested and committed to Lexington for mandatory treatment.

When Houston was transferred to a town near Lexington, he was reminded of his friend Harry and his drug problem, and felt that the principles which worked so well for alcoholics in AA could help the addicts.  Houston met with the medical director, Dr. Victor Vogel, and suggested that the AA model may work for addicts as well, offering to help start a group.  On February 16, 1947, the Narco Group, a group of inmates and patients, met for the first time at the Federal Narcotics Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.  One of the addicts who attended these first meetings was an addict named Danny Carlsen” (p. 18).

Obituary for Daniel L. Carlsen

At the same time in 1946 in New York, Dorothy Berry, a brigadier in The  Salvation Army, started working with addicts.  Danny Carlsen, who had been attending meetings of the Narco Group in Lexington was discharged and returned to New York.

In 1948 Danny Carlsen, Dorothy Berry, and Rae Lopez started a group in the NYC Prison System called Narcotics Anonymous.  Danny Carlsen eventually wrote a book called The Addict.

The first meeting outside of a prison took place in 1950 at a YMCA in New York City.  The group developed 13 Steps of their own and never adopted the Traditions:

1. Admit the use of narcotics made my life seem more tolerable but the drug had become an undesirable power over my life.

2. Came to realize that to face life without drugs I must develop an inner strength.

3. Made a decision to face the suffering of withdrawal.

4. Learn to accept my fears without drugs.

5. Find someone who had progressed thus far and who is able to assist me.

6. Admit to the nature and depth of my addiction.

7. Realized the seriousness of my shortcomings as I know them and accept the responsibility of facing them.

8. Admit before a group of NA members these same shortcomings and explain why I am trying to overcome them.

9. List for my own understanding all the persons I have hurt.

10. Take a daily inventory of my actions and admit to myself those that are contrary to good conscience.

11. Realize that to maintain freedom from drugs, I must share with others the experience in which I have benefited.

12. Determine a purpose in life and try with all the spiritual and physical power within me to move toward its fulfillment.

13. God help me.

The book The Junkie Priest was based on Father Daniel Egan, a NYC priest, who served as chaplain for these NA meetings

The group’s structure was similar to that of the Salvation Army.  There was a captain, director, and a chaplain (p. 19).  Besides detoxifying addicts they also worked to find addicts jbs and housing.  This version of NA survived until 1960 in locales where it could be sponsored by the Salvation Army.

The Early Years

Most people in the 1950s were enjoying the postwar boom years, listening to Elvis, watching the tv (a new invention), and living the American Dream.

The “Beat Generation” was a growing group of underground radicals who were anti-authoritarian and were characterized by their use of marijuana and methamphetamines.  They set the stage for the revolution of the youth in the 60s.

“Writers like Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg, reacting against the growing surge of consumer capitalism in the U.S., would set the tone for a later generation’s call to “turn on, tune in, and drop out” (p.21).

In 1951 the Boggs Act and in 1956 the Narcotics Control Act imposed harsher penalties on addicts.

A mass migration of African-Americans from the Southern U.S. and Hispanics from Puerto Rico, the Carribbean Islands, and Central and S. America to northern and western cities occured after WW2. As European immigrants were moving out of the cities, Hispanics and African-Americans were moving in.  They moved into areas with preexisting problems with narcotics addiction and trafficking.  I emphasize preexisting so that no one will misunderstand the true nature of how African-Americans and Hispanics began to get such a bad rap and how wrong it is to assume that they are the problem.  They began replacing the European addict statistically (p. 21).  “Thus, the continuing stigmatization of addicts and their drugs of abuse now even further reflected class and ethnic biases within the community” (p. 21).

Fear of marijuana began in the 30s with movies like Reefer Madness.  People were told that

1936 film Reefer Madness, originally called Tell Your Children

marijuana use would certainly lead to heroin use.  Few measures were taken to treat the increasing use of heroin in post-WW2 America.  For example, Riverside Hospital for adolescent addicts was opened in New York.  It quickly closed after a study showing that less than 3% were abstinent.  This 3% were never even addicted in the first place.  They had been arrested on narcotics charges and chose hospitalization (p. 23).

AA was flourishing on the sidelines and alcoholics were finding sobriety and new lives and recovery in the rooms.  “It was through the hope that was at last being found by the suffering alcoholic that similar hope for addicts would begin to appear” (p. 23).

We Do Recover: Part 1

The following is inspired by the book Miracles Happen: The Birth of Narcotics Anonymous in Words and Pictures released by Narcotics Anonymous World Services.  Some of the content has been researched and added by the author.

Jimmy K

Incorporated in Chatsworth, California.  The photos in the book will be hard to reproduce but I will try my best to convey the overall feel of the literature as best I can.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Jimmy K.  “His tireless efforts in the early years of our formulation and growth laid the foundation for our movement (p. 7).”

Old pill bottles


There seems to be this alternative: either go on as best we can to the bitter ends – jails, institutions or death – or find a new way to live.  In years gone by, very few addicts ever had this last choice.Little White Book

In 2007, there were over 25,065 groups holding over 43,900 weekly meetings in 127 countries.  The improbability of such a movement makes the existence of this God-given program an absolute miracle in the lives of suffering addicts.  There was a time in history when there were none to very few options for addicts who wanted to get clean.  Addiction itself, was a crime.  There was a time when it was illegal for addicts to meet together.  The “truth” about an addict was this: “Once an addict always an addict”.

Drug Use Before and In the Twentieth Century

Drug use has been around probably as long as humans have been around.  It has been used for medicinal purposes, for religious rites and practices, and for recreational purposes.

Wine was used at least from the time of the early Egyptians; narcotics from 4000 B.C.; and medicinal use of marijuana has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China. But not until the 19th cent. A.D. were the active substances in drugs extracted (FactMonster.com).

Ancient paraphernalia (Drug Kit)

Andean mummy hair has provided the first direct archaeological evidence of the consumption of hallucinogens in pre-Hispanic Andean populations, according to recent gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis.  Indirect evidence for psychoactive drug use in South America’s ancient populations abound, ranging from the discovery of drug equipment to the identification of hallucinogenic herb residuals in snuffing kits.

In Europe, Swiss Alchemist Paracelsus invented laudanum (opium dissolved into liquid form) in 1541.  It became a widespread curative potion.


The use of opium became epidemic in 19th century Europe and in America.  It was commonly used in children’s medicine with cute labels such as “Godfrey’s Cordial”, “Munn’s Elixir”, and get this….”Mother Bailey’s Quieting Syrup” (p. 10).

In 1803, a German pharmacist by the name of F. W. Serturner successfully isolated the active ingredient in opium: Morphine.  Morpheus is the Greek God of sleep and dreams.  This is Morphine’s namesake.  The hypodermic was not invented for about another 40 years (p. 10).  The drug was effective and thought to be harmless.  It’s peak use was during the Civil War in which it is estimated that 400,000 morphine addicts were created in the army alone.

Old ad for morphine: apparently accepted for use as a teething aid

We now had patent medicines such as “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup”, “Darby’s Carminative”, and “Ayer’s Cheery Pectorial” (p. 10).  They were particularly popular with older white women from middle and upper classes.  In 1900 there were an estimated 300,000 opiate-dependent people in the U.S.  At this point the affliction was looked upon with sympathy.  When immigrant’s began to have the same addiction issues these views rapidly changed.  Urban tenements and slums developed, poverty increased and so the poor more often turned to alcohol and narcotics.  Lower-class addicts brought the views on addiction to a new light and addiction was driven into criminality, dereliction, and hopeless despair (p. 10-11).

Criminalization of Addiction

Perhaps the earliest recorded example is the prohibition of the use of alcohol under Islamic law (Sharia), which is usually attributed to passages in the Qur’an dating from the 7th century.

Religious intolerance was a motivation for drug prohibition in Christian Europe. In a move interpreted as support for the efforts of the Spanish Inquisition against the Arabs, in a 1484 fiat Pope Innocent VIII banned the use of cannabis. The persecution of heretics in the form of witch hunts also gathered momentum around this time, and frequently targeted users of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. The Inquisition proceeded apace in Meso-America and South America, where peyote (péyotl), ololiúqui, toloáche, teonanácatl and other sacred plants of the Mexican culture were prohibited as works of the devil.

The first law outright prohibiting the use of a specific drug in the United States was a San Francisco ordinance which banned the smoking of opium in opium dens in 1875.  Even though the law prohibited the trafficking of opium, laudanum and other tinctures were allowed to persist in medicinal form.  The distinction between its use by white Americans and Chinese immigrants was thus based on the form in which it was ingested: Chinese immigrants tended to smoke it, while it was often included in various kinds of generally liquid medicines often (but not exclusively) used by people of European descent. The laws targeted opium smoking, but not other methods of ingestion.  This was followed by the Harrison Act, passed in 1914, which required sellers of opiates and cocaine to get a license. While originally intended to require paper trails of drug transactions between doctors, drug stores, and patients, it soon became a prohibitive law.  In 1919, the Supreme Court ruled in Doremus that the Harrison Act was constitutional and in Webb that physicians could not prescribe narcotics solely for maintenance.

Then, of course, we had the Prohibition on alcohol.  Most of us know this story so here is a link if you would like to learn more: Prohibition of Alcohol.

In 1936 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) noticed an increase of reports of people smoking marijuana, which further increased in 1937. The Bureau drafted a legislative plan for Congress, seeking a new law and the head of the FBN, Harry J. Anslinger, ran a smear campaign against marijuana.  During this particular time frame, the media was swarmed with propaganda regarding the effects of marijuana.

Marijuana Propaganda

Marijuana Propaganda

Marijuana Propaganda

In 1972, United States President Richard Nixon announced the commencement of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Later, President Reagan added the position of drug czar to the President’s Executive Office.

In 1973, New York State introduced mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years to life imprisonment for possession of more than four ounces (113g) of a so-called hard drug, called the Rockefeller drug laws after New York Governor and later Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Similar laws were introduced across the United States.

California’s broader ‘three strikes and you’re out‘ policy adopted in 1994 was the first mandatory sentencing policy to gain widespread publicity and was subsequently adopted in most United States jurisdictions. This policy mandates life imprisonment for a third criminal conviction of any felony offense.

After the Harrison Act courts refused to define addiction as a disease.  Addicts were driven underground and were subjected to street violence, diseases, arrests, convictions, and incarcerations.  Dispensing clinics were opened.  in 1919 thirteen municipalities had 44 opiate dispensing clinics aimed at detox or opium maintenance.  The government perceived these as a threat and had them all closed by 1924 (p. 12).  There was another increase in crime.  In 1929 Congress adopted The Porter Act.  Treatment facilities were established finally for addicts.  One was in Lexington, Kentucky and the other was in Fort Worth, Texas.  These were operational in the 30’s.

Lexington, Kentucky

Fort Worth

In the early years they primarily served as prison hospitals for convicted addicts.  Those who entered voluntarily were detoxified.  Treatment included “sweating it out” with hard work on the farm in Kentucky.

We now have employee assistance programs, hospital and residential-based treatment, and 12 step fellowships.  In the 30s and 40s doctors were threatened into not only stopping treatment of addicts but also into reporting them to authorities (p. 13).

William Burroughs' Junkie allows a peak into the limited treatment options available to addicts

At one point it was illegal for any two addicts to be seen together.  Addicts went even further underground where drugs were bought on the black market and the street or to complain of the “right symptoms” to doctors in order to satisfy their needs.

After WW2 addicts were put into two general categories: those addicted to pills, sedatives, barbiturates, laudanum, Demerol, etc.; and “dope fiends”.  The second category more often needed to obtain their drugs through illicit means (p. 16).

Searches, harassment, and incarceration were normal parts of everyday life.  Addicts and doctors who attempted to help them were seen as criminals.  These are the truths of an addict from this time.  We may not fully understand the words spoken by Jimmy K, that very few addicts DID have a choice like we have found today in Narcotics Anonymous.

Book Review: Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff – Chapter 1 Dynamics of Breath

I have suffered from chronic pain for a long time.  As I understand it, a lot of it has to do with muscle spasms.  I try t stretch but seem to not get the muscle the right way.  I have been to physical therapy numerous times and many used many other techniques like medication, Trigger Point Injections, nerve block shots, etc.

I really feel like this is something that can be healed.  I have to believe that.  This is my attempt at finding a solution.

Chapter 1: Dynamics of Breath


The author begins by discussing how a cell functions.  Without going into all the detail, the point is that wastes are generated after a cell metabolizes nutrients.  If these wastes are not able to escape the cell it dies.  All living things take in nutrients.

Prana refers to what nourishes a living thing.  It refers to nourishment brought in AND the action it brings in.


This is the complementary force to Prana.  This refers t what is eliminated by a living thing and the action of elimination.

Sthira and Suhka:

Successful function is essential in this when related to a cell or any living thing.  There needs to be a correct balance.  A cell must be permeable and so should we.  Not too permeable but just enough.

“All succesful living things must balance containment and permeability, rigidity and plasticity, persistence and adaptability, space and boundaries” (pg 2).

Prana and Apana:

We eliminate waste in several ways: liquid, solid, gas.  The Apana needs to be able to move up and down.  Liquid and solid waste go down and breathe goes up.  “…any inability to reverse apana’s downward push will result in an incomplete exhalation” (pg 2).

Sukha and Dukha:

Sukha = good space

Dukha = bad space

Pathways need to be cleared of obstructing forces.  This refers to blockages.  Yoga therapy is 90% waste removal.

Your First Breathe:

After being severed from the umbilical cord, your life-force for 9 months, you declare “your physical and physiological independence” by taking your first breathe.

The first inhalation begins essential changes to the circulatory system.  Blood surges into the lungs, the right and left sides of the heart separate into two pumps, and specialized vessels of fetal circulation will shut down and seal off.


Inside the womb we are weightless.  At birth you need to start DOING things like sucking, swallowing, and breathing to obtain nutrition.  This creates your “first postural skill – supporting the weight of the head” (pg 4).

Eventually we learn to walk and the completion of your lumbar curve takes place around the age of 10.

“To summarize, the moment you’re born, you’re confronted by two forces that were not present in utero: breath and gravity.  To thrive, you need to reconcile those forces for as long as you draw breath on this planet” (pg 4).

Breath = Prana/Apana

Posture = Sthira/Sukha


Breathing involves movement in two cavities: thoracic and abdominal.

Thoracic and Abdominal Cavities

They have shared properties and distinctions.


Both cavities contain vital organs.  Thoracic contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal contains the stomach, liver, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, small and large intestines, kidneys, bladder, etc.  They are both bounded posteriorly by the spine.  They are both open to an end to the external environment.  They share an important structure: the diaphragm.  They are both mobile or change shape.


The abdominal cavity changes shape fluidly.  It is like squeezing a balloon of water, it bulges at one end.  It is dependent on the measurement of volume.  When this cavity is compressed by breathing it bulges at the other end.  It is harder to breathe after a big meal because this decreases mobility of the thoracic cavity.

The thoracic cavity changes in shape and volume.

Volume and Pressure:

These are inversely related.  Air flows towards areas of low pressure.  Increasing the volume of the thoracic cavity will decrease pressure and cause air to flow in.  This is inhalation

Air is pushed into the body by atmospheric pressure, we do not PULL in a breathe.  It is like an accordion stacked onto a water balloon (how is that for simplicity).

During relaxed breathing (for example while sleeping), exhalation is a passive process by which the chest cavity and lung tissue bounce back after a stretch.  Active exhaling uses the musculature surrounding the two cavities to contract so that the abdominal cavity is pushed upwards or the thoracic cavity pushed downward.

The Diaphragm:

This divides the torso into the two cavities. It has a deeply domed shape.  This is completely dependent on the structures it is attached to and the organs it supports.  It is attached slightly to bone in a few spots but 90% originates on flexible tissue.  The muscular fibers are oriented primarily along the vertical.

“The muscular action of the diaphragm is most often associated with a bulging movement in the upper abdomen” (pg 9).  This is what we call “belly-breathing”.

NOTE: I remember reading an anecdote once about how there was someone who did breathing during their seminar and they found that woman, more than men, don’t do the belly-breathing right from years and years of “sucking it in”.

“If the central tendon is stabilized and the ribs are free to move, a diaphragmatic contraction will cause an expansion of the rib cage” (pg. 9).  This is “chest-breathing”.  The issue is not whether you are using the diaphragm or not, but whether you are using it efficiently.

In yoga asana practice or breathing exercises accessory muscles are used.  You don’t steer your breath with the diaphragm.  The idea of “diaphragmatic training” ia thus flawed.  Breath training is really “accessory muscle training”.  Also, saying that chest breathing indicates a flaw in your breathing is ridiculous.

Accessory Muscles in Respiration:

In a belly breath, the origin of the diaphragm is stabilized by the muscles pulling the rib cage downward.  These are classified as “exhaling muscles” but still participate in inhalation shape: internal costals, transversus thoracis, etc.  The central tendon is stabilized by the abdominal muscles (also called “exhaling muscles).  Here though, they are acting in a pattern used for inhaling.  In both of these, one region needs to be relaxed for the other to work.

Abdominal and Thoracic Accessory Muscles:

The shortening and lengthening of elastic fibers that run in all directions, produce the infinitely variable shape changes in respiration.  You need to relax the tone of some abdominal muscles for the diaphragm to move.  they also directly affect the rib cage’s ability to expand.  The transversus abdominis have the most direct effect on breathing.  Its fibers are interwoven at right angles with those of the diaphragm.

Other layers have similar counterparts in the thoracic cavity.  Only the external costals are capable of expanding thoracic volume.

Other Accessory Muscles:

Chest, back, and neck muscles can also expand the rib cage.The location and attachment of these muscles however, make them far more inefficient.  Improved breathing is a result of a decrease in tension in the accessory mechanism.

Other Diaphragms:

Pelvic diaphragm:

mula bandha is the action of lifting in the pelvic floor muscles  Mula bandha moves apana upwards.  To inhale while it is active requires a release of the attachments of the upper abdominal wall.  The diaphragm can then lift the base of the rib cage up.  this is called uddiyana bandha.

Vocal Diaphragm:

The glottis is a space between the vocal folds or cords.  At rest, the muscles can be relaxed so that the glottis is not restricted or enlarged.Exercises involving deep and rapid breaths the muscles of the vocal folds pull apart to create a larger passage, like in kapalabhati or bhastrika.  When long, deep, slow breaths are taken, the glottis can be partially closed.  This is how you create whispered speech and in yoga is called ujjayi.

During chanting in yoga, the cords are pulled together.  The air pushing through vibrates them.

The Bandhas

All three diaphragms and ujjayi come together and are coordinated with inhaling and exhaling.  The “valve” of the ujjayi creates a back pressure throughout the abdominal and thoracic cavities that aids in protecting the spine  These bandhas create more stability in the body and protecting it from injury.

Brahmana is an additional effect of moving the body through resistance which creates heat in the system that can be used beneficially.  It is als associated with inhaling, nourishment, prana, and the chest region.

Langhana is the relaxing side of yoga associated with cooling, condensation, relaxation and release, development of sensitivity and inward focus, exhaling, elimination, apana, and the abdominal region.

The best advice given in this section is that there is no single way to breathe.

Celestine Vision: Global Prayer Project

Cover of "The Celestine Prophecy: An Adve...

Cover of The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure

James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy and The Tenth Insight has started a series of Global Prayers.  It is guided prayer, guided meditation, and discussion with James Redfield.

The next Global Prayer will be on October 26th, 8-9 pm Eastern/US.  On the site they give information on different time zones.

From the site:

This week’s prayer visualization
On November 2, we’ll see one of the most important mid-term elections in US history. Let’s focus our prayer on increasing the honesty, integrity and wisdom by those participating in this election. We’ll visualize and affirm that voters can cut through the ideological distortions on both sides to vote for the person who they think can operate in Washington with the most integrity and effectiveness. Join us as we lend our energy to uplifting all those who have to make these difficult decisions in this key election.

Call 646/519-5860 OR 212/461-5860
Caller ID: 6999#
The phone line will open at 7:55pm EDT. Call the number above and enter the Caller ID. Once connected, please say your name and location, then press *6 to mute yourself so the noise level will be kept to a minimum. Each participant will be responsible for their own long-distance phone charges.

Our twice-monthly gatherings have been making a powerful difference, both in people’s individual lives and the world at large. Many of you have written us saying that the energy generated from this network of spiritually-minded participants is “indescribable,” and we look forward to continuing this healing circle of focused prayer. Like all prayer experience devoted to helping others, many participants have felt the results in their own bodies and received guidance for their own lives.

Research tells us that the more people praying together, the more powerful the prayer and the greater the level of energy felt by the participants. We invite you to join the largest regular prayer network in the world. If you would like to take an active role in maintaining a circle of positive intention across the globe, while going deeper and heightening your own spirituality, join us on Tuesday, October 26.

Let’s see how large we can grow, and how much difference we can make…

Summary and Review of “How To Re-Imagine the World: a Pocket Guide for Practical Visionaries” by Anthony Weston

99.99% of this blog is from either the writer’s own words or a summary of them.   I have added a few anecdotes and thoughts here and there, but almost none of these ideas are mine or original.

How To Re-Imagine the World: A Pocket Guide for Practical Visionaries
by Anthony Weston

“This book is a guide to creative thinking in service of radical social transformation. It is a brief and practical how-to book with examples, offered in the conviction that ordinary people, working together, can begin to re-envision the world in unexpected and dramatically off-the-charts ways” (Weston pg1).

I was at the library and wasn’t even looking for this book or this topic specifically. I think it was the small, compact look of the book along with the awesome illustration on the cover of a man’s (or woman’s :-/ ) head like an atlas cracked open with amazing things bursting forth. I remember thinking that this was the kind of thing that I have been talking about lately.
I know that many of us are still hopeful for the future and many of us secretly believe it is too late no matter what we do (I feel a little of both), but this sort of creativity is what is needed in our works when trying to be heard about the dangers ahead.
The author’s approach is refreshing. Here I offer a summary of some of his amazing ideas and encourage anyone interested in this to either finding this at your library or even to buy a copy.
So, here we go:

He offers also on the first page that we should not be fooled into thinking that we cannot “change the world” and that the world is already changing and he gives some examples. Oil is peaking, genetically modified foods are invading our stores with no shame, the majority of us now are overweight and the rest are starving, etc.

He tells us that alternative futures are already being considered. If you think about it most architecture programs have already integrated green building into their programs. He mentions even the war and his point being that it is a wonder that we can invest so much time, effort, hope, hate and capital into ANYTHING!!

Many things that Weston mentions I HAVE to quote because I can’t say it any better than him. “I propose that what we urgently need right now is not the social pressure or the political power to enforce changes we already know we want. That is a recipe for more of the same…What we desperately need – first – are ideas…” (Weston pg3).

He mentions the Web and how we need to utilize this tool with the networking and person-to-person dialogue where at a second’s notice I could be talking to someone from Afghanistan and then at the same time be commenting on someone’s photos in Japan. We have forums, blogs, websites, social networks, pages for organizations to network with and causes. My point in this is one I have made before: never have we lived in a time where so MUCH information was available to SO MANY people and for free!! F33DyourHEAD!!

He mentions a world with less work, with an alternative WORLD instead that has less need for transportation rather than finding alternative forms of transportation, and student exchange programs rather than shipping young ones off to war. I like how Weston thinks and I think you will catch on quick to his method. It is not a gimmick, it is creativity, which we lack strongly often in our pursuits! “Goodwill and enthusiasm alone do not free us from the usual political and philosophical assumptions — often unconscious” (Weston pg5).

Work from a vision
“Affirmative vision is crucial. Be emphatically, visibly, clear-headedly FOR something, and something that is worked out, widely compelling, and beautiful — not just against the problems or the-powers-that-be of the moment” (Weston pg9).

This is a concept already well-known to some activists/changers-of-the-world. It is dwelling in the positive rather than the negative. Weston gives an example of the Civil Rights movement and how, while it WAS against some things, it was never a wholly negative movement. He reminds us that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “I have a DREAM..”, he did not say “I have a nightmare”.

Since I started my program of Conservation Biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry I have been relieved to find that we “naturalists” or “environmentalists” are not a bunch of doomsday prophets and I was refreshed by the ideas that emerge on campus. We often have a stigma as being the ones who are preventing economic growth or always living in the worst-case-scenario frame of mind. I believe, over time, we have found that this approach exhausts and disillusions us and gets us nowhere. We are a NEW kind of environmentalist!! A few of Weston’s examples include:

-Anti-war but being FOR multilateralism or FOR a society that supports our troops by sending them only on honorable and necessary missions
-Ant-business or is it really FOR small-scale businesses, FOR community oversight, or FOR a different kind of business-as-usual

Work From A Whole Vision
“Look for overlaps, connections, synergies: ways in which our goals are mutually implicated and mutually reinforcing” (Weston pg15).

When you are forming an argument of your vision, include ALL aspects of what this vision would affect. Don’t leave out the loss of jobs or maybe that saving one kind of habitat might affect another or that by opposing the building of a new highway there is still the problem of traffic flow in the area. In short, cover ALL your bases.

One of his examples is an organization called the New Apollo Alliance, promoting national energy independence. Their vision includes 3 million new jobs AND serving the environment. Some of the jobs that are possible with new ideas would be skill-centered and allow more fulfilling work.

Another example, that I thought was clever and ironic, is the issue of abortion. This is commonly thought of as a polarized debate. There are many things in common when completing the WHOLE vision. They both could work towards strengthening the family, enhancing prenatal and postnatal care, speaking to the hyper-sexualization of the world in the eyes of our teens, equal access to childcare, etc.

With some of the suggestions we are so used to hearing like “listen carefully” or “look around” he adds “look playfully”. He is referring to ways in which we form new ideas. As he is more seasoned than I at the moment in this area I will list a few of his own examples to illustrate his meaning.

He mentions that while in a meeting about the re-building of New Orleans he hears a story of a little colony of off-season artists that had to flee. Following this thought he suggests that artistic communities are often “expressive, experimental, and nomadic…” (Weston pg24). What if dwellings themselves were nomadic in nature? What if there were homes that allowed the wind and water to flow through with minimal damage like having the first floor be simply a screened in porch? He brainstorms nomadic utilities like portable solar power units or cell-phone towers being like buoys or kite-mounted. What about houseboats?

He encourages thinking that might not seem practical, that at first mention we would almost instinctively shrug them off or feign interest in the spirit of brainstorming only to scratch them off the list as soon as someone suggests it would be impossible. This is NOT listening playfully I imagine. I have sat in group meetings and discussions where an idea, when mentioned, is automatically dismissed by the facial and body expressions of the majority in attendance who claim, themselves, to be progressive.

Here he brings up Edward DeBono and a method called “random word method”. You start with a random prompt and ask what ideas or associations come to mind when this prompt is put together with your problem or question. The easiest way? The old flip-through-the dictionary-with your-pointer-finger technique.

He says “watch for the odd fact” (Weston pg29). His example is that cars have air conditioning because the roads can get hot. What about making roads that are less heat-absorbent? Paint the roads white to be reflective…and easier to see at night! Going in another route, why waste all that heat? Install pipes and run water through to heat it up to go to homes for wash water.

We are constantly settling for smaller steps because this has been the “middle-ground”. the easier softer way to change. Weston suggests taking BIG steps, like off-the-scale big. “Ideas…”, he says, “…can stretch” (Weston pg32). He gives a few examples in this chapter of his book relating to stretching ideas. To summarize one, he mentions Doctors Without Borders. What about Students Without Borders, Electricians Without Borders, etc.

“Thinking ‘in the box’ has a usual, preferred or expected direction, pre-organized elements. For creative provocation, methodically reverse them. Flip the expected directions, think opposites, transpose the constituent ideas” (Weston pg37).

For example we often think that speeding things up improves them, the opposite would be to slow them down. He talks about eating slow and that there is already a “movement” for mindful eating. He suggests slow-traveling, slow-cities, and slow learning (Weston pg38).

“Fixed associations dominate our thinking” (Weston pg39). He mentions the phrase “preemptive war” and wonders what “preemptive peace” would look like. Going further he suggests a federal Department of Peace and a Peace Academy (opposite of West Point) that could train cadets in the cutting-edge, strategic use of nonviolence.

What is the opposite of a terrorist?  He says someone who is an ever-present, disruptive possibility but in the other direction.  Delightism?  Rapturism?  “Roving bands of youths, maybe, who transform people’s yards while they’re out.  Or paint magnificent murals on freeway underpasses or building sides, or leave flowers on whole neighborhoods’ doorsteps, or stage unplanned Shakespeare performances…” (Weston pg40).  The thing with this is that there are already people who aspire to act in these ways but are arrested for vandalism or disrupting the peace.  Maybe if it was bigger and more widespread though.  He asks why we should only aim for a world without terrorism…GO BIGGER!

The Problem Is the Solution
Why do we consider things that can be used as waste? Why haven’t we found other ways to utilize these resources. This brings me back to a previous scenario of the heat coming off of the roads. He mentions that power plants see heat as a waste. In Scandinavia their power plants are also their heating plants. I love the story he relays of Bo Lozoff who was living in a yoga ashram and realized that his life was not much different from a prisoners daily routine. He saw his life though was liberating. He co-developed the Prison-Ashram Project to enable prisoners to feel that liberation.

He talks about the aging in our communities and mentions Raging Grannie.  This is a group of elders who are “promoting peace, justice, social and economic equality through song and humour”, according to their international website.

What’s The Next Step?
He says don’t be so easily satisfied with the immediate conclusion. Persist!  Always keep asking, what’s the next step?  He tells us that there is a car dealership down the street from his house that flies an American flag.  Why not windmills with American flags on them?  We could put the stars and stripes on all new technologies.  Give it to both sides.  Next step?  Windmills to pump city water.  A big argument against using windmills is that they are ugly and mar the beauty of the land.  Why not aim to make windmills more beautiful instead of less and in unseen places.  He reminds us that Dutch windmills aren’t seen as ugly.  They are a part of the landscape.  Maybe buildings themselves could be designed to harness wind.  Make the installation of green technology “conservative”.  They could be the source, often, of high-paying skilled jobs.

Inside Tracks
“Right now, inside ‘the system’ and even right around the corner, many of the changes we want are already underway. Find ways to join and accelerate change movements already in flow. Radical change is often an inside job” (Weston pg57). He points out that in the absence of federal commitment, other avenues open up. Oilmen in the White House consistently blocked efforts to join the Kyoto Protocol. Cities like Portland are already taking leadership roles and leaders are rising up in unexpected places. Many products marketed in countries supporting the Kyoto Protocol must meet these standards. Private businesses are already conforming to these standards without our government regulations. Rising gas prices is already accomplishing what 30 years of political infighting could not: which is to radically increase fuel-efficiency. Also, he says he has friends who give away emission permits as gifts. You can buy “offsets”. He believes that offsets will become part of business-as-usual. There are other tracks besides the government is his point.

Leverage Points
He says sometimes we can expend a lot of energy and accomplish nothing at all just because of the way something is, structurally. Tiny adjustments can make all the difference. His example is that a tiny change to an ingredients list can make or break a genetically modified – or organic – food. He mentions real-time gas consumption in hybrids can dramatically change driving habits. This is important enough to include: he says internet-savvy soldiers are blogging about the war with pictures and video, making the war real. Agencies are trying to shut them down on the basis that information could be learned from the enemy. He says that there has to be a way for this to still be available without it being dangerous. Why throw out the baby with the bathwater! Small nudges and pushes can make all the difference.

He talks about the work week and that many people polled would give up salary to have less of a work week. Also, unemployment is high. He suggest cutting back and re-distributing the work. “Part of the reason is that we feel compelled to work more in order to afford intensive activities during our ever-scarcer ‘leisure’- and more ‘labor-saving’ devices to free up time for, well, more work” (Weston pg65). He states that we would need to unlearn some deep habits. Part of the problem, he says, is that when people cut back their work-hours they go to part-time status and lose much needed benefits. (I can identify with school – if I don’t have full-time student status or at least 15 credit hours a semester I lose my grants and loans). There was an estimate by economist Juliet Schor that says that by going part-time people essentially reduce their income by 80%. He suggests pro-rating benefits to work hours. Schor has other ideas if you would like to search her name.

“Promote weedy social change. Aim for changes (new patterns, practices, institutions) that are as hardy as possible and that insistently re-emerge on their own. Self-generative, self-augmenting, readily drawing on natural desires and conditions, diffusing widely and wildly” (Weston pg67).

He says currently our changes are like delicate flowers that need constant tending. I can relate to this analogy because have been wanting to get involved in things in my neighborhood and in the world and it always seems “delicate” in that it is hard to find, only a few people are sustaining the cause draining their energy because it is not naturally appealing. There are people out there who want to act, but can’t find the passion.

He says Unofficial Exchange Networks are weedy. He mentions The Freecycle Network, which is a pure giveaway list! He goes off into ideas again saying, what if cities and towns sponsored community exchange networks (like a flea market without money). What about freecycling non-material things like empowerment or political participation.

“Co-operative structures are weedy” (Weston pg68). He gives an example in history. During the Great Depression mutualism popped up all over the place. There were organizations like UNCRO (Unemployed Cooperative Relief Organization) and UXA (Unemployed Exchange Association). More modern organizations like CSA (Community-Suppported Agriculture are present today. Areas that people traditionally struggle in have lead to weedy pop-ups of, for example, co-op medical facilities. Weston always takes the thought one step further and asks how to amplify them and enhance them: “…spreading the seeds more widely and to other receptive soils” (Weston pg68).

P.S.: He adds that the web itself is weedy!!

Wild Cards
“Futurist John Peterson defines a ‘wild card’ as a low-probability, high-impact event – a surprise that could change everything” (Weston pg71). There are negative and positive wld cards. “If we orient our thinking only by current givens and probablilities, we will be both conceptually and practically unprepared for radically transformative events that are possible though not so probable” (Weston pg72).

He reminds us of the climate-change disasters we are slowly seeing unfold like environmental refugeeism, drought, monsoons, etc. He warns that disasters can be framed in a reactionary way, such as “the wrath of God”. He says that we should be ready to offer an alternative instead of blaming and calling “I Told You So”. An alternative infrastructure could be ready…and already in place. Turn the theologies inside out too. He says we could see environmental stress as God’s way of showing us the Earth is hurt and that it is not vengeance.

Hidden Possibilities
He says many oppressed groups needed to have doors opened for them in order to learn. “What possibilities do today’s actualities hide” (Weston pg 78)? He talks about aiming higher in our schools than we think we can and mentions Prisoner-Victim Mediation. People will come together when they have a common passion to root for or work towards too. He says we don’t need to make people less selfish, we need to fan the flame of intense social energies that are already in our lives. Recovery in all areas can possibly begin with an invitation or gesture.

“Go deep. The word ‘radical’ itself comes from the Latin “radix”, root” (Weston pg83).

Rebuild From the Ground Up
This goes back to his point earlier of when there are roadblocks because of the way things are built up or deigned or are systematically flawed…you start over! The best solution for recycling…get rid of the need for it! Make products compostable or re-usable. I love that he mentions how much time and energy we are putting into redesigning cars to be more efficient or have only water as an exhaust, when the root of the problem is the cars themselves. They are noisy and are eyesores against the landscape and are part of the reason we can justify rushing around in our lives from this thing to that with no enjoyment of the in-between. Get rid of cars, he says. I was writing a paper for a class when I learned about this great city in Spain called Vitoria-Gasteiz. They have totally rebuild their city so cars would not be needed as much. They have bike rental programs, have re-designed streets to be more pedestrian friendly and have put all of everyone’s needs within walking/biking/busing distance!! Look it up, it is VERY fascinating.

Of course, Weston goes further. We feel like we NEED to travel. This goes back to my story of Vitoria-Gasteiz. “Notice that many of the pieces of such a post-transport world are here already: the electronic infrastructure; an energetic co-housing movement and history” (Weston pg87).

He reminds us that all along the SE Coast (not just New Orleans) we have built cities, towns, buildings, structures that are weak and vulnerable. Restoring all the buffering nature can offer is essential. There is actually a movement to restore the Florida Everglades which was a major wetland system that helped the inland not to flood.

Cultures and Practices
“When systematic problems are created by cultural norms and practices, our most creative opportunity is to reshape those practices themselves. Along with issue-based activism we need a culturally transformative pro-activism” (Weston pg 91). Plainly we need to re-imagine our practices and habits. He says the European Union already requires manufacturers to take back their products at the end of their useful life. This might promote products MADE to last!

He asks us to imagine parallels everywhere (like his earlier example of preemptive peace being a reversal of preemptive war). He talks about corporate malfeasance being prevented instead of cleaned up. The Scandanavians answer to welfare is to prevent people from falling in the first place (preemptive welfare).

He mentions (and I don’t smoke weed anymore but I agree with this) the War On Drugs and how social innovations can make some drugs more benign than alcohol. In Amsterdam the bartenders control marijuana use in their establishments.

He adds that we need to look at the reconstructive questions, the basics. Why do so many people want to use drugs? What is the deep compulsion? (Now here is some stuff I know lol). He suggests that they fill a GENUINE need that people have a hard time meeting themselves. He asks, why isn’t learning to reconnect to the land and getting involved in teams part of our education (he mentions it is for indigenous people). I have often wondered the same thing for about 5 years after high school. Why didn’t they teach me stuff i really needed to know, like how to get a job, how to build a network, begin a career, pay my bills??

“Systematic problems trace back in the end to worldviews. But worldviews themselves are in flux and flow. Our most creative opportunity of all may be to reshape those worldviews themselves. New ideas can change everything” (Weston pg 95).

When looking at a problem you want to solve, ask yourself what attitudes and beliefs lead to this problem in the first place. He uses pollution as an example and how did we ever get into thinking that the natural world is our dump?

Poverty? Why do we tolerate radical inequality? He says in many African tribal societies, one homeless person is seen as a disgrace to them all. How did they get to that point that they let a fellow member be homeless?

He brings up many Fundamentalist’s belief that we are living in The Last Days and in The Rapture. Whatever the need to have this belief he says, “…there is an immense energy here for a sense of direction, meaning and for change” (Weston pg96). He talks about poet Nancy Corson Carter and how if they have the rapture, than we can have “Rhapsody”: music, harmony, the singing of epics.

He says native people of the Americas could not understand the concept of a paradise…SOMEWHERE ELSE. Paradise to them was right there. He gives definitions or explanations of modern secularism:
1. Materialism: the world consists of mostly inanimate matter
2. Mechanism: the world and minds work according to reductive physical laws
3. Instrumental and atomized view of nature in which the world exists in disconnected pieces, available for our use…
However, new ideas are coming about that the ‘whole’ is important in ways we may not even understand and reconnecting to the flow of things is our best chance of surviving. Maybe connection is the key, he says.


Everything would have to be reviewed and seen differently.
“Imagine political communities founded on Affirmations of INTERdependance rather than Declarations of Independence: bioregional, deeply participatory and decentralized; spontaneous, festive and multiple in their forms” (Weston pg98).

Now that the author has taken us through this creative crash course (and what a beautifully-mastered crash course it was) he tells us:

“Re-entering the struggle with creative momentum, let us rethink where and how and with whom we stand, how we take up issues, even how we speak. There is space for inventiveness and originality here too, and big moves to be made” (Weston pg 101).

Play To Your Strengths
We must be the change we wish to see in the world. I have heard that that quote came from Mahatma Ghandi. He gives advice a friend gave him: Make demonstrations into festivals and invite everyone, even the cops.

Humor seems to undercut the powers-that-be. He tells us that there is no right wing version of The Daily Show or The Onion.

Celebration seems to be one of our strengths and can bring together similar values in a community. He goes on about festivals for animal migrations, whale-watching, or return of fire-flies. He says, bring back the solstices and equinoxes. Having funerals before our death I thought was a good idea. You pick the time and place and what happens there.

He brings up the fundamentalists mantra to “teach the controversy” in relation to Creationism or (ahem ) Intelligent Design. He says why not? Maybe that will settle it. Don’t try and block what others have to teach. Learn from it and make your own informed decision (which is what F33DyourHEAD is all about, coincidentally). He says “teach the controversy” everywhere and have teach-ins. However, what about teaching evolution in the church? But we should also not totally rely on Darwinism without all the information available is his point. He mentions (I love this), what about the controversy WITHIN Creationism from different cultures?

Reclaim The Language
“Reclaim the actual meanings of words, including more inclusive and edgier meanings latent in the terms we are already using. Adopt new terms that match our new thinking, or terms that themselves enable new thinking” (Weston pg109).

He says we should all declare ourselves Conservatives “and be done with it”. He says then we can debate on what to conserve first (lol). He throws Social Security in there and asks why it got reduced to only being a pension. He said it should mean having a community, family, and support system. Homeland Security could expand to mean protecting our natural resources from threats. War On Terror could be handled as a criminal offense and not military so there is law enforcement and not invasion. What if we thought of terrorism as if it were Desperationism. Why did they do it?

He says terrorists don’t really inflict terror, that they shatter lives and places and symbols. He believes shattering should not be answered by war. We need to make our lives more “shatter-proof”.

More New Words
Resourcism: adopt it to mean the Earth is essentially just a set of resources for our use. A relentless, single-minded, narrow value system.
He reminds us that we will defend what we love. But, we are removed from the natural world too much to love it.
Nature-Deficit Disorder: coined by Richard Louv
Development: could mean improvement
Disposable: call it Perpetual Legacy instead. Call it what it is.
Fossil Fuels: (this one is good!!) good name because they are outdated, “fossils”.
Secular Humanist: opposite of a fundamentalist (because non-religious wouldn’t work) but still the word secular has been made dirty.
Spiritual Creatives: better term for the opposite of fundamentalists. We could free up the language of “Creation”and “Creationism”.
Evolutionary Creativity: view evolution as the story of self-generative creativity of life itself.

Ally Everywhere
Look for commonalities. He asks that you build alliances from the overlaps. Speak also to the underlying issues and not just the position. The world is not truly black and white like we believe when we are in the heat of battle.

He mentions gay marriage and says that the issue arises because some gay couples affirm a traditional value. He mentions the idea of patriotism and “supporting the troops”. Supporting the troops doesn’t mean you have to support the war, but we sometimes think we ARE supporting them by opposing the war.

The Tao Of Change
“The wisdom of the martial arts: don’t resist the onrushing energy of opposition, but let it rush by, use what you can, and as for the rest, work cheerfully just beyond its reach” (Weston pg127). Reminds me of the Liturgy Against Fear from Dune!!

We don’t always need to meet force with force. Side-step, let it rush by and watch for ways you can nudge things to redirect them. Add your energy TO theirs to change direction.

He talks about reclaiming the flag for us. Why does it have to mean one kind of Americanism? We are Americans too!!grab the flag first, he says!

Legal gay marriage he feels will be a way off but there are other things we can do. I really like this section where he talks about turning all of marriage into something better. A “Covenant” maybe.

Do It Now
The sooner the better!Great ideas don’t always need consensus. Tired of inept government? Make your own People all over have organized their own.

I like the Do-It-Yourself money. Communities have been doing this to keep the money local. They have an agreed upon type of exchange between them. He calls what is being done wealth-extraction. You can prevent this by being creative.

Go For Broke
“Never let it be said that you erred on the side of caution” (Weston pg 135). Aim way high!!

To follow up, not only was this book an inspiration but it had real ideas that people so often think are impossible. My brother said to me a few weeks ago that only selfish people believe they can save the world. I would like to prove otherwise!

Part 8: “Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices” by Mindy Pennybacker: Transportation

ECO Certified tourism logo

Image via Wikipedia

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7


I have recently been left without a car (well maybe like 6 months ago). I have been packing up my back-pack for a day downtown and heading out. It is difficult with my pain issues, but on good days I love walking and listening to my headphones. I also get a chance to smile at people as I walk by and get a closer look of local businesses.

Walking, Biking, and Ride Sharing
–spend 30 minutes a day walking or cycling instead of driving
–flying is greener, when going coast to coast, than driving. Driving about doubles your CO2 pounds.
–Union of Concerned Scientists’ green travel report
–you can improve your mileage on your car by simplesteps such as keeping the engine tuned and tires correctly inflated and driving at a steady speed
–the train across country is better than flying
–compare prices online
–;public transportation
–reduce what you carry in your car
–driving slower saves CO2 emissions and is more cost-effective

Best Shoes
Adbusters’ Blackspot Sneakers: 100% organic hemp uppers, made in union shop
Adidas SLVR Eco-labeled shoes: made with hemp and company claims to be working towards being PVC-free
Asics Running Shoes: look for PVC-free labels
Birkenstock: cork soles are a renewable resource; they take it back and replace soles
Brooks: uses FSC-certified paper fpr packaging; Biomogo midsole biodegrades quicker in landfills
Chaco: PVC-free shoes, sandals, flip-flops
Dan K. Forest: organic hemp shoes
Earth Shoes: 70% recycled material in insoles
–End Running Shoes: made with PCW recycled plastic, bamboo
Hunter PVC-free: natural rubber “Wellies”
Keds Green Label Shoes: PVC-free sneakers made of 100% organic cotton, 20% recycled rubber outsoles, recycled insoles, recycled PET bottle laces
Nike Considered: vegetable-based tanning; fewer petroleum-based and more water-based, low VOC solvents and adhesives; recycled laces, etc.
Patagonia Eco Shoes: stitched, reducing VOC glues and solvents, can replace some parts of shoe; leather is vegetable tanned
Rawganique: hemp sandles for men and women
Simple Shoes Eco Sneaks and Green Toe Eco: blend organic cotton and other natural fabrics, cork, and PCW-recycled PET plastics
Timberland Earthkeepers: shoes and boots; natural rubber soles, etc
Toms: makes footwear for a greener tomorrow with hemp, recycled plastic bottles, and recycled rubber

Donate Old Shoes

–trim off carbon footprint in other areas of your life if you are a frequent traveler
–you can purchase carbon offset with companies that invest in renewable enerfyu
–Offset Companies:
Climate Friendly
Vermont-based NativeEnergy
–fly airlines with good environmental records with Climate Counts

Part 7: “Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices” by Mindy Pennybacker: Personal Care and Clothing

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Personal Care and Apparel-ohhhh my fav 🙂

Skin and Hair
–try and avoid the word “fragrance” because this usually means synthetic fragrance, which means phthalates or other toxic chemicals

General Personal Care Products
–the term “natural” by itself is meaningless, because heavy metals and petroleum are “natural”.
–there are exceptions to listing ALL ingredients on labels. For example, “fragrance” has been used to hide all kinds of synthetic ingredients because fragrance recipes are protected by law
–balance more affordable products with green products that have high standards
Database rating cosmetics

Good fragrances
–non-synthetic fragrances consisting of plant essential oils
–genuinely “unfragranced” products like pure shea or cocoa butter

Avoid these terms
–Fragrance: www.safecosmetics.org
–Fragrance-free/Unscented: can mean that fragrances were added to neutralize other scents
Consumer Union’s eco-label project
–Hypoallergenic/Sensitivity tested/Non-irritating/Allergy tested/Dermatologist tested (all meaningless)

–Phthalates are used to make perfumes last longer and keep nail polish from flaking
–Fragrances are associated with allergic reactions
–In 1996 wildlife Biologist Theo Colburn, Ph.D. wrote Our Stolen Future about hormone-disrupting chemicals found in everyday products
–botanical ingredients are renewable, it’s even better to use organic botanical ingredients cultivated without pesticides

links related to this topic:
Organic Consumers Association
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Skin Deep database
–The author calls this next list, the Filthy Fifteen
* means moderate-hazard ingredients
**means moderate-to-high hazard ingredients

1. Aluminum starch/octenylsuccinate**: anti-caking agent and fragrance; linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm
2. Antibacterials/antimicrobials like Triclosan**: in deodorants, moisturizers, toothpaste, liquid hand soap, and body wash; suspected of spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
3. Coal tar colors**: suspected carcinogens
4. Cocamidopropyl betaine*: sudsing agent; can produce allergic reactions
5. Ethoxylated chemicals: sudsing/moisturizing agents; process of making these can create carcinogenic 1, 4 dioxane** Also PEG-80 sorbitan laurate**, PEG-6 methyl ether*, polyethylene glycol**, PEG-20**, sodium laureth sulfate*, sodium coco sulfate (from coconut)*, ceteareth-20 and 30**. Many more with PEG and eth in the name
6. Formaldehyde**: preservative and known carcinogen/allergen in nail and hair products. Present as a contaminant in many other types of personal care products. Also diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium compounds
7. Fragrance**: can include phthalates**, isoeugenol**, cinnamal**, and BHT*, which are all linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm and allergies
8. Heavy metals**: neurotoxins that include lead and mercury; lead** is found in several lipsticks. Mercury** can be in eye make-up, both can cause nervous system and brain damage
9. Nano particles*: possible brain damage and cancer risks
10. Oxybenzone/benzophenone**: in sunscreens, risk of cancer and hormone disruption
11. Petroleum distillates: in mascaras, wart removers; suspected carcinogenis
12. Polyethylene**: plastic used as a film, binder, or stabalizer in lipsticks, mascaras, etc.; ethoxylated reffered to above and may contain 1, 4 dioxane (referred to above)
13. P-Phenylenediamine (PPD): in hair dyes and bleaches; possible risk of cancer, developmental/reproductive harm
14. Preservatives: BHA**, methylparaben**, other parabens*, found in breast cancer cells in the lab.
15. Silica**: anti-caking agent; mostly a risk in powder form; mica and talc are also used in powders but are less risky


Hydroquinone/Resorcinol: acne treatments, skin lighteners, and developer in dyes and bleaches; linked to cancer and allergies

Salicylic acid: acne treatments, dandruff shampoos, moisturizers, astringent/toners, and facial washes; linked to cancer and developmental/reproductive harm

more information is available on the author’s site www.greenerpenny.com

Nanotechnology and Personal Care Products
–many mineral makeups and sunblocks use nanotechnology to give a smooth texture and transparency
–they can penetrate the skin, entering the bloodstream
–toxins can “piggyback” on them, carried deeper into the body
–they have been used as antibacterial “silver” coatings in washing machines and fabrics
–However, the Environmental Working Group advises using nano-ized sunblocks over synthetic ones, which pose a greater threat
–labels don’t usually disclose that they use nano-particles
–micronized means particles are larger than 100 nanoparticles (safer size)
–choose opaque, rather than sheer mineral make-up
–try cornstarch or silk as allternatives
low risk makeup powders, eye make-ups, bronzers, and blush

Good Beauty Labels: free of the most toxic ingredients known
Australian Certified Organic: uses standards like USDA; accredited by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
BDIH (Association of German Industries and Trading Firms): strict natural cosmetics seal, no petroleum-based ingredients
Certified USDA Organic: 95% certified organic
ECO-CERT: EU 3rd party mark; 10% organic and 95% natural ingredients
Made wit Organic: minimum 70% certified organic; no synthetic preservatives
NPA (Natural Products Association): seal bars toxic/irritating ingredients like phthalates, parabens, and sodium laureth and lauryl sulfate
NSF/ANSI (National Sanitation Foundation International/American Natural Standards Institute): requires 70% organic strictly minimizes use of synthetics
OASIS (Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards): EU seal specifics 85% organic ingredients, but uses industry certifiers
The Soil Association: EU seal from UK organic farming research institute not quite as stringent as USDA organic; allows more synthetics
Whole Foods Premium Body Care: this green in-store shelf tag flags products that are free of 250 toxic chemicals per Campaign for Safe Cosmetics criteria

Also meaningful:
Certified Vegan
Fair Trade Certified: plant ingredients sourced from cooperatives ensuring living wages, humane working conditions, and other benefits to workers –> www.transfairusa.org and IMO’s Fair for Life

Leaping Bunny: certified free of animal testing

Somewhat meaningful:
No DEA, No Methyl/Propyl-Paraben, No Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, No Synthetic Detergents

Bad Beauty Labels: claims are confusing and/or misleading or deemed “meaningless” by the Consumers Union’s Greener Choices Eco-label Project

Chemical Free/No Chemicals, Contains No Hazardous Ingredients per OSHA Regulations, Earth Smart, Environmentally/Eco-Safe, Environmentally Friendly, Natural, Organic

Un-Certified Fair Trade Claims
Cruelty-free, 100% Vegan, 100% Vegetarian Ingredients

Skin Care
–Use the simplest ingredients on your skin like pure plant oils and minerals
–research firms predict a boom in natural cosmetics in this area because the skin is the largest organ and the most absorptive.
–cosmetics and personal care products are the leading reason for calls to poison control centers in the US
–cosmetics banned by the European Union have not been reviewed by the U.S. FDA
–Environmental Working Group says (sorry for the statistics but this one is important) 1/13 women and 1/23 men are exposed to cosmetic ingredients that are known or probable carcinogens
–we get multiple doses of the same toxic ingredients through our personal care, diets, plastics, etc.
–mineral oil and paraffin are only low-to-moderate hazards, but look out for mineral oils in sprays and paraffin in lipsticks. Both of these forms are easily ingested
–the author has a downloadable list of cosmetics to avoid at her site www.greenerpenny.com
–many companies now have regular AND an organic line, but if it is not 3rd party certified the label is meaningless

Mostly avoid these on the skin:
Synthetic preservatives (like parabens-prefaced by methyl-, propyl-, ethyl-, and butyl-)

Good ingredients:

–plant-derived, essential oil preservatives that inhibit bacteria growth:
Aloe vera, Citrus seed extract, Clove oil, Cranberry extract, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Grapeseed, Lavender, Neem, Rose, Rosemary, Sage. Thyme, and Witch hazel

–plant-derived moisturizing agents:
Jojoba oil/extract, Olive oil/butter. Shea oil/butter

Bad ingredients:

–Synthetic, petroleum-derived preservatives:
Parabens and BHA

–petroleum-derived moisturizing agents:
Propylene glycol and Phenoxyethanol

–Palm-oil: growing it in plantations destroys forests

–parabens collect in human breast tissue and Are linked to breast cancer

Oils: use on facial or body skin and dry hair ends:
Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Argan Dry Oil
Jurlique Balancing Rose Oil

Body Cream:
Organic Essentials shea butter cream
L’Occitane bio lavender body cream

Face Cream:
Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream
Weleda Rose Cream
Pangea Organics Rose Geranium
Origins organics

Eye Cream:
Burt’s Bees Radiance Royal Eye Jelly

–definitely avoid Benzophenone (or oxybenzone)

Good Active Ingredients:
Titanium Oxide and Zinc Oxide

Bad Active Ingredients:
Benzophenone/oxybenzone (suspeted hormone disruptors), [Homosalate, Octinoxate] (interferes with hormonal systems)/Octyl Methoxycinnamate, [Padimate O (PABA), Parsol 1789] (may cause DNA damage to skin cells when exposed to sun)/Avobenzone

–sunblocks in spray form are easier to inhale
–what isnt absorbed washes off and harms ecosystems
–the author lists the top cosmetics in her book on pages 174 and 175
–she also lists top natural cosmetic companies on pages 176-181 (there are just too many to list here)

–regualr washing with soap, blotting the wetness, and using non-talc powder will discourage smelly bacteria
–aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants block wetness by clogging sweat ducts

Best Deodorants:
Burt’s Bees, Dr. Hauschka, Logona: Free Spray, Miessence: roll-on, Nature’s Gatr: Asian Pear and Red Tea, Terressentials, and Weleda

DIY: Mix baking soda and cornstarch and pat it on

Soap and Shampoo
–mostly avoid 1, 4 dioxane (carcinogen) and triclosan (causes irritation and gastrointestinal upset and harms wildlife)

Good Sudsing/Surfactants:
Plain soap and warm water or plant essential oils that inhibit bacteria

Bad Sudsing/Surfactants:

–bar soap (over liquid) because it usually has fewer ingredients and use less packaging

Feminine Hygiene Products
Disposable: buy non-chlorine-bleached tampons and sanitary napkins like Natracare or Seventh Generation

Reusable: reduces paper in waste stream like Lunapads or menstrual cups (huh??) at www.keeper.com

–buy less new clothing, if you do ask for sustainably produced or recycled fibers
–if they don’t have it, your question may inspire them to carry these things
–cotton is the 3rd most pesticide-doused crop in the US

Green Clothing: try to buy used clothing or re-use your own clothing in other ways

Green Clothing (when buying new):
Certified organic cotton, Recycled cotton, Recycled polyester, Recycled polyester (made from recycled beverage bottles) like Ecospun fleece, and Recycled wool
–Cerifed Organic (USDA, O-wool) and Pure Grow/Eco/Greenspun wools forbid dipping sheep in pesticides and require sustainable grazing
–Hemp or certified organic hemp is good because it is often grown with no pesticides or intensive irrigation
–linen made from flax or linseed
–ahimsa/peace silk: pupae allowed to emerge naturally before cocoons are harvested

Next Greenest Choices:
–Bamboo: tough wild grass grown without pesticides or irrigation
–Ingeo: synthetic made from corn, however, coen is the most pesticide-doused crop in the US
–Lyocel (Tencel): made from wood pulp and 99% of processing chemicals are captured and reused
–Soy: silky fiber from leftover manufacturing tofu and soy milk, however, it is the 2nd most pesticide-doused crop in the U.S.

Look out for (least green choices):
–Acrylic: from petroleum
–Conventional cotton: grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers made from fossil fuels
–Conventional silk: cruelty issues from killing pupae in the cocoons by baking or drowning and silkworms being fed steroids
–New polyester: made from petroleum (non-renewable)
–Nylon: from petroleum
–PVC: from petroleum and chlorne releases cancer-causing dioxins that get into food
–Rayon: from wood pulp; deforestation

Other links:
“Good Stuff” clothing

Fabric Finishes and Dyes
–pesticide residues are removed from cotton and other fiber crops during processing but fabric treatments can expose you to iffy chemicals

Good Fabrics:
–Untreated or minimally treated fabrics: Patagonia (organic and untreated cotton clothing)
–Wool or snug-fitting cotton pajamas meet US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s fire-resistant requirements
–Unbleached or non-chlorine-bleached clothing
–Pure Grow/Eco/Greenspun wool: no heavy metals and untreated

–Cotton that naturally grows in colors: Labels include Colorgrown, Foxfibre, and Colorganic
–Fabrics made with OEKO-TEX certified dyes: no heavy metals used, higher absorption rates leave less run-off and less need for alkaline and salt use as fixatives
–Fabrics made with fiber-reactive dyes: bond to the fiver, releasing dye in wastewater
–Clothes colored with cold pad batch dyeing processes: uses less energy, water, and chemicals
–Clothes colored with SKAL-certified botanical and natural dyes: These are made according to UK Soil Association organic processing standards

Little Less Green:
-Non-certified “natural”, “vegetable”, or “low-impact” dyes: claims are not regulated

Unsafe Fabrics:
–Wrinkle proofing/permanent press (formaldehyde)
–Stain proofing (formaldehyde)
–Water proofing (formaldehyde)
–Moth proofing
–Chemical fire retardants (which is required in children’s sleepwear) (formaldehyde)
–Heavy-metal dyes like chromium
–Synthetic chemical dyes

–formaldehyde “off-gases” or evaporates off of material and makes fabric less breatable which can lead to overheating and rashes
–water and stain repellants like Gore-Tex and Teflon contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs) linked to cancer, developmental harm, etc.
–chlorine bleach, moth-proofing pesticides, heavy metal dyes, and fixatives run off during processing and contaminate waterways

–Walmart, Kmart and some other stores carry GreenSource clothing which the tag allows you to trace it back to the farmer and through manufacturing and distribution processes

Fair-Trade Apparel
–green non-profit organizations like Rainforest Alliance and Conservation International have started to consider workers and community-welfare as well as environmental impacts in rating standards
definition of Fair-Trade

Union Made: means workers are free to exercise collective bargaining rights seeking better wages and conditions. List of companies at www.coopamerica.org/programs/sweatshops/sweat-freeproducts.cfm
Fair Trade Federation: partners with Fairtrade Labelling Organizational (network of 3rd party certifiers). Find FTF-certified apparel and food companies at Global Exchange
Fair Trade Mark: administered seal by the Fair Trade Foundation; monitors workplaces using independent 3rd parties
–Green America Approved: displaying this seal means they have met the socially responsible, fair trade or green standards set by Green America. www.coopamerica.org/greenbusiness/sealofapproval.cfm
Fair Labor Association: non-profit association, members include colleges and apparel companies (Adidas, Eddie Bauer, Nike, and Patagonia). FLA allows member companies to do some of their own monitoring but verifies findings using ind. 3rd parties

Recycle Apparel
–donate to charity like Salvation Army (I have a personal suggestion about this…they take free clothes and then sell them and their practices have been kind of iffy over the years with a lot of embezzlement–donate clothes to somewhere that distributes them agin for free or do research on where the money goes if they sell them!!!!!!!), you can get a tax break. Or sell clothes to a consignment/vintage store
–buy recycled Patagonia poly fleece, organic cooton, and cotton/poly-blended apparel with Common Threads logo

Buying Recycled Fashion:
eko*logic: handmade recycled wool clothing
–Goodwill stores and Salvation Army or school/church thrift shops
On and On Clothing: designer fashions from recycled clothing
Preloved has fresh styles for women and men and combine recycled and new materials; Handcut line is made from 100% vintage fabrics

— the author has a list (which is too big for me to re-type) on pages 202-206 of Green Clothing and Baby Apparel

Cloth Diapers and Covers
–it is a toss-up on which is better for the environment: cloth or disposable diapers
–washing cloth diapers in hot water consumes energy and disposable diapers clog landfills
–ask yourself which is more convenient and economical for YOU
–reusable cloth diapers have been found to be more economical during the writing of this book

–partly washable, partly disposable with a flushable absorbent pad

Baby Needs: companies selling organic cotton, hemp or bamboo fitted diapers; organic cotton, wool diaper covers and fited pants; and prefolds worn alone

www.amazon.com (cloth diapers)
www.ebay.com (cloth diapers)

Greener, disposable diapers (non-chlorine-bleached with some recycled content)

www.seventhgeneration.com (uses absorbent gel, but still better than PVC)
www.tushies.com (gel-free)

Safer Greener Toys
–babies chew and mouth toys
–choose toys free of PVC (contains both phthalates and lead). Lego is PVC free. Also Brio, Gerber, International Playthings, Sassy, and Tiny Love are ok
–choose toys made of wood certified from well-managed forests. Available at Toys-R-Us and Holgate Toys
–IKEA has hardwood train sets
–The Playstore has range of certified organic cotton and natural wood toys for all ages
–PVC- and lead-free toy list
–check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall list

Green Sheets: companies that use organic cotton sheets and pillowcases, many untreated and avoid harmful fabric finishers and dyes
Bed, Bath and Beyond: uses OC and natural (untreated) and soy and bamboo bedding
The Company Store: OC (organic cotton)-covered down comforter and bamboo blend sheets
Coyuchi: color-grown OC sheets
Caiam: OC and wool blankets, comforters, quilts, and mattress pads
Native Organic Cotton: OC bath and kitchen towels and robes and aprons
Pottery Barn: OC duvet covers, quilts, and coverlets
West Elm: OC bath and bedding, throws and more

Part 8