Archive for July, 2010

Afterthoughts on my eco mom blog post about my Toyota

Well, I stuck my toe in the waters of product blogging, as a Twittermom, with some trepidation.

As part of the Toyota Twittermom campaign, I committed to posting a blog about why I love my Toyota, and the posting a follow-up blog about the experience.

So here goes.

I had been a bit concerned about push back about blogging about a product, especially since I’m in the “green” space and my car is not a traditionally eco-friendly car.  (Not traditionally eco, but as I noted in my previous blog post, the fact that Toyotas last a long time makes them more sustainable than cars that fall apart after a couple of years– as did my old Saturn.) No push back. I did get people viewing the post on my site, according to the blog stats, but no comments. Tough to get comments, isn’t it?

What I enjoyed about the process was that, for one– a bit to my surprise– I did feel a part of a campaign, even if it was a virtual campaign.  And it made me feel more a part of Twittermoms which I’ve been technically a member of for some months without being very active.

I also enjoyed going to the Toyota Facebook page and seeing other people’s stories about their cars.

Being somewhat technologically disabled (slow perhaps?) and pressed for time as I usually am, I was unable to figure out how to go back into the area on Toyota’s Facebook page where my story was posted, and see if anyone had commented there. That’s sort of par for the course for me when it comes to tech– I don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure stuff out unless it really matters to me. I did, for instance, spend three days, on and off, attempting to post a photo to my new Twitter account for my psychology and coaching practice (@SarahBWarrenPhD). We choose our battles, right?

So, having returned from my first foray into the universe of blogging about products, I’m guessing I will blog about products again at some point when the occasion arises.

Should I?

July 21, 2010 at 8:17 am 2 comments

An Eco Parent Reflects on Cars… Or Why I Love My Toyota

The car I drive now is a conventional car, a Toyota sedan. It’s over 10 years old, and it’s holding up well– incredibly, someone even got in the car recently and said, “Nice car!” (It was night time…)

Since making that purchase, I’ve become a parent, and parenthood has led me to become both an “unlikely environmentalist” and extremely eco conscious consumer– because I want to ensure my children, whom I love fiercely, a future in which they can thrive.

The main concerns driving that purchase (pun intended!) were that the car would accommodate the family that my then-husband and I planned, and that it would offer sufficient head room for my tall now-ex-husband. And, importantly, we were also drawn to Toyota’s reliability record.

The car has indeed accommodated two growing boys, and did supply adequate headroom for my then-husband. And it has definitely proven reliable.

What I’ve learned since going down the eco path is that durability and longevity are key considerations in determining a product’s eco impact.

Planned  obsolesence is antithetical to protecting the planet. Products that are made shoddily interfere with our ability to live on the planet in a way that can sustain life– human life, the life of other creatures– on an ongoing basis. Products that are built to last have a lower environmental impact because they stay out of the waste stream, and the energy and resources it took to make those products have a longer useful life, which is intrinsically less wasteful and harmful to the planet. I drove a Saturn at an earlier point in my life– that car was built to fall apart. Not eco-friendly.

The Toyota sedan I drive doesn’t have the fuel efficiency or the reduced emissions technology of a Prius, but by being reliable and durable, it does keep itself out of the landfill.

I’m not alone in my family in driving a Toyota. In fact, you could say we’re a Toyota family. My brother drives a Prius. My sister drove a Prius until she and her husband had their second child and upgraded to a hybrid Highlander. My mom drives a Matrix. My ex? He drove a Camry– for 10 years– ’til it got totaled. Now, he drives a Sienna, which he loves. He says I should get one. Maybe, if they come out with a hybrid!

I’ve never done this kind of thing before, but I’m participating in a Toyota/TwitterMoms campaign, which inspired this post. My opinions, thoughts and feelings are my own. As a TwitterMom, I’m eligible for a courtesy gift of $50.

This is my first foray into the product promotion world. I’d love your feedback! Post a comment below!

July 16, 2010 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

It’s HOT: Is Hydration Enough?

As I started writing this post last night at 11 pm it was a clammy 81 degrees in Chicagoland. It was about the same when I woke up this morning– it didn’t cool down overnight. There’s a heat wave in Canada–in Canada??– and dangerous heat on the East Coast. It’s 102 degrees and humid in Philadelphia right now.

So what do we do to keep our children safe from the effects of dangerous heat?

To protect our kids from this dangerous heat, we need to:

  1. Make sure they drink lots of water– even when they’re not thirsty!
  2. We need to keep them out of the sun.
  3. We need to make sure we don’t leave them in cars– even for a few minutes. This seems like it should go without saying, but more and kids are dying in hot cars– Yikes!

Learn more here: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp

But here is my burning question: Is coping with the heat wave enough? Why is it so hot, and hot in places it’s not usually hot, and more often? What can we do about reversing this disturbing trend? Ok, that wasn’t one question. Forgive me.

Bear with me.  I’m all about going green and getting happy. So keep reading!

John Holdren, one of our nation’s top scientists, warns that killer heat waves like the one that killed 35,000 people (that’s not a typo) in Europe in 2003 will become the new normal at the rate we’re going with our use of energy that inadvertently emits heat-trapping gases. Read more from one of his power point presentations– it’s not tough to follow. Lots of great info: http://ncseonline.org/conference/Chafee08final.pdf

As a mother, when I think about this kind of new normal, I get choked up. What about you?

As a parent, I ask myself, what kind of world do I want my children to live in? Do I want them to be able to play summer sports outside? Do I want them to be able to go camping? Do I want them to be healthy?

I ask you: What kind of world do you want your children to live in?

These extreme heat waves are a sign, one of many, of  what I call “global weirdness”– the weird weather we get as an unintended consequence of our addiction to oil– and other dirty forms of energy like coal that we use to generate electricity.

Why? All that energy to heat and cool our homes and buildings and move us and our stuff from point A to point B to point Z in our oversized vehicles and power our IPODs and laptops and cell phones (yes, mine too!)–and don’t forget the energy it takes to create and dispose of our stuff!  All that energy generates heat-trapping gases that are causing warming.  (Yeah, the natural sun cycles do too, but what we’re doing accounts for almost all of it. ) And then we rip out a whole lot of trees to use for paper or furniture or cardboard or coffee cups or to clear fields for crops like palm oil. We need those trees to keep us cooler!

  • Those innocent oiled birds in the Gulf are literally boiling to death in hot oil. Is that OK with you? Is this the kind of world you want to leave your children?
  • Social media maven Amber MacArhur (@AmberMac) put a post on Twitter yesterday afternoon which said that during yesterday’s heat wave in Toronto there was a power outage. People were stuck in elevators at the end of their workdays. How miserable.
  • Yesterday, my friend Nan in Philadelphia who loves–I mean LOVES– baseball opted out of the game because temps were expected to hit 100. She told me a good friend of hers, an outstanding athlete, suffered heat stroke the day before while riding her bike.
  • Already as many people have died from complications of heat this year in Delaware as died all summer.
  • This morning on the news they announced that a big section of Lake Shore Drive had to shut down to repair a huge sinkhole that was caused by yesterday’s extreme heat.  A hassle, right?
  • Oh yeah, and the fact that it didn’t cool down last night– that’s another part of the heating-up pattern.

Global weirdness is here. It’s now. But it’s not too late to do something. And the personal rewards of action are tremendous.

I promised you this would be about going green and getting happy. Here it is:

If you want to ensure your children a world in which they can thrive, you need to become an avid conservationist, yes– turn off the lights, drive less, unplug, weatherize, buy less. But the good news is that to be a real part of the solution, you get to discover the power of your voice to protect the planet for your children.

This is truly empowering. It’s really cool.

I’ve discovered, for the first time in my life, that my voice matters. My elected officials want to hear from me. Your voice matters, too.

More than the car you drive, more than whether or not you use a reusable shopping bag. Drive less and use that reusable shopping bag– but what really matters for our kids future– and present– is the policies we put in place that can protect the planet– or not.

If you’re in the US, the single most important action you can take is to call or write your Senator (sorry, emails and petitions are way less effective) to support the passage and strengthening of the American Power Act. You won’t be sorry.

While you’re at it, have your kids write a letter and draw a picture too. It’s a great summer family project!

Join me in Going Green and Getting Happy– and spread the word!

Sign up for my blog to stay posted about how you reap the rewards of joining the growing movement of unlikely environmentalists and to stay posted on my forthcoming book, Fierce Love: How One Mother Reinvented Herself by Saving the Planet… and you can too.

July 7, 2010 at 4:15 am


10% of all proceeds are donated to the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. You'll get tips and inspirational stories about "unlikely environmentalists!"

Join 5,619 other followers

Dr. Sarah’s tweets

Follow me on Twitter

Newsletter Signup Form

Sign up for the Spheres of Influence Newsletter! Subscribe to the Newsletter