Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Passionate Truth

I went to a seminar last weekend called "Crash Course MBA" given by The Savvy Actor.

I loved it and learned a lot of new things about myself, promoting myself, and promoting my business.

There were two themes that kept resonating with me throughout the weekend.  One was "Branding" and the other was "Passion." 
 Well, before I can begin to brand myself, I have to focus on my passion.

In the words of Irene Cara in Flashdance, "Take your passion and make it happen."

So I thought about what they asked.  "What am I so passionate about that it gets me out of bed every day?  What drives me?"

Of course, there's my husband, my dog, my family. And of course, The Bachelor.

But there's also helping the planet.

My journey began in 2007 after watching An Inconvenient Truth.  After the ending credits, I went to their website and printed out the "Ten things you can do to help the environment."

The very next day I was at the store buying CFL lightbulbs, changing out my cleaning products, demanding that we not use anymore plastic bags, buying reusable water bottles and running around the apartment unplugging things.

I was a maniac.

And I remember thinking, "Is that it?  Am I finished?"

And the answer was "For the time being . . . yes."

I had made a start and done all I could do within my four walls at that time.  With those five simple acts, I had made a huge change.

But it wasn't enough for me.  I became addicted and wanted to do more. 

I wanted to purchase carbon offsets for every piece of traveling I did (ok...the traveling I want to do).  I wanted to walk more and switch solely to public more cabs. 

I devoured information about what was really going on with our environment.  I started yelling at people who didn't get it.  I started a blog.  I became obsessed.

This was why I get out of bed in the morning.

So - passion? - check.


How do I brand myself?

The crazy tree hugger?

The insane trash picker?

The off-her-rocker/carry-her-groceries-home-in-her-arms-rather-than-take-a-plastic-bag girl?

Or maybe just a concerned guest of this planet.  Who gets a little too passionate sometimes.  By expressing herself to obtuse grocery store managers about using too much confetti.

But that's OK.  Because of my passion, I feel better now when I go to bed.

And even when I watch The Bachelor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011




Scene One


The President has just finished an important speech in California and is greeting well-wishers on his way to his limo. A young woman holds out her hand. Smiling, he stops and shakes it. She moves on, but he doesn't. His hand has been poisoned with toxic chemicals. He collapses and almost dies.


Scene Two


A young woman has just finished an important shopping excursion in a New York store and has paid the check-out clerk. The clerk holds out the receipt. Smiling, the woman takes it. The clerk moves on to the next customer. The woman looks at her hand in disbelief. It has been poisoned with toxic chemicals. She doesn't collapse . . . but the toxins are getting her, just the same.


The first scene is from the second season of 24.

The second is from at least the last 24 stores I've shopped in.

The toxic substance in the first was fictional. The substance in the second is not.

I have recently learned that the receipts we are given every day from grocery stores, ATM's, restaurants and even the US Postal Service, are toxic.

If 24 taught us nothing else, it's that evil can lurk in the commonest places.

I've spent so much time warning about the toxins in make-up and plastic - and they were literally, right in my hands.

So what is the substance that even Jack Bauer couldn't stop?

Bisphenol A. More commonly known as BPA.

BPA is a carbon compound found in clear, hard, nearly shatter-proof plastic used in reusable bottles, canned foods, baby bottles, CD's, DVD's, medical equipment, fillings and sporting equipment, to name just a few products. It is usually identified by the number "7" in the triangle on the bottom of the object.

Unfortunately, lucky number "7" is something of a catch-all number (and not so lucky) but if the plastic is hard, it's probably using BPA unless it states otherwise.

It is also an endocrine disruptor which can lead to health problems.

Organizations like the the Endocrine Society and the Environmental Working Group are expressing concern over BPA and its effects on the human body.

Tests that have been conducted thus far on mice and rats have shown BPA to have an effect on infant brain development, obesity, neurological disorders (memory, learning, mood) and there may even be a connection to breast and prostate cancers.

CNN has reported that some thermal paper receipts (when the heat is applied to the paper, the BPA reacts with the dye, releasing the toxins) were found to carry 250 to 1000 times more BPA than the common products I've listed above.

A recent Swiss study showed that BPA in receipts penetrates deep into the skin where it cannot be washed away.

The average adult consumes 1 microgram of BPA for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. This microgram is considered a trace amount. To understand a microgram, the New York Times compares it to a single M&M that has been cut up into a 100,000 pieces, one of those pieces being the equivalent to a microgram.

And while more research is being done, a recent Swiss study showed that the BPA in these receipts penetrates deep into the skin where it cannot be washed away.

The good news is that companies like Starbucks and Target are switching paper so that their receipts are BPA-free or only contain trace amounts. Appleton Papers, one of the largest producers of thermal paper, no longer uses BPA.

I found out about the receipt problem through a fellow blogger...Green LA Girl. Others are finding out through news reports and environmental agencies. Whichever way you find out, it's clear that we need more research. In the meantime, let's not only protect the trees, let's protect ourselves.

Right now you can say no to receipts. Or ask that they be emailed to you.

What I'm really hoping is that soon THIS scene will be common . . .

Scene Three (Sometime in the Near Future)


Jack Bauer: Can I help you ma'am? You called CTU about a receipt problem.

Meredith Forbes: That's all right. It's been solved. I'm saying "no" to receipts now.

Jack Bauer: So you don't need me to save you?

Meredith Forbes: I didn't say that.


24 Photo Credit -

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Meredith Mnemonic

Here we are...a little more than a week into the new year and I'm already forgetting what it was I resolved to do!

Some say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit, others say two months. But if I can't remember which habit I'm supposed to be creating, it won't matter either way.

So I decided to make things easier on myself. I've heard of Meatless Mondays, so I've created some other mnemonic devices for habits that I want to instill.

Not only is it good for our health, but it's good for the planet. The meat industry contributes to half of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions! If every American gave up meat on just Monday's, it would cut down meat consumption by 14% which would significantly reduce methane emissions. Instead, opt for veggie, legume and whole grain based meals. And there's nothing like a great pasta primavera! (

Two reusable bags that is. We already know that plastic bags are killing our sea life and our environment so let's cut down. Do a purse (or pocket) check to make sure you've got at least two reusable bags in there for those impromptu trips to the market. Chico makes a great little bag that folds into itself taking up almost no space in your bag. T hey're cheap, sturdy, come in fun colors and last a long time. And note reusable bag is the equivalent of 1000 plastic bags during the lifetime of the bag!

It's time to get off my butt and off the bus and walk to work. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but if you can cut down on your transportation at all, every little bit helps. Gas, exhaust, traffic congestion...they spell trouble for the planet. For me, just by walking to work, I've added in two miles of exercise! And get this...according to Bikes Belong, "If 10% of NYC commuters walked or biked to work instead of driving or taking transit just once per week, they could save 120 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the amount released by the homes of 25,000 New Yorkers."

Not only will I make sure I drink my eight 8-ounce glasses of water, but I'll do so without a plastic water bottle (no BPA for me) or bottled water (save money and less trash). You'll be sure to see me with my Kleen Kanteen and Brita pitcher. If you drink 3 bottles of water a day, you'd be keeping 156 plastic water bottles our of our oceans and landfills a year!

Skip the long, hot shower and opt for a 5-minute one. The average person showers for more than eight minutes and uses an average of almost 20 gallons of water. By using a timer and taking a 5-minute shower, you'll not only save water, but you'll also save the energy it takes to heat the water. Less water and less money!

Not shop less...shopless! I know that on the weekends, we like to catch up on all those sales but if we have one day a week where we don't buy anything, not only are we saving money, but we're consuming less "things." Less packaging plus less stuff equals a better environment.

What better day than the day of rest to travel leisurely through your local farmer's market and choose beautiful, seasonal and local fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses.

I've been trying this little project out for the past week and so far, so good.

New resolution: focus on these mnemonic devices...and how to spell "mnemonic."

Monday, January 3, 2011


About an hour after I posted "When You Wish Upon A (Times Square) Ball," I went out to run some errands. I found myself at The Vinegar Factory, a spin off of Zabars for the Upper East Siders. We usually only buy their bread since their staples, like butter, run about $12/pound. (Really. I'm not kidding. Airport food courts have more reasonable prices.)

As I walked in, I was literally attacked by mounds and mounds of confetti. On the floors, draped over the wooden beams. It was as if The Vinegar Factory were storing it for the Times Square party later that night.

Of course, I had just written my blog about the Times Square confetti and was really uncomfortable. I grabbed my loaf of bread, paid my bill and had my hand on the door, but I stopped. I asked to speak to the manager. He walked over to me, oblivious to all the non-recyclable debris.

I calmly stated my disapproval. Actually, I said I was "appalled."

He became defensive. "Times Square does it! This is nothing!"

To which I replied, "That doesn't mean you have to! You should set an example. This is hurting our environment!"

He then proceeded to tell me that he didn't care and that, besides, everyone else liked it.

I squeezed in one last "appalling" as I realized everyone on line was staring at me.

I went home wondering if I was too self-righteous or not self-righteous enough.

I kept thinking about how the manager compared his store to Times Square. Aside from the fact that the city probably paid for the celebration every year what his customers paid for potatoes, was there any point in attacking a little pile of confetti when there was going to be an even bigger pile downtown?

Of course there was. Small steps add up. Many times you write in telling me about small steps here and there and that's terrific!

But I have to thank the manager for giving me something he probably didn't count on: an idea. I'm contacting Mayor Bloomberg about the confetti in Times Square.

I'll let you know how it turns out.