In keeping with tradition I’m re-posting a wonderful bit Chris wrote a few years back, but I’ll precede it with a quick “message from our sponsor”:
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Now, back to our regular programming….
In response to a perceived discourtesy, November’s holiday-spirit, simply referred to as “Thanks,” is sending December’s patron saint, Santa Claus, a bucket of coal for Christmas this year.
Disturbed by Santa’s increasing intrusion on the month of November, Thanks feels forgotten and rudely ignored. “It’s just so inconsiderate,” she said. “We used to share the parade with him, but now he’s coming with the full-color newspaper inserts, direct-mailings and television ads before the turkeys even reach the stores.”
Public concern over Santa’s expansion appears to be mixed. “I wish it was Christmas every day,” one seven-year-old boy confided.
Thanks, however, is convinced “St. Nicholas” has committed an egregious mistake. “That fat, old elf is finally going senile,” she said. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s confusing the kids.”
The facts suggest Claus did start the Christmas campaign earlier than usual this year. Toy catalogs began trickling into mailboxes almost as soon as the trees surrendered their leaves, and electronic solicitors began flooding email accounts just after the recent elections.
When questioned, Claus admitted to a misunderstanding, though he blamed it on the complexities of varying international customs. “I might have gotten a little mixed-up,” he confessed. “The Canadians have their thankful thingy in October, and the missus is always nagging me about needing to ‘check the list twice’ and everything, so I didn’t want to dawdle this year.”
Is it merely an accident, or instead, a growing trend? Ever since Kris Kringle endorsed “Black Friday” as the unofficial start to the Christmas season, retailers have been utilizing his likeness earlier and earlier to promote their sales.
“Santa is good business,” one store-manager concluded succinctly.
Statistical analysis indicates consumers, in turn, are beginning to shift their attentions to the Christmas season sooner than ever before.
“Thanksgiving?” one mother of four shrugged, “I’m thankful when my shopping’s done and all the presents are wrapped.”
In the U.S., Thanksgiving has legally controlled the fourth Thursday in November since December 26, 1941 (the day after Christmas). Traditionally, the holiday has occurred on this date since 1863, however a source close to the Ministry of Christmas contends, “Nobody has ever said anything about the following Friday, or any of the weeks prior, for that matter.”
This same source, in an exclusive interview, revealed that Santa is no longer solely in charge of the Ministry, and that he is most likely not the one responsible for the increased promotional effort. Tech-hungry consumer demands have allowed corporate retailers and manufacturers to muscle in on the North Pole’s operation.
“Kids don’t just want dollies, tin soldiers or BB guns anymore,” the source instructed, “they want an iTouch, an X-Box or a Nintendo DS. Who do you think makes those, the elves?”
For her part, Thanks is unwilling to let Kringle off the hook. Interviewed in a grocery store parking-lot, next to a row of leaning fir trees, she confirmed that she had heard the rumors but added, “Santa not in charge anymore? I simply won’t believe it.”
Regardless of who’s to blame, Thanksgiving has clearly been slighted, and the effects of this negligence have yet to be fully realized.
“I don’t mean to seem ungrateful,” Thanks explained. “Everybody loves Santa, especially the children, but I just think we need to stop and appreciate what we already have, before we begin asking for something new.”
When asked what she hoped to accomplish by her symbolic gesture, Thanks replied, “Gratitude should precede bounty in action and acknowledgment; it is the parent of all other virtues. Santa should understand.”
Scientists estimate Earth to be about 4.5 billion years old and yet today (April 22, 2012) marks just the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, which obviously means that we have a few billion years of neglect to overcome.
Rectifying such an oversight with an annual observance is a noble gesture, but it seems much of the general public has yet to totally embrace the concept. In fact, most people know very little about Earth Day’s history or true purpose.
By American standards, Earth Day is certainly not a traditional holiday. There’s no time-off from work or school, for one thing; and the typical excesses connected with such festivities seem counter-intuitive to appreciating our exhausted Earth. Decorations, fireworks, holiday spending sprees, even feasts appear wildly inappropriate.
There’s also no jolly elf, magic bunny, winged cherub, or leprechaun to sell the story of Earth Day to our kids. And, what exactly is the story of Earth Day? Shouldn’t it have some sort of folk-tale or myth to explain its creation and convey its true meaning—something to build our traditions around?
The real story of Earth Day involves student activism in the 1960’s, the city of San Francisco, a maverick U.S. senator, and a “luminary with a major passion for peace, religion and science.” It also contains a small measure of controversy.
There are actually two dates officially recognized as “Earth Day.” Two men are credited with creating separate Earth Days at approximately the same time, and their unique, competing visions of the same concern both shaped the sentiments and practices commonly associated with the event held today.
John McConnell (1915- ) is an intriguing, American character—a New Age, Christian peacenik with traces of counter-culture bohemian marbling his earthy righteousness. He developed a concern for ecology while working for an early plastics laboratory (1939). During WWII, McConnell delivered religious services aboard Merchant Marine vessels, taking the position that “prayer and love could be more powerful than bombs.” Since then, McConnell has dedicated his life to “relieving human suffering and promoting the common good.”
McConnell’s philanthropic activities, which included the highly successful “Meals for Millions” campaign, eventually led him to the 1969 National UNESCO conference in San Francisco. It was in this historic city, named for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, that McConnell unveiled his idea for an “Earth Day—to celebrate Earth’s life and beauty and to alert earthlings to the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends.”
McConnell proposed Earth Day to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which eventually issued an “Earth Day Proclamation.” McConnell drafted his own Earth Day Proclamation for worldwide use which quickly gained the support of the United Nations, and the initial event was celebrated in San Francisco (and other cities) on March 21, 1970.
If there is a spiritual element to how we view or celebrate Earth Day, it most certainly originates from McConnell. In his interesting (and visionary) essay, 77 Theses, McConnell outlines a path toward a utopian global village where citizens serve as “Trustees of the Earth.” He combines religious sensibilities with an idealistic faith in humanity’s ability to liberate itself from its seemingly unenlightened existence. While acknowledging tremendous challenges, he suggests a possibility for redemption by embracing an “inner point of unity”—a collective concern for the Earth and each other. “The greatest challenge in history,” he writes, “is the present challenge of destiny involving all humanity; a challenge to reclaim the Earth for all peoples and to free them from the fear of war and want.”
Clearly, Earth Day’s overriding sense of community, inclusiveness and shared responsibility for the well-being of the planet comes largely from McConnell’s passionate vision, but what about the other guy?
Gaylord Nelson was known as The Man from Clear Lake. He was a U.S. senator from Wisconsin at a time (1963-81) when being a Democrat with liberal leanings wasn’t considered such a bad thing. Born in 1916, he fought in WW II and served as the 35th governor of his home state before becoming a senator. He was largely responsible for side-effect warnings on birth control pills (“Nelson Pill Hearings”), in addition to being a strong advocate for small business and, of course, initiating his own Earth Day.
He was said to have been motivated to create an “environmental teach-in at university campuses” after witnessing the devastating effects of a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. The original concept was shaped in a large part by the protest movement blazing across college campuses throughout the turbulent 60’s. Nelson, considered a conservation activist, envisioned an event similar to the highly effective Vietnam War teach-ins going on at that time.
“I am convinced,” he said, “that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically.”
Nelson announced his intentions at a couple of 1969 speeches including a meeting of the United Auto Workers (which donated $2000 to the cause!). He invited Republican representative, Pete McCloskey, to serve as the co-chair of a non-profit organization, Environmental Teach-In, Inc., and a front-page article in the New York Times (September 29, 1969) declared, “Rising concern about the ‘environmental crisis’ is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam.”
Nelson recruited a Harvard graduate student, Denis Hayes, to organize their first Earth Day (April 22, 1970) on a nationwide scale. Nelson claims the name “Earth Day” was suggested by “a number of people,” but whether intentionally lifted from McConnell or not, the mass media preferred it to “Environmental Teach-In Day.” Hayes, who became an influential leader in the environmental movement, did an excellent job as approximately 20 million Americans participated in this first Earth Day, and it has been called “the beginning of the modern environmental movement.”
Nelson receives credit for using his government muscle to increase Earth Day’s visibility across the United States. He made public education, awareness and youth involvement key elements in the Earth Day Movement. Nelson’s outline for Earth Day also suggests a 60’s-style “stick it to the man” kind of militant edge, or a “We’re not going to take it!” reaction to environmental concerns. His Earth Day certainly contains a solid streak of social activism.
Both of these pioneering environmentalists contributed equal measures toward the establishment of not just an Earth Day, but an Earth Day Movement; and both should be simultaneously acknowledged for their efforts. Nelson’s approach, strongly rooted to democratic principles of free speech and public assembly, compliments nicely with McConnell’s ideas about mankind’s collective discovery of the inner point of unity.
So, what’s the deal with the dates? Nelson carefully selected his date to maximize collegiate involvement. With spring break, Easter and any other holidays out of the way, most universities would be in session. McConnell chose his date to coincide with the March Equinox, calling it “nature’s special day of equilibrium.” His motivation was once again a unification of public interest and concern. By choosing the vernal Equinox, when the length of night and day is equal in all parts of the Earth, McConnell hoped to show “no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another.”
While McConnell’s choice undoubtedly makes more sense symbolically, Nelson’s political clout made the April date stick. Many still prefer to observe the more metaphysically-aligned “Equinox Earth Day” instead.
So, now that we know the story, have we gained a better understanding of what comprises a proper Earth Day? Should we go all “Age of Aquarius” and act like we’re in the Broadway musical Hair? Should we attend a protest march or a lecture? Perhaps we should think more practically and organize a nature walk with neighborhood kids, or maybe a clean-up crew?
Whether it’s March 21 or April 22, we’re still talking about spring, and that’s the traditional time to bust out the dust-brooms, shake off the winter lethargy and start cleaning things up. Lunchsense would like to mark the occasion by reminding everyone that “Reduce” comes first, even before “Reuse” and “Recycle,” so how about celebrating Earth Day by clearing out some of your old, unused stuff? Why not spend the afternoon making your own little part of Earth a cleaner, happier place? Simplify your life and for the good of the planet, keep only what you need. Start becoming an environmental activist in your own home.
Here’s Walter Cronkite’s 1970 commentary on the event … Happy Earth Day!
Darn near every moment is a “teaching moment” for me and my kids. In fact, my boys will tell you that I’m pretty much teaching them something all day long, except they call it “yelling.” Seriously though, the first time Junior says, “#$@!” and everyone giggles and looks at Dad, we all realize that behavioral modeling is a huge factor in shaping our children’s lives. My sons watch me, and they listen closer when I’m not even talking to them. The see how I work, how I play, how I dress, how I interact with my friends and my wife, how I maintain our household, what my priorities are, and yes—even how I eat.
In a recently published interview on Nourish, Cook for America co-founder, Kate Adamick, suggests we view school cafeteria staff as Lunch Teachers, reminding everyone that “what students are fed at school teaches them how to think about food, what to think of as food, and how to behave while consuming it—all lessons that they will carry with them for the remainder of their lives.”
While not exactly a revelation, Adamick’s statement is still, for many, a necessary prompt. Each meal is an opportunity to show our children how to live. Proper nutrition is a fundamental skill that is essential for enduring health and well-being. The kitchen and the school-cafeteria are classrooms where kids learn (or don’t learn) how to select, prepare and eat the right kinds of food. And yet, as Adamick notes, “frequently, school administrators appear to have forgotten that students don’t stop learning just because it’s lunchtime.”
While a good school-lunch program is imperative and can make a difference for many poorly nourished kids, I believe that I’m in the best position to teach my children the importance of proper eating. Parents are overwhelmed much of the time and can make a habit of depending on schools to cover the gaps and keep their kids well-directed. For the most part, given their limited resources, public educators do a wonderful job, but considering the litany of concerns regarding most school-lunch programs (in the U.S.) this is one subject where Father/Mother probably knows best.
Eating, cooking and even shopping together provides wonderful opportunities for shoulder-to-shoulder activities that can positively shape a child’s development. Health, creativity, earth-consciousness and self-assuredness are just a few of the traits that can be nurtured by sharing good eats.
Preparing home-packed lunches for my boys ensures that they’ll be taking a piece of me along with them to school. It enables me to influence them at a critical (under-supervised) point in their day without even being there. It’s this type of unobtrusive, indirect instruction (modeling really) that makes the biggest impact on my kids, and there’s no “yelling.”
If you’re looking to home-school the “lunch” portion of your kids’ curriculum, Lunchsense provides the perfect platform—pack a lesson plan in every box:
With quiver loaded, Cupid is taking careful aim, but don’t let the barrage of blush-shaded marketing prompts caress you into breaking your heart-shaped budget. Valentine’s Day has, like so many holidays, evolved into a manufactured excuse to consume more stuff in greater quantities. We are encouraged by smiling, hugging and kissing couples to purchase jewelry, flowers, candies and all manner of amorous enticement. It is suggested that we solidify and reaffirm our affections by opening our wallets, yet I maintain that an expression of love need not come with a price-tag attached.
If your sweetheart requires an emailed reminder from FTD to say “I love you” and that sentiment is shared only once a year, your relationship is no bouquet of roses. The real currency of love is sincerity, shared not on single, date-book occasions but always, and mostly without sparkling accoutrement. True expressions of devotion are rarely found on racks of greeting cards. Affection is displayed in showy flourishes, but love distinguishes itself steadily, in all seasons.
I’m not totally frowning on gifts—if you’re feeling flush, by all means, share the wealth. But you don’t have to buy-buy-buy just because a cut-out Cupid offers alluring promises at 20% off. No perfume, trinket or charm can adequately prove love (though many jewelers will swear a diamond comes close). If you want to impress your feelings upon someone special, carefully consider what they might actually need before bringing out the bankcard. Caring means providing what your significant other really wants without them ever requesting it. Most importantly, remember that your sentiments are more sincere when accompanied by acts of kindness.
Of course, Lunchsense suggests…lunch. Perhaps a Chicken Caesar Salad, wedge of French bread, orange slices and chocolate truffle. Make it any day, include a sweet note and you’re positively proving how much someone is loved.
Doing business without the benefit of eye-contact or a firm handshake requires a certain leap of faith. Today’s international, web-based marketplace has created exciting opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs alike, but who can you trust? More and more online shoppers are learning to read the signs—looking for badges, seals or logos that indicate a product or service meets the specific standards of a respected accreditation authority. Now, Lunchsense is proud to announce: we’ve been awarded the Green America Seal of Approval! This widely recognized trustmark assures conscientious consumers that we are a socially and environmentally responsible business.
Green America is a non-profit membership organization concerned with the promotion of ethical consumerism. The group, originally called Co-Op America, formed in 1982 to “create an economy that works for people and the planet.” A few of the projects they actively support include:
Green America (along with Global Exchange) has hosted the Green Festival for the last three years, and they also publish the National Green Pages. This directory links values-driven consumers with like-minded, “Green” businesses in an effort to keep dollars working on the side of good.
Prospective members of Green America’s Green Business Network undergo a rigorous screening process before they receive the Seal of Approval and gain their listing in the Green Pages.
Qualifying businesses must demonstrate that they:
We thought, “That sounds like us,” and Lunchsense submitted the extensive application, detailing not only our own company’s practices, policies and principles, but also everything we knew about our vendors. Green America next conducted a follow-up interview with Lunchsense founder and president, Nancy Myers. They offered a few final recommendations, and after a favorable evaluation, we received their Seal of Approval.
Lunchsense has always been concerned about the earth, sustainability and improved living. Our mission, “changing the way people think about lunch,” plainly states our focus on innovation—change. “There’s got to be a better way!” was the impulse that launched Lunchsense.
Lunchsense practices complete openness regarding the choices we make in constructing and marketing our product. We stand behind our combination of reliable performance, practicality and sustainability. We sincerely believe Lunchsense offers a decided improvement over comparable alternatives. As far as the fair trade, sweatshop, and industrial waste issues go, we actively support efforts to combat these social injustices. We periodically use our FaceBook page, and this blog space to promote these interests. Simply put, we care.
Our involvement with the Green Business Network is another opportunity to tell you about Lunchsense—who some of our friends are, and how we do business. We want to help people get to know us better, because great minds think alike! And, who wouldn’t shop at a groovy, green, progressive place rather than a pollution-spewing, profits-at-any-cost sweatshop, if given the choice? It makes sense to read the signs.
Photo uploaded to stock.xchng by hortongrou.
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/ Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/because three/is a magic number.”
Jack Johnson’s “Schoolhouse Rock” mash-up underlines an important point about the New Age “R’s”—there are three! While tremendous strides are being made in the areas of recycling AND reusing, not enough people are making a concentrated effort to reduce the amount of waste they create.
According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, the recovery rate for solid municipal waste (SMW = trash) through recycling (and composting) was up to 32% in 2005, a significant increase over the less than 10% recycled in 1980. However, the creation of SMW has risen 60% since 1980.
The EPA estimates that each American still makes about 4.5 pounds of waste each day (most in the world), and that’s just not getting the job done. No matter how much we recycle (or reuse), if we don’t reduce the amount of trash we’re producing, we’re going to rubbish our green Earth.
It’s true that we live in an age of increased environmental awareness, and more and more people are “going Green,” but these changes continue to occur primarily within our “comfort zone.” It’s easier than ever before to recycle, and buzz-words like “vintage,” “antique” and “eBay” have given rise to an entire thrifting culture, but it takes a real effort and some humility to learn to make do with less.
Consider these facts:
In spite of our idiosyncrasies, we generally move in large groups over the smoothest path, and collectively share the suffering or the success of the passage. I’m one to think that conditioning plays a larger role than nature in determining how we act, and we’re not born with some fundamental need to wreak havoc on Earth’s ecosystems. On the contrary, our “survival instinct” should preclude irreparably trashing the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life. It’s obsolete consumerism that has conditioned us into irresponsible behavior patterns. We continue to celebrate excess in the United States like it was 1955, and we still aspire to have more.
It has been standard corporate policy in our country to sell more stuff, therefore making more stuff and consequently convincing us to buy even more stuff. We simply need to change our thinking. We have to shift from “wanting more” to “needing less.” We must favor products and industries designed to reduce waste. And, we should demand responsibility from the companies we support.
Any change in our national psychology has to start with the adults, but must really take hold with our kids. Education is always money in the bank, so we should rightfully start with the 3 R’s and reiterate the order of preference—“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!”
Most kids already have the hang of the recycling bit, and my own boys frequently trade toys with neighbors and even recently conducted a used toy sale (which netted an amazing $125). They also make good use of second-hand clothes. BUT, they still want the latest and greatest (evil commercials) a lot of the time, and as loving parents we frequently try to give it to them, caving in to “everyone else has one” pleas.
It’s important to remember “Reduce” comes first for a reason. Admittedly, it takes a decided change in attitude to shrink our super-sized appetites, and it’s not easy to get by with less, but it is possible.
Lunchsense is committed to reducing food and packaging waste by providing an Earth-friendly, reusable lunch kit that puts the “R’s” in their proper place. Recycling can’t do the job alone. Reduce and reuse first, “because three is a magic number.”
I came across this article at the grow and make blog, and just had to bring it to your attention.
It echoes a sentiment of mine that’s been growing and developing with this lunchbox biz, which goes like this: Plastics are a useful, valuable resource created from another useful, valuable, infinitely malleable resource – oil. We’ve all heard that plastics are going to be around for hundreds or thousands of years, which is why I’m appalled that we are churning out items of plastic that are meant to be used once and disposed – plastic packaging, for example. According to the author Susan Freinkel, half our plastics production is for single-use “disposable” items.
Please read the article, and if you can find the time, read the book, which comes out April 18.
Plastics – a Toxic Love Story – I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
The bustling staff at Lunchsense world headquarters is a proud, yet mostly humble group. The truth is, we get a little squeamish about blowing our own horn, so—it’s always nice when someone else decides to tell more folks how helpful our lunchboxes can be.
HouseSmartsTV.com is primarily a home-improvement site run by Chicagoland’s “Mr. Fix-It,” Lou Manfredini. They also occasionally produce cooking or lifestyle pieces, and they recently featured Lunchsense in a video about healthy, environmentally-conscious, noontime-meal solutions. Hooray!
Check it out, pass it on and above all else—enjoy your lunch!
A couple months ago I eliminated my fax number.
Although I wasn’t going out of my way to get rid of it, I am now no longer reachable by fax.
I guess it isn’t accurate to say I eliminated my fax number. Actually, it was taken from me. Here’s what happened:
I subscribed to a service called eFax that assigned a telephone number to me that served as my “fax” number. If someone wanted to send something to me, they’d dial that number then eFax would email me a digital file (like, though not, a pdf) of the sent pages, and I’d be good to go. Best of all, it was free, simple, and seemed a good environmental choice – no trees were killed in the conveyance of information to me. eFax did offer several other “premium” plans that came with a monthly price tag, but since I’d receive maybe one fax every other month, the free option was absolutely sufficient for my needs.
Recently, I worked with a customer that apparently didn’t have my email address, but did have my fax number, so he sent me a handful of faxes – about six in all, each about three or four pages in length.
What I didn’t realize (or more likely since I’d had this service for a couple years, what I didn’t remember) was that if I sent or received more than 20 pages in a single month I’d not qualify for eFax’s free service any longer.
So I was a bit surprised to get a notice from eFax stating that because of my recent activity I no longer qualified for the free option and in order to continue using their service I’d have to upgrade to the premium plan.
SO – Does $17 a month seem a bit steep for a biz to pay for a service that it uses maybe 6 times a year? To send or receive information that can also be conveyed – in better form – via email? Which, ironically, became my only choice not because I sent a bunch of faxes, but because someone else sent just barely 20 pages in a 30 day period?
‘Seemed that way to me, but I wanted to find out if eFax felt the same way. I called them several times, and was given the same answer several times – in order to keep my fax number I had to cough up $16.95 a month.
After mulling it over, I realized that (even though it feels otherwise) THIS WAS NOT BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE. The eFax phone people were cordial, honest, and straightforward. The 20 page limit was there in my original plan, I exceeded my free limit, and I was shown the door.
THIS IS ONLY A REALLY LOUSY BUSINESS MODEL.
The fax number just sat there in my signature block, quiet and safe and staid: address, phone, fax, email, website. It wasn’t really doing anything except adding one more line to the block, and maybe adding the perception of one more nugget of legitimacy to my operation here: “see? I’m a REAL biz – I have a fax number.” Now that it’s gone, though, I realize it won’t be missed. While I feel for the people that have my contact information but don’t know the fax number isn’t live anymore (although so few of them fax anything I’m not losing any sleep over it).
But as a small biz owner, I am somewhat more concerned to think that eFax considers this a viable way to do business. Yeah, they weren’t making any money off me, so why should they care? Here’s why:
They hasten the demise of their own services by kicking me out. They weren’t losing any money on me either, but they did lose a whole lot of goodwill.
I hear it said that bad customer service stories are repeated nine times by the “victim”. I don’t want that kind of storytelling about Lunchsense, ever.
It’s actually not been that big of a hassle to get my fax number off my “collateral” (that’d be the name for all the paper stuff that has my biz information on it), as most of it I print on-demand – for example, I have the file with the letterhead, and when I need to write a letter, I write it and print it (or, more often, email it). Invoices, packing slips, carton inserts, whatever – most of it either didn’t have the fax number to begin with or I only print in small quantities.
I can also email printer scans for someone who has to have my signature, so the ONLY THING I’m now left without is the ability to receive a fax. It is no significant loss, frankly.
Please: do you have a similar story? If you were me, what would you have done?
Next week: a customer service tale that I strive to emulate.
Hot enough for ya? How ’bout cooling off with a nice ice pack…and a great lunchbox to go with it! Stroll on over to Ecobunga! and find a coupon code for a sweet 25% discount on Lunchsense purchases over $35. Dig a little further and you’ll find a boatload of other great green coupons, giveaways, sweepstakes, discounts and more. Check it out!