Archive for February, 2010

Who Knew?

February 25th, 2010

Emelia, thanks for the comment. Who knew I could still use my reusable thermos for lattes and other mixed drinks at Starbucks!

Emelia says:
Regarding the latte reusable thermos: As a former SBUX barista I can tell you that there is no reason why you can’t use a standard coffee thermos for lattes and other mixed drinks. In fact SBUX (and other coffee houses, I’m sure) offer a small discount for using a reusable cup. In case you forget yours, most places also have mugs on hand for doing the eco-thing.
Also, Sharpie as eyeliner… OUCH! ICK! Not a good idea at all!

Store Visit: Surfas

February 25th, 2010


More of my Los Angeles adventures continues.  I just got off a plane from LA to NY and I’m so glad to be home, but I’m running straight to work.  Today, I’m working with my favorite Real Housewife of NY—Kelly Bensimon–on a fun green makeover story (“Kelly Green”  Fun!), so these LA posts will end soon, I promise.    But today’s post is about a fun store I visited for the first time thanks to my friends at Apartment Therapy Los Angeles who turned me on to it (Thanks for the lead!).     The store is restaurant supply store Surfas in Culver City.   Open to the public and a must-visit for any foodie–from restaurant chef to home cook.


When I lived in Reading, PA, there was a warehouse restaurant supply store I loved visiting.   I love cooking supplies that are stripped down to their bare, hard-working essentials: no added packaging, no funny colors, no weird finishes: just raw metal, raw glass, raw plastic ready for rough, everyday cooking and use!     These restaurant supply stores are a great place to find hard-working cooking supplies at surprisingly low prices, like these lovely paella pans.


Sometimes you find things that you aren’t sure what the original function was for, but you love it anyway.   These were in the baking section—baking pans with perforations throughout—that I thought would be great to use as a small tray in the bathroom to keep bathroom essential organized.   Or maybe by the stove holding a tray full of cooking essentials like olive oil, vinegars, spices and more?


These large plastic trays have matching lids are prep containers for restaurants that can hold everything from meats marinating to vegetables cut for crudite. I love them for use at home because they are shallow, see-thru and inexpensive.   And aren’t they better looking than Tupperware?


One of the best looking cake stands I’ve ever seen.  Cast iron base just gives it a real, durable, sturdy look. 


And what one food item did I immediately gravitate towards?   Frozen cookie dough of course.  Costco isn’t the only place to find food in bulk…restaurant supply stores have an unusual selection you can’t find at warehouse clubs or even your normal supermaret: garnishes, purees, oils, finishing salts and more are everywhere.

Again, my thanks to the Apartment Therapy LA team for giving me this suggestion during our recent shoot.   I loved every minute I spent there!

Plastica is Fantastica

February 24th, 2010


You’d think an environmental lifestyle expert would not be excited about a store dedicated to all things plastic, right?   Plastic after all is petroleum based, not biodegradable and the source of many, many problems facing our planet.     But there is a difference between virgin plastic and recycled plastic, and the good news is that this Los Angeles-based store stocks many clever, fun and gorgeous recycled ideas.


A few years ago, recycled plastic rugs made into decorative and colorful oriental style rugs were all the rage.  They were not expensive, could be used indoors or outdoors (just hose it down) and proved green design could be pretty ingenius, too.

It’s nice to see this material evolving into other products, like these recycled plastic hampers.    Nothing is worse than an ugly PVC plastic hamper or a wicker one that slowly falls apart over time.   Here, this durable hamper is not only cool and green, it’s lightweight and nice enough to keep out all year round.


A reusable plastic shopping is no big deal, right?

What about a reusable shopping bag made from old highway billboard material?   No?

What about a reusable shopping bag made from old highway billboard material that is just one giant round of material, with cuts here and there, so it transforms into a tote when you put things in it, but folds back totally flat into a circle when it’s not in use?



And here’s something I can get behind.  These coloful recycled plastic watering cans are not only just $12 and handmade in Ghana, they are totally better and more functional than those metal watering cans!

Old plastic containers are spun (think ceramics class with wet clay into pots) into beautiful watering cans.   Heavy duty plastic containers are rescued from the waste stream, people are hired in Ghana to make them and your $12 purchase can be the best $12 you ever spent.  

That’s why I think Plastica is Fantastica.    Smart design, functional products, lots of green thinking.

Store Visit: New Rolling Greens

February 23rd, 2010


One of my favorite stores in Los Angeles is a landscaping center out in Culver City called Rolling Greens.    I love it so much, that I did a photo shoot there for Elle magazine a few years ago with my pal actress Kerry Washington for their annual green issue.

Well, I was pleasently surprised to see a former automative repair shop in Beverly Hills converted into an outpost of Rolling Greens.  I skidded by Prius to the side of the road to see what they did to transform this space and I think you’ll like what you’re about to see.


The store is divided into several lifestyle areas ranging from houseplants to flowers to bedding/home to food (where I naturally spent the most time figuring out what fattening treats to stock up on).    In the kitchen area, there was a great selection of these glasses, all made from old wine bottles expertly cut and sanded into tumblers.


Who would’ve guessed this building used to change tires and motor oil?   They did a great job keeping the open space of the former space without tearing it down.  That’s a rarity in sleek and modern Los Angeles.


The overhead lighting fixtures were great inspiration pieces for me.  I imagined simple wire baskets turned upside down and covered in unbleached linen or even burlap as pendant fixtures for the home.   As lovely as these were, the $700+ price tag was a tad high for something someone with a good set of crafting skills could replicate.   But this is LA after all: many people here are better at shopping then crafting.


It’s no surprise this was my favorite fine at Rolling Greens: glass mulch.  Maybe mulch isn’t the right word, but it’s tumbled recycled glass of all sorts of shades and colors to use on top of soil for plants.   Bling for plants.

I am tempted to grab an old glass bottle, shatter it, and tumble it in one of those rock tumbling kits I had as a kid to make my own gemstones.

Rolling Greens

7505 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Greening Tweets

February 22nd, 2010

I’m in Los Angeles for half this week for work and–of course–I am dealing with a difficult laptop/digital camera from uploading pics.  Technology can be slow!    So, as I sit here in the hotel lobby, I thought it would be fun to look at some celebrity tweets and see if I can give some short eco-advice how they can green their activities.    If you’re on twiter, you can also follow me @dannyjseo, too!

First up: @RyanSeacrest tweeted:

My mom just made 9 layer dip for the game (I think it’s only 8 but she says 2 types of shredded cheese counts as 2) we are watching from LA”

I say:

@ryanseacrest: no need to worry if organic avocados aren’t available. They are not usually heavily treated with insecticides anyway & u don’t eat the skin, so it should be good to go.

Second up: @tomhanks says:

ART DEPARTMENT added to Location Scouts makes for longer caravans. Guys, let’s car pool. Look for us in ANYTONE USA. Hanx

I say:

@tomhanks, very cool idea to carpool.  Have you contacted the Environmental Media Association about “greening” your next film? They help film sets go green.

Next victim: @taylorswift13

I just used a Sharpie as eye liner in the airplane bathroom.”

@TaylorSwift13 this is not a good idea at all.   Permanent markers are not designed for use on the skin, especially near the eye!  Our skin absorbs what we put on it, so please don’t try this again!

Now onto @theEllenShow who says:

True story: I had a snowball fight in my office this morning.”

@TheEllenShow how fun! I like to fill a tupperware container with snow and have a surprise fight in the summer. If you have a freezer that isn’t full, why not fill it with a box full of snow?  A packed freezer is an efficient one since it uses less energy to keep everything frozen.

And finally, a tweet from my colleague @JCPenney, @CindyCrawford:

My favorite new Starbucks drink–Grande nonfat green tea latte with only one pump of the sweetner–yummy!

I say:

@CindyCrawford, I could not agree more (although I choose soy). Starbucks sells reusable iced coffee thermos and hot thermoses for regular coffee.  We need a reusable one they can use for lattes!  Let’s campaign Starbucks!