Logan Reached His Goal of Diverting 10,000 LBS of CO2 From Entering the Atmosphere!

After starting WHEN, NOT IF in April, Logan hoped to divert 1,000 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. In 3 months, he reached his goal by getting people to not drive their cars one day per month.  Then, Logan set a lofty goal of 10,000 lbs of CO2 by the year end 9 months in.  That’s when Logan changed his approach and asked people to pledge to reduce their total driving by 5-50% each week.  By getting people to pledge to reduce their driving at the Annual West-End Celebration in Monterey last weekend, he reached his goal in just one day!  Wow!

Join Logan in fighting climate change by pledging to reduce the number of miles you drive each week.  Go to his website at  It’s easy to do because his website does all the calculations for you.  All you need to do is enter how many miles you drive during a typical week and your car’s MPG. Easy peasy.  He’ll add your pledged contribution to see if he can now meet the new goal of 25,000 lbs of CO2 by December 2016. 

Even if you aren’t a philanthropist who can change our energy infrastructure, you CAN pledge to reduce your driving. Your contribution will send a message to everyone that even one person can help us lower or CO2 by 60% in 10 years. Logan thanks you for doing your part!

Back-to-School Supplies That Are Safe For Kids!

Wow – summer really is winding down!  Whether your kids are getting ready for school to start or if they have already started, here are some of the Environmental Working Group’s tips about school supplies that are safer than others. 

Select backpacks that are made with natural fibers.  If you can’t find cotton or hemp backpacks, choose polyester or nylon.  Stay away from backpacks made with PVC or #3 plastics on the label.

Choose lunch boxes that don’t have lead paint, PVC, BPA or antimicrobial chemicals.  Be careful of products made in 3rd-world countries because they may use leaded paint even when they don’t state that on their labels.  It’s best to choose reusable containers or those made of lightweight stainless steel or plastics #1, 2, 4 or 5.

Send you kids’ beverages in reusable BPA-free plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel containers.  Don’t use commercial bottled water because it’s expensive, produces huge amounts of waste, and the water quality is the same as filtered tap water.

Crayons are made from paraffin wax, which is a petroleum product, so buy crayons that are made with soy or beeswax.  Permanent markers and dry-erase pens have solvents so buy sparingly if necessary.  Scented markers encourage kids to smell chemical fragrances that have unknown chemicals. Not good.

Use reusable pens that have ink refills to reduce waste.  Buy pencils made from sustainable wood or recycled newspapers. 

Avoid buying binders and spiral notebooks that have plastic covers on them.  They’re usually made from #3 plastic (PVC).  Instead, buy products made with recycled cardboard or natural fibers.  

Buy paper that is made from at least 30% post-consumer recycled paper that isn’t whitened with chlorine bleach.  Or, purchase paper made from alternative fibers or from sustainably-managed forests. For toilet tissues or paper towels, use 100% recycled without chlorine bleach.  Avoid products with fragrances and dyes.

Glue sticks and school glue (white, yellow or clear) are the best option for adhesives. Water-based glues are okay, even though they are made from petrochemicals.  Best to stay away from super glues, epoxies, modeling glue, and rubber cement because they contain toxic solvents.

Let’s get the kids off to school this year with school supplies that are safe for them to use!

Stress and Violence Negatively Affect Children's Brains

Did you know that the brain of a child who is raised in an environment with violence, fear, loud noises, and stress actually develops differently than a child who is raised in a safe bubble? I just read an interesting Newsweek article about how poverty (because all of the above typically constitutes low-income life styles) affects brain development. A USC study found that these children living in violent neighborhoods have weaker real-time neural connections and interaction in parts of the brain that deals with awareness, judgment, and ethical and emotional processing. Their brain activity is less organized and less developed than other children. 

As an educator, I knew that children who worried about whether or not they would have enough food to eat, concerned about unemployed parents, or feared for their lives performed poorly in classes, but I didn’t know that this environment changed the physiology of their brains.  I thought the damage done was psychological. That said, it seems to me that this might affect any socio-economic group that deals with sexual, child, spousal abuse, oppression, or even loud noises.

Kids, and everyone, really need a safe haven where they can unwind and be at peace.  The experts are looking to the schools – once again – to solve these problems but I don’t believe schools have the resources or the time to make a difference.  We need to expand programs like Big Brother/Big Sister that bring in loving mentors to give kids (of any socio-economic group) a break from their stressful homes.  And, ultimately, we need to address violence, poverty, and stress.  

Price Gouging by Drug Companies is Hurting Our Kids

While I am a proud American who thrives on capitalism and enjoys the risks and challenges associated with being in business, I am appalled by greedy drug companies and their current love for price gouging. 

When this information first became public, I was under the impression that medical research takes money – lots of money – and that some drugs would cost more than others because they may not have the volume of patients needed to lower the price.  Simple supply and demand, right? That made sense to me.  But, my husband Rob, who has spent the past 10 years trying to get pharmaceutical companies to take back expired and unused drugs to protect public health and so they don’t end up in the landfills (and ultimately in our drinking water) shared some staggering statistics with me.

Here’s how it works.

Drug companies that own patents for life-saving drugs like Epi-Pens (for allergic reactions to beestings and food) and others for epidemics like AIDS are NOT digging themselves out of research and development deficits like they claim.  Instead, they buy existing companies and jack up the price of the drugs as high as 400-1000%.  Basically, they raise the prices as high as they can – whatever they think the market will bear.  That’s why an Epi-Pen that cost just $57 in 2007, now costs over $300 today.  So a two-pack costs $600 and with an expiration date of one year, families need to continue to purchase new Epi-Pens even when they don’t use them

Mylan is the multinational pharmaceutical company that makes the Epi-Pen and has a near monopoly in the U.S. Their profits have skyrocketed to over a BILLION DOLLARS a year and it is 100% because of their price gouging.  Here’s why: Mylan sells that same Epi-Pen for just $43 in France. Huh? Just about every civilized country in the world regulates their drugs, kind of how America regulates the insurance industry, but here in the US, pharmaceutical lobbyists have prevented government from interfering with their advertising and pricing. Mylan’s marketing plan is brilliant – they convince parents that they need to have an Epi-Pen in their child’s backpacks, classrooms, cars, homes, and grandparent’s houses. By “educating” parents about their need to have Epi-Pens everywhere, they increase their sales exponentially. This is capitalism gone amuck!

What can you do about it?  Sign this petition!

Last Summer Hurrah!

Just returned from the best houseboating getaway on Lake Shasta with Jaclyn and Alex and friends!  It had been awhile since we waterskied and tubed, and now we’re all feeling muscles that we forgot we had. 

Driving the ski boat on the lake brought back fond memories of our Pine Flat waterskiing parties.  Just being away from cell towers (no internet or wifi) was such a liberating feeling – being disconnected from the rest of the world! Our houseboat came with a full-sized fridge, dishwasher, compactor, gas grill, stereo, TV (we didn’t use this!), jacuzzi, wet bar, and most importantly, A/C!

When not waterskiing, tubing, or wake boarding, we kayaked and paddleboarded. Thanks to Tim Niemier for shipping us his prototype for the new Origami Paddler (paddleboard that conveniently folds into thirds) just in time for this trip! I like the short length and buoyancy – this was my first time paddleboarding.  The water level was surprisingly high thanks to El Nino.  Johnny and Lori took toddler Azalea on our 3-person Ocean Kayak, and Jaclyn and I took Radar on the other kayak.  Not sure if Azalea or Radar liked being a passenger but it was still entertaining.  We traveled down to the dam and watched what happens (to another boat) when you pass through the buoys and get too close to the dam… the sheriff appears out of nowhere with sirens and loud speakers!

Finding creative ways to go down the slide quickly became a competition, and Alex catching a can of beer (nice toss Johnny!) mid slide won the biggest roar of laughter. When the sun went down, the 20-somethings soaked in the hot tub under a gorgeous full moon while drinking champagne.  A D’Arcy tradition, we played Taboo but apparently the elders had an advantage (you’d never know it by the scores) because it was an “older version from the 80’s.” Really made me feel old when they didn’t know who Walter Cronkite was or never heard of “Bonanza”… Good food is always at the heart of our adventures, and Rob planned a healthy and delicious menu with everyone’s favorites: Thai Chicken Curry, Goi Ga (Chinese chicken cabbage salad), and fried rice and eggs.

These boating trips take lots of planning to round up the players and gather up all of the toys for each group – and it’s all worth it!  We’re already planning our next houseboating adventure for next summer!

Apple is "Sabotaging" iDevices with Updates that Slow Your Devices

I’ve always known that PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE was a sneaky marketing strategy where a company releases incrementally updated products that outshadow their existing products to get consumers to buy more products.  That’s capitalism.  I didn’t like it but I thought it was fair because had a choice: Stick with what I’ve got, or pay up for the newer model with cool bells and whistles.  Right?  Actually, NO. 

Apple (and other gadget companies) has been SABOTAGING THEIR DEVICES for years with software “UPDATES” that deliberately slow every iPhone and iPad except the very latest model.  So every time you get those prompts telling you to “Install Now” with promises that you’ll get beneficial upgrades to your old devices, Apple is in many cases intentionally installing updates that THEY KNOW will run slower than the version they're replacing, so that in your frustration, you’ll purchase their new products rather than deal with an increasingly slow device. 

Come to think of it, I remember being so excited every time I got a new MacBook Pro or iPhone because it was lightning fast.  Then, a year later, it just seemed to be so sluggish and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them.  That’s when my IT guru Patrick warned me to NEVER UPGRADE ANY OF MY APPLE DEVICES unless I got a message stating that the app or the device would not work without the upgrade. Wow.  [IT NOTE: SECURITY UPDATES EXCLUDED]

Then my husband Rob told me that Apple designs its iPhones so that you cannot remove the battery to build in obsolescence.  He spent years working directly with the Battery Council and Apple to get them to change this ridiculous practice to stop environmental waste and unfair consumer relations, but Apple would not budge.  They are all about marketing and profits -- PERIOD.  That’s when I ordered 4 new Samsung Android cellphones for my family.  The batteries can be removed and replaced easily so we don’t have to throw out our phones when the batteries wear out, and the camera and other features are so much better. 

But if you still have an iPhone and you notice that it is running unusually slower than it used to, you might be able to “downgrade” your devices so they work as well as they did when you first got them.  I don’t have an iPhone anymore so I haven’t tried this but SumOfUs has laid out easy steps to downgrade your iPhones (see the link below).   And, while you're at it, sign SumOfUs’ petition to get Apple to stop sabotaging older iPhones and iPads here:

As of Today, The World Has Used the Whole Year's Worth of Resources!

It’s only August and the Global Footprint Society says that we’ve already used the whole year’s worth of resources!  Oh no!

So what does that mean?  When comparing our ecological footprint to our biocapacity, we’ve used the equivalent of one year (12 months) in just 7 months!

Watch this short video to see what’s happening and what you can do to help. 


Why America's Students are Falling Behind

The Global Achievement Gap

As a parent, you do what you can to prepare your children for college, and then ultimately, a successful career.  Right?  You search for the “best” schools that rank high and get kids into top colleges. Although you’re doing all the right things, you’re probably considering schools that are outdated because they are still teaching to the standardized tests.  Yup!  The curriculum emphasizes MEMORIZATION and COMPLIANCE in a new era where information is a click away. 

Do our 11th graders really need to memorize the years each US president held office?  Really? That just sucks up a huge part of your child’s brain capacity, which doesn’t leave time or energy to be innovative

According to Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, there are 7 key skills that our youth needs to master to be successful in landing great jobs.  Don’t wait for your schools to reform because it’ll take a few generations for them to get it right.  As a parent, you can instill these qualities right at home.  You can also have your children participate in ProjectMERIT, where they start a unique project that they organize and orchestrate on their own.  I have all of my students and clients do these projects.  Why? By giving them ownership of their project that they build from the ground up, they learn how to solve problems, communicate with business people, create a marketing plan, use social media to create a movement, and to think about major economic, environmental, and medical issues that they will inevitably face in the not-too-distant future. It really changes them from the inside out!

Here is Wagner’s list of things you can do at home to prepare your children for success in their careers:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:
    Give kids the opportunity to fix things that break at home and don’t hover while they do it.
  2. Leading by Influence:

Let your kids advocate for themselves. Give them guidance but let them to do the work.

  1. Agility and Adaptability:
    Demonstrate a “can-do” attitude when things go wrong.  Enlist their help in finding solutions when things change.
  2. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism:

Encourage your children to follow their interests that they can take to the next level.

  1. Effective Oral and Written Communication:
    Involve your children in lively conversations and debates. Have them write letters to improve their written communication.
  2. Accessing and Analyzing Data:

Demonstrate good research skills by showing your children how to find answers to any question and how to find reliable sources.

  1. Curiosity and Imagination:

Support your children’s curiosity by encouraging them to pursue answers or start projects.  Buy supplies and take them places to further explore their interests.

Two-hundred thirty-five years ago, the United States was formed by pioneers who followed their passion for a better life. Only the strongest and most innovative people dared to cross vast oceans to arrive at a hostile place where they weren’t wanted. They became our founding fathers and led America to become the superpower it is today.  But, after the Industrial Revolution, and then after the glory days post WWII, Americans have become passive. 

We no longer have to work family farms and we have become accustomed to luxuries like nice homes, cars, and 40-hour work weeks. Kids no longer have to work in family-run businesses or farms so they have lots of leisure time. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, students spend each year studying for standardized tests and memorizing useless facts that they could easily find on Google in a few seconds.

Because our students spend much of their precious time memorizing information and learning how to take standardized tests, they don’t have time to find solutions to problems big and small and use their brains to participate in innovative, creative, and exciting projects. It sounds to me like it’s time to make room in our children’s schedules to do something that will develop their initiative and entrepreneurial skills, and get their synapses in their brains firing again! 

Worried About Your New College Roommate?

Now that you’ve graduated from high school – YES! Congratulations! – and you’ve had the best summer ever (no summer reading assignments or summer school), you’re getting reading to close the living-at-home chapter in your life.  While you love your parents and siblings, you’re really ready to live on your own and start your life as a full-time college student.  I bet that sounds really good to you! And, unless you’re one of the very few students who get a single room during their freshman year, you’re probably wondering who this mystery roommate will be. 

Most colleges have you complete a survey to help them match you with a compatible roommate. They’re looking to see if you’re a night owl or if you get up at the crack of dawn, and possibly if you like country music or hip hop.  While it would be ideal if they really used their surveys to place roommates together, don’t be surprised if your roommate is your polar opposite.  It happens, but it doesn’t have to be a train wreck.

As freshmen, you’ll both be new on campus so you’ll probably eat your first meals together during orientation week until you make friends of your own.  Don’t expect that your roommate will be your next BFF because you’ll most likely be very disappointed.  Besides, the best roommates are neutral; people you get along with and respect, but don’t hang a lot of expectations on. This can help avoid unnecessary drama.

If you get your future roommate’s name and contact info, reach out by emailing or texting.  Ask where they’re coming from, what their major is, and what sports or extracurricular activities they participate in.  Another way to size them up is to check social media. Then ask if they plan to bring a microwave, fridge, fan, or other appliances that you might share.  You can offer to purchase one if they purchase the other.  It’s a good way to begin sharing and working together.

When you both arrive on campus, discuss which bed, desk and closet each of you will take before assuming one side is yours.  They may show up with just a suitcase and a backpack, or they might bring a Martha Stewart collection of bedding, towels, and window coverings.  As long as you both have designated sides of the room, you will be able to maintain your personal space and style. It’s good to establish this upon your arrival.  Sharing space is usually not a good idea.

To ensure mutual respect, discuss basic roommate rules.  Like “Fences make good neighbors,” rules make good roommates.  I know most college  students want to be easy-going and the thought of laying down roommate rules may seem over the top or unnecessary, but it’s inevitable that something they do (or you do) will irritate you (or them) and bringing it up later might cause a scene or create bad energy between you. Just by discussing both of your preferences ahead of time, you’ll probably never have to deal with the issues.  It creates mutual respect and boundaries.

Here are some rules to discuss:

  1. What time should lights go out and music be off?
  2. What time is the earliest for us to make noise (cell phone, music, computer)?
  3. Should we keep our food separate?  Should we have community food?
  4. How do you want to handle borrowing clothes, towels, toiletries?
  5. Do we want our room to be a social place where everyone congregates or a private place?
  6. What should we do if we invite someone to spend the night with us?
  7. How often is too often to have overnight visitors?

Heading off to college is both exciting and stressful.  You’re going to experience new things, learn more about yourself, and make lots of new friends.  A respectful roommate will ensure that you’ll have peace of mind and personal space when you need it.