College students going green and getting healthy!

ema blog1
Robyn with daughter Emma and friend Aaron at Rex Lee Race a Cure

I ran a 10K last Saturday with my daughter, Emma, and her friend Aaron, both former high school track stars. It was the Rex Lee race for a cure for cancer, a cold but sunny day here in Utah.

Cancer drug companies seem to have focused in on sponsoring these runs, to raise money for drug research. This is, of course, a great idea if you believe that injecting more chemicals into cancer patients will at some point result in a “cure.”

(The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The idea that toxic chemicals and burning rays could “cure” cancer has been an epic failure since it was introduced well over 50 years ago. Medicine will show you results that sound much more promising than that, with specific treatments and specific cancers. But overall, we have not “cured” anything even if we sometimes can burn back tumor growths temporarily, with a huge cost to overall quality of life in the process. And Medicine is doing nothing to strengthen the immune system and the overall organism that caused the cancer in the first place.)

But I digress. I’m really proud of Emma. She came home from working for 7 months in Europe inspired by their ways. She bought a CSA share, with her own money, in her little town of Cedar City where she goes to college. She goes grocery shopping with her bicycle that has a basket on it. She hangs her laundry to dry rather than use the energy of a dryer.

Emma and Aaron with hot pink smoothie
Emma and Aaron with hot pink smoothie

She saw a guy at the race drinking a green smoothie, and she yelled, “Hey! Good job, you! Look, this is my mom, the Green Smoothie Girl!” (Ugh.)

She talks often about how being a vegetarian leaves a small carbon footprint. She points out ways we could be more energy efficient. She’s committed to her life not being one of massive consumption. I am really proud of her. She’s highly aware, works for a nonprofit humanitarian agency as a volunteer, is paying for her own trip to Thailand when this semester is over, to do humanitarian work for the summer. If she is indicative of her generation, there’s a lot of hope that things will change for the better.

And according to her race results, she ran a 6:30 minute mile. (Mine says I ran a 7:37 minute mile. Clearly something was wrong, because we don’t run that fast.) But we were powered by our electrolyte-rich Hot Pink Smoothies (which you get for free signing up for the newsletter). Delicious. Aaron is the typical college guy who never eats anything healthy, and even he liked it!


An unexpected benefit of the green smoothie habit!

Green Earth Ecology wAl tangledwingI met Blaine on the airplane home from Expo West in early 2013. We are both Delta frequent fliers so we got first class upgrades back to Salt Lake. He’s the CEO of a health products company, and it turned out we live a mile apart. Now we are friends and we hang out now and then, and talk about being single parents and CEO’s living half our lives in hotel rooms with zero time for a “social life.” He just wrote me this email with a great thought, about one of the many cool benefits of changing a lot of your calories to be blended greens and other plants:

So, I’ve been doing smoothies for years.  But I just started doing “greener” smoothies when I met you.  I kept up the berries, soy milk, sweeteners and all that–but just added greenery.  Then towards the end of last year, I decided to get healthier.  I cut way down on the berries, cut out the soy milk, the sweeteners etc., and just started using some of your basic recipes where the sweetness comes from an apple or a banana.

overflowing garbage cansI didn’t think too much of it, except that I was feeling healthier, but then recently I noticed something strange. I don’t have any trash. There is no packaging if you’re throwing fruit and veggies into a blender and eating them. I’ve gone over three weeks without needing to put my garbage can out.  Between the recycling can and my trash can, I think I could make it a month without needing to put either one out.

compost 2I was telling this story to my CFO and he said he has a neighbor who puts out 8 trash cans weekly. I’ve got several neighbors who put out 3, and they’re constantly overflowing.

Green smoothies have more “green” impact than I’d thought about. The environmental impact is impressive, since consumption is rapidly filling up landfills.

Great thoughts by my friend Blaine. I, too, fail to take my garbage out except 1-2 times per month. (Partly, Blaine and I both travel a lot. But also, almost everything left over from what my son and I eat can be just tossed back in the dirt.)

Thanks for the positive green thoughts, Blaine, if you’re reading this.

We love the SOUTH! part 1 of 3

Congrats to these three readers who won Cool Caps for their green smoothies, by being the FIRST to write us:

Patricia Ottley of Shelley, ID; Sandy Zent of Ten Sleep, WY; Kylee Wilkins of Lehi, UT

Did you know that caps and lids were the third-most collected debris item worldwide along shorelines, with almost 900,000 collected in 2010 alone?

What a great green habit, these dishwasher-reusable straws and lids-–by a GSG reader-mom, of course!

We’re just back from Atlanta, Columbia, Charlotte, and Raleigh, where we had a blast meeting our friends in the South. (And then Kristin and I stayed out till 3 a.m. in both Charlotte and Raleigh, checking the city out, before getting 4 hours of sleep and jumping out of bed to teach more classes!)

At first it was a little disconcerting, all the people saying, “AMEN!” and “HALLELUJAH!” in response to whatever I’d say in the lecture.

By the fourth class, I would actually wait for it. Feel the tiniest bit dejected if I didn’t get the revival response.

I love the South. I’m from Virginia and realized this past weekend that I miss it—the warmth and hospitality Southerners are famous for. In Columbia, I reconnected with one of my dear friends from high school, Emilie, a valedictorian and a phenomenal athlete I haven’t seen in 27 years. In Charlotte, Courtney showed up, our homecoming queen and my freshman-year roommate I haven’t seen in ages either.

I’m almost always given what I call “love letters” at my classes. In Raleigh, Jennifer brought me photos of her and her husband, Paul, before and after his dramatic 127-lb. weight loss in one year, from shifting to a whole-foods diet after a cardiac scare.

The Blackwell family gave me a letter with 10 photos of all the habits they’ve adopted they say are GSG-inspired. Green smoothies made by a nine-year old, homemade spelt bread, my granola, kefir, coconut oil, salad always on the dinner plate, and…..this one’s fun!…..they’ve been on a Sugar Bet ever since I made a pledge with Matthew 10 months ago. None of the kids have eaten sugar in nearly a year! I’m so impressed!

Joanie in South Carolina brought me a hand-written letter and hand-tatted green cross from Hope Green, in Tucson, who has been to my class and sent her friend Joanie. (I should have been named Hope Green. Not fair.)

I want you to know that I read and save your letters, and that the comments you make appreciating my mission, are deeply meaningful to me. I mostly remember names, and it’s so fun in nearly every city to meet people whose names I’ve known from five years of blogging and facebooking.

I feel a deep connection to people who say, “I’ve been with you for so long that I received 12 Steps to Whole Foods, one chapter at a time, in 2008.” Y’all are my people, darlin!

(I call my kids, and other kids I love, “darlin,” probably because of my upbringing in the South. Everybody called Kristin that in the Carolinas and she loved it!)

I put the site up five years ago. I can’t dramatize it by telling you it was just an embryo, or a dream, at the time. There was no dream. It was just some content I put up on the internet, thinking I’d walk away from it and hope it helped some people.

I had no idea how it would resonate with, now, about 100,000 visitors a month, and sometimes as high as 10,000 blog readers a day, or lectures in 50 cities annually averaging 200 attendance.

I love all the people like Hope, who send people she loves 2,500 miles away to hear my message. Our long-time reader Kari Powell, who sent an email to 100 people to attend our class in Raleigh, many of whom were there. More about some amazing people I met tomorrow…..

Be the Change….part 3 of 3

Can we talk about ways to walk against the current because we want to Be the Change? I hope you’ll share your ways too, so we can all learn from you.

On airplanes, I hate that they keep bringing everyone cup after cup of water. I keep my cup and ask for refills. (I wish I could bring water from home, but obviously that’s not possible.) Flight attendants say, “I’ll bring you a fresh one,” and I explain, “No thanks, I’m trying to make a small carbon footprint.”

Some just give me a strange look because they may not be familiar with the term. I don’t know where it comes from, but to me it means walking lightly on the earth. Not leaving deep tracks that hurt the next generations. Minimizing the amount of fossil fuels that had to be pulled out of the Earth just because I lived here.

I don’t want to take more than my “fair share” of resources. It means I don’t use stuff with lots of packaging.

What are things YOU do, to opt out of so much use of fossil fuels, so many throw-away items heaping up the landfills, so much excess?

Some of mine:

I always re-use water bottles (until I lose them or they break). I fill them with filtered, alkaline water from home, rather than the kind that has to be flown and trucked all over the world. (And which cost twice as much as gasoline, by the way!) When traveling, I try to buy gallons of filtered water rather than water bottles. Over 1 million water bottles go to landfills daily.

I refuse the napkin they give you with the drink on airplanes. In a restaurant, I take just one napkin, and look for ways to minimize the amount of throw-away stuff I’m given to hold my food.

I avoid overeating.

I eat plants, since eating animals is one of the most unsustainable practices there is. (It takes 20 lbs. of plants, and 1,000 gallons of water, to make 1 lb. of meat!)

I reuse grocery bags indefinitely. I refuse them if my items can fit in my purse. Or I take my reuseable ones.

I buy very little that comes in boxes or cans.

I recycle.

I don’t take a newspaper anymore and choose paperless billing.

I garden, organically.

I compost. I take other people’s bags of leaves, and compost them, too. (I let my own leaves compost in the lawn.)

I don’t spray for bugs.

I use organic, biodegradable cleaners and soaps.

I teach my kids to do all this stuff.

I would love to hear your ways of leaving a smaller carbon footprint? I want to learn more, do more.

American processed-food outreach knows no bounds

I seem to be rather clumsy. First of all, I’ve been initiated as a cyclist:

After three months and about 1,000 miles, I finally wrecked my bike. Thanks to a kid changing lanes as I hauled down the canyon at 15+ mph. (Kid was fine.)

See the photo of us on the balcony (on our cruise vacation we just got back from). You can see the road rash on my shoulder. (I have some other banged-up parts that don’t show. Ow.)

Emma and I may or may not have sung karaoke Love Story (Taylor Swift) with an audience of several hundred and a live band including backup singer, see photo below. I may or may not choose to put the video up on YouTube.

But then I was swimming in Cabo a few days ago, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific at a place called The Arch, see photo of Emma below. (Sea lions! Sea turtle! Many beautiful fishies!) And I accidentally got smacked into a reef because I was checking out said beautiful fishies and apparently got too close just as a wave came in.

Anyway, my arm was all cut up. I don’t think my fellow passengers minded, since they figured THEY’D be safe in a shark attack. But the inflatable-boat captain who drove us out to Chileno Bay gave me a lecture, probably for everyone’s benefit, about staying away from the reef.

That’s why we call it ECO SNORKELING, he said.

Well, that’s just rich, I thought. A lecture on keeping the wildlife healthy, from a guy dumping Frito-Lay products by the bagfuls to feed the fish, to entertain the tourists. (Not that I didn’t feel guilty for donating part of my forearm to the coral–I very much regret any harm I may have unintentionally inflicted on it.)

Turns out that saltwater fish feel the same way about Frito-Lay that folks around here do. It was an all-out feeding frenzy.

I’ve been in over 20 countries in the past 3 years. In December I go to Africa. One thing that strikes me in my extensive travels is the Monroe Doctrine of the vast American processed-food empire. American outreach–the worst parts of our culture inflicted on helpless others–knows no bounds. I thought I’d seen it all in rural Vietnam when I saw a two-year old with black, rotted teeth, riding a tricycle and drinking Coke. I’ve seen impoverished Mexican mothers feeding their newborn infants Similac–no doubt given them free in the hospital to encourage them to bottle-feed rather than breastfeed.

And now we’re feeding the tropical fish fried corn chips.

Storing green smoothies: BPA in plastics [part 2 of 2]

I was recently in a conversation where a 23-year old adult said,  regarding this topic, “If I don’t drink bottled water, where will I get it?”   She was totally serious.   Back in the olden days (before water bottles but after the wheel was invented), we used to fill a reusable water bottle or cup at the sink or from the pitcher in the fridge or water cooler or fountain at work.   Soccer moms took a 2-gallon cooler with paper cups to the game.

A popular email goes around constantly about how a Johns Hopkins newsletter stated that Sheryl Crow’s breast cancer was caused by dioxins leaching into the bottled water she drank.   Sheryl Crow doesn’t know what caused her breast cancer any more than anyone else can isolate one factor like that (out of so many in our daily environment).   The watchdog sites like and were quick to repudiate the story.   This should not, however, be taken as evidence that plastics are perfectly safe.

While this email has no accuracy, and highly dangerous dioxins do not leach from plastic into water, other toxic chemicals like phthalates do.   Avoid bottled drinking water, which often contains more chemicals in the water than tap water does.   It may be convenient, but taking five seconds to fill our own water container not only saves us from drinking chemicals, it also decreases the impact on the environment.   Currently well over 1 million drinking water bottles DAILY are filling up our municipal garbage piles.

My town of 10,000 people ships its garbage to Price, Utah, two hours away, because our landfills are full.   One of the biggest-impact and lowest-sacrifice things we can do to ameliorate that situation is to SWEAR OFF BOTTLED WATER.

The best thing to put your green smoothie in is a simple canning jar.   No leaching of anything.   The only bad thing is that you have to be careful not to break it.