The Beehive and the Hairball

comb Illustrations by Franke James

hairball and comb Illustrations by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair Illustration by Franke James

hair style Illustration by Franke James

hair style Illustration by Franke James

hair style Illustration by Franke James

math Illustration by Franke James

math Illustration by Franke James

math Illustration by Franke James
math Illustration by Franke James
beauty Illustration by Franke James
sink Illustration by Franke James
ringing clock Illustration by Franke James
cook Illustration by Franke James

foil Illustration by Franke James

landfill Illustration by Franke James

ask why Illustration by Franke James

fish Illustration by Franke James

yikes Illustration by Franke James

soup Illustration by Franke James

skull Illustration by Franke James

cigarette package from wikipedia

lipstick Illustration by Franke James

hairball Illustration by Franke James

hairwash Illustration by Franke James

sink Illustration by Franke James

My Green Beauty Action Plan

  1. 1. I Will Use Safer Hair Dyes: I will ask (insist) that my hair salon use hair dyes and shampoos from the 1290 companies that have signed The Compact for Safe Cosmetics which includes six common-sense requirements.
  2. 2. I Will Move To A Green Salon: Bad habits are hard to break. Salons (and uninformed clients) have been abusing our natural environment for years. Even though I love my salon, I am prepared to switch! Check out Clover Earthkind Hair Salon in Vancouver, as one example of a green salon. With a little effort (and pressure from clients), salons can use safer hair dyes, recycle foils, recycle empty dye bottles, and take other green actions to minimize their toxic and carbon footprint.
  3. 3. I Will Stop Building Foil Mountains: Recycling hair foils is a bit of a challenge but not impossible. Smelting appears to be the best way. Clover Earthkind Hair Salon used to wash their foils but now they are selling them to a scrap metal company. When I called Turtle Island Recycling and spoke to co-founder Louis Anagnostakos, I learned that anyone can drop off bags of foil at no charge (they discourage small numbers of bags but will accept larger quantities). They would sell the foil to smelting companies in North America. I then called North America’s leading recycler of foil from curbside collection programs, Connecticut Metal Industries. Interestingly, neither company had recycled hair foils — yet.

    Green Circle Salons is a new business launching in Toronto that promises to help local salons clean up their act and go green. They have their work cut out for them. Let’s hope they can do it!

  4. 4. I will NOT be intimidated by long chemical names: I will understand what I’m putting on my hair and skin by looking up the chemicals (and the products) at Skin Deep.
  5. 5. I Will Buy Fragrance-Free Cosmetics: I will reduce or eliminate products from my beauty regimen that contain “fragrance.” A loophole in Canadian and U.S. government regulations allows cosmetic companies to refuse to disclose what chemicals are in their fragrances on the basis that it’s a “trade secret.” Fragrance is used to mask or hide the odor of chemicals, but many contain phthalates which have been linked to hormone disruption.

Key Health Reports for You:

Environmental Working Group:
Teen Girls’ Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetics Chemicals
“Laboratory tests reveal adolescent girls across America are contaminated with chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected 16 chemicals from 4 chemical families – phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks – in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls aged 14-19. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects including cancer and hormone disruption. These tests feature first-ever exposure data for parabens in teens, and indicate that young women are widely exposed to this common class of cosmetic preservatives, with 2 parabens, methylparaben and propylparaben, detected in every single girl tested

US Breast Cancer Fund:
Policy and Research Recommendations: Cosmetics and Personal Care Products:
“Because the U.S. lacks a pre-market screening program, shampoo, deodorant, make-up, lotions and other products that consumers use every day contain chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems. Major loopholes in federal law allow the $50 billion cosmetics industry to put chemicals into personal care products with no required testing, no monitoring of health effects and woefully inadequate labeling requirements….

New York Times: A Simple Smooch or a Toxic Smack?
The debate seems to resurface every few years. Do some lipsticks contain lead? If so, is the amount so negligible that consumers have nothing to be concerned about? Or will all those years of applying lipstick several times a day add up to a worrisome accumulation of a dangerous substance?

Good green reading to get started:

Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry by Stacy Malkan, reveals the toxic truth about the personal care products used daily by women, men, teenagers and children – and how activists are forcing the industry to clean up its act. Author Stacy Malkan is also co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products and Services in Canada by Adria Vasil. Her book features a Top Ten list of beauty product ingredients to avoid, including DEA, Parabens, PPD, Toluene, and Phthalates.

Writing and illustrations © 2009 Franke James, MFA
Franke James on Twitter

Thanks go to Ontario chemistry secondary school teacher Anthony Corvinelli who helped me in my hair dye research. Anthony also collaborated with me on Sparking a Green Conscience.

Sparking Your Green Conscience

Do something green & document it

by Franke James

In July, I spoke at several climate change education events which were organized by Stan Kozak for the Ontario Teachers Federation. Following the McMaster event, teacher Anthony Corvinelli, contacted me to find out whether teachers could use “What’s bothering your green conscience?” to spark cross-disciplinary learning in schools, at the elementary and secondary level. This post is my answer to that question. It’s an overview of the green conscience concept, with an exercise idea at the end. Please let me know whether it’s useful to you!

What is a “green conscience”?
And do you have one?

green conscience brain Illustration by Franke James

Take this little test to find out:

1. Do you feel guilty if you throw paper in the trash, instead of recycling it?
2. Do you turn off lights to save energy?
3. Do you wash pesticides off fruits? (And wonder if it does any good!)
4. Do rising CO2 emissions from cars, planes and other sources concern you?
5. Do you worry about climate change?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be developing a green conscience. Amazing things happened to me when I started listening to mine. Since 2007, I’ve taken action by selling our only car (an SUV), challenged City Hall for the right to build a green driveway — and then built it as a long weekend DIY project. I’ve combined five of my visual essays into a book called Bothered by My Green Conscience.

So, it was weirdly ironic that the debut of “Bothered by My Green Conscience” actually tested my green conscience! Check out “No One Will Know, Except You” to understand what I mean, and how it relates to environmental action (or inaction!).

no one will know shower illustration by Franke James

While I was writing “No One Will Know, Except You” I wondered if EVERYONE has a green conscience. To find out, I started asking other people about what’s bothering their green conscience…

First on…

twitter interview re: fast food; illustration by Franke James

There was no shortage of things nagging at people.

twitter interview re: fast food; illustration by Franke James

And I could identify with lots of them!

twitter interview re: beer caps; illustration by Franke James

Not being a beer drinker, I’d never thought about beer caps not being recyclable, but I could see that being an annoying problem.

I also asked people in art workshops

University of Cincinnati student holds up his Green Conscience art work

University of Cincinnati (UC) architecture student, Minh, created an op-art collage of an exhaust-spewing sports car driving over a subdivision of houses. He said, “My green conscience is bothered by my love of driving around.”

University of Cincinnati student holds up his Green Conscience art work

UC architecture student DJ said, “My green conscience is bothered by using lights when the sun is up.” Hmmm…. buildings that don’t need lights on in the daytime? What a great idea!

Everyone I met, I asked, “What’s bothering your green conscience?”

Here are some of the responses I got at my book launch

feedback card from Bothered by My Green Conscience book event

This person asks a good question about condo buildings, apartments and recycling…

feedback card from Bothered by My Green Conscience book event

And here’s a funny one we’ll be framing for posterity (as well as immortalizing here)…

feedback card from Bothered by My Green Conscience book event

I didn’t write the one below — but I certainly could have!

feedback card from Bothered by My Green Conscience book event

I highlight my hair and always feel some guilt and concern about the damage it’s doing to the environment. (More on this idea later..)

After all this interviewing and questioning people about their green conscience, I can say this… While most people don’t think of themselves as ‘environmentalists,’ almost everyone has a green conscience that bothers them on a daily basis. That little voice saying, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t throw that in the trash, it goes in recycling…’

Realistically, some of us will throw it in the trash anyway, but the conflict rages in our head. We know that climate change is a big problem, but we feel powerless. So what are we going to do?

Raise the Bar

I think it’s time to raise the bar — to do more than just change a light bulb. Listen to your green conscience, then choose to do something ambitious that will have a real impact in your life. I call it ‘doing the hardest thing first.’ Because it’s far more satisfying (and fun) to do something that is making a difference.

The Exercise:
What’s bothering your green conscience?

#1. Identify: What’s bothering your green conscience?

Is there something you do daily that nags at you? Here are a few ideas to get started: throwing paper in the trash rather than recycling, using paper towels, buying imported food, using harsh chemicals on your hair, getting a ride to school in a gas guzzling vehicle… The list goes on and on. What really bugs you?

#2. Analyze: How big an impact does it make?

What did you identify as “bothering your green conscience”? Take that specific action and analyze it’s impact on the environment. How big a problem is it? For example if your school has 500 students in it, and every student did the same action as you — what impact would it have on the environment? Write your numbers down.

Now multiply that action across your city or town. And then across the country. How big an impact does it make?

#3. Imagine: Changing your behavior

What would it take to get you to change your behavior? What incentive would make you want to stop doing it and start taking positive action? How would you persuade others? Would earning marks for it make a difference?

Play with the numbers from step #2. If 50 students changed their behavior, what difference would it make?

#4. Act: Do something green. And document it.

Do something green!
Take whatever action is bothering your green conscience and try this experiment…

1. Find a way to fix it (temporarily anyway).
2. Plan out your positive green action.
3. What impact does your action have on the environment?
4. How does it make you feel?
5. Observe your response to your new action. Is it hard to do? Will you keep doing it?
6. What reactions do you get from other students to your green action?
7. What does your family think?

Document it: All of those reactions are great fodder for your green conscience project. Can you imagine what people would say if you did….?? (See the interviews with my family in my visual essay My SUV and Me say Goodbye.)

Consider a range of mediums to document it. Writing is an obvious one but also consider performance art, poetry, dance, music, etc. The important idea is to do something green — and then tell other people what you did via whatever communication medium appeals to you (and if you’re doing this for a class — your teacher).

If you’re really clever, maybe you’ll find a way to get the attention of news media for your good green action? (Just make sure you stay on the right side of the law.) Amplifying your message via radio, TV, newspapers, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube should earn bonus marks… because spreading the message that each of us can make a difference by taking action on climate change is what it’s all about.

Have fun learning and exploring your green conscience.

Let me know what’s bothering your green conscience — and how you took positive action! I just might want to document it…

Looking for more ideas on why making climate change art is important? “Q&A: Why make climate change art? Six Tools to Make Climate Change Art”

illustration by franke jamaes, Q&A on making climate change art

Writing and illustrations © 2009 Franke James, MFA
(with the exception of the response cards from the book launch)

Franke James on Twitter