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March 2006

Laptop Lunch Times: March 2006

The Laptop Lunch Times Cool-iscious
March 2006

Obentec Goes International!

We are pleased to announce that Den Gamle Skole (The Old School) has started selling Laptop Lunches in Denmark. Please take a look at their educational and innovative products for children at Meanwhile, we will continue to ship orders directly to those of you living in other parts of the world.

We'd also like to let our Australian and UK customers know that they can now order our full line of Laptop Lunch products directly through our Web site at

Question about Whole Foods...

Q: The Laptop Lunchbox would be perfect for Whole Foods Market. Have you tried contacting them?

A: Laptop Lunch products are available in Whole Foods stores in Southern California and Arizona. We have been in contact with the buyers in other regions, but they've expressed concern that Laptop Lunches might not sell well in their stores. If you'd like to see Laptop Lunches at your local Whole Foods market, please contact the Specialty Buyer to let him or her know that you and your friends would buy them there. As always, thanks for your support!

Amy and Tammy

In this issue, you'll find:

  • Monthly Menu
  • Breakfast for Lunch
  • Green Opportunities
  • New Retailer
  • Tips for Greening Conferences and Events
  • Featured Web site:
  • What works...Success Stories
Nutritious, waste-free lunches for the whole family

Monthly Menu

Breakfast for Lunch

Looking for something different this week? Try packing breakfast for lunch!

#1: Breakfast for Lunch Menu

  • Breakfast for Lunch
  • Polenta Pancakes and Syrup
  • Vanilla Yogurt with frozen wild blueberries
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Orange slices

Polenta Pancakes (Serves 6)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Syrup
  • Cinnamon

1. Boil water, add polenta, and return to a boil.
2. Cook 8-10 minutes stirring frequently.
3. Cool slightly in pot.
4. Add salt to taste and chopped nuts.
5. Spread polenta evenly in a lightly oiled 9"x13" baking pan.
(Coating spatula with olive oil will help to spread without sticking).

6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Cut into 3" x 3" squares.
Cook on hot griddle or pan until golden brown, flip and repeat.
9. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with warm syrup.

#2: Egg Salad Sandwich

  • Egg salad sandwich on a whole wheat bun
  • Corn Chips
  • Green salad with Ranch dressing
  • Sliced kiwis.

Green Opportunities

Some earth-friendly tidbits that have landed in our office in recent weeks...

  • VALIDATING MANUFACTURERS' CLAIMS--Wondering what's in the vitamins, supplements, and body care products your family has been using? Check out This independent lab validates manufacturers' claims. Their mission? "To identify the best quality health and nutrition products through independent testing."
  • DONATE ICE PACKS--The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN provides a natural habitat where sick, old, and needy elephants can walk the earth in peace and dignity. For more information, visit their Web site at One of the elephants, Misty, who traveled with the circus before arriving at the Elephant Sanctuary, must have blood drawn regularly and shipped to a lab. This procedure requires 12 ice packs a week, which the sanctuary purchases from us because they fit perfectly inside the sanctuary's shipping boxes. Last month, Obentec donated some ice packs, but the sanctuary still needs more. For every order of 20 ice packs you donate to the sanctuary, we will contribute an extra 5. If you wish to donate, please place your order on our Web site, at using the sanctuary shipping address in the side bar to the right. We'll make sure the sanctuary receives your donation...and ours! The Sanctuary will send you a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

Misty was wild-born around 1964 in India. She now lives at The Elephant Sanctuary.

The Elephant Sanctuary
804 Darbytown Rd.
Hohenwald, TN 38462


  • BEYOND WAL-MART--The upcoming issue of the Co-op America Quarterly features a guide to moving beyond the Wal-Mart economy. They look at why Wal-Mart's business model is bad for workers, communities, and the environment, and what each of us can do - individually and collectively - to create a healthier, and more sustainable marketplace. They're offering FREE copies to advocates who want to use the guide to educate themselves and others about this issue. E-mail Ann Church at [email protected] with your your name, address, and the quantity you'd like to order. Free guides are limited to 3 per person/organization. For orders larger than 3, they'd like you to cover the cost of shipping.

  • Dont miss the WHOLE CHILDREN, WHOLE PLANET EXPO 2006 at the Los Angeles Convention Center April 22 & 23. Celebrities, leading environmental groups, and the natural products industry have teamed up to support this fun-for-all event. Obentec will be there (in booth #422) selling Laptop Lunches and providing families with tips for packing nutritious, waste-free lunches. Stop by and say hello! Film producer Laura Pasetta will be joining us with a demo of her life-changing DVD, How to make a Healthy Lunch for Kids. For more information about the DVD, visit For the latest information on the Whole Children, Whole Planet Expo, check out We hope to see you there!

  • BOTTLED WATER VS CLEANING UP THE WATER SUPPLY -- Members of the United Nations estimate that if the world spent half of the $100 billion it spends annually on bottled water and invested it in water infrastructure and treatment, everyone in the world could have access to clean drinking water.

    DID YOU KNOW that U.S. EPA sets more stringent quality standards for tap water than the FDA does for bottled beverages, and that roughly 40% of bottled water is actually just tap water?

  • We use
    1.5 billion barrels of oil each year to produce the plastic for water bottles, enough to fuel 100,000 cars.

    A water bottle in a landfill will take over 1,000 years to biodegrade.

    According to the Container Recycling Institute, only 14 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled.

    For more information, visit:

New Retailer

The Book Tree
6121 La Salle Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

Telephone: (510) 339-0513

Tips for Greening Conferences and Events

By Joel Makower

29 Nov 2005

Surely you've attended the Conference from Eco-Hell. You know the one. It begins with an endless paper trail of direct-mail advertisements. It's held in some remote suburban locale, accessible only by car. At registration, you are issued a conference bag filled with promotional papers and doodads you'll never look at or use (most of which you'll conveniently "forget" in your hotel room). Meals appear unappetizingly on disposable plastic dishes, and single-serve bottles of water and soda are everywhere you look. Then there's that inch-thick pile of wasted paper known as the conference program. And when it's all over, as people load up into planes, trains, and automobiles for their trek home, piles of post-conference detritus get unceremoniously tossed into trash cans and dumpsters -- an ecologically unfortunate meeting of bottles, dishes, surplus promotional "literature," and more.


Here are three more places to turn for advice:

BlueGreen Meetings offers resources for hosts and meeting suppliers, including brief success stories.

Environment Canada provides a downloadable Greening Meetings Manual as well as checklists and other resources.

It's Easy Being Green!, put out by the U.S. EPA, provides an easy-to-follow checklist for integrating conservation into event planning.

You've probably asked, "Isn't there a better way?" Amy Spatrisano has asked that very question, and has concluded that there is. Spatrisano, principal and cofounder of Meeting Strategies Worldwide, is at the forefront of a growing movement toward greener events, from small get-togethers to mega-conferences.

Not long ago, such thinking was relatively rare, and limited primarily to conferences and events produced by environmental activist groups or government agencies. But what started years ago as a handful of small and largely symbolic practices -- printing on recycled paper and recycling name badges, for example -- has taken a far more substantive turn. People like Spatrisano are examining every aspect of event organization and operation to find ways to reduce the environmental footprint of these happenings. Why the new consciousness? A variety of things has helped, including new technology, improved products and services, and greater availability of alternatives. But mostly, it has to do with a better business case for abandoning conventional thinking.

Conventional Wisdom

The business case for green meetings depends in part on who you are. It is different for event organizers, suppliers (such as caterers), and facilities (such as hotels). For organizers -- companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and the like -- greener meetings and conferences can provide a variety of payoffs, says Spatrisano, including reduced costs, improved efficiency, and a higher-quality event. Such benefits fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which suggests that environmentally responsible events cost more, are less convenient, and provide a lower-quality experience for attendees.

But that's no longer the case. And it's easy to see why, when you consider the rate of consumption of any sizeable event. For example, according to MSW, during a typical five-day conference, 2,500 attendees will use 62,500 plates, 87,500 napkins, 75,000 cups or glasses, and 90,000 cans or bottles.

That gluttonous consumption offers ample opportunities for savings. Consider an analysis MSW did a few years ago for one large conference. It found that using online registration eliminated paper, printing, and postage, saving $3,900. Not providing conference bags saved $11,700. Avoiding presentation handouts -- 15 pages each for 1,300 attendees -- saved $1,950 in printing and paper. Providing water in pitchers instead of plastic bottles saved $12,187. And so on: serving condiments in bulk rather than individual packets, recycling name badges, eliminating the need for buses by choosing hotels close to the convention center -- all told, more than $60,000 in savings. That could buy a lot of doodads.

Even if you're not entertaining 1,300 of your closest friends -- say, merely holding a small team meeting off-site -- there are still savings to be found. Either way, a lot of companies are catching on: Rite Aid's Health and Beauty Expo at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center managed to recycle 2,500 pounds of cardboard, saving on disposal costs. Aveda Corp. has a "green meeting team" of in-house staff whose goal is to make every company event a green one. And MSW's clients include outfits as diverse as the Association for Computing Machinery and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Register Your Concerns

Who should you talk to? Most organizations either have a meeting planner or hire an outside firm. In smaller companies, an administrative assistant probably handles the arrangements. In all cases, it helps to have a policy, ideally one that sets specific goals or standards. One good place to start is the Convention Industry Council Green Meetings Report produced by a coalition of the U.S. EPA, environmental groups, and meeting planners. It provides a full range of best practices, and could form the basis of a company's green-meetings policy.

The guidelines are divided into two main sections, one for suppliers -- such as venues, transportation companies, and food and beverage companies -- the other for organizers. You can send the first part to vendors to show them what you want, and use the second part yourself. The guidelines cover the selection of destination, accommodation, venue, transportation, and meals; exhibition production, communications, and marketing; and general office procedures.

Another useful resource is the National Recycling Coalition's Green Meeting Policy. Originally created for the coalition's own national conference, the 22-page document offers a comprehensive list of ideas and opportunities, from arranging for composting to encouraging speakers to deliver handouts electronically.

Don't be surprised if you get pushback from meeting planners, hotels, caterers, or others. "The fundamental challenge is the resistance to change," says Spatrisano. "They've done it one way forever, and even if you can show them they'll save money, and even if you can make it easy, it doesn't mean they'll do it."

But resistance is decreasing as more venues, caterers, and others find that accommodating green-meeting requests is good for business. The post-9/11 downturn in the hospitality industry helped hotels and others become open to new options that could attract business.

Like most other green initiatives, the key is to understand your options and educate everyone involved. No small matter, to be sure, but a growing number of companies is demonstrating that it can be done. Of course, once you manage to produce meetings that are less stressful for the planet, you might consider making them less stressful for the people who attend them.

- - - - - - - - - -
Joel Makower, a writer and consultant on corporate sustainability practices, is the founder of Green Business Network, which produces,, and other sites. He is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books, and lectures regularly to companies, industry groups, and business schools throughout the world.

"Reprinted by permission from Grist Magazine ( For more environmental news and humor sign up for Grist's free email service,"

What Works...Success Stories

"Our 3 year old got his lunchbox for Christmas and LOVES taking his 'Thomas' lunch to school. I’ll admit that those little compartments are making me a much more creative lunchmaker. Thanks to you (and Jennifer at for introducing you to me) and all you do!"

        -- Micki and Duncan (age 3)

  • "My daughter and I absolutely love love LOVE our Laptop Lunches and with the guide book as inspiration, we look forward to coming up with new things to take for lunch every day! My husband (who thought this was another "fad" of mine) is even asking to pack a lunch now! Can't wait to to purchase the thermos! Thanks again!"

            --Dionne Ruff-Sloan, Augusta, GA

  • "Tonight as I was packing our leftover chicken into the kids containers, I told my husband how much fun I was having putting their lunches together in our Laptop Lunches. He took a look a what I had packed and said, “those have got to be the best lunches in the whole school.” They really are great. I was already packing my kids lunches in Tupperware and reusable bottles, but this just makes it so much easier (and more fun for them)."

            --Jenn, Peterborough, NH

  • "I'm glad my mom writes a newsletter about lunches because I get to eat the food after she takes the pictures. Last month I got fresh kiwi, trail mix, baby carrots, veggie roll-ups (avocado, sprouts, tomato, & soy cheese with mustard--my favorite!), goat yogurt sprinkled with granola, and the fruity crouton salad from last month's newsletter. Very cool! She even got me my own bento bag so I could take it to school."

              --by Dana

Do you have a success story or photo to share? Email it to us at [email protected].

Featured Web Site: Featured Web site:

Making sense of food science and nutrition news can be challenging, but evidence shows what we eat and drink may make a substantial difference in the length and quality of our lives. On the Table provides information and commentary that helps make sense of diet and health news. This Web site provides insights and tools to help make informed decisions that support your health and the health of your family and community.

View resources for examining the quality of your diet at

Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD is a nationally recognized author on topics concerning food, nutrition and health policy. Among the topics addressed in her column are meal planning and cooking tips, food trends and federal policies on dietary guidance and food safety. She is a licensed, registered dietitian and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

April Highlights

Pasta Favorites, Green Opportunities, and Earth Day Movies for the Whole Family


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© March 2006 Obentec, Inc.

849 Almar Ave., Suite C-323
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


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