Saturday, December 19, 2009

What would you do to combat climate change?

To follow the last post, howsabout a little oomph.

This video made me cry! I have been really lazy this year, not riding my bike much because of the 3 stories between where my bike is stored and the road. One of my new years resolutions will be to ride my bike to work as much as possible. All it means is getting up a little bit earlier, but it also means less carbon emitted, I'll be more in shape, we'll spend less $ on gas.

What will YOU do to combat climate change?

Copenhagen: Ouch

From the full text of the White House, the agreement made in Copenhagen is "not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change". Ouch. That was the whole point of the meetings. Earth as we know it is done for, because we, collectively, as humans are extremely self-centered and short-sighted. What a blow. One of the reasons mentioned for these disappointing results are that we are in a time of "significant differences between countries." I'm sorry, don't differences between countries go by the wayside when we're talking about LIFE ON EARTH!? What petty creatures humans can be.

Here's a great sum of what we are left with, from Friends of Earth:
"Climate negotiations in Copenhagen have yielded a sham agreement with no real requirements for any countries. This is not a strong deal or a just one -- it isn't even a real one. It's just repackaging old positions and pretending they're new. The actions it suggests for the rich countries that caused the climate crisis are extraordinarily inadequate. This is a disastrous outcome for people around the world who face increasingly dire impacts from a destabilizing climate." from

I am not so naive to believe that this would be an easy process, and of course I recognize the huge differences between countries, and the problems that arise diplomatically for these reasons. However, my eternal optimism hoped for some legitimate and real agreements being made at this summit. *depressed sigh*

There have been papers leaked from the UN that indicate that the whole shebang was Greenwashed from start to finish--these papers indicate that no agreement was ever to be reached at this summit, and that, in fact, the only agreement was to be to allow increases in global temperature even MORE. (What!? Who thinks this is a good idea? For real!?)

From National Geographic's photos of the top 10 environmental losses in 2009, number one is climate, and Pimm, a conservation biologist at Duke University says, "I think [global warming] would probably be my pick for the gloomiest story" of 2009.

Update: Kofi Annan writes a much more eloquent article than mine entitled "Climate Change Puts Us All In The Same Boat. One Hole Will Sink Us All"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Doggie Waste Bags

Flushable, biodegradable, these doggie poo bags were too good just to send the link to my sister. I'm sure many of you have dogs and wonder what the best way to poop, scoop, & trash the doo is. You can read more about the dog flushies here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grad School Visits

Well, I just posted on my other blog about my visits to grad schools. I don't often cross-post, but since I am looking at Masters degree programs in the environmental sector, I thought I'd share. Here's the link there. There are some beautiful pictures of California if nothing else. (o:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Losing Body!

A few weeks ago, in Burgundy, over 700 artists collaborated in a protest against global warming. Their aim was to bring attention to the fact that increased CO2 levels have the effect of increasing alcohol content in wine, thus decreasing body, full-flavoredness. (Losing body is the reason they're all naked). Via Green TV.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Want to try No-Impact?

The Huffington Post is partnering with No Impact Project a "no-impact week" starting October 18th, in recognition, support, and curiosity about No Impact Man. No Impact Man, aka Colin and Michelle Beavan, lived their lives in NYC with no electricity, no waste, eating only local foods, etc for a year (and still live with minimal impact!). I have been really interested in doing something like this myself, but the idea seems rather overwhelming. I tend to make changes in my life one at a time, fully integrating something as a habit before embarking on the next 'improvement'. I am anxious and excited about participating in this weeklong exercise, a crash-course in being really mindful about how much impact my life has in the world. Embarassingly, I don't think I'd be doing this without some advice/support through it all! Find out more here.

HuffPost Green and HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Initiative are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with the No Impact Project, a non-profit started by Colin Beavan, to bring our readers the first No Impact Week. This week will give people the opportunity to examine and reduce their ecological footprint by taking part in a short and intense period of conscious consumption supported by local and online communities.

Anyone else going to try it???

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why it's easier to be 'green' in Europe

I enjoyed reading this article. It reminds me of a good travel article, highlighting similarities and differences of Europe and home, but it does so with an environmental eye. It's written for the blog at one of the graduate programs I'm applying to for next year.
I like how the author concludes: "people are pretty adaptable and... some of the necessary shifts in lifestyle are about changing habits, not giving up comfort or convenience."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Solar Panels in Parking Lots

I often wonder why this idea hasn't caught on more. Yes, there is initial expense. But there's also all the energy you'd be gleaning in an otherwise not-very-productive expanse of asphalt. I love thinking about this scenario in summer: the idea of diverting the sun's energy to our energy needs instead of heating our cars to a can't-touch-without-burning-my-fingers heat. You can see a slideshow from TreeHugger of places this has been implemented, and other similar ideas, here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Meerkats

Ben and I watched The Meerkats, a movie narrated by Paul Newman, last night. You can see the trailer here. There are some incredible shots in the movie, especially shots of their underground burrows.

We loved it. My conservation instincts were roused and so were Ben's, "What can we do save the earth?" he asked in earnest several times. He decided that we should go back to composting again. (We quit a couple weeks ago because of the inconvenience of having to drop it off at my Mom's place once a week, and because Ben didn't like having a compost container taking up a large portion of our miniscule counterspace in the kitchen). Yay!!

The cats enjoyed watching it too--the meerkat sounds were irresistible to them.


Ben bought us a couple GlassLock tupperwares (like 'kleenex' or 'xerox'...brand name=generic term). We have only used them for a couple days, but they are the shiznit. They don't leak, so I can put them in my purse to go to work instead of having to carry another bag/lunchbox with me. They're microwavable and don't leach BPA into my food. I think we're going to get some more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Instead of Disposable Cotton Pads

I bought this small stack of 10 bamboo facial pads. I use these to remove make-up (major deal after performances!), but also, to gently wipe my face with astringent on non-makeup days.
Bamboo fiber is finer than cotton, so my face thanks me.
These fabric pads are reusable--throw them in the washer when I'm done instead of the trash
Bamboo is more environmentally friendly to grow than cotton
The woman who makes these sends it in a plastic & metal-free package!
Only have to buy them once, and they're pretty cheap.

I'll let you know if I come up with some. So far, nothing!

Bought from: Picnic Basket Crafts.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dinner with Friends

Ben and I have a weekly "Pizza Night" with some of our friends, and it's one of the best rituals around. Even better (I think) are the impromptu dinners with friends that happen on occasion. One night the boys (Will, Phillip & Ben) made dinner for the girls (Cara, Tara & myself). It was a local, currently ripe food bazaar. AWESOME!
(roasted potatoes, roasted corn on the cob, squash mix, fried green tomatoes, fresh mozarella/basil/tomato salad, corn fritters, and a ripe lily)

There's a new sushi bar in town called "School". It has a sushi conveyor belt, great presentation & nice prices. It also has red bean tapioca gelatin.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Worst Packaging

Wow, nice packaging. *shakes head in disbelief*

What kind of napkins to use?

In this fascinating article, the emissions from growing trees for paper, cotton and linen; the emissions from manufacturing these materials, as well as the emissions from washing and drying the cotton & linen napkins are taken into consideration. The conclusion?
Cotton is not a very earth-friendly plant:
"each 28 gram cotton napkin causes over one kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 150 liters of water! By comparison, the paper napkin causes a mere 10 grams of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 0.3 liters of water use while the linen napkin causes 112 grams of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 22 liters of water." So ixnay on the ottoncay apkinsnay.

What surprised me is that paper napkins are the preferred napkins IF they are going to be used only once. Restaurants that have fabric napkins, of course, wash them after every use, which is not water-saving at all.

So the ultimate napkin is a linen one that you use multiple times (suggested: a week) before washing, and don't forget to bring it to restaurants.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kombucha @ Home!

Ever since my friend Tiffanie started making her own Kombucha, I've been intrigued and wanting to make my own. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink, and it definitely takes some taste buds getting used to, but it is hailed as a great elixir of health & digestion. Once you get used to the flumey cidery taste, I think you'd find it very refreshing.
Making our own means
1) WAY cheaper! A 16 oz bottle can cost $4! The ingredients we use are very cheap in comparison=5 tea bags & a cup of sugar (plus the 'bucha mama and some water).
2) Transport of liquid is one of the most costly food transportations out there because of the inherent weight of liquid. Any time you can make your own liquid drink, you help reduce the amount of gas used to transport this expensive stuff.
Other ideas: mix a batch of juice from frozen concentrate, make your own tea or coffee instead of buying pre-packaged bottles, put your own tap water (or sign up for delivery of local spring water like we do, from Highbridge Springs) in a reusable bottle and bring with you everywhere (like you bring your wallet & keys & phone with you everywhere) instead of buying bottled water.

Here's our kombucha, sitting up high where it won't be bothered for a week while it stews. Kombucha is a 'mushroom'-like colony; that's it floating on the top. To make the drink, you start with a kombucha 'mother', and when it's finished brewing, you'll end up with a new 'baby' 'bucha, to give to a friend to start making their own! (Any takers?) The neat thing is you can keep the starter (previous 'bucha baby, now 'bucha mama) in the fridge virtually indefinitely until you're ready to use it because cold just makes the mushroom go dormant (doesn't kill it).

Monday, June 8, 2009

The End of the Line

Some people wonder why, as a vegetarian, I don't eat fish. A simple, snarky answer is that fish are animals too, and have meat on their bones, and therefore eating them means I would be eating MEAT, which is--duh--not what a vegetarian does. But, like I said, that's pretty snarky. I see the logic in asking, actually: we don't hear about cruelty in regards to the fishing industry the way we do for domestic species like cattle, pigs, chickens. And fish is much 'healthier' than most meats, by comparison; so it might make sense for a health-conscious veg-head to eat a healthy protein. Actually, I know several people who call themselves vegetarian and still eat fish. (they should technically call themselves pesca-vegetarians, indicating that they only eat fish and plant matter).

Anyway, the reason I don't eat fish is because we are overfishing our oceans. I became acutely aware of this in 1992 (the year I became vegetarian) when we sailed up to Maine and Nova Scotia. All the fishermen, whose livelihoods and family history lie in the catching of fish (we're talking generations and generations of fishermen), were dawdling on the coast, playing on their boats instead of out on the ocean. Why?, we asked. Because, they told us, the oceans are overfished--there are too many big Industry type trawlers that scoop up everything in their path and leave nothing for more traditional (and more sustainable) type fishermen to catch at all. So overfishing leads to job loss! To say nothing of the barren maritime wasteland they leave in their wake too--whales and big ocean predators are scarce when the big fishing fleets swipe up all that food before the migrating creatures have a chance to get to the big schools of fish.

The End of the Line is said to be "An Inconvenient Truth for the oceans". I do hope that it comes sooner than later to a cinema near us. If you see it, please let me know in the comments below how you enjoyed it/thoughts/etc.

Via . For more discussion on this movie, click here.

World Ocean Day

Apparently, the first annual World Ocean Day was just a couple days ago. I missed it, but amongst the many green-living blogs that I subscribe to, I found this video featuring Captain Charles Moore, an avid advocate for the oceans, specifically championing the idea of not subscribing to a consumerist culture. He particularly talks about the presence of plastic in the pacific (hence his necklace, made from trash he found floating there). I like what he has to say, and so succinctly.


Friday, May 29, 2009


Having our fresh, wonderful CSA food inspires me to want to keep a compost bin. We don't have a yard, or even a compost bin for our apartment building-mates, so keeping a compost bin takes especial effort--remembering to bring a stinky, overflowing tupperware container over to my mom's place once a week or so, to add to her lovely compost pile. I hear wonderful things about Bokashi, an anaerobic bacteria that you sprinkle over your compost to help break it down so that the pile stays managable (volume-wise), and also reduces smell to almost nothing. I've even heard No Smell at all is possible. Of course, vermiculture (raising worms for your compost) is a great way to go too, but I always feel like the worms in the ground do their thing just fine. And it takes a bit more space than I have available in my kitchen. So, for now, our lowly tupperware/trips-to-mom's-house set up will do fine. But I look forward to upgrading to Bokashi (at least) sometime in the future.
It makes my heart glad to look at this little pile of organic matter and know that it will feed flowers and plants instead of adding to my footprint in the landfills. What do you do with your table scraps?

Friday, May 15, 2009

National Bike to Work Day

I only found out yesterday that it is National Bike to Work Day today... good thing I knew! Just kidding, I would have ridden my bike anyway. Not that I ride it everyday...I wish I could say I did, but some days I am running late, or I know I have to run errands after work, or it's raining. I have to figure out how to deal with those issues. (The rain issue is mostly *gulp* laziness...I do have waterproof pants and a rain jacket). I ride to work in skirts or nice clothes regularly, and haven't really found that to be a problem. I do have to re-do my hair when I get there, or choose a bike helmet-friendly coif (like a sleek low ponytail and bobbypins pulling my bangs to the side). I always carry a small travel-size deodorant with me, incase I need to update my 'pits when I get to work (o: . I have panniers in which I carry: my laptop, my lunch, a large purse, and often several other odds & ends. My biggest frustration is going up and down the 3 flights of stairs at my apartment building. My bike is light (I think it's ~25lbs), but all that extra stuff in the panniers makes the back end very unwieldy. And we all know that my upper body strength is sad (though I am working on that!). I often wish our landlord would build a bike garage downstairs...but I know that's never going to happen. In any case, I love riding my bike --wind and sun on my face (properly SPF'd), the slower pace of passing things so I have enough time to notice things like kids having a play sword duel in an abandoned construction site, or the flowers blooming. Knowing I'm burning calories instead of fossil fuels is an added bonus to something I enjoy already.

If you're interested in more bike stuff, here's a link to the League of American Bicyclists. Incidentally, they say that Kentucky ranks #27 (up from #29 last year) in 2009 compared to the other 49 states.
How can we make biking to work normal? See what TreeHugger has to say about that. (I like the part in the Copenhagen video there @ 2:04-2:05 where there's a mass of commuters on bikes in the streets).

Did you bike to work? What frustrations do you deal with? How do you deal with them?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CSA excitement!

Ben and I have signed up for the mini delivery of Elmwood Stock Farm's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year. We are very very very excited to be keeping our fresh food intake local, organic, and plentiful. Sometimes the fresh part of our weekly food intake can be missing, and we're hoping this jumpstarts our motivation to keep eating fresh. Salads sometimes seem like such work (I know, I know, how can chopping some things up seem like work? Cooking isn't even involved!), but our thought process is: if we have a certain amount we have to eat each week, we'll be motivated to do it. Because at the end of the week we get more, and we don't want anything to go to waste! We intend to freeze or give away anything that seems beyond plenty for two.

Never heard of CSAs before? Here are some great reasons to join in

Adapted from Monica Goldberg's, "16 Reasons to Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm" 2002, italics=my addition

1. Better flavor: Organic vegetables have a rich and full flavor. That's why many chefs select organic food for their recipes. Since organic farming nourishes the soil, the food nourishes our palates. Better tasting means you'll eat more veggies and eat some that you may not have liked before.
2. More Nutritious: Freshly picked organic produce grown without pesticides and sprays are more nutritious than conventionally grown vegetables.
3. Safer Food: Your produce comes directly from your farmer. No risk of your food getting damaged or spoiled due to long-distance shipping. Most CSA's grow using organic methods. Organic produce is grown without pesticides or sprays. Pesticides are poisons and can be harmful to humans.
4. Save Money: CSA's offer high quality produce at below retail cost. The money goes directly to the farmer instead of paying distributors and trucking companies, and it stays your local economy. We paid, for 4 months of produce (and 1/2 dozen eggs each week) what we would normally pay for 1.5 months!
5. Save Time: You pick up a box or bag of fresh vegetables already packed for you. No shopping hassles. Easy pick up at another member's home or on the farm. Select a convenient drop off site near work or home.
6. Selection: Farmers grow more vegetable varieties than found at the grocery store. You'll enjoy and discover more vegetable varieties than you might otherwise buy.
7. Farmer to Family Connection: A CSA is a relationship between a rural farmer and an urban family. The farm helps bring families to the land. It serves as a rural gathering place for urban families to share together events on the farm.
8. Fun: Experience fun on the farm with harvest festivals, dinners, celebrations, field days, family events and more. And fun picking up your share each week--like a present every time! Not to mention the cooking and eating aspect of fun...
9. Education: You'll learn new things about how and where your food is grown.
10. Less Carbon Footprint! (this one added by me): Every time you support a local business instead of relying on something shipped from far away, think about all the fossil fuels that AREN'T being burned to truck your food/supplies/what-have-you to your door. Also, since the CSA we belong to is organic (I think many are), pesticides (often created from petroleum products) are not used. Yay, planet earth!

Here's what our first share looked like:

On the porch, ready to pick up. Simple, easy as pie.
Upon opening our box

fragrant thyme!

the box sans spinach & eggs: parsnip, asparagus, black beans, young garlic, thyme

Parsnip gives an inquisitive sniff of approval:

a quick and easy recipe included on the weekly letter, feel free to try it!
Brian Burke of Quayside Village, near Vancouver, is in charge of his apartment building's intense recycling program. They ditched their dumpster and are able to recycle nearly everything. Very inspiring. In this video he discusses a few of the esoteric recycling bins they have there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

1st Refugees from Global Warming=this week

The first official islanders to vacate due to rising ocean waters were the Carteret Isalnders near Papua New Guinea, and they made the move this past week. Why hasn't this been all over the news? Read more on TreeHugger, here. Their home is likely to be completely underwater by 2015. That's less than 10 years away--it's only slightly more than five! Sad.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where do YOU work?

Okay, so I have to go easy on myself. I don't work directly for an environmental agency or non-profit that I can feel all hunkydory about, but it could be worse! I work for a locally owned business (see Local First for other local businesses), Worlds Apart, which is good for the environment because we are located in established parts of town rather than adding to sprawl, because we choose goods from local vendors/craftsmen which decreases shipping. It's not a lot, but it's something. And I feel like since I started working here in college we've improved some things. We have a recycling bin at all three of our locations now (obvious, but not present before!). This is especially important because of the amount of cardboard that would otherwise go to waste (shipping containers). We're lucky that one of our locations is just a few doors down from a UPS store which accepts our styrofoam peanuts for recycling (and if you bring yours in, they'll give you a $1 coupon off your next shipment with them!). We also donate clothing that doesn't sell once or twice a year to local charities. The Home store carries teak furniture from Indonesia which is grown sustainably on plantations rather than harvesting old growth rainforests, and some of it is reclaimed teak. So you might have a table that is made of an old carved door and some old parts of cabinets. I think that's pretty cool. As my mom is the buyer for the Home store, I have been encouraging her to buy more and more environmentally friendly goods. We have organic cotton baby clothes, reusable shopping bags of all sorts, locally made silk scarves from Pamela Mattei, and more. If you're near, here's a coupon for you to use before Mothers Day.

These other pictures are from 2006, but still fun examples of some of the things we have at the store.

Where do YOU work, and what things there can you be proud of?

Dumpster Diving

When I lived in Massachusetts there were several dumpsters I could count on for great diving. Sometimes there was nothing, sometimes only trash, but I am so pleased at the amount of 'trash' that I liberated and rehomed. Some things I was able to sell on E-bay, many things I used myself, and other things I put in "free" boxes around campus.
Some of the treasures I unearthed: fountain pens, crystal bowls, scrapbook materials/paper, little notebooks, a projector screen, lots of energy bars and protein whey, candy, fabric, staplers, luggage, rolling office chair, binders & lots of other office supplies, postage scales, electronics (bluetooth for phones, etc), DVD cases (perfect for holding my home-made movies), brushes, make-up, perfume/cologne, gardening tools.... and that's just off the top of my head.
Here're some pics of my loot from those days (I have been very unsuccessful finding any worthwhile diving places in Lexington--trash compactors everywhere )o: )

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Welcome to Living Sanny

When my sister and I were 7 & 10, respectively, our family sold our house, bought an old 38 ft sailboat named Feather, and we went sailing for a year. During that year I learned a lot about being self-reliant, and about not believing the general public's ideas as to what is or is not possible. We also brought our 2 kittens Momo & Didrre, the former of whom has a language named after him (Momo Talk) which we spoke INCESSANTLY during that year (my poor parents dealt with it very well, with the occasional 'off to the discipline dinghy' for us young 'uns).

We even made a Momo Talk opera. "Sanny" is one of the most frequent words in Momo Talk. It derives from the word "funny", but is expanded to mean 'nice, wonderful, happy, good, funny; everything/anything positive'. I thought that was a good euphemism for environmentalism/good living...sort of a catch-all for what I plan this blog to be about (and for you grammar police, the word 'sanny' is so broad that it works not only as an adjective, but also here as an adverb (o: ) .
Today I was reading through Matthew and Waveney's Rubbish Free Year blog (just stumbled on it today), and was inspired to start this blog. I have been environmentally aware and motivated most of my life, but because my job isn't directly related to something environmental (like I intended it to be...and am still working on) I sometimes feel like I'm failing in my life. By keeping a journal (blog) of some of the things I DO do in my life, I hope to put some of my guilt to rest (especially b/c I know that I will only improve my environmental consciousness through this endeavor), and maybe even inspire others to do more, or to share what they do, themselves.

On Feather, we had a small water tank that was only refillable in ports when we were docked up. We had two foot-operated pumps for water. Instead of hot and cold, we had one fresh, the other salt water (or whatever nastiness our boat was floating in). My sister and I made it a game to see who could wash all the dishes each night with the fewest fresh water pumps (pumping 1/2 way down and holding it there until we were ready for another splash of fresh rinse-water was a good way to do it). Similarly, we had no shower on the boat, so any shower we took was in a marina, usually a 2-5 minute timed contraption that kept us water-thrifty. I loved being this conscious of our resource usage. It has motivated me since.