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.