Green Is As Green Does

Green Is As Green Does


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Ultimate Strategy for Surviving Global Warming

Posted on August 11, 2009 at 4:08 PM Comments comments (1)

In the last six months, it has become increasingly clear that global warming is here to stay.


Scientists predict there will be a massive culling of the human population. Resources will diminish thanks to a variety of environmental changes. Shortened growing seasons will wreak havoc on agricultural sectors. Food shortages will become common. Coastal towns will be washed away thanks to rising sea levels. As energy resources dwindle, our main supply chains for goods will be cut in half. Air travel could become a legend of the past.


As a species, we'll be facing tremendous change and upheavals in our ways of life. Many of us are already facing these changes. So, what can one do to truly prepare? Fear not, the equation is a lot simpler than avoiding plastic, growing your own food, consuming less, and selling your car (though all useful and worthy goals). And here it is:


embrace change + help your neighbors = ready for anything

:wink:


During the recent heat wave in Seattle, only one person died from heat related complications despite record breaking, history making heat as high as 103 degrees! Unlike cities accustomed to hot weather, traditional Seattle homes typically do not have A.C. and yet only ONE person died!


During the heat wave, Seattle news and radio stations encouraged people to check on one another and their elderly neighbors. It's possible that some individuals were meeting their neighbors for the first time. I was working in a hot retail store when a neighborhood acquaintance stopped in to bring me a cold drink just to make sure I was doing all right. Our store did have A.C. and I invited people to come in and have a nice sit in our cool store. It felt like everyone in Seattle was trying to help each other stay cool and hydrated till the heat wave passed.


It is these same acts of kindness and thoughfulness that will help us adapt to the future of climate change. As a society (America specific) we've grown increasingly isolated from each other as 1 in 4 Americans feel they don't have someone to confide in. Yet, it will be our neighbors who help us during natural disasters and food shortages. Ask anyone who lived through the horrors of Katrina, because FIMA sure didn't have a hand in helping everyone.


However, we don't have to wait for a massive localized environmental crisis to start meeting and helping each other. There are people in your neighborhood RIGHT NOW who could use a helping hand or a word of comfort. I see the homeless guys on my street and I wonder, "maybe they could use some clean socks and underwear?" Maybe I should introduce myself?


Here's a great idea to get started in building a community foundation. Take your business card or make one with your name and number, go around your neighborhood, and introduce yourself! Let people know they can call on you if they need help, need a neighbor, or need a cup of sugar. Show your face and take a stand in building a strong community on your street, your apartment building, or your neighborhood!


We all have the power to create strong communities built on trust, compassion and support, now! We just need to take those first steps to break the ice and reach out to our fellow people. Maybe you already know your neighbors. Maybe you disagree with their politics, their lifestyle, their everything. Still, reaching out to them as human beings will help you see them as "one of us" instead of "one of them." Even we progressive minded liberals need to take care in not demonizing those who don't agree with us or else we could end up bringing more cruelty to this world. In time, these will be the communities most ready for the challenges of global warming. 

BAY AREA Wetlands Conservation EVENT!

Posted on May 8, 2009 at 12:12 PM Comments comments (0)

For all of you living in the SF/Bay Area, I wanted to let you know about a special event that will give your activism a venue! Click here for a full schedule of events going on that day!

 


 

 


Is Shopping Local Truly Sustainable?

Posted on May 2, 2009 at 10:33 PM Comments comments (1)

 

When we boycott an evil corporation like Walmart and shop chez Mom n’ Pop, we take for granted that shopping in local small stores is a sustainable shopping choice that's good for the world and our local economies. But is shopping locally actually a way of promoting a sustainable lifestyle? I’ve been writing an essay about the challenges of sustainable business practices and I’m learning all kinds of neat things about this emerging trend. We don’t need to argue whether it’s a good idea for businesses to wise up and change their light bulbs or start manufacturing with less waste. But there are a lot of legitimate reasons why it doesn’t make fiscal sense in the present for a business to move toward sustainability. Greening up a company takes a lot of initial investment capital and guess who doesn’t have that? Mom n’ Pop, of course. Not surprisingly, it’s larger corporations that can handle these costs more immediately. And can you guess which corporation is consistently recognized as a world leader in corporate greening? Ironically, it is Walmart. They have initiated many green changes and continue to pressure their suppliers to do the same. Without a doubt, Walmart has a horrible reputation with liberals and people who can afford to boycott it, however,  given what I’m learning about the cost of greening up one’s company, it seems that Walmart’s heavily deflated prices are providing the capital for a big company to go green. And like the cold-war view of communism, once one big company goes green, they all go green!


 

Let’s go over what it will take for small stores to go green.


 

First, it requires a lot of initial investment to get your store running sustainably. Now, depending on what kind of store you run, small stores, especially in this economy, don’t have the financial ability to switch all of their delivery trucks to hybrids, install time-sensitive fixtures, or take employee time to sort the recycling when they should be selling, selling, selling! Of course, certain stores that care will make those changes but only because they care, not because it makes financial sense. Guess what? I am willing to wager, most local stores DON”T CARE unless it GAURANTEES that more people will walk in the door and buy something! And even then, they will say what ever they have to say to get that green-minded consumer in the door.


 

A friend of mine works in a frame store that boasts all over their website about green-this and sustainable-that. Their website contains loads of content about recycling, sustainable wood frames, saving scraps, etc. My friend confirms the store doesn’t make good on any of their promises. Nothing is actually recycled. Their green frames make up a tiny portion of what they offer and are not featured prominently in the store. According to her, the owners are the least eco-conscious of the staff and boast the most about their “green” store! Now, if this store were a Walmart boasting about green practices, muckrakers would be all over this story like white on rice. But of course, no one is challenging local businesses in that way.


 

If you’re worried about the sweat-shops that Walmart supposedly employs, guess who can’t afford not to employ sweat-shops? Local clothing stores. Even before this economy went to hell, local stores have had to compete with places like Target, especially, in the price. Now, I work in a small clothing store and I know first hand what they’re up against. Who knows where their clothes come from or how they are made and by whom? Truth is, we don’t know all the time and when we’re strapped financially with a store to stock, we’re not worrying about those details. We’re asking better questions like, “Can we afford this? Will it sell?” We do carry some responsible brands in terms of fair trade but customers still complain about the price. Frankly, we could say whatever we want about our eco-brands and none of it would have to be true. Who, after all, is going to check and pressure us into changing?


 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should all do our shopping at Walmart. But I’m trying to point out that Walmart would never get away with what local stores can get away with because Walmart is a favorite for corporate responsibility vigilantes.


 

Ok, so I mostly had to get all of that off my chest. But that slogan of “think globally, shop locally,” isn’t necessarily panning out. If you are devotee of shopping locally, I hope you are pressuring your local store to really make good on their green promises.


 

GAGD isn’t about preaching to the choir, it’s about challenging it.

 

 


Fashion is Not so Green

Posted on April 3, 2009 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (2)

In this terrible economy, it's easy to embrace the idea that retail, as a business model, is dead. But fashion, will never die, simply because people use it for self-expression. For the longest time, fashion has emphasized the new and trendy over the used and practical. I, myself, pay a lot of attention to fashion trends and I often find myself wondering how fashion, as we know it, can remain sustainable in the future. The facts about clothing and it's impact on the enivronment are staggering. Let's look at the numbers.


The average American throws out 68lbs of clothes a year. Of all agricultural chemicals used in the U.S, 10% are used to grow cotten. Of insecticides, that number is 25%. Do you know how many chemicals have been used to grow the shirt on your back? On average, 1/3 lb. 47% of chemicals used in the cotton growing processe are considered leading causes of cancer. Every year, it is estimated that 67 million birds are killed by pesticides. And let's not forget the 2.5 billion lbs of post-consumer textile waste that is removed from the waste stream each year by the US textile recycling industry. (source)


Even "green" and "eco-friendly" fashion made from virgin fibers, like bamboo and organic cotten leave something to be desired in wanting sustainable options. My point is, no new fiber can ever be truely sustainable. Sustainability requires that products be produced from materials we already have. It's about reusing AND reducing...not just finding plants that can be grown without chemicals. We already produce so many products from new materials and when sustainability is concerned, products should be sourced from recycled materials.


So, how will fashion change as public awarness, (hopefully) becomes more focussed on sustainable living?


My guess, and wish, is that people will continue to expresse themselves with their clothing, but will find new and more sustainable ways of doing so. Individuality has been a long-standing trend in all urban landscapes. The popularity of creative sewing, knitting, upcycling, and DIY repurposing has witnessed a tremendous growth in the craft world and I think it could spill over into the mainstream. Personaly, I don't think it will be long before people start looking to their closets to create entirely new wardrobes from the old. I would welcome that epic change in fashion trend. To any and all future fashion designers, don't focus on creating your own brand of clothing intended for mass marketing. Try creating a niche to help train and give individuals the power to create their own brand of clothing, unique to and for themselves. Keep your business local and service clients who need your creativity to see what they can do with what they have along with used materials sourced by you. In a green world, good business will be all about keeping and sustaining relationships. With this in mind, if you are dedicated to making individuals look wonderful and feel great, you will always stay in business and have no end to fabric and venues for exploration. Who knows what the possibilities in fashion could bring?

courtesy www.aprilgreerblog.com


Home Gardening Revolution

Posted on March 18, 2009 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (6)

Oh Happy Day!


I have just received a 100 sq ft lot at my local P-patch. P-patches are amazing and they're all over my fair city of Seattle! Eating locally and sustainably is part of lowering my carbon footprint. Though some may think it a lot a work, organic home gardening is one of the best ways to eat sustainably. Now, if you don't have a garden or you rent your home, p-patches are a great municipal solution. Almost every neighborhood in the city has public land designiated for community gardens. For a very low rent fee, something like $30 a year, you can grow your own food in these year-round gardens. You can also use the communal gardening tools as long as you volunteer a few hours a month to the communal section of the garden. Gardeners can only use organic methods and are not allowed to sell their crops. You can, however, trade with other gardeners or donate a bumper crop to your local food bank - everybody wins!


I will admit, right away, that I do not know how to garden. I was just notified yesterday (the waiting list is supposed to be two years long and turned out to be 6 months!) and have to start using my patch within two weeks. If I was a seasoned gardener, this would be no problem...but alas, I will be learning from scratch! I hope I can get up to reasonable speed in the next two weeks! And of course, I will be posting updates. Now, what should I grow? Anyone have any suggestions? I'm hoping that with a little TLC, I'll alos be able to lower our food bill too.


Check out the video below to find out how growing your own food is one of the most subersive activities you can undertake (who would have thought?): VIVE LA REVOLUTION!


(You'll have to click on the link because, for some reason, the embedding is not working! Enjoy!)


CA is Our Future

Posted on February 28, 2009 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (2)

Sorry, this isn't going to be a doom and gloom post. I refuse to let it become one, but that could prove challenging. California has just declared a state of emergency because it didn't get enough rainfall this year. This water deficit has lead to a $3 billion deficit in its economy. Great, they were already near bankruptcy. I guess we won't be getting those bags of organic spinach or fresh strawberries this year since the state faces serious water shortages and Schwarzenneger is looking at placing mandatory rationing on cities. The point is...the party of eating fruits out of season and running clean water all year round is over, for the number one profit making farm state. But even so, California has been facing water issues since the beginning of it's statehood-anyone ever see the film Chinatown


Back in the 1890s, the mayor of Los Angeles realized that LA would never become the sprawling metropolis it is today without a solid source of water. Yup, it was even arid back then! He teamed up with the LA Department of Water and Power to go into the Owens Valley and divert much of the water there for the city's own use. The scandal surrounding what became known as the California Water Wars, involved the taking of much needed water resources from Owens Valley farmers through manipulation and lies. LA officials told the farmers the irrigated water would be used only for domestic purposes and not for land irrigation. However, much of the water was diverted to the San Fernando Valley, not part of the city at the the time. Investors, closely tied to the LA mayor, then began buying up large tracks of land in the Valley that were then being nicely irrigated by Owens Valley water. Officials also created a false drought by manipulating rainfall measurements to further sell the idea of funding the LA Aqueduct to LA's citizens. By the 1920s and despite many violent protests from farmers, LA owned 90% of the water in Owens Valley, effectively ending the valley's agriculture. 


LA's abuse of state water resources does not end there and the city has suffered many lawsuits as a result. The city continued to consume water through a second aqueduct which began draining ground water and surface water, whilst depleting vegetation and wildlife in those areas. This over-consumption resulted in the long term desertification of the Owens Valley. All of the lawsuits brought forth against the city were not adjudicated until 1994, when LA was forced to begin conservation and water recycling programs. Unfortunately, the damage was already done and desertification is not easily reversed-unless you divert water from OTHER places that are using its water supply. Hmm...by that equation, it would seem you would actually be increasing the rate of desertification. 


This is why I am such a freak-job when it comes to conserving your water consumption. Unless you are a complete crazy person about reusing water, chances are, you are going to be over-using and where do you think that water comes from? CA's water problem is most certainly not going to be solved and is echoing many trends that have already been happening in the American South West. As you can see from this mini-history lesson, CA has suffered from a mentality that human defined borders, like the city-limits, can keep water issues out as long as you pump enough water into your town. The problem with this way of thinking is that a city is part of a state, and though many of us hate to think of certain states being part of one country, a state is part of a country. From there...you get where I'm going with this...a country is part of a continent and that is part of a planet. We (as humans) cannot just take from somewhere without having a huge impact over the long haul. 


Now, I promised this wouldn't be doom and gloom. I get so tired of people who accuse worried observers of being doomy. We can get past the initial disappointment of not being able to use drinking water to clean our dirty dishes or clothes by understanding that with a few adjustments, we could be setting ourselves up with the proper conserving habits for a long and different (not difficult) road.  I don't know about you, but when it comes to having clean water to drink, I am fine with giving up a sea of green grassy lawns. Keep yourselves proactive and positive for the new sustainable world! 

Soul of Seattle RADIO PODCAST!

Posted on February 23, 2009 at 11:29 PM Comments comments (0)
For those of you GAGDers who missed my interview with Progressive Talk Radio's The Soul of Seattle. You can check out the podcast here! The show runs an hour long and I talk about GAGD in the second half of the show! Thanks for listening! 

Clean as a Thistle

Posted on February 19, 2009 at 12:26 PM Comments comments (0)

 As in, all natural!

 

Ok, ok. So, if it hasn't dawned on you, going green means slowing down and taking time to complete daily tasks (I'll talk about this more in a future post). Not everyone has the time to go green. You may have a full time job that you love and want to devote yourself to! Maybe you need the money. Maybe you live in a household of messy people!! To kick of my interview series with local sustainable businesses, I want to introduce you to an environment friendly cleaning service - Maven Maids


· Why did you start Maven Maids and why did you decide to go “green?"

 My best friend Stephanie and I were moving to Seattle from the east coast and wanted to start a new endeavor.  In our travels, we came across a great book called Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. Here was the story of a mom, tired of using chemicals to clean the coffee table, see her son touch it then inevitably, put his hands, and the chemicals from the "clean" table in his mouth. In reading this, Maven Maids was born.  We really wanted to bring Seattle this piece of goodness, making our business as natural and environmentally friendly as possible.  As our endeavor grew over the years, my husband, Kevin, joined our ranks.  

· How does Maven Maids differ from other green cleaning services?

ALL of our products are handmade!!  I do not know of any other cleaning company that hand makes their products.  One of our main ingredients is Dr. Bronners Lavender and/or Peppermint soap. 

· How did you begin making your own products using only organic materials?

We found a number of traditional recipes in Clean House, Clean Planet, which inspired us to start making our own products. Many of our products are old school recipes that our grandparents would have used before chemical cleaners were introduced.  We are currently trying to source a local castile soap producer for our tub scrub and all purpose recipes.     

· Why should people consider using a cleaning service that makes their own soap?

Our products are very safe.  We never have to hide our products from our clients' children or their pets. A client can know that our products are simple and we can also tailor what we put in it. If someone is allergic to lavender, we can easily modify our cleaners.

· What challenges exist for running a sustainable green business as compared to a traditional business?  

One challenge we face is continuing to find the best ways to serve our clients as we grow, while being acutely aware of our impact on the environment.  In this process, being green takes more time and research. I think that the concept of what "clean" smells like is another challenge.  Many people associate the smell of bleach with cleaning and think that if it doesn't smell toxic, it isn't clean. 

· Is it true, that “green alternatives” are more expensive?

Maven Maids is less expensive than the leading cleaning companies. We do not put a price on the time we spend making the products. In general, when it comes to "green alternatives",  we have all experienced the desire to buy something that is natural and organic but after comparing the price of  that product with the artificial alternative it is difficult to spend the extra dollar. For organic companies that put more time and healthier ingredients into their products, I imagine it is hard to compete with the cheaper artificial alternatives that are mass produced and contain ingredients that cost less but are harmful to the consumer. It is a decision we all make on a daily basis, should we save a buck and eat fast food at the expense of our body, or shop healthily at the expense of our pocket? 

· With the current economy, do you think people will shy away from green services?

Because we have the average price range, I do not see that being green would effect their decision.  If someone is struggling financially and cannot afford the luxury of a cleaning service, they can still clean green!!  The book Clean House, Clean Planet has many alternative cleaning recipes that are cheaper then buying a bottle of 409!!

· What has been the greatest success to date from your green approach to business?  

It has been truly wonderful to know that we are part of a community of people that care for themselves and the environment.

· What is your number one green cleaning tip?

Baking Soda is a very versatile.

· Is there anything more you would like to add that I did not directly ask about?

We just wanted to clarify that we don't make our own soap, but we make our own cleaning products.  Also, we're not sure if organic is the correct term for our ingredients since baking soda is a mineral.  We need to do some more research on if a cleaning product can be termed organic.  We generally use: non-toxic, green, environmentally friendly, or biodegradable.  A term we keep in mind from Clean House, Clean Planet is, "safe as salt."

 


 

How to Lighten Your Load

Posted on February 17, 2009 at 12:08 AM Comments comments (0)

As I've noted in my earlier post, one of the big things you can do RIGHT NOW is air drying your clothes. What will you need to make this change? There are a few options to think about. I use a large drying rack that holds up to 50 sq ft of wet clothes. I had to source it specially to make certain the wood was sustainably harvested.


Since it is winter, here in Seattle, it takes about 3-4 days to fully dry my clothes. My space also happens to be quite dark. So, I've set up my rack in the room that gets the most light - the study. I also open the window while I'm out of the house to quicken the drying process.


For shirts and sweaters,  I hang them on hangers wherever is easiest and sometimes hang them wet in the closet. I haven't had a single problem doing this for light cotton shirts of blouses. 


I do have a lot of clothes, which allows me to do laundry only twice a month or every two weeks. If you have a small wardrobe, consider buying more socks and underware to get you through longer stretches between laundry days. If you didn't have a hard workout in your outfit that day, consider putting it back into your closet for a second wear the following week. Your clothes will thank you in the long run and you will become more accustom to using less energy! 


Of course, in the spring and sumer, drying my clothes will be faster and give me a reason to go out and enjoy the backyard. Some like to set up an inexpensive rope line across the yard. In the summer, I will probably do this for towels and sheets, since during the winter I have been using the drier for those heavier items. I will also take my wooden rack and pop it outside for my clothes. EASY! 


One thing I have noticed with air drying is that dark tops can show a lot of lint. This lint would normally be trapped in the drier. If I have the will or the time, I will sometimes pop my tops in the drier for a few minutes. But even that seems like too much effort. So, I usually just lint roll my top when I wear it. I already do this thanks to my cat. 


For larger families, laundry could mean using more than 1 rack and having a designated "drying room." Wait. Didn't that used to be called the laundry room? HA!

Post Valentine's Day Round-Up

Posted on February 16, 2009 at 5:38 PM Comments comments (0)

This past Valentine's Day got me thinking.


Many people hate the holiday because they see it as the shameless commercialization of celebrating love. Some hate it because they think it singles out people who aren't in relationships. Others hate it because of the obligation to spend money or do "something special," even if they can't think of anything meaningful. Americans are indoctrinated early on to make V-day a big event! When I was in elementary school, we were instructed to make valentines for ALL of our classmates, even the ones we didn't like and the ones who bullied us during recess (ah, 3rd grade romance!). And most everyone felt obligated to buy those pre-made cartoon themed valentines. Barbie for the girls and Transformer valentines for the guys. From there, we came to understand that people had to get a valentine and if they didn't, well...no...wait...how could you not get a valentine? EVERYONE MUST GET A VALENTINE. And so, the spending spree continues well into adult-age with consumerism and consumption hitting the top of the charts on a frigid day in February. 


In contrast, this past Valentine's Day felt smaller, humbled, and modest. It occurred to me, as the nation is squeezed by layoffs and hard financial times, that something would have to take the place of expensive dinners, presents, and easy store-bought cards and flowers. "Eureka!" I thought. Now, people who want to celebrate may have to take on a much more challenging (but ultimately more sustainable) V-day demonstration of love. People who relied on stopping by the drugstore for a quick, "get out of jail Free" bouquet before picking up their date, may have to put more personalized thought into how they express love. Just thinking of this scenario gets me all lathered up! A sustainable future could mean that millions of couples will take the time to verbally profess their love to one another. Friends and family could come together and tell each other how much they have appreciated the others over the years. It could be an all out love-fest. If that is the case, then I freakin' love V-day, if not for it's current conspicuous consumption, but for it's future promises of closer kinship. 


Happy post-V-day! 



Getting Started At Home!!

Posted on February 12, 2009 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Thanks to GAGD, I have been flooding my brain circuits with loads of information about green living, green communities, and green technology. This website is all about educating, after-all. So, what do you have to do to start living a more sustainable life? This is the first installment of my tips series...


AT HOME

 

  1. Stop using the dryer! Hang your clothes up to dry. If you're like me, you wait a few days to fold your laundry after it has gone through the dryer. In the winter, drying takes a little longer but the wet clothes will hydrate the dry winter air (true story!). It's so easy to hang your shirts on hangers or a cheap clothing line. Your clothes will last longer and never fade! If you can't be without the dryer, air dry your clothes and put them in for a 10 min tumble. The goal is to use less!  
  2. Only run your dishwasher when it is full. No dishwasher? Fill the sink with enough water to cover all your dishes and let them soak. Rinse them in a basin of non-soapy water instead of letting the faucet run with abandon (a huge problem in my house!). 
  3. Stop using paper towels and start using cloth napkins (oh how civilized!) and rags (great way to reuse old bed sheets or raggedy t-shirts). 
  4. Collect your food waste for compost! I will have a special post on this topic soon! Food waste produces huge pockets of harmful methane gas in landfills. 
  5. Before you throw something away, internalize that it will end up in a landfill, if not the North Pacific Gyre!
  6. UNPLUG your refrigerator. Oh yeah, I WENT THERE! Sadly, I will have to do this in my next rented dwelling. My roommates probably wouldn't be ready for this. 
  7. Consider a "Stuff Budget." This means, when you bring anything new (hopefully used and new to you!) into your home, you must take something out of your house. Consumption and consumerism has a huge impact on global resources and landfills-reconsider buying new items and see if you can make do. 
  8. Reuse glass jars for leftovers instead of icky plastic containers which leach chemicals into your food when you heat it up in the microwave. 
  9. For that matter, avoid buying ANY food product that is contained in plastic. Look for paper or glass packaging. Or, bring your own to a deli or butcher shop. 
  10. Cook your own food from raw ingredients instead of taking it out of the package, poking holes in the top, and sticking it in the mircowave. You will offset the resources it took to get that pre-prepared food made and delivered to your grocery store. There is also good evidence that cooking your own food significantly lowers your risk for weight gain and obesity!.  
  11. Eat less meat and dairy-this means once a week or better yet, a couple times a month. The meat industry produces a huge carbon footprint! For an idea of what that looks like, 1lb of meat is equivalent to driving 40 miles in an SUV. 
  12. Clean your house with vinegar! Add 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for a nice "409" alternative! It's natural, safer, and less expensive. 
  13. Time your showers! If you absolutely MUST shower every day, shower once and for under 10 minutes (a handy kitchen timer works well). Water shortages are becoming a global problem and we might as well get used to using less. 
  14. Buy as much as you can in bulk. This doesn't mean go to Costco like all good Americans (and is it really a good deal when you buy stuff you don't need after membership fees?). Shop at grocery stores that let you bring your own containers to replenish your staples like shampoo, oils, and dry goods. They DO exist! 
  15. Use energy efficient light bulbs and stay on top of turning off those lights! 
  16. Learn a new skill that will help you be self-reliant. Some include; gardening, sewing, canning, repairing appliances, light plumbing, general home maintenance.    
  17. Have dogs? Use compost-able bags when cleaning up after them. Have cats? Consider using an all natural litter.
Here are but a few tips that will help get you in the right mode. Of course, not all of these are achievable right away and some will take more time than others. Trying picking out 2 you can begin today and work on the others gradually! Really, it's a matter of habit. 

When in doubt, consume little and throw away little. It's amazing how little we need to sustain a normal modern life, and once you get used to it, it's hard to image you lived any other way. 

If anyone has anything to add to this list-please comment below! 

THOUSANDS PROTEST GLOBAL WARMING

Posted on February 5, 2009 at 7:49 PM Comments comments (2)

I received this in my email today and wanted to share it with all of you. Now, how about we replace these snowmen with people and replace hundreds with thousands. Here is the hard thing, we can't protest global warming. That doesn't mean we can't make choices that will help us remain on this planet a little longer...

My Daily Dose of Greenformation...corny, but true

Posted on February 2, 2009 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

If you read my first post, you know my personal goal with GAGD is to educate myself and anyone who cares to join me about sustainable living! Part of this goal is learning my role as a green being. But this task can be overwhelming with all the information out there, not to mention, all the (sometimes) depressing information out there. A very wise person once gave me a stone that had the word "balance" carved on it.  And, there is something to be said for such sage and simple advice.


I often find that the global issues are the most depressing because environmental issues seem to be a juggernaut bent on human destruction (who me, dramatic?). SO, I temper that knowledge with a host of locally focused bloggers to keep me upbeat and positive. Trust me, nothing is more reassuring than reading about individuals who are taking control of their impact every day!


Ok, so here it is. This is my daily dose of Greenformation


First, we'll start with the global perspective (don't worry, these blogs aren't too terrifying).


Dot Earth is brought to us by the New York Times. I love this blog because it brings damn good journalism in fine blog format. And frankly, I want to know about this stuff--please read below: 

By 2050 or so, the world population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life. In Dot Earth, reporter Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits. Supported in part by a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Mr. Revkin tracks relevant news from suburbia to Siberia, and conducts an interactive exploration of trends and ideas with readers and experts.

I also enjoy the BBC's The Green Room because, when it comes to the climate crisis, I long for that stiff upper lip that only the BBC can give me. "It's six o'clock GMT and you are listening to the BBC World Serivce. The world is in crisis but you'll never know it because this is the BBC." 


But here are my local favorites and I promise, it can't get much better than these bloggers. 


The Crunchy Chicken - A Seattle blogger who coined my favorite phrase, "putting mental into environmental," and she is freakin' hilarious. But, substance wise, she offers a lot of advice on reducing waste and even provided recipes for making your own soap and "no-poo" for your hair. Relax, that means home-made shampoo.  


No Impact Man - A man and his small family decide to go "no-impact" for an entire year in New York city. Not only does this mean getting the cops called on you because your rickshaw makes the street look "untidy," but it also means a book deal and documentary at Sundance. I do hope that film gets picked up by my local theaters soon! The main focus, though, is examining how single acts of activism create a ripple effect for change. 


Fake Plastic Fish - One woman, no plastic. Simple, yes? Maybe. An Oakland, CA woman decided to dramatically reduce her plastic. Check out her site to see how she is doing with a line graph she updates weekly. At this point, she only gets plastic trash from plastic window envelopes in the mail and the occasional gift from family. She taught me about the pervasiveness of harmful plastic that is EVERYWHERE. She even makes her own cat food and goes to the butcher with a metal container so she doesn't have to use the plastic wrap provided. Now that, is hardcore. She also promoted (and I think started) a campaign to get Brita to recycle their filters. You know those scandalous Brita commercials that say, "one hour on the [basketball] court, forever in a landfill," regarding plastic bottles? It turns out that you couldn't recycle the CARBON filters proposed, by Brita, to solve our plastic bottle addiction. Now, what kind of message is that? I couldn't find the actual campaign on youtube, so here is a homemade version that is not sponsored by Brita.  Imagine water going into a Brita pitcher after the word "recycle" flashes on the screen. 


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Ok folks, I hope you find these links helpful. I am also happy to announce that there will be some exciting things happening for GAGD in the next few weeks so, check back for updates! Many irons are in the fire!!!

There is NO Small Act of Change

Posted on January 28, 2009 at 9:21 PM Comments comments (3)

I want to give Simone Hall a big shout-out on GAGD for starting her own grassroots effort to boycott plastic!!! Good for you for taking action into your own hands! You will be an inspiration to everyone around you if you stick to your personal beliefs by taking charge of your impact on this planet! 


WAY TO GO SIMONE!


Why am I congratulating Simone? For one, she is 10 years old and is going to inherit a whole host of responsibilities left to her and generations to come. Secondly, I want to highlight an amazing act of responsibility-taking and problem solving. Simone's boycott began after she learned about the affects of landfill plastic on wild-life and the environment. From here, she immediately saw an opportunity to make a small change by announcing to her family, "No more plastic bags!" From what I know, they listened!  


When I was 10 years old, I learned about growing landfills and the hole in the ozone layer. But, I didn't have the insight into what I could do about these. After all, I was just a kid, I thought, and the world was run by adults. I thought it was largely out of my hands. A nice little book called How to Turn Your Parents Green seeks to undo that attitude and empower kids to act on their future. The publisher explains:


The premise for the book is that grown-ups (the Groans) are responsible for causing global warming, but it's you (the kids) who will have to deal with the consequences. So, the youngsters are given a mission to educate their parents about recycling, saving energy and water etc. If the parents don't comply, they are fined and when they realise the error of their ways, they sign up to the Glorious Green Charter.

Ok, so I can imagine why some parents might get upset about this kind of book. Especially, about the fine part. It wouldn't be the first time, either, that literature has sought to organize a marginalized population, in this case, kids. After all, who wants to be told something useful by their child? The definition of "parent" isn't generally, "one who values and considers the input of their young offspring as equal and valid," which brings me to another opportunity for congratulations...


WAY TO GO SIMONE'S


PARENTS!


The moral of this story is that there is no small act of change, or activism, for that matter. Each and every one of us has a tremendous ripple effect. With one declaration, like banning plastic bags, one person can bring awareness into the minds of everyone she encounters.


Thank you, Simone, for being such a great example of this! 

Climate Change is Irreversible. Now what?

Posted on January 27, 2009 at 1:56 PM Comments comments (3)

Ok, everyone is going nuts today over the new NOAA study that concluded we cannot reverse global warming. Please check out the article here. What more evidence do we need to "light a fire under it" and start adapting to a new world?

I just hope to death people don't react by saying, "see, it's hopeless, we shouldn't bother trying to fix anything."  


****UPDATE****


Here are some, in my opinion, soothing words from Crunchy Chicken. She has a good way of keeping perspective, despite the dire news. 

Riot 4 Austerity !!!

Posted on January 26, 2009 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

How much would the average American have to reduce their impact  to evade the worse possible outcomes of global warming? According to somewhat controversial environmentalist George Monbiot, it's a whopping 94%. Having little faith in individuals, Monbiot asserts that only government intervention can bring about this massive reduction in energy consumption. Well, we all know how long THAT's going to take. Obama brought new hope to a government that STILL has yet to ratify it's signature on the Kyoto Protocol. But, let's face it, with massive layoffs and a tanked economy, Obama may feel he has more pressing matters to attend to. 

However, could it be possible that a sour economy is the perfect setting for a grassroots effort to reducing American impact, one person at a time? Reducing consumption reduces your spending and what better time to tighten our belts and hunker down! Who knew that us poor folk could be so green? 

Well, in a counter response to Monbiot's lack of faith, two women came together and created the Riot 4 Austerity project. This project is an open challenge to any participants who are willing to reduce their emissions by 90%, or more, over a year's time. The goal is to consume, roughly, the same amount of energy as a "Chinese peasant," as they put forth in the rules.  The coolest part about this challenge is a hand-dandy calculator!  I will be posting my results in the "My Current Impact" section soon. I live with 5 other people so the results will likely be a "quick and dirty" estimate. Hopefully, I'll make them more accurate over time. Now, I will end this post with some interesting numbers from the R4A's category page

I can safely say, that in this instance, I truly desire to be below average!!
  • Gasoline. Average American usage is 500 gallons PER PERSON, PER YEAR. A 90 percent reduction would be 50 gallons PER PERSON, PER YEAR
  • Electricity. Average US usage is 11,000 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR, or about 900 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD PER MONTH. A 90% reduction would mean using 1,100 PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR or 90 kwh PER HOUSEHOLD PER MONTH
  • Natural Gas. US Average Natural Gas usage is 1000 therms PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR. A 90% reduction would mean a reduction to 100 therms PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR
  • Garbage - the average American generates about 4.5 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER DAY. A 90% reduction would mean .45 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER DAY.
  • Water. The Average American uses 100 Gallons of water PER PERSON, PER DAY. A 90% reduction would mean 10 gallons PER PERSON, PER DAY.
  • Consumer Goods. The average American spends 10K PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR on consumer goods, not including things like mortgage, health care, debt service, car payments, etc?A 90% cut would be 1,000 dollars PER HOUSEHOLD, PER YEAR

Water, Trash, and Big Cheers to All the New GIAGD Members!

Posted on January 23, 2009 at 2:28 PM Comments comments (0)

I just wanted to extend a big thank you to all of you who signed up yesterday to become members and regular recipients of GIAGD updates. Many of you, I have known well, some, in passing, and others I have lost touch with over the years. Even so, I appreciate your support in joining me in the quest to examine what a sustainable world means in our every day lives. And, if some of you are like me, (to quote my favorite blog) you are ready to put "mental into environmental!"  I'm not kidding, I am lusting after a hand cranked washing machine!!!


My two obsessions right now are water usage and waste. A blog called Peak Oil Hausfrau just posted a quick tip sheet on getting started on reducing your impact. Below, I have pasted their water and waste tips. Some suggestion are very extreme! But many are easy to begin! The full list is available here.


Water


Water is a necessity for life, and is becoming more scarce in many countries and regions. Americans use, on average, 100 gallons per day for indoor use and watering the landscape/lawn/garden . 30% of that is used in the landscape - and 50% of that is completely wasted. Indoor use of water is dominated by the toilet (27%), clothes washer (22%), and shower (17%).



Source: EPA

Water Conservation
1. Habits
-Take shorter and less frequent showers. Use an egg timer to help you keep it to 3-4 minutes.
- Let the "yellow mellow" - flush less frequently. Toilets use more than 25% of your indoor water use!
-Fix leaks in toilets, showers, and faucets promptly.
-Only wash clothes, sheets, and towels when they are really dirty.

2. Technology
-Install low-flow showerheads.
-Install newer water-efficient toilets or toilet dams.
-Use a high-efficiency washing machine.
-Install a composting toilet if you want to be super-efficient.

3. Conservation in the landscape
-Transform your thirsty lawn into a productive garden or beautiful, water-efficient xeriscape.
-Use drip irrigation or hand watering instead of inefficient spray watering.
- If you live in a dry area and must have a lawn, use drought tolerant species of grass for your lawn.
- If you must water your lawn, water in the early morning or late evening, and not on windy days.
-Install "ollas" or 5-gallon buckets with drilled holes in your garden and fill them up for easy infrequent watering right to the root system.
-Use deep mulching in the garden and landscape.
-Add organic matter to the garden and landscape plantings to better store water in the soil.

Water Harvesting
-Save the "warm up" shower water in a bucket and use to flush toilets or water your garden.
-Re-use greywater (water from showers or washing machines) to water your landscape. If you plan to do this, be sure to only use non-toxic, non-salty soaps and detergents. Check Art Ludwig's book"Creating an Oasis with Greywater".
-Save water from your roof with rain barrels or rain tanks and use to water your landscape or garden. (This is also good backup water for emergencies, but must be purified before drinking).


Waste

Americans are notoriously wasteful. We throw away 4.5 pounds in the garbage per person, per day. Over 60 million plastic water bottles, alone, are thrown away every day. Packaging and products are made of materials that had to be produced and processed and shipped to you, using energy in the process. Additionally, most people don't realize that every pound of trash emits the equivalent of a pound of carbon dioxide (in the form of methane) as it decomposes in the landfill.

Waste reduction
1. Stop junk mail and mail from sources you no longer want (catalogs, newspapers, magazines, etc.) According to Ecocycle, each year the junk mail industry destroys over 100 million trees!
2. Buy in bulk and try to buy items which have less packaging
3. Buy used instead of new goods - they have less packaging
4. Replace disposables with reusables
-Cloth bags instead of plastic or paper. If you always forget your bags, get the nifty fold-up kind for your purse or glove compartment.
-Re-usable drink containers for coffee (mug, thermos) and water (cup, Klean Kanteen)
-Create a Zero-Waste Kit.
-Make your own cloth hankies instead of using tissue paper
-Take your own To-Go boxes to restaurants
-Use a Diva Keeper cup or cloth pads instead of tampons and throw-away pads
-Use soft cloth toilet paper instead of traditional T.P.

Re-use and Recycling
1. Reuse organic material
-Leave lawn clippings on the lawn, or use them for mulch
-Use leaves in your compost or mulch (they shred down great with a lawn mower)
-Compost kitchen scraps or put them in a worm bin

2. Recycling
-Take advantage of your municipal recycling program
-Use newspaper for mulch or in compost to add carbon, or as a "drop cloth" for projects
-Use cardboard boxes to suppress weeds in garden paths or in landscaping
-Donate useful goods to charities
-Sell useful goods on Ebay or Craigslist
-Donate random items on Freecycle. You never know what people might want!

So far, I've been able to curb my long showers. Luckily, I can shower every other day without receiving any complaints! But even if I begin to notice evil looks on the bus, I make sure to hop in for a quick rinse when I get home. I really need to start collecting that "warm up" water! I get a bit squeamish at phrases like "let it mellow," so we just keep the lid down at my house--that helps a lot! It will be hard to install all the water conserving technology as a renter...so I'll have to wait on that. At home, I've been recycling up a storm and when I go out, I try to remember an empty tumbler in case I want to get a coffee while I'm out. Although, it's easy to forget, in which case, I just go without. That part is HARD when it comes to caffeine. I've been doing cloth bags for a while and just need to get or make a good alternative to those light plastic bags they provide for produce. Here are some great ones on Etsy, for those of us who don't sew! I would love to see more grocery stores with large bulk sections! 


Of course, these changes have to start slowly or if you are unprepared, it will become overwhelming, daunting, and frustrating. That's why I have been focusing on water and waste...for now. But even opening your mind to the alternatives can be the biggest change you make! The next change, when you alone are ready, is taking action. 


Thank you again, to everyone, for joining Green Is As Green Does! Your support is inspiring and exciting! I would love to know how people are making those small changes in their life that are adding big changes to their impact! 

Unraveling Planet

Posted on January 21, 2009 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with knitting. And, if you are reading this blog, you also know I am obsessed with green activism. So, here is a little video treat that combines, not only the pain of unraveling carefully knitted creations but also the pain of letting our planet suffer at our hands. Enjoy! 


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The Useful is the Cherished!

Posted on January 20, 2009 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

In the last six months, I have awakened to my individual impact on the planet. For 25 years, I have been using, possibly abusing, it's resources and feeding a materialistic lifestyle that could never be sated. As a result, I have struggled to look at my possessions and ask myself, "was this all necessary for my happiness?" I have been examining my materialistic desires and needs and asking, "are these truly necessities?" 


We throw away in our society. When something is broken or not quite right anymore, we replace it or find something "better." Do we darn a hole in a cheap sock or do we get a few new pairs, while we're at it? Or maybe you're tired of the way the dining room looks and want to update it with fresh paint, new furniture, new carpeting. Hey, while we're at it....we could use a new set of dishes, and I have been meaning to redo the kitchen to suit my personal style and taste. A new camera every couple of years can't hurt either. Sadly, we also throw away relationships. Families suffer from workaholic parents, divorce, and the emptiness that materialism fosters. Parents give toys instead of time and presence. Husbands and wives loose emotional connection as they work late hours with the vein idea that material comforts and status are the worthy goals. How do we learn to cherish each other when we cannot seem to cherish what we have? 


To be clear, I am not advocating for a world where nothing new can be acquired, I am calling for recognition, consideration,  and value of what we already have. To me, the best "things" I ever owned, were the most useful. And at this point in my life, I can honestly look around me and say, I have more than I could ever need or want. So, for my recent birthday, the perfect gift would have been nothing. However, I did receive something that was very useful. Stackable Recycling Bins!!!  Please join me in basking in their glory!! Now, I can have the deep satisfaction that the only trash going to a landfill from my possession will be that that cannot be recycled in my county. 


 

Even so, I have now been collecting and storing those non-recyclables with the hope that one day, my county will take them. 





A Global World

Posted on January 14, 2009 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (1)

Do you want to know who loves Christmas? Thailand. 

This past December I spent the holidays with my parents, who have been living in Bangkok for the last few years. With great naiveté, I believed that I would be getting away from the commercial Christmas bombardment that pervades American life. Not so, in this primarily Bhuddist tourist destination. In the capital of Bangkok, we were constantly facing massive consumerism in a way I had never experienced. Every corner of downtown Bangkok towered with competing department stores and shopping malls. The ritzy chains boasted enormous Christmas scenes in their courtyards and entry ways. Store windows had carefully crafted winter scenes complete with reindeer leaping amidst impressively large snowflakes and smoking chimneys.  This seemed strange in a country that never experiences snow or temperatures below 80f. Inside the giant commercial megastructures, giant ornate Christmas trees loomed over the heads of hundreds who came to visit Santa, take pictures in front of displays, or just for "the idea of it." My personal favorite holiday experience was attempting to avoid the Christmas carol noise pollution pouring out from public loudspeakers and blaring in the elevator of my parent's apartment building. But why should I have been surprised? Christmas is a commercial holiday. Stupidly, I figured it wouldn't have caught on so gloriously in countries that did not have significant Christian populations. I expected a "palm tree" Christmas with small expat pockets celebrating amongst themselves, similar to what I experienced in Senegal, a primarily Muslim country. But it's no secret that Bangkok loves to shop, so why wouldn't Thais capitalize on this occasion to do so? Let's just say, I wasn't prepared for it. 

In truth, it was spooky after coming from a heightening economic crisis in the U.S. I found the constant consumerism overwhelming and troubling in an otherwise beautiful and exciting country. Of course, I am mainly talking about Bangkok. Even a local bar tender in southern Thailand said to us, "Bangkok is just for shopping." And despite a growing middle-class, there is still much economic and social disparity between the rich and poor, highlighted recently in the news by public demonstrations.  


A Holiday Display in Bangkok

Some days, I would feel panicky and upset by mid-day after getting around in the strangling traffic from one commercial expanse to another. This happened early on our three week trip and by the end, I no longer got the "shakes" from witnessing the seemingly endless opportunities to shop. But what kept running through my mind was the idea that the boundaries of geography and culture are rapidly diminishing. I guess this idea is old news, yet, I was further reminded by all the sale signs posted in major international retailers' windows offering up to 70% off--another experience I thought I would be leaving behind in the U.S. over Christmas. 


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