Monday, November 21, 2011

Natural Beauty: It's Easier Than You Think! Plus... Kitteh!!

A more natural way to clean your teeth: Kitteh!

*blows the dust off this thing*

It's been a while! Six months, if we're counting, since I posted. While it's true I only have four official readers, I blog more for my own sanity than anything else, with a large dose of "I hope I can help improve lives and the health of the planet" mixed in. The two are largely related. But I thank those of you who follow, and hope that you enjoy the blog. As always, I welcome green tips and hints and know-how from you too! :)

Someday, if I'm ever fortunate enough to build my own home, it will be modest in size, and laid out in a way that makes sense. I love a common area that includes kitchen, dining, and living. I love views of the outdoors, and even bringing the outdoors inside via "french" doors.

But more specifically, I want two things directly off the kitchen: a bathroom, and an herb garden. To make it even better, that bathroom could be outdoors alongside the garden! Before you think hick or outhouse, please see exhibit A.

Beautiful yes?

I want to be able to take my herbs into the kitchen for cooking, and into the bathroom for beauty. I also want my bathroom to have easy access to my kitchen because truth be told, 90% of my beauty products now come directly from the kitchen. The rest come from kind people, for a small price, who make what I am too lazy to make myself, such as jojoba oil and Castille soap (directly from olive and other oils plus an alkali which disappears when the saponification process is complete).

None of what I now use is harmful to either myself nor to the environment. This makes me happy :)

Why do I do this? It was really made clear to me why when last week, feeling down and looking for a boost, decided to treat myself to some good ol' fashioned conditioner. As a concession to greenness, I went to my local co-op. I perused the bottles. Each boasted ingredients on their front labels like coconut oil, honey, jojoba oil, essential oil. The back labels showed that, trumping these natural ingredients, were some of the usual chemicals we are familiar with, mostly preservatives and agents that make the product look and feel the way we've come to expect our beauty products to look and feel.

That moment reaffirmed for me the conclusion I'd already come to, both in beauty and in food. Skip the extra, unnecessary, often harmful ingredients and get back to the source.

The list is simple:

"Products" for my skin, depending on mood, time and needs, are the following:

  • citrus essential oil or a squeeze of lemon or other citrus juice in steaming water. Dip a cloth in and, when cool enough to not burn, lay over face for 5-10 minutes to open pores.
  • Oatmeal, either rolled or ground, a bit of water mixed in, and rubbed over the face or body as a cleanser. Rinse.
  • Sugar, turbinado or "in the raw," a few drops of water mixed in, and gently rubbed on the face or body in a circular motion. Can also add a few drops of unrefined coconut oil (or other nut oils) and honey. This is an excellent exfoliant. The oil helps to moisturize and the honey helps keep moisture in.
  • Yogurt, plain and whole milk, at room temperature and applied in a thin layer on the face or body. Leave on for 15 minutes. The lactic acid in yogurt is an excellent exfoliant and facial smoother, otherwise known in the beauty world as an Alpha-Hyrdroxy Acid (AHA).
  • Honey, if used with the sugar or not, is excellent as a finisher because of its moisture retaining abilities, and its ph, which is similar to apple cider vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar, a little bit (a teaspoon for face) mixed in a cup of water and splashed on face, is an excellent toner. No need to rinse afterward; the smell will dissipate.
  • Coconut Oil, unrefined (my personal favorite), or other oil such as jojoba, olive, etc. (not mineral, baby, vegetable, or petroleum jelly!), rubbed on the face. Excellent moisturizer. A little goes a long way!

"Products" for my hair are the following:

  • For an extra special hair treatment, mash a banana (and when I say mash, I mean puree that sucker in a food processor until it's a liquid. Trust me...) and add a few drops of coconut or other nut oil. Pack onto your hair, cover with a towel, and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse. I like to shampoo afterward, but I'm sure that thicker, coarser hair could handle this with just a rinse. This is a great treatment for your hair, leaving it smooth and strong. Add an egg for extra protein.
  • Coconut oil, unrefined, added to the ends of my hair (I usually get everything below the ears). A very little goes a long way here. If I am planning on washing my hair the following day (my locks get washed twice a week on average), I put this on the night before. I rub it in well, brush it, and sleep on it. If the strands of your hair are thick and/or coarse, you can apply the oil after you shampoo instead.
  • Castile soap with apple cider vinegar and hemp oil (jojoba would work as well), and essential oils. I take the easy route here and buy it already made. A little goes a long way here. It's very watery. I just apply it to my roots, a drop here, a drop there, and wash the roots. I leave the ends alone (unless I put on too much coconut oil, then I give the ends a few drops). It may or may not suds up. Don't worry! You don't need bubbles to clean your hair. It rinses very easily and quickly. A note: if this is the first time you've used Castille soap, be aware that it won't strip your hair and scalp like shampoos do. Your hair, and you, will take a few weeks to adjust.
  • Honey, about 1/4 cup, rubbed between palms and then distributed through hair. Don't worry; it will not stick and will rinse very easily. As with your skin, this will help retain moisture in your hair. Leave on a few minutes and then rinse with--
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons mixed with a cup of water. Dip the ends of your hair in the cup, and then pour the rest over your hair, rubbing into the scalp and evenly distributing. Let sit for a minute or two and then rinse briefly with cool water. The ph of the ACV will shut down the cuticle of the hair, leaving it smooth and shiny. Between the oil treatment, the honey and the ACV, you will no longer need "conditioner."
  • I don't use styling product, but they are indeed available in a manner that won't harm you or the planet. You can buy them or make them.

And that's it! My family is no longer surprised to see me carting food from kitchen down the hall to the bathroom. In fact, I now keep some of it in the bathroom like honey, oats, and sugar infused with lavender.

This has been a updated version of a previous post of mine on skin care. Hope you found it useful! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It All Starts With Food

Local and organic. New buzzwords, movements, often called "elitist" because supposedly only middle to upper class people can afford it. I won't go into that in depth because others have done so sufficiently. However, I will say that yes, buying organic food in the manner that most food is bought today, namely in packages and with numerous ingredients, is often prohibitively expensive. Boxes of cookies, bags of chips, frozen dinners, etc.... you're still paying for the brand and manufacturing on top of the added costs of organic. Part of moving toward an affordable organic diet means leaving behind many of the packages in favor of whole food.

I'm grouping organic and local together here because they are often one and the same, but a quick definition of each:

  • Local*: not the Safeway, Albertson's or Fry's around the corner. Local means not just operated locally but owned locally as well. Even chains that are franchised like McDonald's and Subway are not local. They are run on a formula, no matter their locale, and the bulk of the money leaves the community and goes to the corporation. Local are your mom and pop, independently owned businesses.

  • Organic: the term often confuses people, but it's not confusing at all. Think of organic as the way your grandparents, great-grandparents and before them grew and ate their food. Organic uses natural inputs rather than chemical. Instead of chemical fertilizers, manure and compost is used. Instead of chemical pesticides, companion planting with pest-averting plants is done, along with growing bio-diverse crops. The healthier the plant naturally, the better it can fight off pests and disease. Instead of growth hormones and antibiotics, animals are allowed to grow and eat naturally. There's no mystery here, no smoke and mirrors. Just naturally grown and raised food.

The reasons local and organic are important (not a complete list):
  1. Good for the environment. I was talking with my kiddos the other day about how becoming interested in truly healthy food (not about reading labels but getting away from labels) naturally led me to environmentalism. The two are so closely linked on many levels. A few years ago I watched a video of a cow being slaughtered in a rather inhumane but commonly done way. It led to me thinking about not just the meat on my plate but the living being it was before. I started reading books like The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Fast Food Nation, and watching movies like Food Inc. Becoming aware of progressive yet old-school (seemingly paradoxical) farmers like Joel Salatin.

    Thoughts led to action, and I changed the way I shopped and ate.

    Food, what kind we buy, where it comes from, how it was grown, the packaging it comes in if any, and how we dispose of it all affects the planet. Organic is better for the planet because it relies on natural inputs rather than chemical which leads to less pollution in our rivers. Local farms (and by local I don't mean the Con-Agra place doused in Monstanto chemicals with Monsanto GMO crops that's down the road) are more visible and therefore accountable to the community. When our local environment is degraded by industry we are much more likely to be aware of it, to speak up, to take action and to have an effect.

    For example: rainforests are clear cut every day for cattle grazing land, coffee, palm and soy production. Most of us would care if it was "our" rainforest being destroyed. The truth is, it is our rainforest. Distance might remove it from our daily thoughts, but the effects of its deforestation are felt around the world. The oxygen the rainforest provides is essential to the planet as a whole, along with it being part of our global climate control.

    We've been trying to "save" the rainforests for decades now but with little effect. Why is that? Because our actions and habits do not reflect a real commitment to conservation. We have not changed the message that we send to corporations which propels them to clear cut the rainforests. Scaling back our meat consumption and keeping our ranches small and accountable where we can see them is one (of many**) excellent way to protect the rainforests. We need the air they provide more than we need that quarter-pounder with cheese.

  2. Good for our health. This one needs very little explanation! Food that was picked yesterday and eaten today is far more rich in nutrients than food that had to travel. The rule for local is within a 150 mile radius. Food that is organic is better for you because it has not been doused in chemicals, hormones and antibiotics. A good website for local food in your area is Local Harvest.

  3. Good for the community. Here's where it all ties together.

    What's good for the environment is good for the community. It goes without saying that the healthier our planet on a global scale, the healthier our ecosystems on a local scale.

    What's good for personal health is good for the community. Medicare. Universal healthcare. Taxes to pay for both. Healthy people are less of a "burden" and remove a great deal of need for these debates.

    In addition, local businesses are good for the community, both economically and for that "sense of community" that we talk a lot about but no longer really experience. How many of us wish that the Mom and Pop stores were not going out of business? But, how many of us shop at those stores rather than at Target or Walmart or large grocery chains ? Probably not many, which is exactly why they are closing. It's not some evil corporate conspiracy to go after the Mom and Pop. Well... it is but... they have accomplices.


    We are lured by cheaper prices, larger selections, and convenience. At the end of the day, our money, after paying a few minimum wage workers, leaves town. Gone. Plus, these stores often don't stock local goods, so local artisans and farmers are not supported by these places as they would more likely be in locally owned stores.

    When I first started shopping at a little local grocery here, I was stunned at how small the place was. They had nothing, or so I thought. But I kept going back, determined to like it. And now, I do. I love it. They have everything I need, and when they don't, I go without and I manage to survive. No asparagus in September? That's ok... it's not in season then anyway. On the rare occasion when I go to the larger stores, I wander aimlessly, gazing undecidedly at all the packages, just as I did when these were the places I did my shopping. Shopping was always a huge ordeal and I hated it. So many isles, so much needless choice.. people staring in confusion at labels.

    Now I find there isn't even anything I want there anyway. Nothing is local. The organic fruits and veggies, largely ignored by most shoppers there, are old and squishy. The packaged organic stuff is.. well, where does it come from anyway? Safeway's brand "O," for example, is made by Lucerne. Buying organic from them mostly goes on to fund the rest of their operation, which is decidedly not organic, and not local, not even in Pleasanton where it's based.

    I find that somehow, somewhere along the way, I've lost my taste for the post-1970's grocery store, and prefer those places which, like Salatin, offer us a wonderful paradox: progressive and old-school.

* a word on coffee and other things that can't be grown locally. Most of the food we eat can be found locally. For those that never can, I say buy them! Local eating isn't about never eating another banana again. Of course some people take it to that extreme, but I think extremes set us up for failure. In the case with coffee, it can still be roasted locally, offering both a better cup of coffee and money to local roasters.

** a word on rainforests... and coffee! Coffee is one of the reasons the rainforests are being clear cut. If you've ever wondered what the term "shade grown" is, it's coffee that is grown without the need for clear cutting. To drink your brew guilt free and even do some good, buy it fair trade and shade grown from a local roaster (you guessed it: not Starbucks!). It's interesting to note that buying coffee organic actually hurts the farmers because they are typically too poor to buy the organic certification but also too poor to buy the chemicals... so they are likely to be organic anyway, just without the label. This is true for most small-farm crops in Mexico, South America and Africa.

More on the reasons rainforests are clear cut and what you can do about it can be found here


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Earth Hour--March 26, 2011! Party in the Dark! :)

My Earth Hour Lantern, 2009

This is your friendly reminder that on March 26th, which is in 4 days, this Saturday, it will be Earth Hour!!!

Watch this beautiful and inspiring video, the Official Earth Hour 2011 video. :)

What is Earth Hour:


Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change.


...Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.


There will be those assholes (yes, assholes) who will turn on all the lights in their home, thinking they are being clever in their juvenile form of protest. To those people I have nothing to say.

There will be others (not assholes, perhaps simply cynics or inquisitive types) who will question what good an hour with no power does. To those I offer two things.

One: it highlights the power of conservation. If a relative handful of people in one hour of lights-off saves energy and reduces carbon emissions, what could we accomplish with long term, concerted, committed, cooperative solutions? For example:


...during the 8 pm to 9 pm duration, Chicago saved about 7 percent in energy. The 818 megawatt hours of electricity saved are equivalent to nearly 1.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions or taking two 400-megawatt coal plants offline for one hour.


And, two: following on the heals of that, it's about spreading awareness, both to others and within ourselves, of the very real and serious issues (despite political spin) facing us as a result of our over-consumption of ...well.. everything. The goal is to spark an interest, either initial or renewed, in changing the way we live on the Earth.

We usually get out in the backyard, enjoy some food and conversation. I take a few pictures. We've stretched it to two hours before. It can be a bit depressing, looking around and seeing that we are the only ones participating. To combat that, the kids and I give a shout to the neighborhood, "Happy Earth Hour! Whooohoooooo!"

If the thought of being an eco-nut all alone in the dark gets you down, try finding an Earth Hour event in your area, or start one of your own! I know in the past I've seen events listed on the Earth Hour site itself, but am not seeing that this year. Maybe I'm just not awake enough yet! But, a simple Google search should result in some events for this year's Earth Hour. Give it a go!

Have fun, and lights out!! :)


Earth Hour 2011 will take place on Saturday 26 March at 8.30PM (local time). This Earth Hour we want you to go beyond the hour, so after the lights go back on think about what else you can do to make a difference. Together our actions add up.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Mark Bittman on what's wrong with what we eat | Video on

Mark Bittman on what's wrong with what we eat | Video on

A note on local eating: yes, in the past there was no label on the type of eating one did. Today, however, with our food culture being so out of whack, should one decide that they want to eat locally, it takes a concerted effort. That concerted effort naturally inspires labels. Eating locally is not "elitist" if it's done for health of community and self. A carrot that came from across town, that was picked yesterday and eaten today is much healthier for us. And, a local farm is healthy for the community and the Earth. It isn't elitist to want to know where your food comes, and for the farmers and ranchers to be visible and answerable to their customers.

Mark Bittman writes my favorite cookbooks: How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What Fits the Land

This farmer, on the brink of financial ruin, learned a lesson from his cows and the way they grazed when allowed to graze freely. He no longer spends money on chemicals and fertilizers, and milk production is up. Ever hear that happier cows make more milk? That first morning after they broke out and grazed in the field of wild oats and clover, the farmer noticed they smelled fresher, like the green pasture. They also made 200 pounds more milk than usual that morning.

These cows made me smile :) Nature knows what to do. If we are willing to watch, listen and learn rather than fight and conquer it, we all benefit.

No 'Poo?

A while back I'd posted about a no shampoo regimen I was trying by using baking soda as a cleanser and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. It was working great until about week 4 and then.. I don't know what happened. My hair felt dry and crispy, but the hair near my scalp felt gummy, and the hair at the back of my head had a definite oily look to it. Overall, it felt dry but unclean. Not good.

I didn't want to go back to shampoo though. That would have been a huge step backwards and I wasn't willing to just give up like that.

So, I headed to the Food Conspiracy Co-op and bought a bottle of "shampoo." It's Uncle Harry's Hair and Body. The ingredients are few and simple: Castile soap, apple cider vinegar and hemp oil (some can contain other ingredients like lavender essential oils, but nothing harmful).

The cool thing about a shampoo like this is that, unlike commercial brands with harsh ingredients, this could actually be made at home. Large bottles of Castile soap and apple cider vinegar can be purchased relatively cheaply, and hemp oil is available at health food stores and online. If one really felt energetic, even the Castile soap could be homemade.

At the moment, I'm being lazy and just using good ol' Uncle Harry's. Perhaps when I'm done painting walls and scraping/staining floors and moving, I'll give it a go. Maybe.

Been using the shampoo a few weeks now. It produces suds (which I know is super important to some people), doesn't have a harsh smell, and makes hair feel wonderfully soft and healthy. I do follow it with a rinse of 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water (I just use the water from the shower so it's not a cold shock), but I skipped that one day and the shampoo was fine on its own. My hair gets a wash twice a week.

I will say, since I started this whole thing, back with the baking soda/vinegar, I have not had a single split end. Given that my thin hair is rather prone to them (a few months after a cut my hair usually looks like it was run through a lawn mower), and compounded by living in a very dry desert, that is proof enough for me that giving up the 'poo was the right way to go.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just Out of My Tap. That's All I Know

Thanks to the Nature Conservancy for this video

These Jaywalking-esque questioning of people off the street are always a mix of fun and fright, aren't they?

This is frightening on many levels, not only for itself but because of the many other things just like it (where does your food come from, for example). Water is essential to life. Think about someone at this mysterious source shutting off our supply. It shouldn't be something that we know nothing about, should it?

Visit sites like this one to learn where your water comes from. Watch videos like this to understand how much we've had to wrestle with Mother Nature to get what water we have, especially in the west (also comes in book format, an excellent read), and to understand our tenuous hold on this life-sustaining substance.

The kind of sleep we're in is no longer refreshing; it's making us sluggish and groggy. We need to wake up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What We Love About Nature

This poor blog has been neglected since I've been AFK. I don't really have time to write anything, just wanted to share a video from the Nature Conservancy introducing their new and improved website It highlights conservation efforts, ways you can get involved, and offers tips. Their primary focus is on nature itself, the beauty of it, the scope of it, and those things we love most about it. It's about people being out in nature, interacting with it and being a part of it.

A few words about that: studies have shown that children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they get out into nature. It makes sense really. As much as we have tried in the last 150 years or so to remove ourselves from nature, to conquer it whilst remaining safely indoors, the rest of history was much different. We evolved along with every other living thing on this planet, both animal and vegetable. It's no surprise then that we are at our healthiest when we remain within the embrace of what nature provides and allows.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reusable Shopping Bags are Taking Over! house, that is!

I have maybe 40 reusable shopping bags. I go to the store, feel guilty about forgetting my shopping bags, offer up an apology to the clerk, and either use a plastic bag (which I re-purpose for garbage and recycling), use a paper bag (which I save for the composting browns), or I buy a new reusable shopping bag.

At a food co-op I belong to, I've been eying these little duffel bags that come in their own pouch. During one of my recent trips to buy groceries there, naturally not having my other bags with me, I bought one.

Pardon the mess. In the process of moving.

After I got home and put away my groceries, I folded it back into its little pouch, figuring how awesome it was that it could actually fit in my purse. That's when I noticed the clip. Perfect! I normally clip my keys to the outside of my purse. The addition of a little bag wouldn't be a problem, and this way I would always have a bag with me for spontaneous (and not so spontaneous) trips to the grocery.

Also, the size is perfect for the size of my grocery trips: small and frequent. This keeps food from rotting in the fridge and allows the chef to change her (or his!) mind about the menu every few days. Plus, fresh food takes up much less space than processed food, mostly because of the packaging.

So, if you are like me and can never remember to put the reusables next to the door or back in the car or near the bike for the next trip to the market, get yourself one of these. They can be found at They are made from recycled materials and can be recycled by contacting the company.

To read about their mission, click here.

For reasons to use reusable bags, click here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Waving the Yellow Flag

I know. Nascar, like religion, is sacrosanct. It's untouchable.

You might know, or can imagine how I feel about stuff that is considered untouchable: the more something is viewed as untouchable, the more it needs to be poked and probed and disturbed. Nothing is sacred.

Let's look at some Nascar facts, some connections between Nascar and the environment, some positives, and some solutions... and a kitten.

Some numbers and things to consider :

  • the average Nascar vehicle gets approximately 5 miles per gallon of gas.
  • while our vehicles are regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Nascar's are not. Nascar's regulatory agency is itself.
  • In a single race weekend, 6,000 gallons of fuel are burned.
  • In that same race weekend, approximately 120,000 pounds of CO2 is released into the atmosphere
  • Nascar's yearly CO2 emissions from the races alone racks up to a whopping 4 million pounds
  • The average American, in both car and home, emits approximately 45,000 pounds of CO2 in a year.

Nascar is trying to green their image. They are promoting green vehicles at their races (not for the races, mind you) often through their efforts to promote the benefits of ethanol, they plant trees to suck up some of the CO2, they recycle their tires, and they buy carbon credits.

My opinion of carbon credits is rather low. Here's how I see it: we're all sitting around a large bowl of M&Ms. Everyone pays the same amount into the pot, and the M&Ms are divided evenly. But I want more than my fair share of M&Ms, so I buy M&M credits, allowing me to take more out of the bowl. Anyone else around the bowl with enough money can do the same. You poor bastards just keep staring into that empty bowl. Some people (Republican politicians) might argue that the problem isn't the M&M credits but the size of the bowl. In order to make it fair, they say, we need to make the bowl limitless.

Only we're not really talking candy. We're talking CO2... that which is emitted by the forces that drive our modern world, that define our current definitions of progress and wealth and freedom, and that are changing our world in ways we are not sufficiently prepared to deal with.

Other seemingly green solutions have unfortunate consequences. Ethanol, for example, which is grown from corn, has created a shortage of corn for food consumption. Plus, due to the need for more and larger corn fields here in the US, soy farms have moved into Brazil, leading to further deforestation of the Amazon rain forests. (Soy isn't just in tofu. It's everywhere... soy lecithin, textured vegetable protein, "natural" flavors, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, etc. It's another reason, in case you needed one, for ditching processed food.)

And though they say they plant enough trees to 100% mitigate the CO2, it must first use a resource that is in ever-shortening supply. This resource, rather than being burned in races or converted to rubber for tires, could be used to manufacture those things we need for a future without it (solar panels and desalination equipment, as just one example).

Recycling really should be thought of as a last ditch effort, for Nascar and all of us. We should be aiming at reducing more. Those tires, while being re-purposed and recycled, first had to be manufactured, pulling precious resources from the ground, pumping pollution in to the environment. While Goodyear is doing a good service by recycling those Nascar tires, they are a major offender in environmental pollutants. (If you follow the Goodyear link, notice how part of their efforts to clean up their act involve corn...)

It might be a stretch of the imagination at first to consider that a Nascar race, and even their green efforts, affect thins like food supplies and rainforests. But, that's the way this whole thing works. And that's why we get ourselves into such big messes. The big picture is just as important as the details, and we desperately need to look at both.

Solution: I would encourage fans of Nascar to in turn encourage Nascar to green their sport even more. Perhaps they could shorten their races a few dozen laps? Perhaps they could hold less races in a year? Perhaps they could lower their speeds just a bit? Perhaps they could drive slightly less powerful cars? As my son suggests, what about electric cars?

I know, I know... Nascar fans are clutching their chests now. I'm not a fan, so I don't connect. I can't offer some of the practical solutions to Nascar that would help the environment
and keep true to the sport. Nascar fans, it's up to you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Knowledge is Power... and its Funding is About to Be Cut

Well, it didn't work, people. On February 19th, the House voted to remove funding from PBS completely. BUT, it's not too late... yet. It goes to the Senate for a vote very soon. Please please please, follow this link and take action!



Today our government votes on whether or not Public Broadcasting continues to receive funding. PBS receives grants from corporations and from viewers, but they also receive federal funding.

This may not be an obviously green issue, but it has green ramifications. One of PBS's primary topics is nature. Nature education helps to foster an appreciation for the world in which we live, can spark ideas, passions, creativity. We NEED this kind of an education available to the public, to adults and children alike.

Some numbers to consider:

  • Public television has a monthly broadcast audience of 121.9 million people.
  • Public radio has a four-week broadcast audience of 64.7 million people.
  • Network websites reach 13.7 million unique visitors per month at,10.8 million unique visitors per month at, and 9.5 million average unique visitors per month at
  • Other digital media reach millions of people each month – through podcasts, mobile devices, smart phone apps, and satellite channels. Examples include 972,000 monthly unique users of NPR Mobile Web and 692,000 monthly unique users of the NPR News iPhone App.
  • Public media educational technologies and services are resources for millions of teachers and students through instructional TV content, interactive video and distance learning systems, online professional development for K-12 teachers, and workshops and services for childcare providers, pre-school instructors, and classroom teachers.
  • In-person connections. Stations and producers connect in-person with regular activities and special events including, concerts and performances, lectures and forums, workforce development programs, and oral history projects. Many of these activities are partnerships with local school districts and educational institutions, museums and libraries, and national institutions, including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian.

If you support the good that PBS does for all of us, contact your representatives today, right now, and tell them how you feel! They represent you. They represent the common good.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Small yet Significant

Just got done watching the miniseries Middlemarch, a screen adaptation of George Elliot's 1874 novel of the same name. A line at the end really struck a chord in me, especially concerning the subject matter of this blog and the challenges we face today.

Taken from George Elliot's Middlemarch's finale "Sunset and Sunrise"

...the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number of people who lived faithfully a hidden life, and the rest in unvisited graves.

Translation for us 21st century types: that most good deeds never get recorded or told in stories or rewarded with fame or fortune; but those good acts, which make it better for all of us, are done by people like you and me, people who will never be known in either life or death.

Translation for this blog: you can make a difference; in fact, you are the only one who can.

Yes! :)

Green is Patriotic

Carbon Nation the movie premiered this past Thursday the 10th of February.

I love the concept for this movie. People who one might not expect to be on board with the whole global warming thing, or people who accept it's happening but don't necessarily believe it's man made, can still be passionate about cleaning up our water and air and finding alternative energy solutions.

As a 20-year military spouse, I love that "the colonel" is represented here. In recent months I've read a few articles about the DOD's awareness of both global warming and peak oil as national security threats. The military, often seen as a conservative organization, is totally aware of the reality of what most see as tree-huggin' and/or tinfoil hat wearing causes. I wish they would be more vocal about these issues, especially for the typical military-loving neo-con FOX News viewer who is otherwise told that global warming is a liberal agenda and there is no oil shortage, just a bunch of filthy hippies keeping us from our right to Drill Baby Drill.

Take note that both the links above were the very first Google hits and lead to foreign media outlets (The UK's Guardian). For some reason, the media in the U.S. doesn't want us to know the truth. Truth, like unity, is power.

The movie looks very inspiring, and is now showing! Check your local theaters, especially the independent ones, to catch this one on the big screen.

Solar powered kitteh!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Abandon Earth: Wake Up Call

Hmmm. This outrages me so much that I am going to keep my words to a minimum.

Global climate change is science, not politics. But, it has been turned into a political issue, an issue in which people are encouraged to take sides, as if it were a matter of opinion and not fact. A tool to divide us, to keep us from unifying. A unified people is powerful, after all.

Now, the Republicans, fueled by the "mandate" from the recent elections, are looking to reduce the outflow of cash. One of their solutions: cut funding to NASA's climate change research and redirect it toward "human spaceflight."

It has been suggested that this is an attempt to milk the planet for all its worth and then leave it. The letter, signed by Senate Republicans, has been dubbed Abandon Earth.

Look, I am an avid Star Trek fan. Since I was a little girl watching Kirk and Spock on my little black and white tv I dreamed of spaceflight, of a time when flying through space would be as common place as driving across town.

Then I grew up and I came to understand something: space is big. HUGE.

We've been at this space flight thing for several decades now and have yet to man anything past our own moon, and have yet to send any probes into space beyond our solar system. What about Mars or the Moon? If we can survive on Mars in domes, we can survive on Earth in domes. There are no planets out there that will sustain us naturally, and by no, I mean none that we will ever reach. Because space is... Hu-fookin-mongous!!!

Abandon Earth? More like abandon reason and hope.

This is one more reason we need to each, individually, do what we can in our own lives to make the planet as healthy as she can be, and to send a message collectively with what we buy and how we vote that we do not want to abandon our problems but fix them. We need to accept that there is no easy fix, and there is no escape. The future we need to work towards is right here, and only here.

Rethinking Beauty: Natural Facial

Before my male readers make a speedy exit, yes, men, you too can be "beautiful." Your skin is in just as much need of TLC as a woman's. :)

Wanting to deal with stubborn blackheads and clogged pores, I decided today to do and share the results of a cleanse with baking soda paste, followed by a hot lemony towel, a sugar scrub exfoliation and an apple cider tone.

Just got done with it and.. wow! Face is super soft, and some blackheads which have refused to leave are now practically gone. Amazing. Once again, nature proves you don't have to spend huge gobs of money, litter your bathroom with plastic bottles, nor slather your skin with chemicals.

The natural solution to cleanse and exfoliate:

1. Cleanse. Make a paste with a tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of water. Gently scrub face and neck with this mixture. Avoid eye area. Rinse with cool water. (This cleanser is good enough to use every day, or every other day, or once a week depending on your needs, with just warm water for washes in between)

2. Open. Put a small saucepan on the stove and heat water until it's steaming (NOT boiling!! Not even simmering. Just hot.). Add a drop or two of lemon oil or fresh lemon juice. Dip a washcloth in. When it is cool enough to handle but still hot, wring out and place over face for a couple minutes to open pores.

3. Exfoliate. Mix two tablespoons of unrefined sugar with a teaspoon or so of water. You want the sugar moist but not dissolved. Use this mixture to scrub your face and neck in circular motions. Be gentle. The roughness of the sugar will exfoliate well enough on its own. Do this for a few minutes. Rinse with cool water.

4. Tone. Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Apply to face with cotton ball. Let sit about 30 seconds and then use another cotton ball with just water to gently wash excess vinegar of. Dry. For the vinegar, I use the same kind I use on my hair. Bragg's unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar, which contains "The Mother.")

5. Moisturize. If you are going outside, definitely use a sunscreen since your skin is like a babe's bottom now :p (For moisturizing, I use straight up jojoba oil.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Where's The Beef Come From?

I love meat. I've cut back a lot, which has prompted some people (MOM!) to think I've become a vegetarian. Whenever I get sick or don't feel well, I'm told, "You need to eat meat!"

I do. Years ago, I considered becoming a vegetarian... and then I remembered bacon. Mmmmm bacon.

But I have cut back on my consumption of meat. It all started in 2005 with a video of a cow being slaughtered. It played on a loop. I can still see it. The cow walked in view of the camera, was hit in the head with a bar to stun it, and then its neck was sliced. The video ended as the cow struggled to stay upright as it slipped and slid around on its own blood, blood which was rapidly mingling with the blood of the cows that had preceded it.

That night, we had pizza with sausage for dinner. I almost threw up. I couldn't eat it. For a week, I couldn't eat meat. When I could stomach it again, I added it back into my diet with a promise: I would never look at meat the same way again. I would no longer assume the animal had not suffered needlessly, nor assume that the meat was clean or safe to eat simply because it was stamped by the USDA. I would be more aware of my food choices.

Eventually I cut down on the amount of meat in my diet, for many reasons:

1. The health of the planet. The more cattle, the more grazing land, the more trees are cut down to include the Amazon rainforest. The rainforest is a vital part of our ecosystem and global climate. We can't afford to lose it.

2. The health and happiness of the animal. The more we mass-produce our livestock, the less they seem like living beings and the more they seem like an item to produce, consume, and dispose of. Pigs tails being cut off to keep other pigs from chewing on them because they are packed so tightly together. Young male chickens being ground up alive because they can't produce eggs and are therefore useless to the industry. Cows being fed a diet not of the grass that they've evolved to eat, but of corn, which their stomachs can't digest well. This necessitates heavy doses of antibiotics to counteract the illnesses resulting from the poor diet, not to mention standing knee-deep in poop. Did you know that most antibiotics produced in this country don't go to save people's lives but keep cows, chickens and pigs "healthy" enough to survive their poor diets and living conditions? If we are what we eat, we can't afford to continue morally bankrupting ourselves in this way.

3. The health of myself and my family. Pounds of undigested meat in the colon. More protein than we need or has ever been consumed by humans before. Cholesterol problems. There are more reasons, but I think these are enough.

4. The health of our bank account. I won't lie. Humanely raised and healthier meat (organic, free range and the most important of all, local) can be more expensive. Unless one is wealthy, one cannot afford to eat better quality and humanely raised meat and keep up the consumption trends of the last few generations. It was a shock at first until I remembered this was a life that had been taken to sustain me, and one that I didn't even need. The least I could do was pay a fair price for it, which in turn helped us to eat less of it.

If you care to have your awareness pricked a bit, here is photo posted on Treehugger this morning. No kittens, just baby chicks.

Today's dose of reality:

Photos courtesy of Treehugger

The solution? There are several. While each might be a huge shift from where most of us are used to being, it's actually a return to the ways of an earlier time when people were connected with the source of their food. It's a subject for a later blog, but put simply, it amounts to making wiser, morally conscious choices when it comes to food.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Addictive Inspiration

I've volunteered a few times in my life. At the post office, on a scholarship committee, a burrowing owl relocation. Not as often as I should nor as often as I'd wish, but enough times now to piece together an understanding about myself: it feels really awesome to witness and join a group of people who are working to benefit someone or something other than themselves.

So awesome, I don't know why it has not become addictive enough to volunteer on a regular basis.

Well, no, that's not true. I do know why. While volunteering is a feel-good thing, it's much more labor and time intensive than, say... eating chocolate. With all of the unavoidable responsibilities in life, followed by all of the huge time sinks we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into (we thought tv was bad? Hello Facebook!), volunteering, like exercise and setting aside time to rejuvenate your "spirit," fall to the pile of Things I'll Get To Later.

Yesterday was an invasive grass eradication volunteer event. Briefly, Buffelgrass is a non-native invasive species in Arizona, introduced by cattle ranchers some years ago. It crowds out native grasses and is highly flammable. Buffelgrass fires burn at an intensity that native vegetation cannot take. When fire sweeps through the desert, saguaro die but Buffelgrass comes back stronger. If allowed to spread unchecked, the desert will turn from a diverse ecosystem to a monoculture savanna.

I agreed to go but had my doubts. The desert is a big place, after all. It seemed a lost cause. Plus, I had to get up at 6 am. And it was 30 degrees outside. Ugh!

I am so glad I did. I realized while I was out there that they are amazingly and diligently making a dent in this problem.

I also realized that people need to feel passionate about things, need to feel they can affect the world they live in. I think this was the first time that my volunteer efforts fit my passions. It worked for me. It felt right. I felt powerful, more connected, and 100% willing to do it again.

But this isn't about me, just a long way of getting to my point: We often hear people say, especially in regard to conservation efforts in the home, that one person can't have an effect on global climate or the depletion of resources.

They are right. If only one person was trying to conserve, that person's efforts would be completely wasted.

But there isn't just one person. There are many, and their numbers are growing.

My solution for this blog: volunteer. Find something that speaks to your passions. Surround yourself by others who are engaged in that common purpose. Feel that you are not alone in wanting to make the world a better place. Put your minds, hearts and hands together to find solutions. Feel powerful. Feel connected.

I'd even challenge those who might be reading this blog who don't have any particular "green" concerns to go to an eco-centered volunteer event.

Even if it's just once, or once in a while, it could tweak your perspective a bit. If we're honest with ourselves, we all need a bit of tweaking from time to time. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Besides 80+ yr old Grandmas and Tots Needing a Boost, Does Anyone Still Use a Phone Book??

This will be short, sweet, and to the point. Here's a site to opt out of phone books directly from the source! Seriously, who uses those now that we have the Internets??

Follow the Yellow Brick Linkage

photo credit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coconut Oil is Really... um... greasy!

Had a slight misshap with my hair yesterday. Decided to give it a coconut oil deep condition. Put the cocunut on my ends which, having layers, is at about my ears down. Left it on for an hour. Used the baking soda water on the hair, even the ends. Twice!

No good. My hair is an oil slick.

So today I will cave, but only slightly, by using Castille soap. Here's hoping the Castille soap is strong enough to do the job. If it does, I intend to do a coconut oil treatment once a month. Will use the Castille only on the ends, avoiding the scalp to ensure I don't muck with this awesome relationship my scalp and the baking soda has going on lately. Two weeks since I stopped using shampoo and it's looking great!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Learning to Live Within Nature's Budget

A contact posted this on Facebook. It's from the people at The Post Carbon Institute.

Excellent, quick video.

Oh and... have some kittens!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dirty Dishes: Killing One Bird With Two Stones...

...wait, that's not very eco-friendly. Ummm... feeding two birds with one seed! That's better :)

They say washing dishes in the dishwasher, especially an energy efficient model, saves water. I beg to differ. It's all in the way it's done, and especially what's done with the water afterward.

Most dishwashers use approximately 12 gallons of water and most energy saver dishwashers use approximately 4. Water estimates for handwashing dishes are much higher, often in the 15 to 25 gallon range. I'm guessing this estimate comes mainly from people who just let the water run and run and run.

I've tested this a few times. I've measured the water I used to wash and rinse an entire day's worth of dishes (as it's energy efficient to run the dishwasher with a full load, so I think it is with handwashing too. Save it up and do it all at once I say!) The total amount of water I average: 6 gallons... AND it is almost all put to a better use than simply going down the drain.

Ways to accomplish the dishes in an eco-friendly way abound on the net, no doubt. Here's my solution to added to the pot.


  • A biodegradable detergent--please note that nothing but biodegradable will do here--my product of choice at the moment is Ecover. I will eventually switch to a homemade detergent, but for now it is sufficient*
  • A double sink, or a single sink and a large bowl, basin or bucket
  • A pair of durable gloves (helps protects your hands from hot water)
  • A dish drainer (and a dish towel if you have someone willing to dry for you! But they dry just as good in the drainer without the extra help)
  • A washcloth with a scrubby surface--like this-- (no matter how green some sponges may be, if they are disposable, they are not as green as a good ol' cloth that gets thrown in the wash and reused)
  • A large bucket or bowl and a ladle or cup

THE STEPS (and btw... I will make this seem more complicated that it actually is... I can't help myself! Please keep that in mind):

  • Fill up one sink half full with hot water and a squirt or two of your soap. Don't use a lot of soap; you are not looking for a bubble bath here. You can add a bit more soap later as needed, along with a bit more hot water if the water cools while you work. Now, add dishes, cups, whatever. You know the drill! (To keep water use and nastiness to a minimum, I do not pre-rinse the dishes, nor do I use the disposal. I scrape whatever food is on the dishes --except meat and dairy--into a large empty yogurt container, to be tossed into the compost bin later.)
  • While those soak a bit, start filling up the other sink or basin halfway with cold water. This will be your rinse water (pictured below).
  • The next is obvious. Wash, dip in cold rinse water (making sure your dish/glass etc isn't covered in bubbles before you dip) and place in dish drainer.
  • If you finish one sink-full and you have more to wash, simply add another small squirt of soap and turn on the hot water for a couple seconds to warm it up and get a couple bubbles going.
  • Unless you have a gray water recycling unit under your kitchen sink, don't drain the water just yet. :) Now here's the BEST part!


You can water your plants, both indoor and out, with water from your kitchen sink. As a bonus, soapy water with a biodegradable soap can act as an eco-friendly pesticide for your garden. It is recommended that grey water not be used on anything leafy or growing in the ground that will be consumed raw (lettuce, carrots, etc.); however things like fruit trees and ornamental plants are perfectly fine.

I use a cup to fill a large bowl (pictured above) a few times with the water from both sinks and simply head outside to water whatever needs it. You could be slightly more elaborate and have a large covered basin outside to store the water, filling a watering can from the basin when you need it, or go all out and set up a more intricate above or below-ground irrigation system... and many other options in between. I prefer simple (for now!)

You can also flush a toilet with a bucket of water. The average toilet uses 1.5 to 3 gallons per flush. Quickly pour 4 cups of water into the toilet bowl and watch what happens :) If you don't have a garden, or find that you have more grey water than you can use in the garden, keep a bucket of grey water by the toilet.

A word on bacteria. Some people claim the only way to kill bacteria on dishes is with HOT water, such as in a dishwasher. And, others fear the bacteria that may reside on a washcloth. I have three things to say to that:

  1. Our great-grandparents (and many before them) managed somehow to survive this.
  2. They survived it well enough to spawn all of us... nearly 7 billion and counting
  3. Antibiotics, if shit from the washcloth actually hits the fan. (But seriously, lest anyone think I am pushing the use of powerful pharmaceuticals in place of safe hygiene, refer back to points 1 and 2. I think we sometimes fail to give enough credit to the thousands of generations that managed before us without all the trappings of convenience we've convinced ourselves we can't live without.)
Have any dishwashing conservation tips you'd like to share? :)

*(Ecover rebuts greenwashing claims)

This Trail

Was reading this month's Tucson edition of Fitness Plus magazine, specifically the Backcountry Life section, and read a beautiful quote by Marty Anderson, 62, a Tucson resident and avid hiker.

The wilderness is so neutral and indifferent; you define yourself against that backdrop, that mirror. By humbling me, the wilderness expands me. That's what I strive for, trails or no trails.

Yes, exactly!

While his choice of the word wilderness fits in well here, let's go a step or two further and say the Earth, or the Universe. If these things are indifferent to us, if we acknowledge they owe us nothing--not life, not riches, not happiness--how then do we see ourselves when we hold ourselves up against that backdrop? Does the humbling realization of our relative insignificance have the potential to enrich our lives?

These things, while indifferent to us, are what sustain us. It's an inspiring thing, for me, to consider our speck of a place in a vast universe with mysteries we will never unravel, on an amazing planet that we are so fortunate enough to exist upon, that keeps us alive in a miraculous and delicate balance.

It's part of that balance in which we now play a role. For centuries, and especially in the last, we chose to dominate the Earth. To conquer it. To treat it as though it owed us more than our fair share. And now, with indifference, it is giving us more than we bargained for.

How do we see ourselves when we hold ourselves up against that backdrop?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Lottery of Birth

Is it too soon for a dose of reality post? :) Nahhhh!

Today I chanced across a really cool and informative site called If It Were My Home. Per the homepage's description:

The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person? is your gateway to understanding life outside your home. Use our country comparison tool to compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. Start by selecting a region to compare on the map to the right, and begin your exploration.

You can also use our visualization tool to help understand the impact of a disaster. The Pakistan Flood and BP Oil Spill are currently featured. Check out the individual pages to gain some perspective on these awful tragedies.

This site fits in perfectly with the TEDxTalk video I posted about social and environmental issues having extremely close but often overlooked connections.

The country I chose to look up was Bangladesh. Here are some facts that pertain to environmentalism. If Bangladesh were my home instead of the U.S., I would:

consume 99.04% less oil. Bangladesh consumes 0.0252 gallons of oil per day per capita while The United States consumes 2.6400

use 98.92% less electricity. The per capita consumption of electricity in Bangladesh is 135kWh while in The United States it is 12,484kWh.

I would also:

have 72.09% more babies

die 17.61 years sooner

Oh and, that rather large country over there that our country likes to stock its Wal*Mart shelves from, who gets used as a scapegoat and as a justification for us not having to make changes because their consumption of oil is growing, namely China, consider these numbers. They:

consume 90.43% less oil. China consumes 0.2526 gallons of oil per day per capita while The United States consumes 2.6400

use 79.3% less electricity. The per capita consumption of electricity in China is 2,585kWh while in The United States it is 12,484kWh.

Back to Bangladesh...
a big kitteh. Bengal tiger

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rethinking Beauty: Shampoo and Conditioner

A week ago, I decided to try a new shampoo and conditioner.

Some pics of my do:

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Gif Created on Make A Gif

Keep in mind here, I'm an au naturale kinda girl. I style my hair with my fingers most days... maybe with a comb if I'm feeling really spunky. I prefer my natural waves to anything I could get out of a bottle or from a straightening iron. I only have a blow dryer so my mom doesn't have to bring hers when she visits. So take this hair and envision it as you might cut and/or style it per your habits and preferences.

On GOOD's Facebook page, I had read about the No-Soap Challenge, which could also include no shampoo. I'd been wanting to try this and this was just the oomph I needed!

After a bit of investigating, I found this extremely helpful blog which recommends using a mixture of one tablespoon baking soda mixed with one cup water for shampoo, and one tablespoon apple cider vinegar with one cup water for conditioner. (The blog also gives a few reasons for switching. For a more detailed read about the ingredients commonly found in shampoo and the dangers beauty products pose to health and the environment, go to CopperWiki, a "community based collaboration to build world’s largest repository of information about living consciously.")

I made a few changes to the recipes. For the shampoo, I mixed three drops of rosemary essential oil with the baking soda and water in a bottle. To use, I shook the bottle well, wet my hair, applied a few tablespoons of the mixture to my roots only, and massaged for a couple minutes. Massage gets the blood flowing to the follicles and promotes hair growth. Then I rinsed, which brought the baking soda down through the hair to the ends.

For the conditioner, I mixed two tablespoons of the vinegar with the water, plus 1/4 tsp each raw honey and jojoba oil, plus 3 drops of lavender essential oil (I live in the desert and my hair is prone to dryness; my hair needs lots of lovin'). Shook it up. Squirted a few tablespoons on the ends of my hair (from about ears down). I let it sit a few minutes, and then poured a bit more on the top of my head and rinsed with cool water.

That first day, my hair felt just like it would after a normal shampoo and condition. Two days later, I did it again; this time, the hair was rather oily. Two days later, I washed it (the first set of photos), and again the very next day (the second set of photos).

You'll notice that in the first set of photos, the hair has a slightly oily look to it, perhaps like I hadn't washed it for a couple days. In the next set of photos, my hair still slightly damp, it looks like I'd maybe washed it the day prior (which, by the way, is when I think hair looks its best and is the easiest to manage).

The scalp produces an excess amount of oils to compensate for the harsh detergents in shampoo. This oil builds up near the scalp (as you've likely noticeed if you've ever tried to just rinse your hair with water a day after shampooing it and suddenly found yourself in possession of a greasy, gummy mass of hair); however, since most of us either shampoo every day, or keep the hair dry between washes, we never really notice this excess oil because it stays in place near the roots. We wash, the shampoo strips it away, thus forcing the scalp to produce more, thus necessitating a harsh shampoo, and the cycle continues.

So, for a few days to a few weeks after beginning the gentler baking soda "shampoo" regimen, the scalp will still produce more oil than it needs. It takes time to heal. This transition period doesn't last long. Already, as can be seen in the photos, a week after beginning, things are already starting to balance out.

I'm loving it. My hair feels soft and full. I've lessened the number of chemicals my skin (the largest organ of the body!) comes into contact with. I've lessened the amount of toxic crap that goes down the drain. I can use items I already always have in my pantry, thus saving money and cutting back on plastic waste. And, I get to have fun with different essential oils. I'm totally sold on this and will never shampoo or condition my hair again :)

It's recommended that the wash be done two or three times a week, and the conditioner once or twice a week. If you decide to give this a try, find the combination that works best for you. And remember to be patient while your scalp comes back to a less stressed-out, balanced, healthy state.

Per request... wonder what shampoo these kittehs use?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Creating What We Need

This is the video that inspired me to start this blog. Van Jones discusses how things are connected in ways we might not necessarily realize but, once we do, we have a responsibility and opportunity to make positive changes.

It's about the choices most of us have, and the lack of choices of the poor. It's about how the choices we make affect people, in ways good and bad. It's about living with intention and compassion.

This particular TEDxTalk is largely about plastic use, and the "idea of disposability;" that we actually "don't have disposable resources, we don't have disposable species, and we don't have disposable people either. We don't have a throw away planet and we don't have throw away children...And as we all begin to come back to that basic understanding, new opportunities for action begin to emerge."

It is opportunity that this blog is all about.

Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Like We Need Another Treehuggin' Blog, Right?

Well, I do. The kind I need is the kind I think others need too: something positive, about action and solutions. About what an individual can do to make a positive difference.

I easily succumb to negative emotions. It's hard not too, with all the doom and gloom on the news and on sites like HuffGreen and Treehugger. While I think that the information coming from them is essential as a starting point, there comes a time when one must acknowledge the truth of things and then move forward. Focusing only on the melting icecaps, the strange mass animal deaths, the House aiming its big guns at the Clean Air Act, etc., can lead to a feeling that the individual can't do anything about the problems we face.

I have two things to say about that.

One: a friend of mine told me that she views a problem she is facing as a new journey in her life. She didn't "book this trip," (love that!) but she's on it and will make the best of it, like an adventure. I was stunned by this, not only because I think it is a very healthy and powerful attitude in the face of adversity, but because I've had those exact same thoughts concerning global climate change and the depletion of our resources (oil especially). I've often thought in recent months that this is a new adventure, a part of human history that we all are living in. What am I going to do with my little piece of history in the making? Sit around feeling sorry for myself, for us, for my children? Feel defeated by powers greater than myself, least of which are the "Big Men"--politicians and CEOs--who take what they want without regard to others? Or make positive changes in the way I live my life, possibly enriching it to the point that my children will have a future worth looking forward to?

Two: the "Big Men" have been screwing little men since there were "Big Men" and little men. The problem is and always has been when the little man continues to obligingly bend over. Only when the little man stands up straight and shows some courage does he win. In today's age of information, there's no excuse for us to be bending over. Knowledge is power, but only if we use it.

And so, although there will occasionally be a dose of reality on this blog, a reminder why we should stop bending over and start standing up straight, I want the focus to be on what it is we can do in facing the unique problems of our piece in human history. I want to chronicle and share my journey in learning to be a better human being rather than a consumer. And, I want to hear suggestions from anyone who feels like sharing them... hints and tips on conservation, thoughts and hopes and questions. Even if only one person reads this blog, I need to do this as a reminder that action from knowledge is power.