Thursday, April 22, 2010
Anyway, there were tables set up for different aspects of the green lifestyle throughout the village. I got a cloth bag, plenty of brochures, and talked to some great people. Finally, not talking to myself about being eco-friendly!
I've got some ideas about where I want to go next in my environmental quest and I'm ready to put them into action!
Until then, enjoy the 40th Earth Day and some photos from the festival this past weekend.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I live on my own and I’m on bottle 2 of my nighttime cold medicine and bottle 3 or 4 of my sore throat medicine. And in my bathroom cabinet is 5 dosage cups. I am but one person. What am I going to do with 5 dosage cups? Line up shots and call it a party? As much fun as that sounds, I do have to go to work in the morning.
Why can’t medicines not come with a dosage cup by default and replacements be sold separately? That way, they would be used more on an as-needed basis and lots of plastic could be used for something else. Is there an actual, concrete reason every bottle of cold medicine comes with its own dosage cup, or is it just a standard practice?
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I've thought about it many times over the past six weeks, why I wanted to go vegetarian. I'm not discounting animal cruelty and welfare, but it wasn't the main reason. It was a lot of thinking how I rarely cooked with meat in the first place and I always strive to eat healthy, so eliminating meat was a logical idea. What I found was that I cut out trips to fast food places and ate healthier at restaurants. But I also found I ate at restaurants less and opted to eat at home. My grocery trips were much more fun when looking for organic, vegetarian options. I made (almost) vegan lasagna last week and it came out delicious. Tofu, organic spinach, organic lasagna noodles, organic tomato sauce. The only thing I cheated on was using regular mozzarella cheese instead of a vegan substitute, because I just couldn't find an acceptable substitute.
I learned more about alternative ways to get protein, and have eaten even more hummus than usual. I also ate chickpeas with more of my meals, and have shelled edamame in my freezer. I limited the amount of fish and seafood I ate, but didn't give it up completely. (I can quit burgers much more easily than I can quit sushi - even though I have conducted a mini survey of the veggie rolls in town. It was very tasty research.)
Through my research, I found two great magazines, VegNews and Vegetarian Times. I also came across a book of veggie burger recipes, even though I've yet to go through it. I suppose the piece de resistance is my viewing of Food, Inc. tonight. I know that'll throw a lot of new thoughts into the mix.
The biggest thing right now that sticks in my mind about the animal industry is the sheer amount of grain and energy it takes to raise these animals (cruelly) for the sole purpose of making meat to sell. All this food going to the animals, all the water it requires to make that food and give to the animals, plus the energy it takes to run the factories - it uses more resources than we even have. If more Americans switched to a plant-based diet, world hunger would decrease dramatically. Basically, we are taking all this grain and giving it to the animals we're going to kill and eat ourselves. Instead of giving the grain to humans who have nothing. Plant-based diets are simply more sustainable for the planet and its inhabitants.
Now, if I may get back to my Sunday night cinematic feature...
Sunday, March 14, 2010
You don't have to turn everything off, just non-essential lighting. You could take a nap, lay out in your backyard and stare at the stars, sit inside and watch the rain (hey I'm not a meteorologist, I don't know what the weather will be like next weekend), read by candlelight, drink a bottle of (organic) wine, pay bills by candelight...
Monday, March 8, 2010
I haven't been doing much outside of my standard green routine - recycling, Klean Kanteen, saving paper, but even so, I'm not doing enough to make myself happy. I still haven't gotten in the habit of taking a reusable container with me to restaurants for leftovers. I haven't figured out a way to gently convince other people to do a little more, and I end up just watching people toss paper and water bottles in the trash. Because my city took away most of the fire station recycling drop-offs, I don't empty my home recycling often, and it just piles up (even though the place I drop it off now is half a mile away and next door to my boyfriend's house.)
The main thing I've been doing is my six-week period as a vegetarian. It is going very well and I find I even eat healthier snacks (except for Cadbury mini eggs.)
So, I need to get back into doing more and learning about more ways to be environmentally friendly. Soon I'll post a list of great books and websites that I use in my journey.
I have noticed that since I became committed to the environment, my brain is hard-wired differently. I cannot bring myself to throw something away unless it's absolutely not recyclable. I'm looking at you styrofoam. I save plastic bags for recycling and small trashcan liners. I hoard boxes. (Boy, do I hoard boxes.) I have tissue paper to last until my brother's 30th birthday (he's 18.) All this leads up to the urge I got to clean out my closet. The top shelves, where I store all of my extra junk and holiday decorations. This weekend and tonight, I pulled everything down, went through it, grouped it, put it in boxes and labeled it. I magically have a large hole on my shelf now from all the streamlining I did. Amazingly, I barely threw away anything. But it was difficult because there is always a pile of "Now what to do with this!?" And I just cannot throw anything away. I think it ended up going in a box labeled "miscellaneous", but at least it's somewhere and labeled. I flattened my extra boxes for future possible use. I found the super glue my boyfriend gave me a few weeks ago. I've got an "art station" with all of my paint, can tabs, wine corks and bottle caps for future recycled material projects. My next art project, however, will involve film canisters.
This has somehow become a stream-of-consciousness post and for that I'm sorry. I just don't have any tips coming to mind at the moment. I'll get back to that too, I promise.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
When I was a child, my father became vegetarian, so in a sense, I've already done it for a period in my life. All I really remember was the lack of a tasty tofu dog in 1993. Of course I'm not sure any tofu dogs are made for eight-year-olds.
Anyway, I was at a Greek restaurant last week, enjoying some spinach pies and a vegetable pita sandwich, when the idea came back to me. Lent is coming up next week, why not give up meat? It's already not an option for some of those days, why not just go all out?
Once I made up my mind I took to the kitchen to do a rundown of all the meat products I need to keep frozen or eat before next Wednesday. Thanks to that I've been eating sausage jambalaya for four straight days and finally finished today. I separated all of my bookmarked recipes so the vegetarian ones are in a special folder.
And now I'm on my last hurrah - getting in my last cravings before it's veggies and seafood for six weeks. I have to admit, my last hurrah isn't that hardcore - a turkey sandwich tonight and chicken nuggets for lunch tomorrow.
Treehugger had a great article today about being a weekday vegetarian, where as the name implies, you only eat meat on weekends. It cuts down on meat consumption enough to make an impact, but you won't have to swear it off forever. Paul McCartney has also started a Meat-free Monday campaign, though it's not as much of an impact as cutting out meat five days of the week.
Reducing meat consumption helps to slow global warming, reduce carbon emissions, fight global hunger and improve animal welfare. Plus, it'll save you money and possibly keep you from getting sick. In these times, it's not complete culinary torture to give up meat - there are so many delicious vegetarian dishes. It's not just tofu or bust!
So, February 17 - April 4. Let's do this!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Since this is the Wednesday before Valentine's Day, my eco-friendly tip is to check out the site if you need gift ideas. Though with shipping times, I probably should've done this LAST Wednesday!
Anyway, they have a huge variety of items that are great for any sort of gift you need to buy. And you'll feel good knowing your gift is doing good in the world, whether supporting workers in India, or using recycled materials. It's always a bonus when you can help multiple people with one gift!
Friday, February 5, 2010
The rest of it? I don't know if it's possible to truly make Mardi Gras a
green holiday, unless every parade-goer intends to change their own habit. It is
impossible to convince every person along the route to pick up their own trash
once they leave. It seems like common sense, but sometimes I feel I'm
overestimating a large group of people. It's an idea I do not like, but people
have to want to change themselves, and I'm not sure the Mardi Gras crowd is the
group to turn green. If they intend to set up camp on the sidewalk with a card
table full of food, they are going to use disposable plates/forks/napkins/cups,
and chances are, everything not in a trash bag will end up on the ground.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Anyway, here we go on this week's eco suggestion.
Take what you can from restaurants! Now before you go putting plates and spoons in your purse as you leave, continue reading. Restaurants are pretty notorious for bringing a stack of "extra" napkins the height of the Sears Tower. But if you don't use them all, they all still get thrown away. So take the ones you don't use! What's the point of letting unused napkins go in the trash? Bring them home, keep them in the car or in your purse, or put them in your desk drawer. Napkins will always find a way to get used. Extra straws? Extra plastic utensils (which are really a beast unto themselves)? Bring them with you!
Sugar/Splenda packets are also fair game, if you request some and they bring you more than enough. But I can't advise dumping the whole sugar caddy in your bag. Sorry!
And if you're in a fast food restaurant, don't throw those extra seven ketchup packets away! If they give you a handful, use the whole handful, even if that means six months later you're using that last packet that's been sitting in your fridge.
The whole point is to use what the restaurants gave you and would throw away if left behind. They can't use your leftovers for public health reasons, but you can use them! And napkins and ketchup packets add up quickly and come in handy. Right there, you've saved a ton of waste from landfills, without costing you anything more than the price of dinner.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thanks to reader Joshua's comment on last Wednesday's post, I checked out Red Plum's website and removed myself from their mailing list. It takes "5-6 weeks" to take effect, and I'm watching you and my mail slot, Red Plum. There was only one grocery store circular I read, and it's available to read on their company website, so there's that. Anyway, on the Red Plum website, you click on Contact and follow the link to be removed from the mailing list. My next hurdle is the phone book.
I didn't watch all of President Obama's address tonight, but I did see the segment on clean energy and green jobs. I particularly enjoyed the jab at those who don't believe in climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and the comment that even if you don't believe in climate change, it's not an excuse to continue wasteful practices. (Sorry to my napping boyfriend whose ear I cheered in.)
This week's issue of The Independent is dedicated to green subjects, interviews, and news. I'll let some of the features serve as this week's tips. Edward Cazayoux, a former UL architecture professor has some green building suggestions that save energy and money in the long run. I'm not here to mess with copyrights, so click that little link above and check it out. There are some interviews as well with four environmental guys in the area that I find pretty interesting. This city is really not known for its progressive environmental stance, but I think The Independent has done a pretty good job of showing that there is some action being taken.
This kind of brings me to add to what they've written about this week. If you're starting a new project, like renovating your home or buying a car or renting a hotel room, do some research. It doesn't have to be thesis-quality, but just get online and check out the greener options. Even if you don't end up choosing the greener route, at least you'd have a reason for it, besides just not knowing there are other options.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Since I moved I started getting my own set of weekly salepapers, known as the Tuesday Junk. Three times now, I have received four exact same letters from an insurance company, return-addressed from four different representatives near my house. After the second instance, I wrote a letter and mailed all of the junk mail back to that company. I also tweeted it and the company replied to me, telling me where on their website I could look for help.
But help it did not, as this week, I received another set of four duplicate letters. Hilariously, I already use this company and met with a representative today about some things I needed to take care of. I brought the four letters with me, and gave them to her during our meeting. She got on the phone immediately to have them stop sending the letters. It's a waste of money and a waste of paper. And since I already pay this company money, I didn't want them spending it to send me junk mail four times over.
So. Weekly tip.
Find out how you can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. If you don't get a terribly huge amount, or you know which company it comes from, you can contact the company directly. While you are requesting to be removed from the list, you can also suggest a way for them to make their marketing more effective. I've also received multiple postcards for a home security system. The postcards were mailed to my...apartment complex. I'd suggest that they limit their direct mail to strictly homeowners. I suggested to the insurance company that they make sure their mailing radiuses don't overlap with each other, because I'm sure other renters here got the same amount as me and would just trash everything.
If you receive mail for a previous homeowner or renter, call that company to let them know that person is no longer at your address. I've stopped a couple magazines coming in because they were for previous renters. I simply told the circulation person that so and so wasn't there anymore, and I had no need for a Southern Poverty Law Center magazine, but thanks!
I looked on the USPS website to see if there was a way to stop junk mail. I found their Go Green page, and one of their tips is to update your address when moving. However, I find that doesn't streamline any mail, that just puts your actual name instead of "Our Neighbor" on the junk mail. Anyway, tangent.
If you want to cut down on the amount of junk mail you receive at your office for employees who are no longer there, check out the Ecological Mail Coalition. It's a free service that allows you to enter the names of former employees and your business address and they work to stop the mail coming to those people. I've done it for a few employees in my office and the last time I checked, the office manager had noticed a decrease in duplicate junk mail. I'll have to check again to see if there's still a decrease.
There are also ways to stop delivery of the Yellow Pages, but I have not tried any to be able to recommend any. And it's too late for this year as I received two copies of two phone books. A small and a large. Still haven't figured out the difference, or why they delivered two sets within a week. If anyone has successfully stopped phone book delivery, please share!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I intended to buy one of their t-shirts, which are made from organic cotton and recycled soft drink bottle polyester and printed with vegetable-based inks, but they unfortunately did not have my size. I just may need to order one from the website. They are the softest t-shirts I think I've ever felt.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
If you have the best intentions of turning off a light when you leave the room, but just can't remember to do so, you can purchase inexpensive occupancy motion sensors, which replace standard light switches. Simply set how long you want the light to stay on once it detects motion, then set the switch on auto. Now you don't have to remember to hit the switch, because the light will go off automatically. The boyfriend's bathrooms and kitchen are motion automated, making it convenient and conserving, since he rarely turns lights off himself.
Though I don't have kids or a foyer, I would imagine these would work well such a room, so when your kids come home at night, the light will see them safely in (before or after curfew!) My parents also always leave a lamp on in the house so when they return after dark, they don't stumble into a dark house. These motion detectors would help with saving energy while no one's home, yet still allowing light when it's needed again.
I've thought about getting one of these switches for my closet light, since that's the one I have the most trouble remembering to turn off, but since the switch is facing my bedroom, I'd be inadvertently turning the light on much more often than necessary.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
So for no cost, I have a binder full of fully usable paper that keeps me from needing to use brand new tablets or notepads! Less paper in the recycling bin overall.