Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

iChicken accomodations

EgluHoly chicken, the Eglu is finally available in the U.S. I've had my eye on this thing for a couple years now, but it was only available in the U.K. Not that I have any chickens, and we've recently moved to a house in a neighborhood where the covenants prevent us from owning the 3 chickens that the rest of Seattlites can own.

iMac or Eglu?Either way, I wanted to let all of you urban and suburban chicken lovers know that this is a pretty tidy little operation for keeping your chickens. It's fairly expensive and I'm sure you super chicken owners out there will scoff at the design, but for those cramped for space but still want chickens, it seems pretty viable to me. This is, apparently, the iMac for chickens.

So, if you're a Crunchy Chicken interested in sustainability and want to raise your own chickens, but didn't think you had the space for it, you might want to check it out. If you're looking for more spacious accomodations, you can get some chicken coop plans as well as other pre-fab options.

And one day, perhaps the manufacturer will make the high end Eglu Cube available in the U.S. too.

Looking for chicks?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rain barrels and vegetable gardens

Rain barrel instructionsSince I've been planning on buying a rain barrel for a while now and I have it listed as one of my action items for Low Impact Week, I decided to do some more research on them before I buy.

One thing I ran across, for those of you out there that want to make your own, is this super nifty set of instructions that even I could do myself (with some additional tools). But, just when I was all ready to start planning my rain barrel production line, I ran across something that stopped me in my tracks.

According to this guide from Seattle Rain Barrel (see page 3), if you have an asphalt roof, you shouldn't use the water you collect for watering vegetable or herb gardens. Of course, that is what I was planning on doing with all this fabulous Seattle rain.

Apparently, a lot of modern asphalt shingles contain zinc, which produces toxic chemicals. Since our roof was replaced by the previous owner, I don't know whether or not it is safe.

Does anyone have any clue as to how to test whether my shingles will kill me if I use the collected water on my vegetable plants?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Low Impact Week Plans

Low Impact Week: June 1 - 7, 2007Since Low Impact Week starts in a few days I thought I'd post my plans for the things I'll be doing. I already started doing a few of them and marked those with an asterisk.

I didn't end up doing the scorecard since we're having someone come and stay with us for a few months starting this weekend and all the numbers would be off. It would look like all my efforts are resulting in increased consumption!

Energy reduction
Keep the heat below 67 during the day and 60 at night
Unplug appliances and charging devices when not in use
No TV *
Air dry dishes *
Cold water only in machine washer *
Line dry clothes *

Water reduction
Take shorter showers
Save water in bucket when warming up shower
Buy and install a rain barrel had to scratch this off

Food behaviors
Eat vegetarian for the week
Minimize packaged foods *
Use cloth bags at grocery stores *

Waste reduction, reuse and other
Switch to 100% recycled plastic garbage bags
Replace 7 light bulbs with CFLs
Sign up for alternative energy plan

I'm already doing pretty much all the other suggestions on my original guideline list. In addition, we've been eating a ton of salads from our garden (spinach, lettuce, beet tops, radishes and herbs). I can barely wait for the beets, and U-Pick season at our local farms is almost here!

I'll check in afterwards to see how I do!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day for all of you in the U.S. and my thoughts go out to those of you who have friends and family serving in the military.

I'm taking the day off from any significant posting today. See you tomorrow wherein I'll be posting my goals for Low Impact Week!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Omnivore's Dilemma book club poll

I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that not everyone is done readin' the first section of Omnivore's Dilemma. I know it's hard to squeeze in and, frankly, with Low Impact Week commencing this week, I'm not sure I'll have the whole next section read (including questions and my answers) by Tuesday, June 5th.

So my question for you is:

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Boycott balloon releases

Pop me, please.I hate to be a total killjoy here, but don't you ever wonder what the hell happens to all those errant balloons sent off into the sky?

Do you think they just keep going out of the earth's atmosphere and travel into space? Well, they don't.

They travel for miles and then land back down on earth, usually semi-inflated or popped into pieces. If a balloon lands in the ocean it creates a great risk for marine wildlife, particularly marine turtles and seabirds.

They mistake the flotsam for food (like a jellyfish) and swallow the pieces or get tangled up and drown. Some whales and dolphins have died after eating balloons as it blocks up their digestive systems.

It's bad enough that all that crap lands back on the earth, but the fact that it endangers some of my favorite critters is really disturbing.

Anyway, if you would like to learn more about how released balloons are a danger to wildlife and the environment, read this.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Religion, politics and the environment

Bridging the gapHow's that for a light topic on a Friday?

I have to say that I've been extremely impressed by the variety of people joining together in the common cause and concern over the state of the environment.

By this I mean Republicans and Democrats, Christians and Atheists and those usually fractionated groups that tend to never agree on one thing.

I've been contacted by all manner of people all supportive of Low Impact Week and all trying to help make the world a better place by doing what they can to save the environment. I feel honored to be able to offer you whatever measly guidance I can provide.

So, props to all of you willing to do what it takes!

And while we're on it, why not a poll for those of you concerned about the environment? I'm sorry I can't include all permutations, but I'm limited to 7 choices...



For those of you visiting from outside the U.S., feel free to participate. I may get slapped for this over-generalization, but you can vote Democrat if you consider yourself to be liberal and Republican if you consider yourself to be conservative.

If you feel left out and had to choose "None of the Above", feel free to add your comments!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I want to check you for ticks

To DEET or not to DEET...It's tick season people. Well, at the very least the season for lots of hiking and frolicking in areas where ticks are rampant is nigh.

I'm really not comfy with slathering DEET or similar products on my skin, let alone my small chitlins, so I've been researching a bit over the years on "natural" bug repellents.

There are quite a number of them on the market like Eco-Blend (formerly called Buzz-Off), Cactus Juice, and Bugs 'R' Done. These claim to be effective, but it's hard to say based on the ingredient list. And frankly, I can't believe something relying on cactus effluent or orange peel oil is going to work.

Has anyone had any luck using any non-DEET bug repellent?

Oh, and you Brad Paisley fans that made it this far, I apologize if you accidentally wandered into my little world instead of what you were actually looking for.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Top 5 reasons to use a DivaCup

So, I'm officially a DivaCup aficionada. I have achieved expert insertion and extraction. I am totally sold on the DivaCup and its many wonders. Never again will I rely on anything but my MonkeyCup.

And here are my top 5 reasons why:

1. No string
2. No leaking
3. Only needs to be changed twice a day
4. No garbage
5. Period? What period?

There are a few others that didn't make the list; like no scratchy insertion and removal, you can wear it at night, etc. But there are a few that really shouldn't make even the top 100:

1. It doubles as a stylish hat for your pet squirrel
2. Add some accelerant and it makes a great rocket
3. It inspires you to dig out that Kegelcisor your husband bought you for Christmas
4. The suction is intense!
5. You're never without a cup at the drinking fountain


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Omnivore's Dilemma book discussion - Section I

I'm in everythingOkay, book club devotees. Don't forget to finish reading Section I. I'm moving the discussion thread up as a gentle reminder...

Here are the discussion questions for the first section, Industrial - Corn. I've tried to include a question that touched on at least one point in each chapter. And here we go...

1. Before reading the first chapter, did you know how pervasive corn and its byproducts were in the foods we eat?

2. In chapter 2, Michael Pollan claims that modern monoculture corn farming is basically the conversion of fossil fuels into corn, where it takes around 50 gallons of oil per acre of corn. He also states than it takes more than 1 calorie of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of food energy for animal consumption. Do you think that the price of corn and its byproducts should more accurately reflect the true costs of production? Are you willing to pay significantly more to make up for this discrepancy down the line?

3. In chapter 3, we find out that 1/3 of all the corn grown in the U.S. is sold to a select few companies, Cargill being one of the biggest (as well as the biggest privately held corporation in the world). These companies also are the biggest winners regarding government subsidies. Do you feel that this should change, or that the subsidies help out the right people?

4. Chapter 4 exposes the problems with feeding corn to livestock animals that never used to eat it. The benefits are many -- cheap feed, faster growth to market. And, in regards to beef, feeding corn results in a flesh that marbles nicely (as well as in those that eat the beef in turn :). Do the benefits outweigh drawbacks such as increased animal sickness, issues with the feedlot environment (overcrowding, filthy conditions)?

5. In chapter 5, we learn that wet milling of corn for human consumption requires 10 calories of fossil fuel energy burned for every 1 calorie of food produced. The differential is enormous, yet with farm subsidies, the big winners are, again, the manufacturers. For example, it costs approximately 4 cents of commodity corn to product one box of cereal, yet you pay $4 for the processed food. Is this fair? Is it possible that the manufacture of cereal costs that much more than the materials themselves for this sort of margin? Or do you think the consumer is getting fleeced?

6. Chapter 6 states that the farm bills were designed to keep the river of cheap corn flowing, thereby guaranteeing that the cheapest calories will continue to be the unhealthiest. Based on what you've read in this section, will you do anything to change this (e.g. contact your legislators towards creating an equitable farm bill, avoiding or limiting your consumption of these products, etc.)?

7. Is it a bad thing that we have become a "race of corn eaters", or do you think, in the grand scheme of things, it really matters whether or not we are "corn chips with legs"?


Omnivore's DilemmaYou have the month of May to read this section and post your comments or bring up new discussion questions. So, keep in mind you can post a comment or question on anything you read in Section I. These questions are here to get the discussion rolling...

Also, if I stated anything inaccurately, please feel free to correct me!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Crops!

French radishesMy first batch of French radishes are ready for eatin' and we have been enjoying them for the last week now. There is still another bunch in the ground that will be harvested this week. They are mighty tasty, by the way.

I need to check on the Chiogga beets as they are getting extremely bushy. Another 10 days and I'll be in beet heaven. I think I can eat the tops now, but I'm not sure what to do with them. Any suggestions?

My peas and beans are in dire need of some trellising and hopefully I'll get around to it when it stops raining. Everything else that sprouted is looking good. Some things I planted from seed are disappointing, mostly the basil. I think I will be buying some basil plants if I can still get my hands on them. Next year I'll do things differently.

The cilantro (aka Santo Coriander) is going to town. It didn't look too good when I first planted it, so I'm surprised it's growing like a weed. I think there's gonna be some serious Pico de Gallo when the tomatoes and onions are ready!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Celebrity environmentalist poll

Leo DiCaprioRobert Redford
            
It's Sunday. It's a poll day. Let's cut to the chase.



Yes, I know there are no women listed here because this one is dedicated to my female readers who needed a little beefcake this week.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Q-Tip Reduction Act

Stick me in your ear... you know you want to...Okay, there really is no such thing as the Q-Tip Reduction Act. But perhaps there should be.

I'm right there with you on ear cleanliness. I wash and scrub in the shower and then follow up with the requisite Q-Tip poke and prod. But, are my ears really getting cleaner with that final step? And, what about those claims about not putting anything smaller than your elbow in your ear? Will I keel over one day from an ear-wax impaction induced stroke?

It seems kind of a waste to use two Q-Tips per day on already clean ears, so I've cut down my usage to one. I know - it's shocking. And I'm still not comfortable with it. I figure, if I can use a DivaCup, I sure as hell can limit my dependence on swabs. But, I think it will be a while before I can comfortably stop my Q-Tip addiction altogether.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Toilet seat covers

I wish I brought my Urinelle!A friend recently asked me if I used those little paper toilet seat covers or if there were some ecological alternative that I knew about.

Depending on the restroom, I'll either use the paper seat cover, hover or go bareback. But it got me thinking, was there an industry for take-along handsewn fleece toilet seat covers made by SAHMs? I know you can buy disposable covers for your kids, so I went on a search. And lo and behold, I found a reusable one (it's not fleece, mind you).

In the process I came across an article discussing the merits of even using the paper covers. They state that the seat covers really only mentally separate your backside from those that have visited before you and that you have more to fear from the door handles and faucets than from the toilet seat.

Another thing I found which is, alas, also disposable is the Urinelle (this one's for women only). Please do make sure you watch the video, I don't know where they found the actress for this one. Due to it's disposable nature, I can't exactly recommend it, even though the marketing for it is quite entertaining.

In spite of a few other products out there I can't really find any suitable environmentally friendly alternative that isn't a pain in the ass to carry around and use. So, I can only suggest that you skip the paper seat covers and save some resources. If the seat is too disgusting, then work on your quadriceps and hover.



Here's a tip for those of you who hover and have terrible aim... lift the seat up (you won't be needing it anyway), do your business and put it back down. That way you won't leave a damp seat for the next person who may choose to ride it bareback.

[I just now noticed this pattern of Friday's posts seem to involve women with their underwear around their ankles. I'm sure some of you don't mind, however... but, what will I come up with next week?]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Colony collapse disorder - we're all going to die!!!!!!

Buzz, buzz. Great new hive.I've been avoiding blogging about the recent huge bee die-off as I'm prone to catastrophic thinking and if I let it go too far, then I will spiral into worrying about all those disappearing bee bodies and the impact on our crops, etc.

So, I was somewhat relieved to read today that although our little bee friends have been suffering from some mysterious malady that is causing them to wander off at alarming rates, this "Colony Collapse Disorder" hasn't really affected our crops this year. In fact, California's almond farmers, who are the most bee dependent, are forecasting a record harvest this year. Ditto for other growers.

In spite of perseverating over the state of the honeybees and the fallout, I secretly have been hoping that scientists could attribute it to some nasty Monsanto product that would have to be banned as a result. The cause has yet to be determined, though, so I can continue to worry (and secretly hope) unabated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thinking blogger award

thinking blogger awardWhat in tarnation is going on around here?

I have been tagged with a Thinking Blogger Award thanks to my fellow blogger, Green as a Thistle.

I know, I know. How is this possible? I can fully understand an "Encouraging Eco-Silliness Award" or even a "Poop, Boobs and Vaginas Award", but a Thinking Blogger Award? Come now.

Even Green as a Thistle had a hard time explaining herself: "Crunchy Chicken, who I’m tagging mostly because she has the coolest name for a blog ever..."

Well, to show that I'm worthy of this esteemed award, I shall share with you some more serious-minded blogs that make me think:

1. Gristmill - A blogful of leafy green commentary

2. DeSmogBlog - Clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science

3. Ontogeny - A discussion of science, evolution, the Formicidae, life's diversity, and wonder

4. Rationally Speaking - A site devoted to positive skepticism

5. Real Climate - Climate science from climate scientists

So, when you're done with your mind-expanding thinkfest at these other blogs, remember to come back. And just maybe I'll scrape together something to make you think, even if it does involve genitalia.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The deal with dishwashers

Photo courtesy of CapitalChicksSince the start of the Low Impact Week excitement, if I may call it that, there have been several suggestions for adding hand washing your dishes instead of using your dishwasher as one of the low impact action items. I have always been under the impression that hand washing your dishes wasted a lot more water and that the dishwasher was way more efficient at cleaning.

So, I did a little poking around to make sure I wasn't misguided and found some information here. According to a study done at the University of Bonn, they found that a dishwasher uses one-half the energy and one-sixth the water as washing by hand. Oh yeah, and less soap too. Even the most conservative hand washers couldn't beat these stats, not to mention that the dishwasher-washed dishes came out cleaner to boot. Just make sure you only run full loads to maximize your energy and water efficiency.

Along the same line, I was recently inspired to start using the air-dry setting instead of running the dishwasher on heat-dry. It's not much extra work unless you have a lot of plastic containers, but they don't get all that dry with the heat-dry option anyway. I highly recommend it!

Monday, May 14, 2007

DivaCup dalliance

Monkey in space!Dear Diary,

Today is the first day I'm using my MonkeyCup. I trimmed the stem (I ended up cutting the whole stem off for comfyness), washed it with hot water and soap and proceeded to follow the enclosed directions. For some reason I kept getting stuck on the instructions to insert it "horizontally towards your tailbone". Canadians. Couldn't they have said "parallel" or "perpendicular"? That would have saved me some time.

Anyway, the directions also commented about how your muscles will hold it in there and not to place it too far up. Well, this also had me concerned. After having two kids, you pretty much could drive a freight train through there. But, I am the Queen of Kegels so it shouldn't be a problem, I hope.

I'm just praying that I don't launch the MonkeyCup into low orbit the next time I have a sneezing fit. So far, so good, though.

What's that? I don't have a diary? Well, of course not! Who has time to write in a diary when they're busy sharing their vaginal secrets with the world on their blog?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Earth saving events poll

Pale blue dotThat title sounds rather grandiose, doesn't it? Blogging rule #1 - never write a post after your drink has been spiked with rum. But it's Saturday, alright, and I shall forge ahead anyway and hopefully catch any spelling errors.

[If you're looking for a less serious poll, I snuck one in on Friday.]

Next month commences several events to challenge you to live a little lighter on this earth. Most of them revolve around reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

So, in the spirit of a Sunday poll, I wanted to get a feel for what your plans were, in other words, what level of involvement you were planning, if any.

The three events beginning in June start with Low Impact Week where the goal is to pick one or more things to focus on reducing or changing during the week. The point of this is to help newbies try out a few new things and push those ├╝ber-greens into doing more for a week.

The other event is Greenpa's Planet Party that starts with a party on the Summer Solstice followed by a week where you do one thing that reduces your impact on the planet. The Planet Party is a local event that you either organize or attend if someone else is the organizer.

Last, but certainly not least (and the most involved of them all), is Lowering 93% hosted by Simple Living and Causaubon's Book, where you try to lower your carbon emissions by 93% over the next year.

So, my question for you is:



If you plan on dabbling in one or more and/or the most fitting answer isn't listed, please tell us what you are up to in the comments!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Whatcha plantin? - May 12th

Click me for slightly bigger imageAlthough I'm not planting anything new this weekend (so far), I thought I'd share a picture of one of my raised beds. I've had requests of pictures of how things are growing so here's the most active one so far. It's 4' x 4'. For more details on variety, see the sidebar "In the garden".

  • On the back row: beans, sugar snap peas, red peppers
  • Second from the back: beets, lettuces
  • Second from front row: red onions, carrots, radishes, spinach
  • Front row: yellow onions, garlic

    The weather should be nice enough for almost everyone now, so what are you guys planting this week?
  • Friday, May 11, 2007

    Lovin' an elevator

    Lovin' it up till I hit the groundWhat was I thinking? Climbing all those flights of stairs? With a 50 lb backpack?

    In a nod to No Impact Man and his war on elevators, I actually started thinking about not taking the elevator when it's just me going to the top. So, I decided to take the stairs more often than I usually do.

    Now, going down isn't a problem (although I do get a tad dizzy by the time I reach the bottom), it's going up that's a problem. So, I'll still have an illicit ride now and again.

    Oh well. As long as I don't stroke out on my way up, it's probably better for me anyway. Yikes, that was a suggestive post!

    So, how 'bout a poll?

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Scorecard for Low Impact Week

    Low Impact Week: June 1 - 7, 2007[Welcome, Good Morning America and Nightline viewers. Don't be shy, feel free to jump in on Low Impact Week!]

    So, you want to participate in Low Impact Week to try out a few changes and see how hard it is. But, you also are curious to see if even just one week's changes make a difference.

    Well, to help get you started on seeing what kind of effect Low Impact Week will make, it's probably a good idea to establish a baseline, so to speak, of your current impact.

    First - decide which things you are going to do from the 7 areas of impact. Then - in the next week or so, calculate out how much you use/throw out, etc. for one week. For example (the links tell you how to do it):

    1. Energy consumption: On day one of this "test week" read your meters for your electricity, gas, and oil (if you can). [Another way to eyeball it is to take your statements and divide by 4.3 to get approximately how much usage you have per week.] Take readings again at the end of the test week.
    2. Water usage: Same deal - read your meter. They are generally under a plate in the sidewalk, but this may differ where you live.
    3. Food habits: This is a little harder. Depending on the specific action item, say plastic bags, count how many plastic bags you acquire during the test week. Maybe count how many pre-packaged frozen food items you consume during the week. Count how many meals include meat or animal products.
    4. Paper products: Try to keep a mental note as to how many paper towels you use this week. Again, this probably will mean counting or some sort of tally. Same thing with paper printouts.
    5. Garbage output: How many bags of garbage did you throw out during the week?
    6. Car usage: How many miles did you drive alone?
    7. Do more: This is more about researching what other things you want to do. So, find out if you have an alternative energy plan available, find out how to remove your name from junk mail lists, see how many light bulbs you could replace, determine if you have the space and resolve for a compost bin or rain barrel.

    See how easy this is? Well, if you don't mind a little counting and some subtractin'.

    If this is still too much for you, I've created a very handy dandy little Google spreadsheet for you to view. There's also an Excel spreadsheet version if you want to save it for yourself.

    Right now the Google spreadsheet is "view only", but if you all want to keep yourselves accountable to the world, I can make it open for you to edit and add your own values.

    I'll be creating a similar style spreadsheet for the actual Low Impact Week so you can track what changes you are making. Let me know if this is something you want to be able to edit online so you can share with others what you are doing.

    Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    She's a very sexy girl...

    Photo courtesy of Victoria's Secret"...the kind printed on 10% post-consumer recycled paper!" My apologies to Rick James - the new lyrics don't exactly work.

    So, I was perusing the latest installment of the Victoria's Secret catalog when, lo and behold, I see this rather large notice on the back page, next to the hot chick in the "beach sexy bikini set":

    "As a values-led organization, Victoria's Secret is integrating the protection and preservation of global resources into our everyday lives..."

    Hmmm. Really?

    Anyway, I thought the size of the notice was somewhat odd (sorry I didn't get it scanned in for you, so you'll have to make do staring at the above picture and using your imagination) so I did some research, as I'm known to do. Turns out that since Victoria's Secret sends out millions of catalogs there has been intense pressure from groups to get them to start using recycled paper.

    Thus, the recycled paper.

    And, yes, I realize I'm still getting VS catalogs in the mail. But now I can feel 10% less guilty while I'm picking out some Very Sexy things.

    A Crunchy Girl can still be spicy. Or rather, a Spicy Chicken.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    Potatoes gone wild!

    Spuds in a canI know y'all are just dying to get an update on my spuds.

    Well, I just may have underestimated the size of container I should have used for my potato project. But, it was what I had on hand. I really have been behind in hilling the Yukons so I finally did it this weekend. I filled the can up pretty much all the way to the brim, so I'll probably have to trellis the little fella for the remainder.

    My French Fingerlings (on the right) are bringing up the rear (they were planted two weeks apart) and I suspect they will be in the same state soon.

    I just can't get over the amazing vegetative growth on these guys. Oh well, maybe that means lot of potatoes come harvest time!

    Monday, May 7, 2007

    Organic dairy queen

    Nice jugsWe eat a lot of dairy. Mostly because we don't eat much meat and it's one of our big sources of protein. Recently I've started making our own yogurt instead of buying the 20-odd little plastic vats of yogurt per week. And I've been getting organic cheese too.

    We've been buying organic milk for about 8 years so I was quite excited to see organic glass jarred milk at our local co-op store. You pay a deposit for the jar and then return it to the store for a refund. You know the drill. The milk is from a local dairy and is hormone-free. Plus, it fits into that whole 100 mile diet thing. Not that I'm a strict locavore adherent but I'm trying to choose local when I can.

    I'm very excited because we go through so much milk with the kids and I hate those plastic milk jugs. We use the 1/2 gallon milk cartons to hold food waste, but I thought I'd try out the glass and help support a local dairy.

    Sunday, May 6, 2007

    T.P. poll

    Seventh GenerationWe've been using 100% recycled toilet paper for over 10 years now. There are a few more choices on the market now and things are a lot less scratchy these days. Plus, it's relatively easy to find it at pretty much any grocery store.

    So this leads me to this week's poll:

    Saturday, May 5, 2007

    Whatcha plantin? - May 5th

    Go on. Hit me. I dare ya.¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

    What are you planting in honor of the victory of the Mexican army over the French?

    I'm planting:

    *Black Beauty zucchini (yeah, I didn't get around to it last weekend)
    *Another round of Chiogga beets
    *More Oxheart carrots
    *More Butterking lettuce

    I also will be hilling my mutant potatoes from another planet (more on that next week...)

    Friday, May 4, 2007

    Low Impact Week update!

    Low Impact Week: June 1 - 7, 2007Ok, folks. Here are the guidelines for Low Impact Week. There are seven areas of impact listed below, each one with several action items for you to choose.

    I chose these action items as I wanted them to be relatively easy to integrate into your lifestyle for a week. In other words, you don't have to prepare anything too much or invest in anything too special (unless it's part of a replacement project).

    I hope you find that these are things that are are easy to do. You can do one or all of the suggestions for each area listed and if you want to go all out, make sure you add in the action items marked with a * for an über-low impact.

    1. Reduce energy consumption -
  • don't turn the heat above 65 during the day and 60 at night (put on a sweater and dig out those blankies!); for our southern friends, set the A/C to above 90
  • unplug appliances when not in use that still draw energy when off (like your cell phone charger)
  • turn off the TV unless you are actually watching something
  • use the air dry on your dishwasher instead of heat dry
  • use only cold water in your washing machine
  • line dry your clothes instead of using the dryer*
  • turn off the TV for the week and do something else instead (read a book, visit with friends/family)*

    2. Reduce water usage -
  • take shorter showers and/or use a water saving showerhead
  • turn off the water when you're brushing your teeth
  • be aware of water usage when at the kitchen sink - turn it off in between tasks
  • save the water in a bucket that is discharged while warming up the shower and use it to water plants or for other things*

    3. Change your food habits -
  • try to buy organic and/or locally grown food
  • minimize pre-packaged foods and make more of your own from scratch
  • use cloth bags at the grocery store instead of getting paper or plastic*
  • don't get take-out if it means non-recyclable packaging*
  • try eating vegetarian or vegan for the week (choose your level from egg/dairy acceptable to no animals products at all)*

    4. Reduce your dependence on paper products -
  • print out only what is necessary
  • try out a a 100% recycled TP and tissue brand
  • don't use paper towels; when you can, use cloth napkins or towels instead (e.g. public restrooms)*

    5. Reduce your garbage output -
  • recycle everything you can (for your area)
  • donate used items to a charity (many have pick ups and drop off locations) instead of throwing them out or taking them to the dump
  • compost your food waste and soiled paper products*

    6. Reduce Single Occupancy Vehicle usage -
  • carpool when taking trips or going out to eat with friends
  • take the bus or other public transportation to work and on errands*

    7. Do something that lasts more than a week -
  • replace one bulb per day with a Compact Fluorescent light bulb
  • take your name off of junk mail and mailing lists for catalogs you don't want
  • sign up for an alternative energy plan if available in your area
  • set up a compost bin for your food scraps*
  • set up a rain barrel to capture water for watering your yard*

    In the next week, I'll help you get set up with calculating what kind of impact your Low Impact Week made on your electricity/gas/water and garbage by setting a baseline to compare it to. Some things you won't see a result for yet (such as items in area #7).

    If you have any suggestions of items to add to the above, let me know. Stay tuned!

    And thanks to Sally Mills for some of her suggestions.
  • Are we nuts?

    I'm happy 'cause I'll be around way longer than you! Ha ha ha!Yesterday's toilet talk (that is, a conversation held in the work restroom) centered around solar panels and how they are cost prohibitive. I, of course, being the Crunchy Chicken that I am, interjected with some info about thin film solar panels.

    This, then launched into all things environmental including a discussion regarding Styrofoam and its use in China versus the U.S. Anyway, I mentioned that some people go out of their way to avoid receiving Styrofoam with their take-out orders by bringing their own containers.

    This comment was apparently too much for another restroom visitor as the look on her face of the sheer craziness of the notion kind of shocked me.

    Which leads me to wonder... are we nuts? Are there that many people out there belching CO2 and hucking acres of detritus into the landfill without a care in the world? Is something wrong with them? Or is something wrong with me?

    I guess I'm not that nutty as San Francisco just passed a ban on Styrofoam for vendor's to-go containers starting in June.

    Wait a second. I admit it is San Francisco we're talking about here. So, maybe just a tad nutty.

    P.S. Speaking of bathrooms... nobody has noticed my bandana yet. Must be my stealth hand drying.

    Thursday, May 3, 2007

    'Low Impact Week' starts June 1st!

    Low Impact Week: June 1 - 7, 2007A few people over on No Impact Man's blog were chatting about having a "No Impact Camp" or a "No Impact Week" for people to try out living lighter on the earth. Similar to the "Turn off your Television Week" thing.

    I suggested having a "Low Impact Week" since there are a lot of barriers to truly having no impact for only a week. Plus, it's a lot more doable for the average family.

    So, in the usual state of things, I decided on the spot to host my very own "Low Impact Week" starting the first week in June.

    UPDATED: See this post for the guidelines!

    Dental makeover

    Eco-DenTNo, nothing cosmetic. I'm talking about our dental products here.

    I was at my favorite co-op store getting a few things and ran across some ecologically sound dental products made by Eco-DenT. I've been wanting to get a recyclable toothbrush (where you mail back the toothbrush for recycling) for a while now, but the fuel costs turned me off (see "Lone Ranger" Recycling for more info).

    The Eco-DenT toothbrush has a replaceable head which is an improvement as you are only throwing out essentially the bristles and a tiny bit o' plastic. They even have kid sizes.

    In addition, I picked up some Eco-DenT tooth floss. It's packaged in a recyclable cardboard box of sorts, so no more throwing away so many of those non-recyclable plastic boxes. Plus there's really no extra packaging except a little piece of cardboard at the top that you tear off.

    I wish that the major brands of dental floss would offer a cardboard alternative. I like Eco-DenT enough, it has some other happy features too (like the wax is vegan if that matters to you), but it would be nice to have other choices. And its not like the technology to switch to paper is so hard.

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007

    The DivaCup has landed

    Blast off!5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

    Well, it will be a few weeks before I'll be trying it out, but is anyone else amazed at how huge the DivaCup is? I know people are reporting in how magnificent it is and life altering and all that, but did you notice how big this thing is?

    Do I need to origami it into grasshopper size to insert it? Should I fold space or time or just spacetime to place it properly? Will approaching an event horizon sufficiently compress it to get it to fit? But I digress...

    For all you intrepid DivaCup Challengers, I admit it -- I am intimidated by the space capsule waiting for me in my drawer. I hope there are no monkeys travelling inside. So, for now on I shall call it, the MonkeyCup.

    "Honey? Have you seen my MonkeyCup? You didn't put it in the dishwasher again did you? I told you it's not a funnel."

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