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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Being unprepared for no heat

We returned home from San Diego yesterday afternoon, expecting the house to be coolish since we left the heat down to 60 (which means it is more like 57 in the house - I didn't want the pipes to freeze since we have a lot of cold spots in the house). My mom had complained at how cold our house was when she stopped by during our trip to check on things, but we both just figured it was because she's used to her hot, top-floor condo, which tends to run more like 75.

When I walked in, I noticed that the house was actually colder inside than outside and went over to the thermostat and noticed that, although it was set at 60, the actual temperature inside was only 48 degrees. Needless to say, it was pretty damn cold.

I turned up the heat, but nothing happened. To make a long story short, we had run out of oil in our tank while we were on vacation (normally we are on an automatic refill). We had the oil company come out and make an emergency delivery, otherwise we would have just repacked our bags and gone to a hotel.

We left for a few hours since it was so painfully cold in the house and even our space heaters weren't doing much to heat up the place. Basically, the end result is that, if we don't have oil (or electricity for that matter), we are screwed. We are woefully unprepared to deal with really cold temperatures because even if we wanted to use our fireplace, more heat would be sucked out of the room than emitted into it. If it were an emergency situation, I'm sure we could easily survive with our sleeping bags, closing off rooms, and piling on the clothes and down. But we would still be uncomfortably unprepared.

What back-up heating plan do you have for your home if you lose your main source of heat, short of leaving the house?

Side note: Since the oil guy came while we were out of the house for dinner, he was sneaking around inside and outside with a headlamp on. Our neighbor from behind us saw this, and knowing we were out of town, he called the police, which surrounded the place. I don't know exactly what ended up happening, if the oil guy was still here or what, but it's nice to know that the neighbors are watching!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Crunchy Chicken TV: Episode 1 - Farmers Market

Here is Episode 1 of Crunchy Chicken TV where I visit a Farmers Market in San Diego and talk to some of the local vendors about what kind of produce and products they sell.

To view the full width video, you can check it out on YouTube (blogger is cutting it off).

We'll be filming another episode this week so stay tuned!



Monday, December 21, 2009

San Diego & Crunchy Chicken TV

We're having a great time down here in San Diego, although the kids are a little overwhelmed with all the travel and Christmas excitement. We had a marvelous day of meltdowns yesterday while going Christmas shopping for the kids, which always makes for a highly pleasant day. Especially when we locked ourselves out of my brother's house. But, otherwise it's been great.

Saturday we went to a local farmers market (see picture above) and did a little filming, interviewing some of the farmers and generally checking out what a winter farmers market looks like in Southern California. The filming of the farmers market is part of the first of the episodes I'm producing for "Crunchy Chicken TV", which I'll post later this week. I'll be filming two episodes while I'm down here and will have them up over the next two weeks. So, stay tuned for those.

Today, we are heading out to Borrego Springs for a few days to check out the Anza Borrego Desert since my kids have a huge fascination with deserts, particularly because we live in the land of rain and trees. It has been hot since we arrived, but the temperatures are cooling. Saturday it was 81 degrees and I can't say that I minded since I've been freezing my buns off over the last few weeks. The desert should still be fairly warm, with cold temperatures overnight. I'll try to post some pictures of what we find there later this week.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

School supported CSA

I've done a CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription in the past through work, but they started doing drop-offs on days that I work from home and too late for my husband to pick up, so I haven't subscribed in years.

What's a CSA? It's basically when a farm offers a certain number of "shares" to the public, usually consisting of a box of vegetables and fruits, but other farm products may be included as well. Interested consumers purchase a share (or a "subscription") and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

Well, my kid's school will soon be a drop-off site for organic produce from Full Circle Farms and I'm thinking of signing back up again for a family box. The issue I've had in the past with doing a CSA subscription is the weekly lack of preparation to deal with ample amounts of foods I either don't regularly eat, don't know what to do with or don't like.

Since my kids are fairly picky when it comes to fruits and vegetables, I don't really take them into consideration on whether or not to subscribe. And, since (I'm assuming) they'll only be delivering during the school year, it won't clash with my own backyard growing season. I love the fact that they have a year-round CSA, although I'm a little concerned about where they get all their produce. I don't want something included if it's in season or organic, but shipped in from far away.

What about you? Have you ever subscribed to a CSA and what was your impression? Is it worth supporting local farmers this way even though you may not want all that they deliver? Or, does your CSA allow you to switch out foods you may not like for things you do?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Going back to Cali

We are heading down to San Diego in a couple of days to visit family and generally have a great Christmas break, while at the same time enjoying warmer weather. I don't mind a blast of 70 since it's been in the teens up here in Seattle, so I am really looking forward to it.

And, while there will be "bikini - small; heels - tall", at least on my end (bonus points to those who know what the heck I'm talking about), there will be a bit of a carbon expended on our behalf in flying all four of us down there.

So, we went ahead and bought TerraPass carbon offsets. Since you can pick your own mix of investment, we went with clean energy, farm power and landfill gas investments. Now, I know this doesn't in the least bit assuage the carbon footprint of our vacation, but it's better than doing nothing.

Of course, not flying would be ideal, but this isn't Europe with high-speed rail at reasonable prices. The alternative is not visiting them at all, but we haven't seen them in 2.5 years and we are long overdue for a visit.

For those of you in the San Diego area who read this here blog, if you have any recommendations for sustainable restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and the like, I'd love your feedback. And, if any of y'all want to meet up for coffee, send me an email!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eat your Christmas tree

It should come as no surprise to you that I would suggest such a thing, particularly after implying that eating plastic bottles is a fine way to dispose of the waste. Plus, I do like minimizing garbage. However, on this one I'm not kidding and Christmas trees are mighty delectable.

You see, a few years back, when my 7-year-old son was an infant, my husband and I visited the (now-defunct) restaurant Cascadia in Seattle, which focused on regional and seasonal ingredients - hence the name. It was before most of my eco-nuttiness, so I wasn't nearly as in tune to the local ingredients thing, but the second time - whoa doggie - did I ever grill the waiter. Unfortunately, he didn't have many answers to my litany of questions. But I digress.

On that first visit we tried a Douglas Fir Sorbet, mostly because of the uniqueness of it. It was fantastic - one of those flavors that, although you may not want to snack on it daily - has stuck in my mind all these years. And, that's saying something given my ADD.

Anyway, my husband recently purchased a little book called Sips & Apps: Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Cocktails and Appetizers, written by a local author, and one of the cocktails included in this fabulous little gem is a Douglas Fir drink that reminded me of that sorbet from yesteryear.

So, now that you have that fresh Douglas (or Noble) Fir Christmas tree hanging around the house (and I know that you bought an unsprayed one, didn't you?), go ahead and clip a six inch section from the tree where no one will notice it missing and make yourself some Douglas Fir infused gin or vodka and get your holiday spirits on! And, don't forget, little sprigs of Douglas Fir also make for a fantastic drink garnish.

I think a fir or spruce infused gin, vodka or brandy would also make for a nice present, particularly if you hang a drink recipe around the bottleneck.

Douglas Fir Sparkletini
1 1/2 ounce Douglas Fir infused gin (see below)
3/4 ounce white cranberry juice
1 1/2 ounce fresh Lemon Sour (see below)
Splash of dry sparkling wine (preferably local)

For garnishing:
Tiny sprig of Douglas Fir
Fresh or frozen cranberry

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Measure in the infused gin, cranberry juice and lemon sour mixture. Strain into a martini glass and top with a splash of dry sparkling wine. Garnish with a fir sprig and float a cranberry in the drink.

Douglas Fir Infused Gin
1 (5-6 inch) sprig of Douglas Fir branch, rinsed
1 750ml bottle gin

Put the fir branch into the gin bottle and cap and let sit for 24 hours (do not leave it in for longer). Remove the branch and discard. The infused gin can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

Fresh Lemon Sour
Makes 1 cup:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

In a small container with a lid, combine the ingredients. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Another drink idea is the Pine Needle Daiquiri. If drinking trees ain't your thang, then, by all means go ahead and eat it. Here's a tasty looking recipe: Douglas Fir & Orange Blossom Butter Cookies. And, for the serious tree snacker, check out this post: Douglas fir tips bring the flavor of the forest into the kitchen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

USA Today freeze yer buns challenge

It's not polite to pointFor those of you stopping by after reading about the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge on USA Today and you are interested in participating, you can sign up and pledge what you will be keeping your thermostat at for morning and night temperatures.

As mentioned in the article, we managed to save about $800 last year on our heating costs mostly by lowering the thermostat, but also by using less oil heat and using space heaters to heat the rooms we are in rather than heating the whole house. It doesn't make sense to spend the energy and money on heating rooms we aren't occupying, so if you don't like having a cold room, but are interested in lowering your energy costs, consider the space heater option.

If you are interested to read how people are negotiating the thermostat wars in their homes, you can check out this post. I also have posts on making your own draft dodger, bed warmers and information about winter window treatments to keep the heat in and the cold out.

Finally, for those of you concerned about the environmental impact of wood heat, most consider wood to be carbon neutral because during the lifetime of the tree, it has removed as much greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as it emits when burnt. I'm not exactly advocating wood heat since I believe there are cleaner energy sources that can be used (particularly if you live in an area that has a green energy program), but it's a common comment about heating with wood.

For my regular readers, do not, I repeat, do not read the comments on the USA Today article unless you like grinding your crackers. If this is a representative sample of the opinion of most Americans regarding our collective carbon footprint we're, well, doomed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NY Times handmade gift giving guide

Welcome New York Times readers!

If you are looking for posts on making your own gifts, be sure to check out the posts for my Buy Hand for the Holidays Challenge, which encourages people to spend less on commercial gifts and either make them instead or buy from local artisans.

If you are looking for ideas for last minute gifts that are inexpensive and quick n' easy to make, then I've got some great gift ideas for you here.

If you've got more time, I've compiled a list of gifts you can make yourself that look interesting, but be forewarned, some are a little harder than others to make.

When in doubt, stick to the food gifts. You'll want to make sure that your gift is something special, so skip the basic cookie recipes and try to find something a little more out of the ordinary. And, I don't mean "weird' out of the ordinary, but more "Williams Sonoma" gourmet out of the ordinary, like chocolate cookies with cocoa nibs and lime. And, if you are tired of peppermint bark, give Aztec chocolate bark (with cayenne, cinnamon and ancho chile!) a try.

Oh, and if you are looking for the recipe for my Indian Masala Strawberry Jam (with Pinot Noir and Port), look no further than my food blog. You'll find other jam recipes over there as well.

Good luck! You still have enough time to make this holiday a memorable one, while saving some money at the same time!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blow me

There's a sign above the electric hand dryers at work encouraging employees to skip the paper towels and use the blowers instead, stating that bathroom paper towel usage equates to twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as using the air dryers.

I don't mind using them these days, mostly because it's been so cold and having the hot air blow on my hands has been pleasant, helping me warm up, particularly after being outside when it's sub-20 degrees out. I'd use them more often if it were a force of habit. I'm so used to washing my hands and then grabbing the paper towels that half the time I'm just not thinking about it.

The dryers we have at work are the old school, wave your hand underneath and dry your hands kind. When we were in New York we experienced these phenomenally cool Dyson Airblade driers that you "insert" your hands into and draw them slowly out. They dry your hands in rapid time, although you feel like your skin is being stretched out in a wind tunnel. It is a 400 MPH blast of air, so that shouldn't come as a surprise. And, not too surprisingly, I made my husband take pictures of them in the bathroom at The Met.

The Dyson high-speed jet air dryer is supposed to use 80% less energy than the kind we have at work, but I'm sure they are more expensive. Hopefully, at some point, our work blowers can be replaced with a similar jet air dryer.

One thing to also consider is that our energy in Seattle comes from mostly green sources. So, not only do the dryers beat the pants (greenhouse gases-wise) off the paper towels, but since the electricity is most likely generated from wind or the like, it's a win-win hand-drying situation.

A while back, I got in the habit of either air drying my hands or using a handkerchief that I kept in my office for drying my hands. Sometime along the way, I stopped doing that and reverted back to paper towels - mostly out of habit. So, now I'm trying to make a concerted effort to use the blowers.

What about you? Do you air dry, blow dry or use paper towels when using a public restroom?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Negotiating the thermostat wars

Okay, so you're not exactly negotiating "with" the thermostat, but with other members of your household. I had a discussion with a co-worker yesterday about this very problem.

I was telling him how I was interviewed last week by USA Today about lowering your thermostat to not only save money, but to lower your carbon footprint and he asked me how he can keep his thermostat low. At first I didn't know what he was getting at, but, apparently, his girlfriend likes to keep the thermostat at 74 degrees when she visits. At a minimum. He's happy with it at 68 or lower.

I suggested that he get her a Snuggie for Christmas so she had portable warmth. And to make sure she kept a pair of slippers and/or fleece jacket, etc. at his house. We talked a little bit more about his dilemma and then I told him that we use a space heater to warm up the rooms that we are in rather than heating up the whole house to a higher temperature. We saved about $800 last year by doing this. He remembered that he had a space heater stored in the garage and was ecstatic to try that out on her.

I hope I helped him resolve the issues he has with keeping his girlfriend happy and warm without having thermostat wars. And prevent risking that she not come back over again until the spring thaw. It's always amazing how these sorts of things cause strife in relationships.

Do you find that you are playing thermostat wars with your kids, roommates, spouse or others? Is it a losing battle or are you making any progress in convincing others that you can, indeed, survive in a house that is kept at less than 70 degrees?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Renting a hybrid

Is nearly financially impossible. We are taking a trip over Christmas to visit family and will be renting a car to get around. I'd love to rent a hybrid car but do you know what the cost differential is? It's astronomical! We've rented a hybrid in the past (like 2002) and it was more expensive than a regular rental, but not this bad. I'm getting the feeling that rental car agencies are fleecing people who want a green car.

On one hand, you could argue that there's so much demand to rent a hybrid that they can charge such high rates. But, really if that were the case, then they'd have a whole fleet of hybrids then. Otherwise, why the giant cost increase? I think they really are taking advantage of people.

What's the price differential you ask? For a similar sized car, the standard gas vehicle (for the lowest option) is $217. For the hybrid car (for the lowest option) the cost is $707. That's almost $500 more or about 325% higher. WTF? I know we didn't pay that much more years ago, when hybrid cars were actually scarce and more expensive than they are today.

Very irksome. So, I reserved a 4-door speck that gets gas mileage in the 30s instead. Have you ever rented a hybrid when you've travelled?

Handmade holidays - last minute ideas

If you signed up for the Buy Hand for the Holidays Challenge and you are just now realizing you only have a little bit of time left and you still haven't gotten all your gifts ready, you may be panicking. Now is the time to reassess what gifts you are giving and make it a little easy on yourself.

You can either kick things into high gear and start cranking things out, or give yourself a break from the expectation that you were going to hand knit everyone a new sweater from Vogue Knitting. So, pick out some new gifts that are easy to do.

If you can sew, then making some silk lavender eye masks or microwaveable heating pads are quick, easy to do, and highly appreciated.

Layered peppermint barkIf you like to cook, then whipping up some peppermint bark, homemade almond roca, handmade marshmallows and chili-lime spiced nuts can be done in large quantities. Don't neglect those pets! Homemade dog treats are sure to please even the most picky of pooches.

The candy cane body scrub I made last year was a big hit and super easy (and cheap) to make. The whipped body butter was also easy to make in large batches.

Finally, don't forget those jars of jam you canned last summer - just dress them up with some labels and fabric toppings for a more festive look. You did make some of my Masala Strawberry Jam with Pinot Noir and Port and Cinnamon Ginger Plum Jam with Lillet didn't you?

How are things going for your Buy Hand challenge? Are you getting desperate, or are things going okay?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climategate - should it matter?

Climategate. I've been avoiding reading about this just because I knew it was going to piss me off terrifically and, as you all know, these sorts of things just grind my crackers.

There are enough climate change denier yahoos out there already that we really don't need any fuel to add to their fire. I like to equate them to that illustrious group known as the "flat-earthers", but there is one huge difference between the two groups. Nobody listens to the flat-earthers.

I think any reasonable person of moderate intelligence will agree that the Earth is round, based on not only personal experience (curvature of the horizon, anyone?) but also on the massive scientific evidence pointing to its spherical nature. And, just really, not that there is anything conclusive in this fact, but do you see any other flat planets in our solar system?

On the other hand, people are still listening to climate change deniers. They can certainly state facts that seem compelling (like the natural swing of global temperatures over time), but ultimately, they are preying on people's desires and fears. The desire that we can continue living in a highly consumptive manner with complete disregard to not only the quality of air, soil and water, but with complete and utter disregard to other life on this planet.

They are also preying on assuaging people's fears of the consequences of their actions. It's a whole lot more pleasant to believe that anything that humans do couldn't possibly negatively effect the Earth and its climate. Because, if that were truly the case, then horrible repurcussions could potentially ensue. Like major flooding, raised ocean levels, increased occurrences of hurricanes, droughts, famine, death. Basically, the end result of a few degrees rise in overall temperature.

So, which would you rather convince yourself to believe? Horror or happy? Most people choose happy until they are whacked in the head often enough to realize that, in order to maintain that happy, you have to start denying reality.

Climate change deniers claim that those who argue that global climate change is a problem and that it needs to be dealt with are like religious fanatics. However, the issue is that religion is based on belief, some might say a leap of faith. Yet, climate science is based on reproducible, scientific theories based on evidence. Not faith. You don't "believe" in global climate change any more than you "believe" in evolution. You accept the basic scientific tenets and then move on.

Where does this then lead with regard to Climategate, where several thousand files and e-mails that were stolen from one of the world's foremost climate-research institutes were leaked? Potentially embarrassing files and emails? Well, it should go absolutely nowhere really. Because there's nothing in there worth note and most things quoted were either taken out of context or totally skewed from the original meaning.

As Andy Revkin from the NY Times stated:
An array of scientists and policymakers in the United States and abroad have said that nothing disclosed so far — the correspondence and documents include references by prominent climate scientists to deleting potentially embarrassing e-mails, keeping papers by competing scientists from publication and making adjustments in data — undercuts decades of peer-reviewed science.

So, should Climategate matter? No, not unless this statement is either false or is found to be false. Unfortunately, it does matter in that those who disagree with the science of global climate change will be even more convinced of their position and those that are unsure might be swayed into thinking the deniers are correct.

I take comfort in knowing that sooner, rather than later, the deniers will be the 21st Century's flat-earthers. How much that impacts what we are able to do to prevent the more disastrous effects of higher temperatures remains to be seen, but I'm satisfied in knowing that less and less of the deniers are making an impact on how science and government are moving forward on the topic.

What's my conclusion? Unless something criminally crazy comes out of the leaked materials, I wouldn't spend any more mental or emotional effort thinking about it.

What's your opinion on the matter? Do you find it worrisome and that it will have more of a negative impact?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The EPA gets off its ASS

From the Associated Press:
The Environmental Protection Agency took a major step Monday toward regulating greenhouses gases, concluding that climate changing pollution threatens the public health and the environment....

The EPA said that the scientific evidence surrounding climate change clearly shows that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people" and that the pollutants - mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels - should be regulated under the Clean Air Act....

Under a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from automobiles, power plants, and factories under the federal Clean Air Act.

The EPA signaled last April that it was inclined to view heat-trapping pollution as a threat to public health and welfare and began to take public comments under a formal rulemaking. The action marked a reversal from the Bush administration, which had refused before leaving office to issue the finding, despite a conclusion by EPA scientists that it was warranted.

It's about time.

Mission: Sustainable - It's a wrap!

This weekend marked the last day of filming for the pilot of Mission: Sustainable and Saturday evening we had a wrap party to celebrate completion of at least that portion of the initial part of the project. The pilot still needs to go through editing, sound editing, editing and some more editing until it is polished into a bright, shiny, happy hour long makeover show to dazzle the networks and audiences worldwide.

We'll be having a green carpet premiere in Seattle in January to showcase the pilot and things are looking good for scoring a great venue to screen the show, have a Q&A with castmembers and production and, I'm sure, much more fun and merriment that will be announced. So, for those of you in the Seattle area who are interested in this project, I'll keep you posted on when and where it will be so you can join in.

The production team is also working on pre-production for the second makeover. Details are hush-hush at this point, but let me just say at this point that the next makeover will be very cool.

I'll also be attending the Good Earth Home, Garden and Living Show in January in Eugene, Oregon (see events for more details):
Cast and crew will host a Mission: Sustainable main stage featuring the pilot episode, cast seminars, and more. Join us at the booth to record your own sustainable lifestyle tips for our website. This year’s Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show will open for just 3 days, with over 250 exhibits, and 65 seminars. The Mission: Sustainable team will be joined by other national and local experts about green building, design, naturescaping, gardening and sustainable living.

For other events, take a peek at the updated website for the show, check out the Mission: Sustainable blog for some green living tips and add yourself to the Facebook Fan page to keep track of all things Mission: Sustainable.

Everything has been coming together like crazy for this project and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to be working on it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

BPA free cans

I've been a little distressed lately about the existence of BPA in canned foods mostly because we tend to keep on hand a lot of canned beans for last minute meals, soups and the like. Because there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of alternatives out there besides just buying dried versions or making things totally from scratch I've been playing the head in the sand thing.

Well, today I went food shopping for the week and walked by the Hispanic food section and something caught my eye. It was a can of Organic Mexican beans and rice which I thought was strange enough on its own. And, when I was looking at the description on the back of the can I noticed the statement claiming that Eden Foods canned beans are BPA free.

From the Eden website:
Eden Organic Beans are packed in steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel lining that does not contain bisphenol-A (BPA). (Oleoresin is a natural mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir). These cans cost 14 percent more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. This costs Eden $300,000 more a year. To our knowledge Eden is the only U.S. company that uses this custom made BPA-free can.

According to this post, Eden Foods requested BPA be removed from their cans 10 years ago after concern of having it in their packaging. However, Eden Foods' tomato products are still packaged in the industry-standard BPA-containing cans since the FDA hasn't approved any other type of processing for highly acidic foods.

This is the first time I've seen that claim on canned food and I wanted to know if anyone else has found other manufacturers that use BPA free cans? Any other gems out there?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

gDiapers - Plugging up the shitter

Yes, I know you were all drawn to this post by its highly intellectual title. I aim to please. I wanted to discuss what you should and shouldn't be putting down the toilet. There seems to be some misunderstanding about what local wastewater treatment plants can handle downstream. Of course, this is also dependent on your municipality, but I'm going to overgeneralize and assume that they are similar in what they can and can not handle.

I spoke, last summer or so, with Tom Watson from King County, our local EcoConsumer guru as I had some questions about the viability of gDiapers and its impact on not only your toilet, but on the processing of waste in general. gDiapers markets the product as the most eco-friendly diaper available, mainly because you can flush or compost them and they break down in 50-150 days.

Now, most people aren't going to compost human poopy diapers and most yard/food waste collection programs won't accept them, so that means the option for being the most "eco-friendly" involves flushing them down the toilet. I was surprised to learn a few things about what the engineers at our wastewater treatment plants can't stand. You, know the shit and the "shit" that clogs up the works.

Basically, what they recommend is that the only things you flush are human waste and toilet paper. Nothing else. Nada. Did you hear me? Those "flushable" butt wipes? No. How about that clay kitty litter that turns into something you can use skeet shooting? Hell, no. Tampons? Don't make me DivaCup you upside the head.

So, what about gDiapers? Aren't you paying attention? If something like a tampon is a problem, do you honestly think that flushing a giant wad of pooped-up gDiaper is going to go down properly? Not only is your sewage and/or septic system potentially at risk, but you're wreaking havoc with the whole system unintentionally.

The City of Vancouver actually did a study of the treatability of gDiapers and their impact on sewer and wastewater systems. To summarize, they concluded that (feel free to read the entire study, it's actually very interesting.):

"It is the City's recommendation that gDiapers, when used by the City's sewer customers, be managed as a solid waste and not flushed down the toilet. Consumers should bag the used product and place it in their garbage container for disposal. Those consumers who have an active and well-managed compost system may also choose to carefully include urine-only gDiapers discards with their compostable wastes."

So, what's the point of spending the extra money on flushable diapers if they are going to have to go to the landfill anyway? I'm not sure it's worth the extra cost. If you want to use disposables, stick with chlorine-free, non-toxic, non-flushable eco-diapers. Most of them are biodegradable if your landfill is equipped for that sort of thing. Just don't flush them.

And, just remember. The toilet is not a trashcan.

If you had/have kids, did you use cloth, disposables, eco-friendly disposables or another method for diapering?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Laser hair removal

I think I've already discussed hair removal to death and I know that some of you just forgo it altogether (I'm talking to you, Greenpa!), but I also know at least one of you has sprung for laser hair removal. On one hand, the environmental impact of manufacturing the laser machines isn't something to sneeze at.

I have no idea how much energy is needed to run the darn things, but I suspect that once the machines have been built, delivered and you take into consideration operating expenses, you hope that they run long enough to offset the initial carbon footprint investment, so to speak, by eliminating the need for razors and other consumer products used in the whole shaving process.

But really, the best thing is to not bother shaving and just get comfortable with one's hirsuteness. However, for some of us who were born and raised by gorillas, this is a little less easy than it is for others. And, thus, the shaving, waxing, threading, depilatorying and otherwise hair yanking continues.

So, what's a lady to do? As you may know, laser hair removal is very expensive so for most that's a huge deterrent to getting it done, aside from all the potential environmental issues. However, a few months ago, Groupon was running a deal in my area offering laser hair removal at about 20% the total cost.

Basically I got three hair removal session for 80% less than I would have to normally pay. It was too good a deal to pass up and it gave me an excuse, particularly since I was already eyeballing the whole lasering thing anyway. I haven't yet had my first session since you need to stop waxing for a while before treatment, but I'm hoping to do so soon.

Have any of you done laser hair removal and what's been your experience? Is it worth the cost or do you still end up shaving or otherwise removing hair from the treated area?

One last question. What's your reaction when you see the picture to the right? Americans are conditioned to have a certain societal response to body hair. So, do you think she's beautiful, are you grossed out, or are you conflicted by what you see - beautiful woman, but ick!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pastured meat rabbits

I've spent far too much time recently researching meat rabbits, breeds and methods of dispatching them. In the past, I've looked into breeding rabbits for fiber, mostly thinking that Angoras would be more up my alley, particularly since the whole processing aspect of meat rabbits is still beyond my comfort level and I know I would be the one left to doing the dispatching.

I'm not entirely new to rabbit husbandry since I had a bunch of bunnies in my childhood. I like the idea of rabbits for fiber, but it's hard to acquire Angoras in my area, and I'm not sure that I have the gumption to knit anything up with the fiber. That is, of course, after mixing it with wool and spinning my own yarn with it. The manure aspect of rabbits certainly intrigues me as a good compost for the garden but, as of yet, I have done nothing regarding raising rabbits. It's been all talk and no action.

I'm also most likely cursed with the only two children on the face of the planet who hate rabbits. For whatever their reasons, they sure ain't sharing them with me. In any case, how did I come about looking up meat rabbits again? Well, my foodie brother was discussing his plans for doing a big Easter event (much like his Poultrygeist event in October with ducks) which, not too surprisingly, involve rabbit as one of the course ingredients. I suggested perhaps raising some rabbits on his behalf as long as he did the dispatching.

Again, not too surprisingly, he was fine with that. He's very interested in knowing exactly where his ingredients come from, and learning how to process rabbits, chickens, goats, etc. is something he has no problem with. So, it looks like we might have some sort of matched interest here.

While looking up meat rabbits, I ran across a number of sites mentioning pastured rabbits, most likely originating from the practice done at Polyface Farms (Joel Salatin of Omnivore's Dilemma fame). Basically, you keep the bunnies in a sort of chicken tractor that gets rotated around so the rabbits have access to fresh clover, grass, weeds and the like.

This is supplemented with traditional rabbit pellets and hay, depending on the time of year. I thought this was a very interesting idea in that it not only is a money saver, but the rabbits are more likely producing a healthier meat and are generally happier hanging out in the grass during decent weather.

Images from Simply Abundant Farm and Weathertop Farm.

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