Monday, April 19, 2010

A New Blog

Hey there. Long time no see. ;) Life has been super busy since hubby got home. We've moved twice, job hunted, he's gone back to school... tons of stuff. So hopefully I will sometimes get to write about environmental issues over here, but for now, if you are interested in my life you can visit me over at Dandelion Farm. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Graduation Party and How I Feel About Eco-Fina

photo credit: CarbonNYC
Today my amazing husband threw me a graduation party. That's right people: I'm a Bachelor Degreed mama now! And I graduated at the top of my class in my major (Child and Family Studies), even though at the end I dealt with the deployment of my husband and the birth of our daughter in the middle the semester. I'm pretty stinkin' proud of myself. They asked me to make a speech at graduation, which I declined to do, because I didn't want to walk across the stage. All I wanted was a party... which was awesome!

Anyway, Eco-fina... Since I turned "crunchy" I decided that any parties we had I would just fill up the sink and have everybody wash their own plate so we didn't have to use disposables and nobody would be stuck with all the dishes at the end. Today, however, we had our party outside, so we used disposable plates and utensils. A lot of people complain about how companies promote how "green" their disposable products are, when it would be greener to just not use them. But today I was glad that I had the option to use "greener" disposables: biodegradeable, recycled plates and recycled plastic silverware. It's not something I do often, but I'm glad that I have light green options as opposed to... I dunno... brown options?

How does this equate with Eco-fina? Well, lately I have seen a lot of controversy about the Eco-fina bottles that use less plastic. Yes, I know... people shouldn't drink bottled water in the first place. But there are people who are going to drink it no matter what you say about the environment, and I hope that those people drink Eco-fina.

I think there are shades of green, and while it is best to be a dark, hunter green (cloth toilet paper and solar panels kind of green), some of us are a lighter forest green, and some are light green and drink out of Eco-fina water bottles. It's still better than the conventional ones.

Friday, August 21, 2009

On Dumpster Diving

photo credit: caterina

Some of my favorite decorative things in my home have come from a dumpster. We live in an apartment complex, and when people move out you can find absolutely amazing finds in the dumpster. There was the shelf in our kitchen, already painted to perfectly match our table (my husband found that one when he was taking out the trash. The dumpster was empty except for the shelf). There's the huge black frame holding Doodlebug's picture (it had an ugly picture and broken glass, we just took it out). I got a nice desk chair for my brother, an expensive towel rack for my mom, and a new-looking trash can just missing the lid (I use it as a recycle bin).

So many people think that dumpster diving is "disgusting" and "germy". Well, germy maybe. Wear gloves and wash your hands when you get home if you are worried about that (it's a good idea anyway). But I have never had to get in the dumpster to get things. If I can't reach I use a bent hanger to pick things up.

I'm not a professional dumpster diver or anything (though I totally admire the freegans who can get food and everything). I don't do it that often. But if good stuff is just sticking out of the trash can you can bet I'll take it!

If you live in an apartment and notice that someone is moving out, just stop by the dumpster and see what they have gotten rid of. If you live in a college town, stop by the dorms at the end of the school year. The dumpsters get so full that people start leaving their trash outside the dumpsters. Most of those kids can't be bothered with moving their stuff home for the summer, so they throw it away. You can dumpster dive at store dumpsters, too, provided they are not locked up or marked "No Trespassing". A lot of stores now destroy their products to keep people from dumpster diving (which is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. If they don't want it anymore why can't someone else have it?!). I have always secretly wanted to dumpster dive at Hobby Lobby, but I haven't done it at a store yet. While digging, think outside the box: Can I use this item for more than its intended use? Can it be cleaned up, painted up, or spiffed up to make it useable? Can something be used for its hardware or scrap wood?

So many people in America today have no appreciation for the things they have. It is easier just to throw things away than to repurpose them or find someone who needs them. By dumpster diving, you are keeping unwanted items out of the landfill, and if it was something you needed, you are preventing the production (and all the waste and pollution that goes with it) of that item.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nothing to do with the environment

This has absolutely nothing to do with the environment except that it made mine happier: My husband is home from a year long deployment!!! Don't expect to hear from me for a few days, but then after that I may be able to write more because he's here to help with Doodlebug.

Wooohhooooo! Thank you God for my husband coming home!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The River

photo credit: DigitalArt2

There is a river that runs right through the center of my town. When I was a little girl, we lived right down the street from it, and sometimes when it rained the water would run up over the road, rushing and rushing, covering the bridge. My parents would take us down to see the river, always keeping us back a safe distance (though I'm sure my brother tried to get closer). The river was normally pretty small, but when it flooded it was something to be afraid of as well as something to be admired. It was wild and untamed and, to me, beautiful.

As an adult I came back to this little town and my little river and cried. What had happened to my river? It was choked with trash, and nearly dry from drought and damming. In my childhood, had I imagined the grandeur of the river? In my smallness, had I seen the river as larger than it was? Maybe. But something tells me I didn't. I remember the river washing away a car once. Now it is a tiny trickle, the land around it parched and cracked.

And so I cry for my river, and I cry for my daughter, who will never get to see it the way I once did, majestic and powerful and free.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Eat Local Foods

photo credit: sbocaj
Economic Impact of Local Foods
According to Sandor Ellix Katz, “… (G)lobalized corporate food follows a long and largely inscrutable chain of transactions, most of which is invisible to the consumer. In this food system, only a tiny proportion of what consumers spend on food at the store goes to the people who grow it. The bulk of our food spending immediately departs from our local communities into the unfathomably huge infrastructures of the shipping and trucking, food processing, marketing, and retailing industries… Rather than paying for food itself, we are paying for an elaborate system for getting it to the right place, at the right time, in the right processed form, and in the right package” (Katz 2).

Many people hearing about local food automatically think organic. But local food has very little to do with organic. You could run out to Wal-Mart and buy organic fruit and think you have done your part. When people buy food, though, they should really consider where their money is going. “A dollar spent on organic plums at Wal-Mart goes to corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to the real-estate developer who owns the land the store is built on, to the truckers who brought it there, and as a small fraction of that dollar, to the grower and the cashier.”

But there is a better way. “In the traditional local food system, wealth (in the form of food) is created locally, from the land worked by the people. The money people spend on food in that context gets recirculated locally, and food production is a significant generator of economic activity: it supports local mechanics, babysitters, craftspeople, and other local food producers. In economics, this phenomenon is called the multiplier effect. A dollar spent on a local grower’s produce will continue to circulate locally and multiply its benefits through economic stimulation”(Katz 1). In other words, the dollar spent at Wal-Mart on organic plums went directly to the corporation. The dollar spent on plums at a local farmers marker went directly to the grower, and thus, out into our community. The local plums may not have the label organic due to the hassle of government organics standards, but chances are they are grown without chemicals. And if you aren’t sure about growing practices, you can always ask the farmer!

Environmental Impact of Local Foods
It really doesn’t do much good to buy organic food that has to be shipped all over the country, or the world. It is exposed to chemicals in shipping, as well as wasting precious fossil fuel resources. According to,”(a) tremendous amount of fossil fuel is used to transport foods such long distances. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, smog and air pollution. Even the refrigeration required to keep your fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats from spoiling burns up energy.” In addition, industrial food producers use large amounts of plastic packaging, which is non-biodegradable and nearly impossible to recycle.

The shipping of industrial food is not the only part that causes environmental problems. The actual growing of the food itself harms the environment. While many small farmers who sell locally grow many different types of produce and practice sustainable agriculture, industrial farms favor monocropping, or only growing one type of plant. “… Single crops, as the Irish learned the hard way with the potato blight in 1845, are more susceptible to devastation by pest invasion and disease. The industrial answer is herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides to kill weeds, insects, and molds. So powerful are these chemicals, industrial farmers have dispensed with crop rotation—the age-old method for keeping pests and disease at bay—but the apparent efficiency is illusory. With this system, pests and pathogens traditionally kept in check by switching crops accumulate, thus requiring yet more pesticides” (Planck 146-147). Buying local foods sends a message to these environmentally irresponsible large growers that people won’t stand for it anymore, and it is time to make a change to more responsible, sustainable farming.

Nutritional Effects of Local Food
Since food travels further from field to table than ever before, “greater time elapses between harvest and consumption, during which nutrients are diminished” (Katz 5). According to, “fresh food from local farms is healthier than industrially-farmed products because the food doesn’t spend days in trucks and on store shelves losing nutrients… Food transported short distances is fresher (and, therefore, safer) than food that travels long distances. Local food has less of an opportunity to wilt and rot whereas large-scale food manufacturers must go to extreme lengths to extend shelf-life since there is such a delay between harvest and consumption. Preservatives are commonly used to keep foods stable longer, and are potentially hazardous to human health.”

Another health problem encountered with industrial food distribution is food-borne diseases. Consider the 2006 outbreak of E-coli from spinach. All that spinach came from a single region in California, but was spread throughout the country! The disease would have been contained if the food was distributed locally, and would have less likely led to the widespread panic the outbreak caused.

Industrial foods such as ground beef could be a problem as well. Meat from hundreds of cows is all mixed together. One sick cow could contaminate thousands of pounds of ground beef, which is then shipped all over America! In contrast, if you buy ground beef locally, it is very easy to know which cow caused the contamination and get that food off the market!

Fun, Tasty Effects of Local Foods
Local foods just taste better! Typical food from your supermarket is picked underripe to survive the journey to the grocery store, then artificially ripened. Local foods can be picked at the peak of perfection for the most amazing taste experience!

It is not hard to eat local foods, despite the adjustment period of not eating strawberries in December. Just start out trying to buy foods grown in your state. Find a grocery store based in the state you live in. Or try a farmers market. Quit shopping at Wal-Mart. When you have the choice between domestic food and imported, choose the domestic one! Now that I have begun my own transition to local foods, I see how very easy it is to do, and how important it is to make a difference. I will admit that I’m not a total localvore (yet), but I try to do my part and buy as locally as possible.

Katz, Sandor Ellix. The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. Chelsea Green, 2006.
Planck, Nina. Real Food: What to Eat and Why. Bloomsbury USA, 2007.
SustainableTable.Org. “The Issues: Buy Local.” Accessed April 27, 2008.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I was a featured blogger on Healthy Moms this week. You can check it out here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review-- The Complete Organic Pregnancy

I cannot recommend The Complete Organic Pregnancy enough to anyone who is new to the organic/natural lifestyle. Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu cover in depth everything from beauty products to furniture to food. It covers from the "preparing for pregnancy stage" to after the baby is born, but I don't just recommend it to pregnant or trying-to-become-pregnant women. It is the ultimate resource for anyone beginning to pursue the organic life (you might warn your husband first, though, if you're reading it and not pregnant. ;) ).

A little word of warning though: if you are offended by cursing, there are a few not-so-nice words in some of the diary entries (which are included as side stories).

I love this book, and I have read it multiple times to get ideas of what to eliminate next from my chemical-laden life. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Small Steps: Big Impact-- Razors

Switch your disposable razors for one with a replaceable head to reduce waste. Or better yet, switch to an electric razor so you aren't throwing anything away.

I just switched to a razor with a replaceable head, but I'm thinking I may go to electric soon. I think it would be more convenient as Doodlebug has a limited lack-of-attention span and my showers are pretty rushed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grocery Goals

photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

In my quest to live a more natural lifestyle and eat healthier foods, I have found it is too easy to get overwhelmed with "rules". I am new to all of this, and I have my weaknesses (hello, Digiorno!), so as I shop I am trying to keep in mind that my ideals are goals, not rules. Here are my current goals. As time goes on I'll add more and become more strict about them, but for now, here are my current goals.

~No high fructose corn syrup.

~No artificial dyes (a color with a number after it).

~No trans fats (hydrogenated anything).

~No MSG (this is a biggy for me because I am sensitive to it in large doses, but small amounts seem to be in everything!)

~Try to buy organics or skip the "dirty dozen" fruits and veggies.

~Soy should not be a main ingredient (I'll allow it for now if it's far down on the ingredient list. Eventually I'd like to completely eliminate it).

It is important to me for Doodlebug to start out eating healthy foods, and it's up to me (since I'm doing most of the cooking) to set a good example for her. The main goal is to get rid of as much processed food as I can, and my mini-goals will help me get there one step at a time.