Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour

In 2007, 2.2 million homes and businesses in Sydney, Australia turned out their lights to make a stand against climate change by creating the first Earth Hour.  3 years later, Earth Hour is a global call to action to every individual (that's you ;) ), every business, and every community to stand up.... to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way to a sustainable future.  
Getting involved is easy.  
On March 27, 2010 at 8:30 (wherever you live)... turn out your lights... for ONE HOUR.

What will I be doing??  Hmmm... don't really have any major plans except to turn off the lights and shut down the computer... light some candles (yes, they're soy based) and play some games-- to be determined :)  
Also, thinking of Earth Hours instead of Hour.


Update:
After the lights were out and the candles were lit... we decided to play "Scrabble"... I can't remember the last time I played... making up words is SO much fun... however, next time we play I'm not backing down on using words such as "ringeth" :)



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Collective Will












"We all have the ability to provide clean water for every man, woman, and child on the Earth. What has been lacking is the collective will to accomplish this. What are we waiting for? This is the commitment we need to make to the world, now."
~ Jean-Michel Cousteau

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Will YOU Make a Difference??

Water. It's vital to life. As water flows from our taps, many of us take it for granted. But nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water.

As we are a couple of days into World Water Week... I am constantly reminded--by an amazing person that I am fortunate to call my friend--of the global water crisis. She has donated the past 6 months of her life, to help produce the LA Tap Project Fundraiser. Because, she has a dream of making their --children in underdeveloped countries without access to clean water-- dream a reality.

As with most things... I am affected by visuals. Watch these... and you, too, will understand WHY.


Did you know that by donating $1 to UNICEF Tap Project, you provide clean water for 40 days? What if everyone you knew donated $1??


Earlier in the week, the question was asked, "Will you make a difference that makes a difference?"

In November, for my friend's birthday, I donated $25 to the Tap Project. That $25 that I could've spent on a small gift became 1,000 days of clean water. I've made a difference that has made a difference in someone's life. Now, it's your turn :)


Donate to the UNICEF Tap Project: www.tapproject.org

Dine at participating restaurants during World Water Week (March 21-27): www.tapproject.org/restaurants

Fan Acqua di Gio on Facebook and they'll donate $1 to UNICEF Tap Project!

Events are scheduled all over the country... attend an event in your area!

AND... don't forget to spread the word! :)

P.S... Read this ;)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Field Trip Lunch

Today, my daughter was supposed to have a field trip to a farm... but as the rain fell and the sky was alive with lightening... I questioned whether or not they would go. I looked at the radar and made the decision to go ahead and pack my daughter a "field trip" lunch.

What's a "field trip" lunch, you ask?? It's a bag lunch from home. Oh, but not just any bag lunch... a completely disposable bag lunch :( Yes, I'm cringing.

When my son was in Kindergarten... I thought that a bag lunch was a lunch in a bag...seemed logical enough for me... so I packed him a typical "waste-free" lunch-- reusable containers, napkin, refillable water bottle, bag. Then I got a letter home saying that due to cooler space the kids needed to bring a completely disposable lunch or buy a bag lunch from the cafeteria. Now, I wasn't about to buy the bag lunch from the school cafeteria because it consists of an "Uncrustable", string cheese, some kind of (partially hydrogenated) chips/cheetoes, cookies, either an apple or prepackaged baby carrots and non-organic milk. Having always packed waste-free lunches, I didn't have the know how or products necessary to pack a disposable lunch for my child. I panicked. How in the heck was I supposed to pack a disposable lunch??? I don't buy juice boxes, bottled water...I think ziplock/plastic bags are a waste... as well as individually packaged/wrapped products (chips, cookies, fruits, etc) AND I was not going to buy any one of those products just to throw them away.

After I stopped panicking...and got over my frustrations realized that like many things, this was one thing that I was going to have to figure out. I'm a pretty RESOURCEFUL girl... :)

I looked at what I had in my house that I could REUSE to pack a disposable lunch. It took my brain awhile to wrap my head around it all... BUT this is what I came up with (but remember that the possibilities for Reusing/Repurposing are endless):

  • Sandwich: I used to wrap it in parchment paper or aluminum foil. OR, if I have a ziplock/plastic baggie that I've saved... I'll use that. Lately, I've been buying "Liz Lovely" cookies... while they are amazing... I do think they are over-packaged... but I've been saving the wrappers and they are the perfect size for everything :)
  • Chips/Pretzels: I've reused a little candy bag or any other bags that would typically be tossed. I've also used a bit of parchment paper to make a little "envelop".
  • Fruit/Vegie: Banana, orange, apple, pear...they come in their own packaging... this is the easiest. EXCEPT for my son who likes things like watermelon, canteloup, strawberries... things that need containers... so back to the saved baggies.
  • Water: This is the hardest for me. My son's first field trip we had rootbeer in the fridge. I panicked and threw it in his lunch... with strict orders to his teacher to make sure the can was recycled. Even so, I hated sending it. SO... I made the decision that a reusable water bottle takes up no more room than a disposable one... so the school the school is just gonna have to deal.
  • And then I pack it all in a bread bag.

So, today, as I sent my daughter to school... I said to her, "If you don't go on your field trip... make sure you bring all of this [the disposable lunch bag & contents] home. And if your teacher tells you to throw it away... tell her I told you to keep it." They didn't go on the field trip, and when I picked up my daughter from school she told me she kept her lunch stuff, but her teacher told her that she couldn't do it again. There was also a note about how she [the teacher] understands the recycling, but they can't be taking trash out of the cafeteria... e.g. banana peel. Ok, so I get it... I know that I'm difficult. I'm having my kid haul her trash from the cafeteria to bring home. I, honestly, only had her do this so that we can REUSE it when she goes on her field trip on Wednesday. Do I want to say that "I'm sorry for being a complete pain"?? Kind of. But then I think what would I really be apologizing for?? I really want to pack a waste-free lunch, but am limited by the constraints of the system.***

I know it may seem odd to some... but if you look at the whole picture... I'm teaching my daughter something that is not being taught in (her) school such as being RESPONSIBLE for her waste by REUSING (as many times as possible), saving her banana peel to be COMPOSTED and REDUCING her impact on our environment (she may not realize this yet... but she does it every day).

On average, it has been estimated that one school-aged child creates 67 pounds of lunchtime waste per school year!!!



Want to pack a Waste-free lunch and don't know where to start??


And for more...here's the newsletter that I did last April: Sustainable Schools Initiative Newsletter: April 2009

***UPDATE!!: I sent a note to school thanking the teachers for being understanding with us as we try our best to reduce and reuse, how my daughter has a habit of bringing home her food scraps (without my asking) because we compost at home AND how I would really prefer to send a "reusable lunch" on a field trip. I just got an email from my daughter's teacher letting me know that she doesn't mind if Claire brings a REUSABLE lunch on field trips because she's very good at remembering!!! AND... she asked me about composting because she's interested in doing it at her home!!! YAY!! My daughter has the most awesome teachers!!

Lesson learned: Every teacher is different!! Speak up... ask questions... never assume :)

The Story of Bottled Water

World Water Week has officially begun... start the week by watching this video and then-- if you haven't done so already-- sign the pledge and "Take Back the Tap"!




"There is enough water for human need, but not for human greed."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Unglued

At some point last year, I began thinking about how bored I was with TV and how I was "so over" everything I watched... except for LOST ;) I just kept thinking how after a week or in a month... in a year... in several years... I wouldn't remember anything I watched. I was tired of spending my evenings glued to a box. I voiced my thoughts to my husband... who was quick to say, "I like TV... besides... look at all the shows you have recording." I did. And then I deleted every show-- even cooking shows-- that I had set up to record on our Tivo. It was then that I realized that I didn't really watch most of the shows that I had set up to record. The only shows that I watched were a handful of our shared shows and what I liked to call "support" shows-- those are shows that I absolutely LOATHED, but my hubbie was addicted to... so I would sit with him as he watched.

Then I saw the trailer for "No Impact Man"... and I was intrigued as movers (?) carried their TV out of their home.... I SO wanted that for us.



Over the year, I kept voicing my opinion about my lack of desire to watch TV and for all I cared... we could get rid of it. Gasp! Then I made the comment that I thought that the DVR is like a double-edged sword. It's great because you don't have to think about when the shows you watch are on... but then it sucks because the convenience of it all makes it so that you watch more TV than you would have ever watched without it in the first place. This all coming from the girl that told her Mom that she just had to get a DVR because it would make her life SO much easier. (Hindsight is definitely 20/20)

So... a little over a month ago... we finally rented "No Impact Man." If you haven't yet seen the film... I highly recommend it :) After watching it, I said to my husband, "See... she [Colin's wife] was addicted to TV." I don't know if that film (along with all my reasonings for wanting to rid our lives of TV) is what made this happen... BUT... not a week after... my husband cancelled cable and Tivo service. Needless to say, I was ecstatic...

He, on the other-hand, will admit that at first he was nervous about living without TV. When I went on my trip to LA... he said, "Great... we get rid of cable then you go out of town. What the heck am I going to do??" Here's what he did: Cleaned the entire house and played with our kids. He played more games-- UNO, Guess Who?, Checkers, Memory Match, Go Fish, etc-- than he can even count... didn't watch any TV and because of it had so much fun-- not to mention the memories he made with our 3 children :)

After 2 weeks... he was bragging about how cutting cable "was the best thing that we have done in years" and telling all his friends that they should do the same.

It's been a month of having no cable. It's been a month of not sitting on the couch in front of the TV... ok... we do still watch LOST for 45 minutes one night a week. Though, never on TV because we always forget it's on. We have absolutely no idea what is on TV... and it's great.

We have family time instead of TV time... and we're LOVING it.

Wondering what this has to do with the environment?? Simple, we're using less. Besides not turning the TV on, we no longer have a cable box, or tivo plugged in. Ahhh... two forms of vampire (or phantom) power removed.

Learn about stand-by mode (aka phantoms or vampires)

Check this chart to see how many watts your appliances are using in "stand-by" mode


Did I mention that by not having cable or Tivo, we save about $1500 a year?!
Hmmm...now what to do with that?? :)

Read this: No Impact Man: Who Needs Appliances Anyway?

Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Feed the World Video

How to feed the world ? from Denis van Waerebeke on Vimeo.

a film directed by Denis van Waerebeke for the « Bon app├ętit » exhibition,

aimed mainly at the kids aged 9 to 14.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Make It: Granola Bars

As usual, I'm always trying to figure out ways to eliminate the amount of trash we send to the landfill.  I find that-- with 3 kids-- a lot of our waste is in the form of individual "snack" wrappers.

Recently, I've been on a kick about granola bars.  I love them... my kids love them... they're a fast and an easily portable snack.  BUT... what makes them so easily portable... is the fact that they are individually wrapped. :(  SO.. in an effort to curb the wrappers... I started buying (and making) granola instead of granola bars.  Loose granola is great... but has one problem-- it's not car friendly.  Unless I want my floor boards and all the crevices in my car to have a layer of granola.... I leave the granola at home. ;)  SO, much to the dismay of my 3 kids... I haven't been buying granola bars... unless, of course, we're going on a road trip.  And, sure, I've also tried my hand at making some... which I haven't had the best of luck.  Most are too healthy tasting... too boring... too not what my kids (or I) want to eat... UNTIL... I came across a  Chewy Chocolate Granola Bar recipe from Happy Vegan Yogini!! ***

After holding on to the recipe for awhile now... today, I finally made them!!  Let me be probably one of many to say... that these granola bars are amazing!!  They're chocolatey... they're chewy... they are everything I've always wanted in a homemade granola bar.  I should also mention that my husband and kids have devoured half of the batch in less than 24 hours!!  Forget the store bought bars that are loaded with unpronounceable ingredients... lose the packaging and MAKE something that you know every ingredient... is actually good for you (don't ask me to define good) BUT tastes SO bad for you.

I'm envisioning so many different versions of this granola bar.  Thoughts that immediately come to mind are coconut and banana chips.  MMMM...



***I followed the directions to a "T".  Except, I didn't use the wax paper.  I just used the back side of a metal spatula and pressed until even.  Cooled to room temperature, then cut into individual bars which I have stored in a big glass jar.  Since I'm all about reducing waste... I don't think it's necessary to individually wrap each bar.  

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Travel Light(er)

Traveling and being environmentally conscious aren't two things that readily go together.  When planning for my recent trip to LA, I started to "freak-out."  It's been a couple of years since I've flown... and this trip was a short one, so the plan was to pack light and not check a bag.  (I've never not checked a bag!)  Now with all of the rules about what can and can't be brought through a TSA checkpoint, I felt that I was going to have to bend a little and "give-up" some of my ways... I proved to myself that with a little planning and thinking outside the usual... that I didn't have to change my ways ;)

The 3 oz Rule

I, seriously, was not going out to buy little individual 3 oz (crap... I mean paraben-laden) products.  So my mind immediately thought about Reusablebags.com-- they seriously have everything.  About as quickly as I thought it... I went to their site and searched "shampoo".  Up popped GoToobs.  "I knew it!!!"  I hesitated for a moment about whether or not to buy them... they are a bit pricey... but then I thought to myself... I'll have these for years to come... and in the long run... it's better for my wallet and the environment.  So I, obviously, bought them.  AND they are quite handy... because they're made from silicone the product (in my case shampoo and conditioner) doesn't stick to the inside of the tube toob.  (On a side note, I didn't want to put my facial cleanser in one of the Toobs... the shortness of the trip didn't warrant it... SO... I packed a bar of my favorite Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.)  


The Zip-Lock Bag (Suggestion)


Another thing that I didn't want to buy into was a zip-lock bag.  Online it's stated that all liquids should be placed in a quart sized zip-lock bag.  Sure I have some saved from whenever my kids bring them home from school... but I really didn't want to support the practice of using a disposable product.  Years ago, I received a lotion set that came in a small clear bag complete with a zipper.  Knowing that I didn't have much room, I packed only what I needed...my 2 GoTubes, contact solution, mascara, toothpaste, and shay butter (btw... it can be used for everything!).  Put it in my carry-on bag... and sailed through the TSA screening without a zip-lock bag :)

NO Bottles of Water (or soda, vitamin water, gatorade... pick your favorite)

Not that I buy bottled water, of course!  But, with all these rules...I feared I would be without a reusable water bottle for my whole trip.  Having made the commitment to not buy bottled water... I was a little panicked  about the thought of not having my Sigg to refill.  I searched all over USAirways' website... where I read that waterbottles were prohibited... WHAT???  I then went to the TSA website... where I couldn't find anything about reusable waterbottles... HMMM.  So, I picked up the phone and called TSA.... AND... YES!!  Reusable waterbottles are permitted!!  Woohoo... can't tell you how excited I was to learn that!  So I packed my small (empty) Sigg in my carry-on bag.  I refilled it countless times... water fountains in Wilmington, Charlotte and LA... and then again with water from a soda fountain in Charlotte.... not to mention all of the times I refilled it during my stay in LA.

Did I mention that water fountains are free??  (Free of charge AND Free of plastic) 

Also, I'll admit that as I saw people watch me refilling my Sigg...  I wondered if they thought, "Hey!  That's a good idea!  Why didn't I think of that??"  :)


MY Rule

Before my flight boarded in Wilmington, I made a quick trip to the restroom... no in-flight bathroom breaks for me.  Even with only 8 minutes to spare before I got on the Charlotte flight to LAX, I headed to the restroom.  During the 5 hour (?) flight to LA, the girls next to me kept saying "Are you sure you don't have to go??"  Nope.  Here's why:  Using the in-flight restroom requires energy for powering the toilet.  AND... every flush on an airplane requires about the same energy as is required to propel a vehicle about 6 miles!!  Ahh... another commitment.  The tight spaces of the airplane restrooms are-- in my opinion-- for emergency (and little kids) only ;)


SO... going through the TSA checkpoint was a breeze.  My bag wasn't searched... I wasn't questioned about anything.  I made it through 4 flights not once using the in-flight lavatory ;)  I did, however, make a decision about something that I can be prepared for next time.  I brought snacks to eat on the plane, but... I hadn't thought about buying food at the airport (or on the plane).  The packaging and price is absolutely ridiculous.  So next time I will pack my own** waste-free lunch (or dinner) to eat on the plane.  **This idea was made possible because I saw someone do it.  Thanks to the "Navy Boy" who sat next to me for 4 1/2 hours.... who made and brought his own lunch :)

My advice: Don't know what you can and can't take through a TSA checkpoint??  Don't make assumptions... find out for yourself.  Go to their website... research...and if you can't find what you're looking for??  Pick up the phone and call them.  They were super nice and in my case very helpful!