Posted by Lorna.Doone on 31. December 2009 06:37
Are you one of those people who just can't get enough of celebrity gossip? Or, maybe you're tired of hearing about all the ridiculous things celebrities do and are looking for some good news for a change. In either case, you might want to check out ecorazzi.com. I've been reading it off and on for a couple of years now, and it's generally a peek into celebrity lives that leaves me feeling a whole lot less creepy than I would if I sat in front of an episode of TMZ.
Basically, they cover celebrities from an environmental angle. Want to know what Bollywood star did a "Go Green" calendar (it looks really beautiful, too)? Then you're in luck. Tired of hearing what a jerk Russel Crowe is? Then read about how he gave his coat to a homeless fan. And, if you can't get enough of Whale Wars, then you'll be thrilled with ecorazzi's ongoing coverage of what the Sea Shepherds are up to.
Other celebrities that have been covered recently include:
- Alanis Morissette
- Jamie Oliver
- Jennifer Aniston
- David Letterman
- Ellen DeGeneres
Also covered, but not for good reasons are Victoria Beckham, Ted Nugent, and others who maybe just don't "get it."
Posted by Lorna.Doone on 29. December 2009 16:13
When most people have kids, their houses get messier. In my case, it was the opposite. My darling daughter wanted to be held constantly. Unlike other babies, though, rocking in the glider didn't offer enough stimulation for her. No, she wanted to be upright and moving all the time. I was over the moon when some friends introduced me to the Baby Bjorn, so at least I could give my arms a rest while toting her from room to room. But, what was there to do in a small house in the dead of winter when sitting down isn't an option? It turns out that cleaning gave me something to do and seemed to satisfy her need to constantly be on the move.
Of course, having a baby in close proximity to chemical cleaners was not something I was keen to do. So, I was really, really happy when I discovered a local company that produces all natural cleaners. (No, I don't work for them, I just really like their products and green approach.)
It started out when I hired the Maid Naturally team to come in and give my house a good cleaning before my mother-in-law came to visit. There are some things, after all, that just can't be done with a baby strapped to you. After years of cleaning with little more than vinegar and baking soda, I was shocked to discover how *clean* things looked when they were done. My electronics were shiny again, the wood in my house gleamed, and I couldn't get over how great everything smelled.
It turns out that the Maid Naturally folks have their own line of all-natural cleaning products, and I ran right out an bought them. I've been using them for over a year now, and I love the fact that not only do things look, feel, and smell cleaner, but that I don't have to worry about how they're affecting my toddler.
After all that time "helping" mama clean, she seems to have gotten a bit of a bug for it, too. I feel good about the fact that I can spray some cleaner on the table and let her go to town washing the table with her own cloth. A cleaner house, a healthy kid, and no dangerous chemical leeching into the aquifer below. Yeah, that works for me!
Posted by Lorna.Doone on 22. December 2009 22:59
Maybe the dead of winter isn't the time when most of us would typically thinking about gardening, but the topic of rooftop gardening was brought up in the month's Popular Science, and I thought it was too interesting to pass up mentioning here. You can read the full article on their web site.
This particular piece by John B. Carnett is a pretty straightforward description of how he is preparing the roof of his home to be an actual garden next spring. I just love this idea, although I think Carnett is ahead of the game in that he actually has flat places on his roof that can be transformed into green spaces more easily than, say, the pitched roofs that many of us have keeping the rain off our heads. Still, the idea of converting rooftops to gardens is becoming more and more popular, not just for homes, but for office buildings, too.
There are some major advantages to "green" roofs, and the ability to harvest a salad from the attic is just one of them. Rooftop gardens also clean the air, create more oxygen, act as insulation, and according to the article can "triple the life span of a roof." If that's not enough of an incentive, check out this list of advantages of rooftop gardening from Canada's CityFarmer.org:
- Increase access to private outdoor green space-at home or at work-within the urban environment
- Support urban food production
- Promote individual, community, and cultural diversity
- Improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions
- Delay stormwater runoff
- Increase habitat for birds
- Insulate buildings
- Increase the value of buildings for owners and tenants alike
- Create job opportunities in the field of research, design, construction, Iandscaping/gardening, health, and food productio
Converting the rooftop to a garden space does take some special considerations, such as how to properly waterproof the thing so that it doesn't rot away. It turns out that it's not quite as easy as just rolling out some sod and hammering it down with roofer's nails. The weight of the thing also comes into play, as four inches of soil adds up to an additional fifteen to twenty pounds per square foot. So, if a green roof is something that really interests you, you're probably going to need to get an engineer involved.
I thought the author offered a really great recommendation, too. Rather that boxing the whole roof in as one big piece, he installed removable trays so that they wouldn't create an impossible situation should he eventually need to engage in some roof repairs.
Call me a romantic, but one of the things that I love about rooftop gardens, even beyond their environmental benefits and the inherent coolness of the idea, is how amazing they look. Imagine flying over a city where all the skyscrapers looked like this from above.
Posted by Lorna.Doone on 17. December 2009 22:24
Oh, my, but it's been so cold here in the Northwest. For about a week the temperatures hovered around 18 degrees every day. We live in a 100+ year-old house with lots of windows, and those cold temperatures let us know just how drafty our home is. In addition to worrying about rising heat bill costs and the loss of energy, I found myself perplexed by just where some of those drafts were originating.
I was quite surprised to discover that a fair amount of that 18-degree air was entering through the outlets on the walls. I guess it had just never occurred to me that there really isn't much between those switch plates and the elements, save for a thin exterior wall. But, once I unscrewed the first plate, it became completely obvious that a lot of our draft problem was from cold air rushing in through those little boxes.
The reason we took the switch plates off was to experiment with "outlet insulators" (also called "outlet gaskets"). They were easy enough to install and didn't take anything more complex than a screwdriver for removing the outlet cover. Once one is slipped over the outlet (or switch), you simply replace the cover and are done.
The difference was immediately noticeable. So much so, that I again marveled that I hadn't thought of this earlier!
The insulators are super-cheap, with a ten-pack costing about three dollars, and it was a really easy way to keep the cold air out and lessen the strain on our furnace this winter. I guess that's just one more tiny little way to lessen our ecological footprint!
Posted by Lorna.Doone on 17. December 2009 02:09
If you still have little ones on your Christmas list and don't know what to get, here are a couple of great eco-friendly (and totally cool) suggestions.
So, I really do strive to live a reasonably green lifestyle. I take the bus when I can. I don't buy single-serving items when I can avoid it. I even compost. These are all little changes I was easily able to incorporate into my life. I'm so pleased to see how they've crept into my husband's thought processes, too. He came home the other night, all excited about these toys he had found to buy for our nieces and nephew for Christmas. I was a bit surprised that he had thought that far ahead and actually purchased toys all on his own, but I was both flabbergasted and proud when he showed me what they were.
For our daughter and oldest niece, he found these awesome tea sets from Green Toys. They are super cute and are made with recycled milk jugs. That's post-consumer waste, folks! From their website:
"We use recycled milk containers as the main ingredient in creating our toys. Yes, the exact plastic milk jugs that you and your family drink from every day. When you finish your milk and toss the container in the recycling bin, these milk containers are collected at your curb by a local recycling company, who then sorts them from all the other types of plastic. Next, the milk containers are reprocessed into super clean fresh plastic. For you plastic geeks, the plastic material we use is called high-density polyethylene (or HDPE). This material is considered one of the safest, cleanest plastics around."
The younger niece and nephew are each getting an "Eco Boombox" by Ecotronic. (Their website seems to be down.) Instead of using batteries, these toys work via toddler power. They wind the handle and are rewarded with lights and sounds. It even comes in very environmentally friendly packaging that reminds me of a cardboard egg crate. (For locals, they can be purchased at The White Elephant for about ten dollars less than the online retail price.)
I am so thrilled, not only that we are giving great eco-friendly toys to the kids we love most, but also that my "green" ways are rubbing off on my darling husband!
Posted by Lorna.Doone on 1. December 2009 06:56
This Thanksgiving holiday, my little family packed up for a trek to Seattle, Washington. Our plan was to visit some friends and see the beautiful home they've been building over the last year. It was, in fact, magnificent. There were soaring ceilings and slate floors and room for a recording studio in the basement.
I had to laugh (silently), however, as our friend proudly showed us the compact fluorescent bulbs he had installed in our guest room. I don't want to disparage my friend at all. He and his wife have worked very hard to be where they are, and unlike most of us, they have actually built their dream home. I am very proud of them.
It was a bit amusing, though, to hear him talk about "saving the earth" while standing in a 5,000+ square foot home with an 8-car garage, heated bathroom floors, and a specially plumbed, self-cleaning cat box. I was thinking less-than-charitable thoughts as he bemoaned the fact that the CFLs took quite a while to light all the way up.
Later, though, I thought about the fact that no matter what lifestyle we choose to live, there is almost always something we can do to lessen our impact on the environment. Sure, my friend's house is a bit extravagant, but that didn't preclude him from thinking about some of those small things. After all, he could have avoided the inconvenience of CFLs by simply not using them at all. Instead, he chose to make them a priority.
If each of us chose to make a few small changes in our lives, the overall impact could be quite significant. Whether you're a poor working parent who chooses to buy organic food or a high-powered business exec who remembers to unplug your cell phone charger at night, there's always something that can be done.