I receive a lot of press releases and story pitches in my day job. Lately, companies seem to be eager to tell me how consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that take a stand, have a conscience, and are good corporate citizens. I want to write back, “Yeah, I know. Let me tell you about my coat.” But, since that would be weird, I’m going to tell you about my coat. Continue reading
Category: Green Issues
I’m Going Solar, So Should You
When this publishes I’ll be on my first real vacation in years. Sure I’ve taken a long weekend here and there to go to Maine or down to the beach, but this time I’m actually getting on a plane (which I hate doing) and going to a place where it’s warmer to swim with Manatees and get a wand at Olivander’s. On the Monday after I return a team of guys will show up at my house between 7 and 9 a.m. to start installing solar panels on my roof. I may be more excited for the panels then I am for the vacation. (HYPERBOLE!)
I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time, but I was paralyzed by the choices. Over the past year I’ve watched as panels appeared on houses all over my neighborhood. Each house seemed to have a different company on the job. Which was best? I couldn’t decide. Then, a couple of months ago, my boyfriend and I were leaving Home Depot which has had salesmen from Solar City stationed by the door for what seems like years. I figure Home Depot probably did its homework on the company, and since Solar City is now part of Tesla, it had to be a reputable company. Still, I usually avoid eye contact and sneak by, not wanting to get the hard sell, but on this day I was feeling it… So I stopped. Continue reading
Happy Thanksgiving: No Hard Feelings
I’ve been listening to this song a lot lately, and have yet to get through it without shedding a tear or two. I’m a sucker for a simple song of gratitude. I hope it brings some joy to your day–which may be spent arguing about politics with your family.
And maybe, when you’re done, give some thought to the folks at Standing Rock. Set aside, for a moment, the problem with the pipeline and what it would mean for the environment on a global scale, not just for the people at Standing Rock. It is a national disgrace that indigenous people-or any people–are still being treated this way by the government. If you can’t get away from work to help support them in person, please consider donating.
My July Garden 2014
It’s July. The garden is starting come into it’s own. That means the tomatoes are ripening, the peppers have been coming in, most of the flowers are in full bloom–though some are past their prime–and the winter squash are big but not yet ripe.
This year I’ve been making a lot of flower arrangements. I don’t always do this, because I worry that cutting blooms might make things look less full. But the flowers are so plentiful this year — some of them have even spread to parts of the yard where flowers were never meant to be — that it seems silly not to bring some of them indoors.
Going Vegetarian, Getting Rid of Sugar, and Becoming Smoothie Obsessed
A few weeks ago I decided to tackle my sugar addiction once and for all. You can blame NPR for reporting the dangers sugar poses to the cardiovascular system, and for someone telling me that Agave nectar is as bad for you as high-fructose corn syrup. There was also the small fact that I was chowing down on donuts all winter like a bear preparing for hibernation. It was a huge problem. My pants were getting a little too tight.
My cousin started the Paleo diet a few months ago, and while the program didn’t seem right for me — that much meat is bad for you, and for the environment — there were some rules that made sense to me. I don’t believe in “diets” because they aren’t sustainable. Eventually you go off of them, and then what? I’ve always been a big proponent of adopting rules that make sense for you in the long-term. But when my cousin told me how she’d cheated on her Paleo diet during the Super Bowl, and woke up the next morning feel so hungover she almost had to call out of work, it convinced me that there were some changes I could make that would have me looking and feeling better.
My July Garden 2013
We should come up with a name for the time of year when gardeners are completely overwhelmed with tomatoes and zucchini… you know, other than “July.” I also had some blueberries this month (thanks to a bush I bought with tons of berries already on it). I can hardly get to some of the plants in the raised beds. The zucchinis look like man-eating plants, even though I haven’t gotten a single yellow squash. The yellow squash were pretty spare last year as well. Anyone have any ideas on what I’m doing wrong? The plants look fine.
Cucumbers, peppers, and herbs are coming in as well. It’s a colorful harvest.
The flowers are all in full bloom, and there is no evidence of colony collapse around my house. The bees are plentiful and come in many varieties. The butternut squash vines are huge and though one of the squash succumbed to blossom end rot, there are more coming and I’m keeping a close eye. Continue reading
Too Many People: Thoughts from a Traffic Jam
I went to Maine over the long weekend to visit my friend and her family. It goes without saying that I had a long drive home plagued with traffic. During this tediously long drive I listened to several of Bill Burr’s podcast, which entailed a lot of rants like this one:
An Economy Built on Crap
A few years ago, when I was living in a tiny apartment, I declared a stuff boycott. Since moving into my house I’ve relaxed the rules a bit, though I still don’t like buying things that seem unnecessary. But every Christmas season I start scouring websites for gift ideas to buy those tricky relatives who don’t want or need anything useful that you could possibly buy them. Sure, they might actually need a new dishwasher but it’s not like you’re really going to buy that for your aunt or uncle…
With my friends I can get away with making donations in their names (Heifer.org is my favorite), but my family is a little Christmas Crazy. For years I’ve been trying to get them to agree to Secret Santa or a grab bag, but so far I haven’t been successful. So…I continue to troll the internet looking for not completely horrible gift ideas for people who don’t need anything. I often make them something and then just go get gift certificates for manicures or what have you.
But as I sort through the incredible amount of crap that’s out there to buy — and I wonder why anyone would buy it — I realize that our entire economy is basically built on people’s willingness to buy stuff they don’t need. Just the other day I was window shopping for a new laptop. Mine is probably at least 4 years old, some of the keys are starting to stick, and I’ve heard some not great noises coming from it but to say I “need” one would be a stretch. Part of me knows I should make the switch before this one actually dies, but a much bigger part of me says, “You don’t need it now!” But as I’ve chatted with friends about this new shopping conundrum of mine it’s clear that they think I should just go ahead and do it already, whether I really need it or not. (There have been some good deals on refurbished MacBooks, so it’s been a real struggle to keep myself from the impulse-buy.) And if it weren’t for people like those friends of mine, buying gadgets they don’t really need, where the heck would our economy be? And more importantly, can we really sustain growth on that kind of mentality?
I think the answer is, obviously, NOOOOOOOO! Continue reading
I Love Autumn, but I Don’t Love Deer
Every year I start to get an urge to write about how much I love autumn. Frankly, I feel stupider for it… Of course I love autumn. I live in New England. I like sweaters and boots and crunchy leaves under my feet. I love walking in the woods without being swarmed by bugs, or having to balance my need to be cool with my need to protect my body parts from things that bite. I love apples and I loooooooove cinnamon… I even kind of like raking. (mostly because my yard isn’t that big, and I don’t have to bag my leaves because the town comes and picks them up).
I don’t always love the garden cleanup — it’s a little depressing and messy — but that’s OK…because this:
My October Garden
Over the weekend I euthanized some tomato plants that looked like they were suffering. I pulled them up by their roots and tossed them into a pile at the back of the yard — and raked up all the tiny little tomatoes that were left behind. The yellow squash are still coming in and a couple of butternut squash are out there dangling on the vine. I think there might even be a lone spaghetti squash.
The tomatillos continue to come in by the bucket load, while the brussel sprouts keep growing. All of this is kind of boring though. But yesterday I went out front and saw one of my echinacea plants covered in bees that seemed barely able to move. Poor little bumble bees…
My August Garden
I’m tempted to sum up this entire post with one picture:
But that would be lazy…
Yes, folks it’s turning to harvest time in the garden. Squash, tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos, peppers… they all abound at this time of year. In my jungle-garden, it’s finding the fruits of my labor that’s the problem! Continue reading
Heating vs. Cooling: A Tale of Two Power Outages
For some reason, Slate seems to be obsessed with air conditioning. I noticed this because I too am obsessed with air conditioning and my dislike of it.
Yesterday I read “Don’t Sweat It” and more amused than anything. I liked the idea of Brooklyn hipsters being forced to sweat it out in their favorite coffee shops. (Though, I have to say, I avoid NYC in the summer because it is such a sweltering hell hole.) Then, today, I saw another article in this series, this one called, “Is Air Conditioning Bad for You?” — but was also about how your politics influence how you perceive the weather. Slate’s preoccupation with air condition got me thinking about my own aversion to that icy contraption.
Even as a teenager, I often argued with my family about my refusal to use air conditioning. My mom would accuse me of putting the dog’s life at risk–because he slept in my room–and I would tell them I didn’t even want one of those contraptions in my window because it just took away the cross breeze. The cold would make my knees hurt, and it always seemed silly to me to crank the A/C and then have to pull the blankets up to my chin.
Even now I have one window unit in my house. It’s in my bedroom, and I’ve only turned it on three or four times all summer — and I don’t think I’ve ever left it on for more than a few hours. Usually I’ll turn it on to cool my room off a bit before bed during heatwaves. Otherwise, I prefer open windows and fans.
But there were, in my opinion, some very obvious points lacking from the “Don’t Sweat It” article. Daniel Engber wrote:
“A certain class of Americans—let’s call them the brrr-geoisie—has come to see the air conditioner as a stand-in for everything that’s wrong with the country and the world…But for the brrr-geoisie, the two extremes of temperature reside in different moral categories. If one end of the thermostat corresponds to a basic human need—for warmth on a winter night—the other reveals a shameful self-indulgence. Heat is good, cool is evil. What’s behind this double standard? Why can’t we learn to stop worrying and love the air conditioner?” Continue reading
My July Garden
Late June and early July is when the garden really comes to life. Tomatoes start to ripen, tiny little squash begin to grow, and the tomatillo “lanterns” are dangling delicately from their branches. Some of the greens and herbs are trying to go to seed, and now it’s time to think about replanting new crops for the fall. I pulled up some lettuce that was past its prime and put down some new cilantro. I dug up some packets of beans and peas to start growing a late crop of those.
Meanwhile, one of my tomato plants is now towering over my head and the butternut squash is dutifully climbing the trellis I set out for it. One of my watermelon plants has flowers on it — as do the eggplant — and apparently some of my strawberries are ever-bearing because I’ve got more coming in.
Now that most of the work is done, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to make from all of this. I also spend a lot of time dipping cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes in hummus. 😉
There’s too much going on out there to tell you about it all, so here are some pictures. Continue reading
A Memorial Day Makeover
Long before I even moved into my house, people started giving me stuff they no longer wanted. For instance, my aunt gave me a couple of end tables I wasn’t particularly fond of but they did the job. But this week I decided it was time to start tackling some of the furniture rehab projects I’ve been planning.
First up on the agenda were the tables. They have some weird nooks and crannies on the legs, so I figured spay painting was the way to go. I turned to a blog post about spray painting furniture on Young House Love for advice. I wasn’t really sure what color I wanted to paint the tables, and there aren’t that many Rustoleum Universal colors to choose from. I knew I wanted to do my patio table one of the hammered finishes, but I didn’t know what I wanted the end tables to look like. I didn’t think glossy would go with my other furniture, but there weren’t many satin options. I wasn’t convinced the metallic options were good for these tables but then I figured, “Hey, it’s only paint!” So my cousin and I picked up some of the “Aged Copper” paint and went to town on the end tables. Continue reading
Monsanto’s Franken-foods and Patent Infringement
After my “Food: Preventative Medicine” post, I just had to weigh in on this story from NPR:
A New York federal court today dismissed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers. The farmers hoped the suit would protect them against infringing on the company’s crop patents in the future.
The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and several other growers and organizations do not use Monsanto seeds. But they were betting that the judge would agree that Monsanto should not be allowed to sue them if pollen from the company’s patented crops happened to drift into their fields.
Well, those farmers were wrong, now weren’t they? Continue reading