Monday, April 28, 2008

Affordably Green

We went to the Denton Arts & Jazz Fest Saturday. Holy Moly! It was packed. With just the one bridge in Quakertown Park (aka Civic Center Park), traveling from one side to the other took waaay too long. Now I remember why we usually go on Sunday morning. We didn't even get a chance to check out the art booths, so no new pottery for me. I guess I don't really need it anyway.

We did get a chance to visit with the folks from the Denton Affordable Housing Corporation. They were there promoting Nevada Court, a community of "green" homes. I've heard of it before, the same guy who helped build the Zero Energy home in Frisco is in charge of this project. However, they had pictures and plans and PRICES! How often do you see that? Anyway, the prices are pretty decent. One of the more expensive ones was only $142,000 for almost 1400sf. And they guarantee the monthly heating/cooling bills to be less than $60 a month. It looked like there were only a few of the houses up for sale and, depending on your income level, you may be eligible for first-time home buyer assistance.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Giving away toxic products

I've dealt with this quandary many times in my journey to become more 'green'. How do you deal with the guilt of giving things to other people that you don't want your own family to touch? Over at Enviromom Heather asks the same questions. After a few days thinking the issue over, I realized that it's not going to a landfill and this will prevent that person from buying the same product new. This will decrease demand(a little bit) and maybe they'll stop producing it at all - if a whole bunch of people do this, it's possible!
Also, I keep in mind that some people just don't believe or care. Many times when I'm getting rid of something I have friends or family ask for it, knowing full well the reason I'm getting rid of it.

Keeping all this in mind makes it easier to donate those items. How do you guys deal with this issue?

Earth Day

So, what did YOU do to celebrate Earth Day? I took the day off… really. I took the littlest man to the Dallas Arboretum for Tiny Tot Tuesday. They have crafts and face painting, music and games. We had a great time. I really enjoyed spending time with him just having fun, and what better day to be out in nature than today? Although, I must say for such a green space it's not a very 'green' place. No recycling anywhere! So, we just kept our water bottles and recycled them at home. No I didn't plan enough in advance to be able to actually take our own good-for-you food – oh well, maybe next year.

On another note: How many paper towels do you use in a day? Before we made the switch to dish towels, we easily used 10. We now use ZERO and haven't bought any in a couple of months. Shinerman isn't completely on the bandwagon for this, but he doesn't do the shopping so he's kind of at my mercy whaahaahaa… I've got a friend working on some napkins so we'll start using those instead of the dish towel. That should make him feel better.

For those of you still using paper towels, here is an article you should read. It's a product test of different eco-friendly paper towels.

I'll save you the suspense…365 Everyday Value (from Whole Foods and cheaper than Bounty) and Seventh Generation Natural (you can get this almost anywhere) won the day.

So, maybe the thing you can do today is use more earth-friendly towels? Here's to you if you make that choice!!

Getto-Fabulous AND eco-friendly

Shinerman decided that, although we don't have a clothes line yet, he would dry the clothes outside today. I came home to see clothes strewn around the deck and patio furniture. He was very proud of himself. And they did dry a lot faster than I thought they would, so they weren't out there for too long – not that the neighbors would care – they're pretty ghetto-fab themselves! BTW – I think that the guy a few streets down is building a chicken coop!! I'm not that ballsy, but maybe we'll get some fresh eggs out of the deal.

Speaking of fresh eggs, when we went to get our co-op delivery Saturday, the host had fresh eggs! For FREE!! Have you ever seen a blue egg? I had not, but I can't wait to eat it…yummy! This is our second co-op delivery. It's all organic produce, you don't get to choose what you get, but it's been pretty good so far. I had cauliflower for the first time last week. It was ok, the littlest man and Shinerman both loved it. I didn't, but liked it enough to eat it again. Last time I roasted it like I do our broccoli, not sure what I'll do this time. I'm really hoping that all this produce will force me to up my veggie intake. The co-op also does dry goods, so I will try that out and let you know how that goes. We have one more delivery on our trial membership. I think we'll keep it up. I really wish I could get more local food, but all the CSAs were full and the Denton farmers market doesn't start until June. June! Ugh…

We are thinking about getting a deep freezer. We'll have to get rid of the beer fridge, though – I know I know!!! But this way we could buy a bunch of local beef and also freeze the bounty that this summer will bring so we could have it for the winter without having the eco-guilt from BPA-lined canned/fresh flown in from who-knows-where. We'll have to see.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Art and Pigs

No, these don't have too much in common, except that I've got both on my mind.

We went to the Main St. Ft. Worth Arts Festival Sunday. We had a great time; saw some really good art, ate some pretty good (although not especially good for you) food, then listened to some fun music that had the man and I dancing. I went to the festival's website to see what sort of "greenness" they were offering. They had the two items below:

  • DO recycle your cans and bottles at the Festival, and note all of our cups and eating utensils are biodegradable, and will break down after only 45 days in the landfill!
  • DO consider alternative transportation, and do your part for the environment. Ride the TRE (late night service available on Friday and Saturday all the way back to Dallas), the "T", and ride your bike and park it in our fully-staffed Bike Corral, supported by Bikes, Inc. and the Fort Worth Bicycle Association.

I didn't notice that the cups and eating utensils were especially different, but I'm sure that's the point. I did see trash cans and recycling bins all over the place and since everything was exceptionally clean, it seems they were both being used. I did not see anyone putting their cans and bottles in the trash as you do sometimes at these sorts of events. The recycling bins had lids on them and I remember reading, I don't remember where, that putting lids on the recycling bins helps people think twice about what they put in there and distinguishes that bin from the trash can. And, of course, from our location taking the train or riding bikes is out of the question, maybe someday.

As for any purchases, are you kidding!? We can't afford that. Maybe next weekend at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. You know we won't be missing that one.

And now the pigs…I was reading an article from from last year – you know the internet is like a rabbit's hole. It was about these massive pig farms, or confinement farms. The pigs are kept in a building by the hundreds of thousands, just bunched in there in cages until they're big enough to slaughter. Now, I'm no PETA person and I love me some bacon…mmm…bacon…But they keep them in there and where does all the shit go? Into cesspools, either out in the open or under the buildings. The industry calls them "lagoons", but I know I don't want to be swimming around in that! Then, I guess when it runneth over; they liquefy the feces and spray it onto the fields…blechh. You know what happens to it then, it gets in our food and ground water and on and on and on it goes – so depressing. Did you know the average American eats 6 pigs in a lifetime? I don't think that's all that much, but if they're all raised like this – not a good combination.

So I was thinking about that yummy bacon I bought…oh, please say it ain't so. And it isn't!! I bought some nitrate-free bacon from Applegate Farms at Sprouts, I'm sure you can find it other places, too. That's just where I happened to be. I looked at the package and it said "Certified Humane" Humane, you say? Yes, apparently Applegate Farms pigs are allowed to engage in their natural behaviors with ample space and no hormones. Sounds humane, indeed. If you go to the Applegate Farms website, you can even look at where your food comes from and what precautions they take to make sure it is all nice and safe, and not cesspool-y. Currently they only have this info on poultry, with swine and beef to come.

Enjoy your bacon! I know I will be!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hazardous Waste

Don't forget the Hazardous Waste Disposal tomorrow in Corinth - for Residents only...

Baby’s got a new pair a' shoes

So, another milestone for me, albeit not a necessarily green one…I bought shoes online. I haven't bought shoes online because I'm always afraid they won't fit and I'm such a procrastinator I wouldn't return them. But, I ordered some the other day, I didn't allow any time to question myself - just Did IT...

and they came today and these ARE green. Actually, they're black, made out of old tires, hemp, organic cotton, and are incredibly cute. See pic above from the Simple shoes site. I tried them on this morning and they fit! Yeah!

Now for the old shoes...more on that later...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Green checks

So, we don't use checks very often here at Green H. Most everything is done online or with the credit or debit card. But, we do have the occasional bill that has to be paid with a check. I recently had to order new checks. Usually I just go to the company my bank endorses and click, I'm done. This time I looked to see if there was any modicum of greenness – nope. So, I decided if I was going to order I'd order one of the charity themes. I made my choice and was checking out and saw they had these little sayings you could get. I liked the 'Save the Planet' one. Just before I completed my order I stopped…

How bad would it look to say 'Save the Planet' on these checks that only get used once, are not made form recycled anything, and use ink made from petroleum?! I just couldn't do it.

So I did some looking around and found Check Gallery. They use 20% post-consumer fiber "with biodegradable, vegetable-based inks, free of toxic solvents and residues." Not only that, but it was way cheaper (more than 50%) than the other company. So, I went with them, got a really cute Please Recycle logo, and no guilt.

All in a day's work!

BPA leaking from plastic

According to an article from the New York Times today, Canada is looking into labeling bisphenol-a (BPA) toxic. This is the ingredient in many of our water bottles and food containers. I've heard of this before and since I wasn't using the man's bottles anymore anyway, decided to get rid of them. But it's baby-having season around here and time to give gifts. I usually just buy off the registry, you know so they get what they want, but this time I went out on a limb and found some really cute bottles from Green to Grow . I don't know if they could be any cuter. I went with a gift set that included an organic cotton canvas tote bag. The tote bag almost didn't make it to the new mom – I wanted it!

Shinerman and I have been on a general 'remove the unnecessary plastic' path. Using glass cups, instead of the free plastic ones (although it doesn't look like those are too worrisome) you get when you go out to eat. Then, as the plastic cups wear out, we recycle them. I do keep the little containers from the sour cream and things like that, though. You've got to reuse what you can.

That's not the only place to worry about, don't forget your canned food. Yep, those cans are lined with BPA. We eat a lot of beans and I am not looking forward to having to cook those from scratch – I have a fulltime job, people! Anyway, here is a good source to get some questions answered.

For specific information on baby products, visit Z Recommends. They are a wonderful source and they'll even send a text to your mobile phone with a recommendation on a specific company. Z Recommends: The Z Report on BPA In Children's Feeding Products, Third Edition

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Electricity comes from windmills, mommy

That's what the littlest man said tonight after bath when we turned out the bathroom light. It made me so proud; it also made feel a tad guilty. Because ours doesn't. It's my own fault, every time we see a windmill – even the decorative ones – I talk about how you can use windmills to create electricity. He's only two, almost three, so he doesn't know that we don't have green power. But, I do and so I've got to move that one up on the To Do list here at the Green H household.

We went to the Live Green Expo in Plano this weekend – it was PACKED. It was a windy day so there were tons of kids (let's be honest – they were really just Dads) flying kites. They had a bunch of cars you could test drive; including the Mercedes SMART car – not for me, but I think we have my mother-in-law convinced (her major worry was the lack of air conditioning – please, it's a Mercedes!). I, however, am still in love with the Prius, but Shinerman was looking at the Saturn – so, we'll see.

We also met an amazing woman, Sara, and her daughter Bella (we didn't get to meet her husband, Matt). They are touring the US in an RV powered by veggie oil. She welcomed the littlest man and me on board with open arms; they've done a great job fixing it up using sustainable materials, sunflower countertops people!! She's all about less materialism and loving what you have. Please visit the website and if you're in San Antonio, that's where they'll be this weekend.

I didn't make it to any of the presentations, but I'll be talking about some of the things I did see in the next post.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Live Green Expo

April is filled to the brim with great eco-friendly activities, Earth Day is coming up. Our calendar is already full at the Green H household, and I'm sure yours is as well. (Did everyone have a secret meeting and decide March and April was the best time to have a kid?) Anyway, we will be making time to go to the Live Green Expo in Plano tomorrow. I heard about it in a 'commercial' on NPR and raced home to look it up online – here's your link so you don't have to:

You wouldn't think it, at least those who don't live in Plano (me included) wouldn't, but they have some pretty progressive views for the area. They even have a Household Chemical Reuse Center, just for Plano residents. Mmmhmm, that's right – who'd a thought? Go Plano!

The Expo looks crazy neat; they have a bunch of presentations, music, a kid's area and even an Eco-Fashion Show. Anyway, we'll be there after music class and hope you can make it, too! If not, I'll let you know how it went and what I learned.

Other upcoming events for your planning pleasure:

Garland Goes Green

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day

Spring Cleaning, 2008

Why I’m here

I've decided to start a blog to track my steps on the path to a greener life; this includes the family as well. I've already made many steps, but I'd like to be able to talk about them without people giving me a funny look (yes, you the guy at the sandwich shop who didn't know what to do with the reusable bag I gave you upon checkout…put my sandwiches and chips in there, please! Thank you). My focus will be mainly on things going on in my neck of the woods (North Texas), but of course we have to think globally, so I know we'll be talking about the rest of the world.

Thanks and I hope you're enjoying your path as much as we are!