Monday, November 2, 2009
Life tip: How do you measure the wellbeing of a population? Economists like to use GDP, with the theory that if more goods are sold, obviously that means that people are richer and therefore better off. Too often that is not the case. Too often GDP goes up and the vast majority of the population becomes poorer and less happy. Shouldn’t wellbeing take into account other items, like health of the people, health of the environment, opportunity, and happiness? Similarly, consider that most people determine much of their status based on their net worth, but that leaves out their health, happiness, efforts toward the Earth, community & loved ones. Please take a few minutes to consider what you feel are important aspects of your wellbeing, and in which areas you need to focus more energy. For information on one such replacement metric Gross National Happiness
“Live simply, so others may simply live.” - Gandhi
Food: Which sounds like a better option, spending money on healthy, delicious, flavorful food now or spending money on health issues later? Organics & non-processed foods may cost a little more in the short term, but when taking into account that you’ll likely feel better, it’s well worth it. Also, by connecting to local, organic farmers you can make a huge difference in keeping your local economy healthy, your local environment healthy, and building a stronger community. Can’t you just taste the freshness? And when you’re preparing a delicious, healthy repast, why not have kith & kin over to make it not just a meal, but a gathering, a community, a place of love. Considering that food gives us nutrients, energy, flavor, variety, why not return it to its true place of importance in our lives. Consider Slow Food
“If I have to choose, my son said, I’ll take them all. That’s no choice, I said. Obviously, he said, you’ve forgotten how choice works.” – Traveling Light
Cell phones: Have you ever considered what policies & social impacts your cell phone carrier stands for? If your carrier is AT&T, Verizon, or any of the other big names, then they likely stand for conservative practices and the almighty dollar. If that’s not in line with your values, then you might want to try Credo (www.credomobile.com). Credo is a phone company with values; one that cares about and respects the Earth and the fabric of community. They donate a portion of their revenues to healthy & progressive organizations and push politicians towards siding for the people & the planet. Credo is backed by Sierra Club and now by me; in fact I just changed my carrier. Will you join me? And yes, they’ll buy out your old contract. And even if you don’t want to change carriers, you can still sign up on their website to receive emails about political actions & petitions.
Deodorant: Want to put fewer chemicals on your body? Want to save a few bucks? Why not make your own deodorant? For a super simple recipe, mix 1.5 tbsp corn starch, 1.5 tbsp baking soda, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and 10 drops of essential oil of your choice in a Tupperware. To apply, just use your fingers or you can pour it into an old deodorant stick container. Play with the recipe until you get the scent and consistency that you want.
Respect yourself. Respect others. Respect Mother Earth.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Good Info: Have you ever considered your food? Where does it come from? Who grows it? Is it good for your body? For your economy? For your planet? If you get the chance, please watch ‘The World According to Monsanto’ (can be seen for free on www.YouTube.com), ‘King Corn’, and ‘Food Inc.’
Life tip: Have you ever felt regret for a purchase due to its effects on the lives of the people who produced the goods? People who live in developing nations and how your purchases & lifestyles affect their lands & quality of life? If you are in this boat (I know I am), then it’s time to learn about ‘Fair trade’ vs. ‘Free trade’. Fair trade is an economic system that helps the people & lands in developing countries by giving them a fair wage for their goods & services, allowing them & their communities to escape the cycle of poverty. Free trade on the other hand, is simply where trade barriers are removed, thereby allowing the market to transact as it sees fit. While free trade sounds good in theory, more often than not, it is instead used as a means of exploitation of poor nations by those nations with greater means. Additionally, free trade is often coupled with government subsidies which allow wealthy nations to dump cheap products in other nations, thereby destroying the economies of poorer nations (e.g. the US dumping cheap subsidized corn in Mexico due to NAFTA has decimated the Mexican corn producers NAFTA Corn). For a better way to treat the people who produce our goods & info on fair trade, check out Fair Trade
“Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.” – Traveling Light
Green tip: Is your land & lawn healthy for you and the environment or just nice looking? Can’t it be both? Does your water use for your lawn make your wallet thinner? Consider whether you have trees buffering the sun & wind from your house, thereby lowering your energy bills. For some simple tips, check out Low Impact Landscaping.
“Today is a glorious day, to be.” – Ross Kelman
Book recommendation: For an alternative, more truthful view of history & a critical look at our government and society, please read A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn. Definitely a must read.
Reduce, reuse, rejoice!
Friday, September 18, 2009
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” ~ Native American Proverb
Green tip: Have you ever considered what your money goes to? When you invest in a mutual fund the dollars go towards purchasing shares in companies, but which companies are the shares in & what do the companies create and support. Do the companies manufacture weapons? Do they have operations in nations where the regime in control represses the masses? Do they pay their workers well? Do they cause harm to the environment? Do the companies have similar morals & values to your own? Consider Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) where you put your money where your mouth is. Imagine getting not just a return on your investment, but also a positive return on society and the planet. For more information, check out Social Investing 1 or Social Investing 2
“Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc., and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons.” - Douglas Adams
Life tip: What makes your life full? What takes your breath away? Is it nature? Children? Adventure? No matter what it is, do it. Do it now.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir
Good Info: Not sure how to reduce your carbon footprint or whether it’s better to offset your footprint before or after reducing your footprint. If so, check these out: Carbon Footprint 1 and Carbon Footprint 2
“All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause -- there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once.” - Joss Whedon
Book recommendation: To take a critical look at the government & media, check out: The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them by Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now! fame)
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Reduce, reuse, rejoice!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Green tip # 2: Save money (by saving electricity)! Consider your appliances & electronics and how much energy they really use. For some good quick info, check out: Vampire Energy
“Aspire to inspire before you expire” - anonymous
Life tip: not only should we do “less bad” (e.g. drive a prius instead of a hummer), but we should also strive to do “more good” (e.g. plant a tree, donate to a charity, grow a garden, inspire someone, make someone laugh or feel loved)
Amazing website: Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) – find great charities and support the greater good. I narrowed my search to 9 wonderful organizations (in no particular order):
- Amazon Conservation Team
- EcoLogic Development Fund
- The Pachamama Alliance
- Water for People
- Trees for Life
- Grameen Foundation USA
- FINCA International
- Root Capital
And just this week I donated to the Amazon Conservation Team & The Pachamama Alliance
Please join me in being thankful for the fortunate lives we lead and giving to those who are not as blessed.
“I can imagine it working out perfectly, I said. I can’t she said & I said no wonder you’re so stressed” – Traveling Light
Book recommendation: Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz – consider why you’re happy or sad with your life and decisions that you’ve made and learn to always choose happiness!
“The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snugly.” - Ogden Nash
Interesting video about decisions:
“These individuals have riches just as we say that we ‘have a fever’, when really the fever has us.” - Seneca
Reduce, reuse, rejoice!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Life tip: Be conscious! Practice making fewer, but better informed decisions. Stay in the present. Try to live a more quality, less quantity life. Think simplicity. Consider what will actually improve your life versus what mass media tells you is a necessity. How do you do this? Start with thinking about every decision you make, instead of just going by habit. A next step could be meditation (Meditation), which brings many benefits to your concentration, health & outlook. From there, the sky & your happiness are the limit!
“Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts.” – Anthony Robbins
Amazing website: Learn about anything & everything from experts at www.ted.com. And be careful, this is addictive.
Green tip: Packaging – why do we purchase products that only need to be in packaging for a few weeks to a few months (from their creation until they reach the consumer), when the packaging they’re in will last for decades, if not generations? Try purchasing only products that have minimal, or preferably no, packaging.
Book recommendation: Remove the concept of disposable and you go from a cradle-to-grave concept to ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ – McDonough & Braungart
“A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Interesting statistics on trees:
The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day
If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%
A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000
One hundred trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants per year
Mmmmm recipe: Spinach & Scallops… delicious, or to pass on a recent quote I heard “it tastes like happiness” Spinach & Scallops
Knowledge is “trading magic for fact, no trade backs” – Pearl Jam
Remember to SHINE!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Life tip: Consider what you deem of importance. Some items may immediately come to mind, but note that there’re likely other items that you haven’t considered. How do you spend your time? Do you watch a lot of sports? Preach environmental benefits? Read celebrity magazines? Volunteer? Remember that every dollar you spend and every minute of your life devoted to something is a vote for that and for furthering its causes and importance.
Amazing website: Ever wondered the full impact of purchasing goods, check out Story of Stuff and watch the 20 minute video, there are lots of other good resources on it too!
Green tip: Use your legs! Try walking or biking for all trips of less than 1 or 2 miles (and remember to bring your re-usable bags). You’ll save gas, as well as wear & tear on the car, which means more money in your wallet. Also, look into car-sharing or using public transit more often.
“Restructuring the transportation system also has a huge potential for reducing materials use. For example, improving urban transit means that one 12-ton bus can replace 60 cars weighing 1.5 tons each, or a total of 90 tons, reducing material use by 87 percent. Every time someone decides to replace a car with a bike, material use is reduced by 99 percent.” – Plan B 3.0 by Lester Brown
Interesting statistic: 1.5 million - Number of acres of forests in Colorado destroyed by the pine beetle, which is better able to survive warmer winters and is wrecking havoc in America's western forests.
Book recommendation: For an alternate perspective on history, try Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Note that it’s written as fiction, but that it has a very interesting philosophy throughout it. Definitely worth a read!
Mmmmm recipe: Olive oil! Yes, I do get excited about it. Olive oil has a ton of health benefits (Olive Oil) and is delicious. Always get extra virgin & try it on everything. It does have a fairly low flash point, which can cause a burned flavor when used to cook, so don’t use with high heat. For a delicious shrimp & garlic recipe, check out: Shrimp & Garlic
“Cause I can't make you happy unless I am” – Ziggy Marley
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
“Myth: we have to save the earth. Frankly, the earth doesn't need to be saved. Nature doesn't give a hoot if human beings are here or not. The planet has survived cataclysmic and catastrophic changes for millions upon millions of years. Over that time, it is widely believed, 99 percent of all species have come and gone while the planet has remained. Saving the environment is really about saving our environment - making it safe for ourselves, our children, and the world as we know it. If more people saw the issue as one of saving themselves, we would probably see increased motivation and commitment to actually do so.” - Robert M. Lilienfeld and William L. Rathje
Amazing website: Next Monday is Climate Action Day, i.e. a day to get the attention of our elected leaders to get them to see how serious we are. For more info, check out Climate Action Day
Green tip: Check out this handy paper products purchasing guide to help you make some sustainable decisions Paper Products
Interesting statistic: $427 million - Amount spent by the oil and coal industries in the first six months of 2008 in political contributions, lobbying expenditures and advertising to oppose climate action.
Book recommendation: As a humanist, I’m realizing just how big a task we have in front of us and how a systemic change is needed. For those readers out there, please check out Plan B 3.0 and Hot, Flat, and Crowded from your local library and join me in making a difference.
Whenever approaching a problem keep this nugget in mind from Ken Boulding: “The definition of suboptimal: Doing the best possible job at something that should not be done at all.”
Life tip: Keep your brain healthy & happy. Check out these 50 items for staying sharp for years: Brain Health
Mmmmm recipe: Bean & kale soup; sounds delicious and warm: Bean & Kale. Find more winter recipes at Winter Recipes
Listen. Live. Learn. Love. Laugh.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Green tip: Home Energy Audits – since my last writing I’ve had the opportunity to follow an energy auditor as he walked a house, and needless to say it was very enlightening and worthwhile. While everyone may not be able to afford a professional audit ($200 – 400), there are certain things you can do to improve your home efficiency and save money:
Insulate – check your attic and if there is less than 12 - 15” of insulation, you need more (goal is R50). Feel your exterior walls and see if they’re considerably colder (during winter) than the air in the room and check behind some electrical outlets for insulation, if you don’t find any insulation and the walls are cold, then get some insulation blown into them too (goal is R11 or better). You can insulate an entire house for just a couple thousand dollars and there are state and federal rebates to help you out. Expect to make your money back in 5 – 9 years and to be much more comfortable in the meantime.
Fix air leaks – on a windy day, slowly move a lit stick of incense around your windows and doors and watch for where the smoke does weird things, this’ll help you find your air leaks, next step is to caulk and weather-strip to close them up
Check your hot water heater – if it has a tank and is over 10 - 12 years old, you should probably get it replaced or at least check it regularly (monthly) for rust (look for rust flakes under the flame bowl or rusty water stains on the floor) – when purchasing a new one, consider going with an on demand hot water heater (tank less) which costs about 3 or 4 times as much, but will last twice as long and be twice as efficient, not too mention that you don’t need to ever worry about running out of hot water
Check your furnace – get it professionally serviced every 2 - 3 years and change the air filter every couple months during winter, also ensure your duct work is sealed very tightly
Lighting efficiency – use CFL’s instead of old incandescents, preferably ones with less than 3mg of mercury
Refrigerator (most energy consuming of appliances) – replace your fridge if it’s over 15 - 20 years old
Additionally, for those in the Denver area, I’d like to recommend the energy auditor I used, George Scott (720 979 4960), and let you know that he’ll give you a $25 discount off of his normal $225 price if you mention my name. As he’s the only energy auditor I’ve observed, I’m unable to make a judgment as to his effectiveness vs. other auditors, but I can promise you that he’ll do a good job and the money will have been well spent. And in case you were wondering, no, I’m not getting a kick back.
And just as many of you are excited about tomorrow’s inauguration, so too am I. May the next four years bring a better economy, a greener economy, more peace, more compassion, more hope, more truth, and more happiness for all of us, and for the world.
“Society is like a stew. If you don't keep it stirred up you get a lot of scum on the top.” - Edward Abbey
Life tip: Stay positive. Many people are going through tough times, be it economically, health-wise, love-wise, but remember that tomorrow the sun shall rise anew and that your life is only as bright as your outlook.
“For money you can have everything it is said. No, that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honor; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money.” - Arne Garborg
Wishing you beauty & bliss
Monday, January 5, 2009
Green tip: Want some soft, long lasting, sound-dampening, easy to clean, & environmentally friendly flooring, check out cork, but ensure that it has no PVC, formaldehyde or VOC’s. You could also save some European ecology: Cork
“Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.” - Øystein Dahle
Life tip: Finding direction for the new year. Instead of setting goals or resolutions, try setting a theme or direction for the year first. Take some time and reflect on your life and determine what are the one or two overarching items that would take your life in the direction your heart of hearts desires. For me, it’s working towards becoming financially free (in order to get out of the rat race) and creating a community (the quality of life is in its relationships). Once this is done, then figure out a handful of action items that will help you achieve your theme. On my docket for the year is selling my house, creating an environmental one-stop-shop website, starting a community garden with my friends, and starting a gathering of folks to discuss important topics (e.g. politics, environment, ethics), teach each other skills (e.g. guitar, knitting) & enjoy life.
“The United States is like a giant boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.” - Sir Edward Grey
Interesting website/article: Be warm this winter and save some dollars, shrink wrap your windows ShrinkWrapWindows. I did 1.5 rooms yesterday morning in an hour or two (including some learning time, e.g. don’t overlap the double sided tape at the corners & have a helper when putting up the plastic on large windows)
“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust
Yummy recipe: Sesame Asparagus, mmmmm. SesameAsparagus Check out the surprisingly large number of health benefits at Asparagus
Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to an organization making a difference, Solidarity Clothing, a fair trade Illinois-based organization partnering with Bolivian sewing cooperatives. If you’re interested in some environmentally & societally-conscious clothing check out http://www.solidarityclothing.org/. You can also learn a bit more at http://solidarityclothing.blogspot.com/. Happy shopping!