Friday, March 28, 2008

Lovely Low-Carbon Wrapping Paper

Lovely Lokta is naturally died paper made from the Daphne or Lokta bushes that grow in the Himalayan mountains. And it IS lovely . . . but it also is made quite sustainably - no trees were harmed in the production of this paper!

Here's what makes it so groovy and green:

Lokta paper is handmade and sun dried, so there are no machines involved;

The bush grows quickly and actually needs agressive pruning or it would die, but the bush also helps stabalize the soil and protect rural Nepalese villages from mudslides during the monsoon season;

The bush grows in the shade, so commercial growth does NOT require any forests be cut down;

The bush grows happily without the use of chemicals;

The paper is colored with either azo-free dyes or organic dyes;

Sweet Organics & Naturals developed this paper and sent me some samples along with some very cool organically dyed twine. The paper is not only nice, it has a great consistency and appears to be strong without being too stiff or wierd. I'm definitely going to use it for all those great eco-gifts for all the showers and weddings coming up this Sping and Summer!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Green TerraScope - from 3/21 - 3/28

by Jean Brookwell

The Green TerraScope is a refreshing twist on the traditional horoscope - an earth-based system using a combination of tarot, sun signs, and intuition.
As Jean says, "A green mind is a loving mind."

Aries (March 21 - April 19)
With the arrival of Spring, you experience a fresh, green mind. You will no longer be a helpless victim of pollution in your thoughts, or in your surroundings. You decide to change and improve by adopting positive thoughts and adding new green actions each day. A green mind is a loving mind.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20)
Cutting your ties to poisonous thoughts is as important as ridding your home and work place of chemical cleaning products. Your health and prosperity depend upon it! By purifying your thoughts from negativity, you contribute to the greening of both your mind and by extension your finances.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20)
The green you are saving this Spring is your money. Watch your thoughts and emotions when finances are mentioned. It takes great strength to ignore outside negativity and fiscal fears. As you begin to pay attention to strengths and ignore polluting negativity. A loving mind will emerge to benefit all.

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)
Eckhart Tolle stated that, "Nonresistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe." How green is that!? You don't have to "do" anything; just observe your resistance. Think of the personal energy you will save in not battling the present, past, or future. A green mind is a loving mind.

Leo (July 23 - August 22)
The Leo old-fashioned adage, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without," is re-emerging as green power! As you employ this in your life, you become aware of your personal power, you are freed to go beyond possessions. You are revitalized by what you ARE.

Virgo (August 23 - September 22)
This is the time for you to put your green ideas into action. There is the strong probability of reaping financial gain from one or more of these ideas. Go within and use whatever you find to "turn straw into gold." It is green to save money and make money.

Libra (September 23 - October 22)
The greening of your life can be easily made with small adjustments. You are already living a light Spring green existence. You can increase this to a deep Summer green by taking small incremental steps. As you do this, you will find that your overall satisfaction with life will increase.

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21)
As you sit amidst plenty and abundance, you fear it all slipping away. Abundance is an idea or concept first and then it becomes an actuality. It has been said that once the consciousness for abundance is established, it can always re-establish itself. You cannot lose by going green and Earth gains.

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21)
Gain in every area of your life is the theme this year. You will be successful if you go in the direction that YOU want to go in. This is not the time for you to surrender to the urgings of others. It is green to trust your inner promptings.

(December 22 - January 19)
It takes courage and perseverance to remain committed in the face of slow improvement and frequent disappointments. Remember the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race. There are times in both life and in the efforts to save the Earth that we have to be willing to work unceasingly, awaiting future results.

Aquarius (January 20 - February 18)
Change is what is happening because it is constant and inevitable. Making peace with change is the vital step to learning to love under all circumstances. The first small steps towards greening your life lead to love of yourself and your community. A green mind is a loving mind.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20)
Stop worrying about what DOESN'T work. You do what you do. Sometimes you look for quick results and failing to see them, drop or change your actions. Results are often the last thing to appear. Visible material change is the result of many, many small actions. Green means GO, continue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sleepless Stumble - Seriously Living in the Earth

I was having a sleepless night last week. After giving up the struggle for sleep at 3am, I came downstairs and decided I would sign up and try I was quite skeptical because it involved installing something new on my explorer toolbar. Be it the excessive quietude or the lack of anything on the 300+ channels on the tube, I went for it.


Got really swept away and found some truly interesting things. Of course, I stumbled upon our own sites.

Here's my favorite stumble this week:

THIS is my hobbit DREAM house. I have always absolutely adored the idea of living in an earthen house like this! It must be the pixie in me . . .

This low-impact woodland home was built by a family in Wales, UK.

"It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000." (You'll have to do the conversion. Can't deal with math right now.)

A few features include:

Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
Water by gravity from nearby spring
Compost toilet
Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.

I highly recommend you find your way to the website for this low-impact, earthen home to see actual plans, more pictures, and some wonderful descriptions of the process.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Good Green Read

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to
learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Douglas Adams

not a new book, but a classic in terms of relevance and delivery. i am still grieving the death of this oddly colorful and weirdly hysterically funny author. i resisted the last chance to see, a book douglas adams co-authored with mark carwardine - i couldn't imagine how he could handle the dreadfully serious topic of what is happening to some of the rarer species on the planet.

in reading this book, i came to realize that my greatest humorist inspiration was also an environmental activist.

mr. adams managed to convey an important story in that fabulous voice of his that inspires moments of hysterical laughter followed by a stunning desire to cry. he and mark stumble through this important piece of environmental journalism to help illustrate the sometimes catastrophic effects of the human impact on the natural world.

how could you not love a book that references bob dylan in a chapter title - 'leopard-skin pill box hat pg. 51'!

read it!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pizza with Purpose

a couple of years ago, i had the pleasure of meeting george schenk, founder of american flatbread bakery. he is a man with a mission beyond making the most delicious organic, natural pizza. he handed me a handmade cookbook that was hand bound and done in handwriting - his own.

try one of the recipes, which we published in the mag, now found on our website! even the packaging has a story to tell - about artisan bread making, about organic goodness, and about the benefit of supporting your local farmers!

george is an avid localvore (eats locally produced food) and back in 2006 produced a wonderful act of civil disobedience through his chicken event.

their home-base is in the beautiful mad river valley in vermont, but they have hearth-side dining in three locations in vermont, one in virginia, and in order to be sustainable about their production, which is booming, they've opened a bakery in california to accommodate the stores that carry the pizzas in the west.

you can find the pizzas in many stores - go find one!

:) meg

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sustainable Government?

is it something in the water? seriously, this region is having trouble sustaining governors! NY, NJ & CT don't seem to be able to hold on to governors, and they go out in such glorious public humiliation - governor elliot spitzer being the most recent.
while his wife silda looks utterly miserable, and who wouldn't be in her pumps, it amazes me that there is already a feminist backlash against her for standing by her man. i can't say i would be so gracious. my man would be doing his resignation speech with black eyes at the very least, but i can say that it is an intensely private and intimate issue gone wildly public. i feel terrible for their kids. no doubt beyond his painfully public shame that will cast a nasty pall over them all for a while, there are other legal considerations that may impact the entire family and cause new york's former first lady to show up near the podium on such an odious occasion.

there is fodder for late night monologues for months. i'm already sick of hearing men ponder what one gets for the amount of money mr. spitzer paid for his call girls. if another guy says, "i'm client #10" i'm going to apply a swift boot to their tantalized private thoughts where they live.

okay, all bad metaphors aside, who is running the state? all these escapades are not only costly in terms of ineffective way of operating a state, but also in terms of credibility and the last shred of the public's faith in our current form of governance.

it will take a team of therapists to figure out why mr. spitzer, the butt-kicker of wall street, man of seemingly strident ethics, gave way not only to some questionable moral behavior (perhaps a sexual addiction?), but blatantly illegal activity! he was the head law enforcement official before being governer. he probably broke several laws - ones he helped to enforce. what's up with that? a friend surmised today that spitzer probably wanted to get caught and it is hard to believe otherwise when you really think about it.

i guess lt. gov. david paterson will be sprung into the governor's place in albany. i thought spitzer had some good green-leaning policies and i was impressed with the enthusiasm he displayed at the farm aid event that took place in ny at randall's island last year. i don't live in ny, but i was kind of hopeful on new yorker's behalf having heard him at the press conference prior to the event. he seemed quite committed to helping bring together the farmer's of ny state and the consumers of new york city through the development and support of additional farmer's markets and other farmer-friendly programs.

hope gov paterson will think and act along the same lines!


Monday, March 10, 2008

What's in The Water??????

are you taking drugs every time you drink water from the faucet?

okay, not ilicit drugs, but those of the pharmaceutical variety.

i've been aware of this issue for a couple of years. when i first heard about it, it made perfect sense that it could be happening. scary to consider what else is getting into our drinking water that we just don't think about!

we filter our drinking water, but i've always wanted to get a good reverse osmosis household system to clean up the shower water, because our skin, being the largest organ and all, does absorb a lot of whatever is in the water. yuck.

living in the pharmaceutical capital of the world - NJ of course - i feel in far too intimate contact with this stuff anyway! i'm not a fanatical anti-pharma person, but i do feel that while they absolutely save lives and can be extremely helpful at times, they are being far too widely marketed and developed for purposes beyond what i consider to be safe. of course, this is purely opinion on my part.

the AP story that came out today only underscores the concern that left unchecked, even lifesaving chemicals can become a problem!

it really goes to an even broader issue of needing to be vigilantly aware of what we are doing to our environment. it is fairly obvious that our culture has gotten way out of natural aligment by focusing so heavily on material gain, growth, capitalism. call it what you will, but we seem to forget that for every action, there is a reaction and the ripple just doesn't end - in this case at the toilet.

if our soil is destroyed by pesticide chemicals, and our water becomes undrinkable, and our air continues to get more polluted - folks, these are the basics - how do we survive?

some say the bees are the canary in a coal mine of our eco-system. while these minute amounts of drugs may not have immediate or noticeable effects on humans (that we are aware of - YET), what might they do to the tiniest of creatures in our already fragile eco-system?

so, do i need to boil my water now? would that even help?

some scary thoughts for a monday.

please let us know what you think!


if you haven't taken our little poll, please do it!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What Does Sustainable Mean to You?

this is an ongoing discussion with us. jen and i both feel strongly that this word is used so loosely today and that the definition varies depending on an individuals personal needs or beliefs at any given time.

we talked with woody harrelson, willie nelson, daryl hannah, and a few other folks @ the hard rock cafe in times square ny last fall at a sustainable biodiesel event.

see what they said:

we want to hear from you now!
please take our poll
right here, right now. quick, easy, free! scroll down.
it is down on the right side.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Sustainable Lawrence Event

Just fcund out about what sounds like a great event happening tomorrow, Saturday, March 8th in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. It's a Green Building Expo and it's FREE. Check it out:

Green Building Expo - FREE and Open to ALL!
Keynote: SANDY WIGGINS, Chairman US Green Building Council Date: Saturday, March 8, 2008 from 10:00am to 4:00pm Place: Irwin Dining Center, The Lawrenceville School off Route 206
Learn the latest environmentally smart ways to fix up your home or small business, add a room, handle repairs, paint or refinish any surface, do ordinary maintenance, and save money. Discuss your needs and plans (with no obligation) with architects, designers, builders, home repair specialists, hardware vendors, and more at this day-long event.
Architecture & Green Design
Green Building Materials
Working with a Green Contractor
Energy Alternatives
Green Home Appliances
Peak Oil – The Challenge of Running Out
Home Energy Auditing
This event is for you regardless of your skill or experience. The day will kick off with a keynote presentation by the Chairman of the US Green Building Council, Mr. Sandy Wiggins. Other presenters on topics including energy use, green building, landscaping, and more will follow. Exhibitor displays open all day. No reservations – just come. Bring friends and neighbors. For more information, call Sustainable Lawrence, 895-1629.
10:00 am Keynote AddressSandy Wiggins, Chair, United States Green Building Council
11:30 am PresentationsSimultaneous Presentations by Experts on Key Aspects

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Power of Pete Seeger

that's what's going to save the human race."
pete seeger

watching peter seeger on stage at age 84 singing with passion alongside arlo guthrie and his son-in-law or standing in the cold protesting the war, or making maple syrup at his home in the woods in NY state, or singing with a classroom of children, or cleaning up the river . . . all of it beautiful. all of it incredibly inspiring. all of it makes me feel very lazy.

listening to him talk about being black-listed for 17 years because of the insanity of mccarthy and those that fostered and fed on sent an eerie chill through my already cold body with thoughts of how close we are to that today, but instead of talking about communists, they talk about islamic terrorists. he sang, "if we could heed these early warnings, the time is now quite early morning."

but, in the spirit of hope, he also said,

when three people discover a harmony they
never knew existed . . . then they know
there is hope for the world.
pete seeger

i highly recommend either renting or ordering the DVD or keeping an eye out for it on your local PBS station.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How Green Are They?

How Green Is Your Candidate?

not sure about you, but i'm trying to wade through all the various planks of hillary and barack's presidential platforms and while there are differences, in the end, the goals seem so similar. my head spins with it all.

i was trying to read through their energy & environmental plans and by the end, i couldn't remember who wanted what and how any of it was really going to get done. everyone wants to reduce carbon emissions. they both want to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. very few of us will be around at that time to see how that worked out, but it is a nice direction to go in. it feels good.

grist has done a pretty good job of narrowing down their shades of green pretty well. i highly recommend going there to get some concept of how green they are or at least what their green dreams are.

at this point, i believe we ALL agree on the direction we need to go in and on several major key issues, including reduction in oil dependence, increase in alternative energy sources and R & D, reduction of carbon emissions, etc. it is HOW we get there and who will be the most effective in creating the foundation of change that will take at least a generation to begin to show significant results.

if you figure it out or have a strong opinion, please let us know. we are interested.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Sustainable Kitchen - 1

jenifer and i are both foodies. one of our favorite sections of the magazine/website is relevant delights where we share all kinds of recipes and information relating to food mostly.

if we had our way, i think we would focus more of our attention on this aspect of our practical sustainable lifestyles!

in our last eNews, in our 'fresh ideas from the Green Divas' section, we started what we hope will be an ongoing series of easy ways to get greener in the kitchen while still enjoying all the fun bits of kitchen duty.

in addition to simple ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen, we have literally hundreds of great, healthy, delicious recipes that work for family, friends, and even catering events! we always try to incorporate locally produced food and ideas on how to use that wonderful share of produce from the CSA (community supported agriculture). i feel a book coming on . . . would anyone want yet another cookbook to add to their collection?

meanwhile, please check out some of our latest recipes - the last one posted and shared through the eNews was my mom's famous, award-winning chili.

try it and let me know how you like it!