Friday, December 26, 2008

Coal Ash Spill in TN - Info & Links

If anyone knows me, they know how I feel about coal. It's the main environmental issue that I've taken a stance on, because I believe it's where the green rubber meets the road, so to speak. There is a major disaster that is not gaining quite the national attention you would imagine, and Christmas festivities are all but making it go unnoticed. Below is a repost from http://www.dirtycoaltva.blogspot.com/, a You Tube Video to view, and a link to an article with more information. I encourage you to read these and inform yourself about coal and the lives that are destroyed by it. If you Twitter, you can search #coalash for more updates.

Dear folks,
December 25, 2008
(Please post to any and all websites, blogs, and online news sources.)
For most of my life Christmas morning was a time of hanging out in my pajamas, opening presents, eating really good food, and spending time with my family. This year was a little different. I spent Christmas in the man-made disaster that used to surround TVA's Kingston Coal Burning Power Plant. Due to TVA's negligence a HUGE coal ash pond exploded into the surrounding countryside dumping HUGE amounts of toxins into the local environment. I awoke around 9am to begin the day's work. I was greeted by an online edition of a front page article in the New York Times which ran today covering this breaking news story. I was happy to see the article listed on the front page but I was dismayed to see that the writer had missed some of the most important information that we had offered. United Mountain Defense's Volunteer Co-ordinator had spent nearly an hour on the phone yesterday getting the NYT up to speed on the issue and when I read the article there was no mention of United Mountain Defense or our Volunteer Co-ordinator.
The NYT got it wrong when they said, " On Swan Pond Road, home to the residences nearest the plant, a group of environmental advocates went door to door telling residents that boiling their water, as officials had suggested, would not remove heavy metals." At no time did we tell people that their water had heavy metals in it as we have not done any laboratory testing and have not seen any test results that claim otherwise. We merely suggested that other coal impacted citizens have had problems with their water and that heavy metals were found in other people's water. The info that we have been passing out to the people is pasted below and is found in the above attachments.
*******Please we want national, international, and intergalactic media coverage on this issue, but we want to keep the facts straight and we want United Mountain Defense to get credit for the work that we are doing.***************
Just think if the NYT called GreenPeace, Rainforest Action Network, or Coal River Mountain Watch don't you think the NYT would write the information correctly and give these groups written credit for their work. What is the difference here?
So once I was able to lasso United Mountain Defense's volunteer force away from their families during this holiday season we headed down to ground zero, Harriman TN. The time was nearly 1pm. TVA had promised everyone that they were so on top of it that they would continue to work through this holiday in order to fix the problem. The work that we observed TVA doing today was continuing to work to clear the railroad track. This is a necessity to TVA because if they can't get more coal to the Kingston Coal Plant then they can't produce more coal ash to dump on people's front lawns. We also observed a trench being dug to place water pipes for a large water pump that was being brought in pump the Frost Hollow Spring water out of a local farmer’s backyard before it floods any more of his barn and threatens to flood his house. This farmer wanted to plant a garden in the fertile ground of the flood plain near the fresh water spring in about 4 months.
After we gave him info about what may be in the coal waste he asked me if I would plant a garden on that coal waste floodplain. It was like a knife in my gut when I said I would not. He thanked me for my honesty. After the work of the past three days delivering info, water, friendly smiles, and handshakes we began receiving phone calls from local residents who were confused, had questions, concerns, and were very mad about the destruction and disruption of their lives. We had an hour long meeting with a resident who feared the impacts to the property value of her house and property. She was concerned about the fact that selling her house would become practically impossible because who wanted to buy a house next to an industrial superfund site. I think this was a valid concern. She also understood that this was not going to be a problem that would be over in 4-6 weeks as TVA had originally told the media.
As we chatted, the bigger picture began to unfold before her eyes that this problem would most likely persist for a decade or longer. She also informed us that her cat had vomited after drinking the tap water. No one in her neighborhood had received any notices that their drinking water was impacted by the spill. They had not received any notices to boil their water. She and her cats were now drinking bottled water. She also informed us that TVA had lied when they stated," Every one of the affected residents has been contacted." She had not been contacted by anyone from TVA, the water department, or the sheriff's department. She lives within a mile radius of the disaster zone. As we continue to learn more we are seeing that this story is not an isolated one. TVA is a liar, liar with pants on fire! As we have been traveling within the disaster zone we have encountered some residents who are very mad about the continued police presence at the entrances to their homes. These residents are shocked to see Independent Media making it through the check points when locals can’t make it through without showing identification and being interrogated. At the same time some of these residents want the media to be allowed through to help get the story out. The media just hasn’t been there for them. I assured them that Independent Media was on their side and was sharing their stories without divulging their identities unless they gave permission. This is what media solidarity looks like!
After our chat we set out to find the silt screens, Coast Guard, gravel berm, and live fish that TVA has been advertising as truths in the Emory River adjacent to the spill site. We launched a boat after witnessing three kayakers yesterday. To our surprise we were not chased down by the Coast Guard. We did not have to paddle over any silt fences. We did not have to portage over any gravel berms. We did not have to look hard to miss the fisherman or fish. Fortunately we took the digital video camera and captured almost an hour of spill footage from the river. The number of seagulls hanging out on the newly formed islands was incredible. Hopefully they were not scavenging any dead fish floating in the ash laden water. The water was very shallow in some parts. There was cream colored film floating on the water. At some times it looked like chocolate milk and may have been almost that thick. This ash was floating downstream unhindered as the current was strong enough to push our boat through the muck with some force at points. The flow was directed at the intake valves of the Kingston Water Utility. As we floated along we were trying to figure out where TVA would store all of this toxic waste. We figured out they were probably planning on storing a good portion of it in the bodies of Kingston residents. A few times while using the camera and framing the ash piles correctly it appeared as though we were looking at a twisted version grey version of the Bad Lands in South Dakota. While being surrounded by the oldest mountain range in the world we were floating amongst the youngest mountain range in the world. We named the highest peak Mt. Ash. We also gathered a sample of the ash using a paddle. As the sun set behind the Kingston Coal Plant Smoke Stacks we cleared the channel, packed up and headed home for the night. Today has been a Christmas that I am not likely to ever forget. I didn't get to stay in my pajamas but I got to help sharpen the stake that will non violently be driven through the heart of TVA. East Tennessee and Appalachia has always been a stronghold of revolutionary movements and I am proud to continue in that long history!!!!
Hey want to help???
1 You need to begin sending requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TVA, State of TN, Congressional Hearings, and anyone else you can think of to request public hearings. United Mountain Defense is mobilizing people here and they are plenty mad. We are ground truthing to provide accurate info to inform you, the public. We need your help in bringing the TVA criminals and their crimes into the light. 2 United Mountain Defense needs money to purchase water for these coal impacted residents. On Dec 24, 2008 United Mountain Defense Volunteers passed out over 50 gallons of water to 30 households. We are going to deliver more water tomorrow. We are buying water at $1.39 a gallon at the local Krogers. 3 United Mountain Defense needs general support funds as we are an all volunteer run organization. We mainly get funds from bake sales, spaghetti dinners, and dance/ house parties. Any funds you could send would be used for our valuable work only. United Mountain Defense is a 501c3 non-profit. You can read what we spend money on and we keep all receipts. Alright, Thank you for your time. Till then, Matt Landon Full time volunteer staff person United Mountain Defense Contact 865 689 2778 or 865 257 4029

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frugality & Green Living: BFFs


I was frugal way before I was a greenie. The hunt, and the thrill of saving hundreds of dollars made me giddy and a bit light headed! In fact, Garage Sale Saturdays became a family tradition of sorts, with stops at the local bakery for croissants! My children have always been dressed in high quality clothes for less than I would pay at Wal-Mart, and our house has been furnished by second hand Potterybarn and antiques. You can imagine how thrilled I was when our family started going green, and I realized how green being thrifty really was!

photo taken by: fromcollettewithlove

With our country's economic troubles, many people are focusing on making it through this crisis, and being green is making its way to the backburner. But being frugal and green living are lifestyles that often walk hand in hand. High priced eco-fashion has good intentions, but second-hand duds are actually more eco-fabulous! Gardening at home is so rewarding, and can save you tons on organic produce! This year we have saved money while making the environment cleaner by: using less water, buying second hand when possible, using less energy, driving less & walking more, and consuming less.



Even if you don't have the resources for a hybrid car, or solar panels on your roof, we can all take these easy steps that helps us save money, and make a big impact on the environment at the same time. Don't be discouraged by the doomsdayers! Work on keeping it simple, and using your green tricks to save some green!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Green Link Round Up

With Christmas on my heels, and more snow already than all of last year combined, many posts in my head have gone unwritten. So to break my silence, I thought I'd share some great posts I've enjoyed lately. Enjoy your reads!

photo by: Liralen Li


Green link Round-up:


Crunchy Chicken shares some great ideas and links for homemade Christmas gifts



Kale for Sale shares some urgent info and petition links for Food Democracy


EnviRambo posted at the GreenPhoneBooth about a topic near to my heart and my house!



Inspired by The Good Human's post on Living Simply:



I just discovered the WonderofCreation blog, and so happy I did! Wonderful Christian stewardship articles.




Love the Giveaway on GreatGreenGoods...I hope I win!



Not green necessarily, but simple living at it's best: Frugal Dad's Five Daily Actions to improve your Financial Life



And as always TheSmartMama has a wealth of info to learn, and asks us to get involved with speaking up about a potentially harmful law.



Don't forget to check out MamaGoesGreen for free shipping until Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Green Your Christmas Traditions

Christmas season is in full swing, so where does that leave us greenies, who are trying to avoid waste and mass consumerism? The statistics don't look good. Consider that we produce 25% more waste during the holiday season, and that Wall-E DVD looks more like a prophecy under the Christmas tree than a simple gift! As a family, we have been trying to take deliberate steps to simplify our Christmas, enjoy eachother more, and celebrate in a green fashion. This is what it looks like to us:


~Meaningful traditions: These include baking cookies, choosing a local tree from a tree farm, caroling and an Advent calender. My kids will remember these traditions long after they forget the glitter of the gifts. They are nearly free, they spread Christmas cheer and have low impact on the environment. Crunchy Domestic Goddess and Green Bean have great posts on these traditions.


~Buying Less: We want to make sure our gifts serve a purpose, whether it's functional or aesthetic. Simple, Useful, Beautiful & Eco-Friendly are our requirements. Great gift ideas: Handmade items, Baked goods, Canned goods from the garden, or low impact eco gifts. This may sound like a conflict of interest for me as a store owner, but I don't want you to buy things just to buy. Buy things that are needed, and will be a safe alternative to traditional options. NatureMoms has some good toy ideas, and we love to offer recycled jewelry for a special touch.


~Reusable Wrapping: We like to reuse newspaper and other items from around the house as much as possible. When that runs out, we go for the post-consumer recycled paper, and natural sprigs of holly and twine. This is a much eco-friendlier options than synthetic bows and virgin paper. Once it's all said and done, Compost and recycle as much as you can! Another great option is using a reusable bag to wrap your gift, fabric or other reusable options.


~Simple Holiday Parties: This is my favorite part of the holidays! Sitting around with friends, a glass of wine in hand, chatting all evening. Try to make your party a waste-free one, with reusable or compostable utensils, by buying local foods, using natural decorations, and sending e-vites. This article on Ecologue has some great tips.


I'd love to hear more of your ideas for greening your Christmas traditions, please comment! Also, for more tips, check out my post from last year. To celebrate the Christmas we're offering 15% off and all products on MamaGoesGreen thru Wednesday~ Shop Simply!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Laptop Lunches

So, how green are you when you travel? How about when your kids go to school? This is an area that frankly our family is still working on. When we are busy with life, our best efforts at being green can fall terribly flat while on the go. We end up turning to plastic water bottles, and drive thru convenience.

What's the solution? Laptop Lunches!

Great for kids, and parents alike, these sets will help you in your efforts for a waste-free lunch. Also BPA-free and lead free. Last week, during our giveaway, this was hands down the most commented on item that we carry at MamaGoesGreen. So this week the Laptop Systems are on sale through 11/11. Don't wait, we only have a limited quantity! Not sure how to pack them? Check out the flickr group for inspiration! Have fun shopping green!

GIVEAWAY WINNER!

photo by elbeardo


Random.org has chosen comment #7:
amy purple said...
The Green to Grow BPA Free 5oz Baby Bottle
would make such a good gift for all my friends
who are expecting! Thanks for the chance.

Thanks to all who participated~your feedback is greatly appreciated! We will have more sales this week, check back to save for Christmas!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway



Bloggy Giveaway is here! So for the festive occassion, we are giving away a $25 gift certificate to Mama Goes Green! Open to US residents only. This will include free shipping on a $25 order! To enter, go visit Mama Goes Green, and tell me what you love on the site, or even what you'd love to see us carry. Come back here and leave a comment. Tweet about it and get a second entry! It's that easy! And go visit Bloggy Giveaways to enter for more chances to win other great prizes!


Also, for this week there is a 10% off special on all Earthlust Reusable Bottles, no comment required, just go shopping!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Clean Coal is not the answer!

When I hear Obama ads in this state touting his support of the coal industry, and I hear every other politician repeating the rhetoric, I want to scream! As I lay in bed last night, trying to zone out and fall asleep, up pops one of big coal's propaganda commercials....you've probably seen them. Well, this video put out by the Sierra Club, is an answer to the propaganda. I'm happy to see some response...but I do find it lacks the passionate outcry I feel, and think others need to feel in order for anything to change. At least it's a start!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Better Life Green Cleaners




Want to clean your home without trashing the planet or your health? Most of us know that traditional cleaners are a toxic cocktail of chemicals known to be endocrine disrupters and cancer causers. But many of us don't want to sacrifice a clean home to make the switch. At Mama Goes Green, we have tried a host of non-toxic cleaners in our home, and some of them have fallen short, while many of them have performed just as good as their traditional counterparts. We've happily made the switch, and feel healthier for doing so. However, we are always looking for breakthrough green products that do the job faster, better, and cleaner for the planet. That's when I discovered Better Life cleaners. And I can honestly say I'm in love. Not only with the packaging and hipness of the bottles, but with the superior cleaning power and strength. Seriously!

Better Life Green Cleaners were developed by two dads who were lifelong friends, and concerned about the safety of their small children. Fortunately, Kevin Tibbs just happened to be a formulation chemist, whose specialty was safe and non-toxic skin care! Together, Kevin and co-founder Tim Barklage, embarked on a quest to come up with safe, non-toxic and green cleaners that performed better than their traditional counterparts. They launched late this year, and have already been a hit with all those who use them, including Whole Foods! And you can trust the safety of their products, as they hold themselves to a different standard than the rest of the industry. Many of the "green" products on the market today are held to low standards, and are frankly a case of greenwashing. Barklage and Tibbs set out to make products that were the absolute best for our health and the environment. Specifically, they contain no petrochemicals, no VOCs, no ethoxylates, no sulfates, no monoethanolamines and no diethanolamines. They don't even have alcohol in them-a breakthrough characteristic in the industry!



This week Better Life sets are 10% off in our store, http://www.mamagoesgreen.com/. We are proud to support this new company, and to offer these products to our customers. Each set includes:



* I Can See Clearly, WOW!™ glass cleaner


* Even The Kitchen Sink™ gentle scrubber


* what-EVER!™ All-Purpose Cleaner
and optional add on:
*2am Miracle Nursery cleaner...a truly amazing product!



Sale ends 10/25...have fun shopping!

$25 gift certificate giveaway!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:8

Timestamp: 2008-10-20 14:28:13 UTC

The winner of the $25 gift certificate is:

Kendra at My First Kitchen

Contact me for info on how to redeem! Congratulations, and remember, sign up for our newsletter on mamagoesgreen.com for special offers available only to our readers!

Friday, October 17, 2008

$25 Gift Certificate Giveaway-Extended!

We had a problem with the launch of our website, but have it all worked out now! However, if you entered to win a gift certificate by subscribing to our newsletter, your information was lost:(
So... we are extending the newsletter sign up through this weekend. Just sign up for our newsletter on www.mamagoesgreen.com and you'll have a chance to win a $25 gift certificate! We'll announce the winner on Monday!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Deeper Shade of Green: Changes that make a Big Impact

Okay, so we've all probably changed at least some of our light bulbs to CFLs, and bought some reusable bags, but may wonder how to be more eco-conscious. Here are some tips that will make the most impact in your effort to reduce your carbon footprint. They are more intense changes than switching to organic shampoo, but are efforts that will make the biggest change in our environmental crisis.


  • Recycle & Compost-Studies show that only 33% of Americans recycle, despite all of the Earth Day messages we've heard since the 90s! And of those who do recycle, many don't compost. The average American produces 4.4 pounds of garbage, and half of it could be composted. Take the organic materials made of food scraps, paper and yard waste, and compost them in an inexpensive plastic bin, compost heap, or fancy tumbler. This will save you money in the long run, by providing your garden with free carbon-rich fertilizer, and cutting down on the garbage cans at the curb. Between recycling and composting, we can feasibly cut our landfill production by 75%...talk about BIG impact!





  • WALK-this is simple, but often overlooked. 15% of all our trips in the U.S. are less than a mile long! If we all subsituted one short car trip a day with a walking rip, 8.4 billion gallons of gas would be saved every year! This equates to 8.2 billion TONS of carbon emissions! Take an inventory of the trips you make, and decide which ones could feasibly be walked or biked. Make a schedule: this makes it easier to stick to!





  • Eat Vegetarian-I am NOT a vegetarian, but the statistics have encouraged me to make at least 2-3 vegetarian meals/wk. This is definately a help on the grocery budget as an added bonus! The UN has listed raising animals for food as "one of the top 2-3 most significant contributions to the most serious environmental problems at every scale, from local to global." This is a resource-intensive practice, using half of the fresh water, and 70% of grains grown in the U.S. Also, 80% of agricultural land is used to rais animals, and a third of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S. is used for livestock. Not to mention the excrement that pollutes the ground and surface water! When you do eat meat, buy locally, from farmer's who do free range grazing and treat the animals humanely.





  • Eat Local-you can cut down on the petroleum used to ship food when you eat in season, and locally. Better yet, plant a garden and enjoy the freshest goods in town!





  • Consume Less-Reuse when possible, shop second hand when available, and when you need to buy new, get fair trade, organic, and sustainable. Need convincing? Check out this video at storyofstuff.com


Welcome SITS visitors!


I have a lot of new visitors from SITS coming over today, welcome! Grab your cup of fair-trade coffee, and have a look around!

Picture by Gilfer


We have just launched http://www.mamagoesgreen.com/, and are offereing a great prize over at SITS, go visit and enter to win for lots of great prizes!



And to celebrate our Grand Opening, we'd love to offer another prize! Sign up for our newsletter on http://www.mamagoesgreen.com/ and get a chance to win a $25 gift certificate! I will announce the winner on Friday morning. Have fun!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Project


We are so excited to announce our newest project, http://www.mamagoesgreen.com/ ! The site is still being constructed, so bear with us! Grand opening will be on Friday, October 10th. Keep your eye out for giveaways and special offers, available only to my readers! Any products you'd love for me to carry? Let me know, and I'll do my best! We can't wait to offer sustainable products for practical families, and continue blogging about ways to green your life, and the personal experiences of my family. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eat From Home Challenge

A great way to go green and save green is to stay out of the drive through lane. Even sit down restaurants have a huge impact on your wallet and the environment! Upon examining our next step in this green journey, my husband and I quickly decided that eating out was the next eco-vice to tackle.

Although I take the plastic milk bottles home with me, and recycle the paper and cardboard, it's just not enough. The fact is that the food industry is a major contributor to many environmental concerns, including energy and water waste, deforestation, and huges amounts of wasted food. Not to mention that the majority of food purchased for our convenience are animals that have been treated inhumanely and treated with antibiotics, as well as other crops that have been fertilized and pesticide-ed to the hilt!

Here are some stats:

  • Restaurants consume more energy per square foot than any other US industry—over 2.5 times the average commercial building
  • Restaurants use large amounts of water. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority’s studies have found that, depending on size and popularity, a single restaurant meal requires anywhere from 6 to 29 gallons of water, meaning most restaurants use anywhere from 1 million to 13 million gallons per year.
  • Restaurants produce an average of 50,000 pounds of trash a piece per year-EACH!
  • Americans go through 15 billion disposable hot beverage cups per year !
  • All of the paper packaging to wrap up every tiny bit of food comes from somewhere. According to the No Free Refills campaign, the Southern Forests are paying the highest price for our convenience. As if the southern biodiversity wasn't threatened enough!

As a mother with 4 small children, not eating out is definately going to be a sacrifice for me. The convenience is always beckoning me, and my kids sure do love the "treats" they otherwise wouldn't get at home! So I am issuing a challenge to help keep myself on track, and so we can share success stories and tips. I am thinking of doing a giveaway at the end of this challenge! So, comment below to enter the challenge, and I'll have a check in post every week or so during the 2 months. The challenge will start Oct 1, and run through Thanksgiving. Let me know if you are just going to cut your eating out down, or go cold turkey like me! Feel free to take the button to put on your blog, and start sharing your tips to end our convenience eating addictions!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Al Gore calls for Civil Disobedience

In all of the coverage of the magnitude of our economic crisis, Al Gore's comments at the Clinton Global Initiative may have fallen on deaf ears. He compared "clean coal" to "healthy smoking", and is convinced that we need to change our habits now. "I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said. This type of civil disobedience just happened next door in Wise County, where eleven protesters put their arms into 55-gallon metal drums, fashioned with working solar powered panels. They were there to protest the new Dominion coal fired power plant being built right now, that will inevitably lead to more mountaintop removal. Al Gore stood up against this dirty energy:


Taken from CNN:
"What we should do is make a one off investment to switch our energy infrastructure from one that depends on fuel that is dirty, dangerous, destroying the habitability of this planet and rising in price, to a new global energy infrastructure that is based on fuel that is free forever -- the sun, the wind and geothermal. There is a myth that the technology is not available. It is available," he said.
He called on the United States and other countries to install unified national transmission grids and make renewable energy available to all.
"We have a responsibility to those who come after us and those who are suffering today, to knit together a global commitment to solve this climate crisis and use it as a way to stimulate the economy."


I know that there are many people who rely on coal for work. But I also know that there would be new jobs and economic renewal for these areas that only renewable energy could guarantee forever. Speak up so future generations can enjoy these beautiful mountains, and the biodiversity that can never be "reclaimed".

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Saving Our Kids Healing Our Planet

It was our plan to attend this conference this weekend, in Charlotte, NC:

But then I heard that Charlotte, NC has a serious gas shortage! They think there's more gas coming tomorrow, but who knows?! Not wanting long lines, and the possibility of being stranded, we've decided to stay home. If you are close to Charlotte and can make it, I encourage you to go, it looks like it has a ton of great speakers and exhibitors. They'll be composting their food waste, and have activities for kids. Gas is so lame! Just another reason to move towards energy independence!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remembering Your Reusable Bags


If you have purchased reusable bags, or reuse ones you already had, accept an eco-pat on the back from me! But if you're anything like me, you have found yourself without them while on a major shopping trip. When this happens to me, I guiltily look around as I walk to my car, wondering if the equivalent of the scarlett letter in green is emblazoned on my back! I certainly reuse or recycle those unfortunate plastic bags that made it into my home, but I needed a better system. So now, whenever I bring in my groceries, they are always immediately put away, and put straight back into the car. That way, I always have a stash of at least 5 at all times. Whether I am at the grocery store, the farmer's market, Target or Goodwill, I bring my own bags. Works for me!

Monday, September 22, 2008

DO!

As I was dumping my recycling this weekend, I couldn't help thinking..."Is this really making an impact?" Do my actions really count in the scheme of things?" The melancholy voice inside me came out and said, "You might as well be alone in your efforts, so many others are out there negating your very actions right now!" My very way of life, and all that I am striving to become and accomplish is threatened at times like these, when the enormity of the problem stares me in the face. And then I am reminded of articles like these by Michael Pollan. And then while strolling the global community that is the internet, I found encouragement at Girl At Play:

"Do. I can’t stress that one enough. Take action on your life. Make the change. No more sulking, waiting, thinking, reading, talking about. It’s time."

When we see problems all around us, and we recognize the need for change, we HAVE to change. As Wendell Berry said: “Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.” To deny this transformation would be to deny our very souls. Others may not see the importance of our causes. However, there will be those that will be changed to the core by seeing the passion of our hearts, and the action of our lives. I may not be able to change the world today, but I can change my own actions, and be a catalyst for others to do the same.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Effective Eco-Actions- Water Usage


Back to the issue of effective eco-actions, the next water usage topic takes us straight to the bathroom. I've ranted about my hubby's eco-vice before, so... which is it...Tubs vs showers. Is there a big difference? Well, according to the green routine, there most definately is. A short, 5 minute shower with a low flow head will dramatically reduce your household usage. However, if you can't get shower time down to 5 minutes, a 15 minute shower is roughly equivalent to a bath. So, I say, hurry up and shower, and give yourself a once a week soak! And if you are ever fortunate enough to have the opportunity to install a greywater system, use your water after your cleansing for the garden or the toilet. Speaking of which...


I've written a post before on our dramatic water savings by switching to a new toilet. This is great for all you penny pinchers out there, as well as eco-friends. 70 % of our household water usage is flushed or bathed down the drain, so these 2 places are great places to start to make your first eco-actions effective ones. Using less water is friendly on our pockets, and our earth. Conserving water puts less strain on our municipal water systems which makes for less water pollution, and protects our watershed, a vital part of sustainability for any community. Checking for leaks, and replacing high flush toilet models with low flow versions, are 2 things that most of us can do ourselves, with little effort and budget. For more water savings tips, see eartheasy.com's list of tips.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There is hope: COAL RIVER WIND

After the doom and gloom I put before you last week, I did want to offer a glimmer of hope. Coal River Valley, WV has had over 50,000 acres of its mountains destroyed by strip mining/mountaintop removal. A group of citizens have created a plan to bring sustainable jobs, and energy to this region, that could be the model for the rest of the country. On the last 6,000 acres left in this area, there is a plan to erect a wind farm. There are investors lined up, and the community is in full support of this.
King Coal...as they call it 'round here....is not very happy about this. Massey Corporation has decided to blow up the last mountains this region has left. And Governor Manchin of West Virginia is happy to let them. Thankfully they are a sloppy company, and did not get all of the required permits, so there has been a temporary halt to their plan. BUT IT IS TEMPORARY! This is a real shot at making a difference, and voicing our opinions. This wind farm could potentially provide energy for 150,000 homes INDEFINATELY! Unlike coal, this is an energy source that can be sustained. Please sign the petition, and make your voice count.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Affluence

Affluent describes me. I am affluent. My family is affluent. My children live in an affluent household. We will make less than $30,000 this year. To most people, this would not be considered affluent. We are frugal, we live simply, and this is more than enough for us. I consider us affluent because we have so many luxuries, and opportunites, that many others do not have. I sit at one of 2 computers. I drive one of 2 cars. My children all have their own beds to sleep in. We can turn on the water and electricity whenever we want. So many, many people do not live like this.


But I think affluence comes with responsibility. We as Americans have bought into the notion of self sufficiency to the point that we have neglected community. Many of us don't even know our neighbor's names. We have traded our front porches for backyard pools, and lawns that require riding lawn mowers! This anonymity among people of our own communities gives us an artificial distance, and helped insulate us from worrying about anybody's sufferings other than our own.
I just wrote about the plight in Appalachia, and I think it serves to illustrate my point in this case as well. The central Appalachian counties are amont the poorest in the nation, despite being promised fortune and good jobs from the coal companies. We affluent people use the coal to power our homes that has been raped from their land. Homes near mountaintop removal sites often decrease by as much as 90%. These homes and land are often the only assets these folks have, and have been part of their heritage for generations. Our actions as affluent consumers effect the poorest communities the most. We have a duty to stand up for the poorest of our citizens whose voices are not making out of the mountains. We are implicated in their plight when we flip on our lights. We must demand action, demand alternatives, and rally to the cause of those who cannot.




One of the biggest reasons I decided to go green was not for myself, but for the implications my actions had on those with less power than I. Fisherman who lose their livelihoods because of dead zones in our oceans. Children who suffer from allergies and asthma at unprecedented rates due to toxic chemicals in our homes. People starving in third world countries because of the increasing food prices. Families affected by the dirty practices of coal companies. I don't know about you, but I can't make a decision without thinking about these things first. I am not alone in this world, and my decisions are the only thing I can control. It's a powerful thing to be able to make a choice that collectively can force change.

End Mountaintop Removal-NOW

I have been trying to collect my thoughts and deep emotions about coal in this region for weeks. It is sometimes so difficult to put down in print, what you feel deep in your gut, but here goes. Over at Crunchy Chicken, the topic has been politics, and apparently the obvious choice for President if you care for the environment, is Obama. Yesterday Mr. Obama made a stop here in our small town. He stopped and chatted, drank a vanilla milk shake, shook some hands and then moved on to his scheduled stop in the next county over. The topic in the media today is his "lipstick" comment, and the sexist implications of it against Sarah Palin. Totally lost in the mix, was his obvious effort to win the votes of those in this community that are deeply tied to the coal industry. He spoke of "clean coal" technology, and how he believed in the good it would do for our economy and energy independence crisis. What I don't understand is why NOBODY is taking him to task on this issue. Coal is not clean, it can never be clean, and we need to run FAR from it. In fact, strip mining of coal, aka BLOWING UP THE MOUNTAIN, is the single most important environmental issue of our generation. Forget the polar bears, forget global warming. People are dying, children are wheezing, air quality is declining, and we are losing our mountains in Appalachia. The water, the forests, and the rich land are lost in and around the over 470 mountains that have been erased from the southeast mountain range in the last 2 decades. (imagine an area the size of Delaware!) If you think that this is only an extreme way to mine coal, and rarely used, you are dead wrong. In fact more than 70 percent of coal mined in the US comes from strip mining. It's cheaper, faster, and takes less man power. McCain is no different on this issue. The environment will suffer under either of these men as our President. Once these mountains are blown up to get to the coal seams, the extra rock and debris has to be disposed of. As a result, nearly 10,000 "valley fills" have completely buried over 700 miles of healthy streams have been and thousands more have been damaged. These headwaters are an intricate system, that lead to the ocean and provide the drinking water for millions of Americans, and yet so many of us have no idea what atrocities are happening.


The story that isn't being told is that these communitites that have been promised millions of dollars in taxes to enrich their schools, and 100s-1000s of jobs for their families, have been instead poisoned, watched their home values decline dramatically, and their schools and towns become the worst ones in the country. Coal Powered Plants are the single largest sources of the big four pollutants: 35% CO2 carbon dioxide, 37% Hg mercury, 23% of NOx Nitrogen Oxides, and 67% of SO2 sulfur Dioxides. The fact is that these rural peoples are under attack, but it affects ALL Americans. We almost ALL use this coal when we flip on our lights, heat our water, and read our emails. The link on my sidebar will show you how linked you are to mountaintop removal. Distance does not negate responsibility. To top it all off, this "clean coal" technology is untested, and is the "clean coal" plants are receiving air permits to pump out dozens of pounds of mercury into the air. Apparently our children are safe with a little mercury in their lungs and water.
Furthermore, the testing and regulation is often overlooked in our rural areas. I can attest to how under regulated this area actually is! My husband used to monitor ground water for gas stations and other petroleum sites to make sure they were up to federal code. When we decided to move our family to this area for the opportunity it gave us for sustainability and simplicity of life, he had an interview for a similar job, and we assumed that he would be able to find another job in this specialized area. After all, these are FEDERAL regulations. Unfortunately, the truth is that no one regulates this area, so no one complies. No regulation means no one is paying for monitoring, because they don't need to be accountable. This is notoriously true as well for these coal companies.


This is such an important topic, and our political system is stifling this extremely important issue, so we can sling mud about candidates, their misspeaks, and their personal lives. I challenge you all to take the pledge to end mountaintop removal. Blog about it, spread the word, and make it an issue you care about. I don't like either of our choices. I do believe I am voting for a third party this year.....

Below are some websites, and well written essays on the environmental plight connected to coal. Read them, and be outraged.
http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2006/02/16/reece/
http://www.coalriverwind.org/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022903390.html
http://www.samsva.org/?p=80#more-80
http://www.ilovemountains.org/
http://www.appvoices.org/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Effective Eco Actions-Laundry

Our next most frequent chore is Laundry. Some of you nuts out there enjoy laundry as some sort of therapuetic excercise...I do not! However, I will say that after we purchased my ultra energy and water effecient front loaders, it is somewhat more tolerable:) The rule of thumb here is that if your washing machine is less than 10 years old, do everything you can to make it eco friendly until you're ready to purchase a new one. For example, if you have a top loader that is in working condition, keep leaks in check, wash with cold water, and use only the amount of water you need per load. If, however, that washing machine is older than 10 yrs, you will save a significant amount of money, water and energy by upgrading to a front loader. Recycle your old one, and move to the green side! Use an eco-friendly detergent, wash in cold water, and line dry when possible.




Appliances that get recycled at a scrap metal place, are going to be fed to a giant shredder large enough to shred a car into small pieces . The pieces are then run through a magnet to pull out iron-containing metals, while the non-ferrous metal, such as aluminum, is separated out by an eddy current (the wonders of science at work). If there is plastic insulation, it is not recyclable, but you don't need to worry about removing those parts; they will become the shredded "fluff" left over after the metals are separated. Refrigerators, or appliances with coolant in them, need to be handled by a liscensed handler, check Earth 911 for someone in your area.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A new place to shop


A worldofgood.com was just launched yesterday by eBay. Go take a look, you're really in for a treat! It features handmade and fair trade items from all over the globe, with bios of the actual designers and craftspeople. Think etsy, with an eco-friendly and person friendly slant.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Effective Eco Actions-Water Usage


As a mama going green, we often wonder which choices to make that will be the most effective and friendly to the earth. Cloth vs disposable, hand wash vs dishwasher, clothesline vs dryer, and on and on! It can be a bit overwhelming, so I thought I'd start a series this week tackling some of the most common decisions we face day to day, and examining which choices will make the biggest impact on the environment. I wanted to start out with our household water usages.


Photo taken by Hypergurl


First lets start with the most frequent chore in my household, Dishes! Over at Mom Goes Green, Doreen examined the long held notion that washing dishes by hand would use less water than an automatic dishwasher. But we find out that this is simply NOT true! Especially with the ultra efficient dishwashers out there, the amount of water usage is actually only a sixth, and the energy only 1/2! Now, it's possible if you are just 2 people in a household, that the responsible handwasher would be more efficient than running the dishwasher. However, with a 6 person family like mine, we fill the dishwasher to the brim at least once a day, and handwashing is just simply not efficient. Glad I don't have to have eco-guilt about this one!

We not only use water and energy when we wash our dishes though. We also use DETERGENT. If you have not switched to a non-toxic and non-polluting kind yet, SWITCH! The automatic dish detergents are the only products still allowed to contain phosphates. These are proven to kill fish, and produce dead zones in water ways by spurring algae to overgrow and depleting oxygen. Also, many conventional cleaning products have surfactants that are petroleum based, do not biodegrade for a very long time, and pollute our water supply. Safe choices we have used with success, listed in order of preference:

Shaklee's Get Clean Automatic Dish Detergent
Ecover Tablets
BioKleen Dish Powder

Join us tomorrow as we tackle more household water uses, and how to be the most effective with your eco-concience.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I haven't fallen off of Planet Earth!

I know it's been a while! The summer days sucked me in, and homeschool planning took me to a new vortex! Anyways, I've got lots to share and write about, and a new banner. You like? Thanks for sticking around, leave me a comment, I can hear the echo:)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Green your food Tip # 2

Here's another Green Your Food Tip: connect with other people who grow food. Your neighbors, friends, church members, anyone with any type of garden. Give away your extras, and offer help if it's needed. For example, when we heard that someone in our church had 200 blueberry bushes that needed to be picked before the bears came and ate them all, we offered our labor for the price of the blueberries:) Seriously, you'd be suprised how many gardeners are willing to swap and share! Get connected to your local community. Here's some pics of our blueberry adventure:

P.S. Look at my tomato I harvested from the garden yesterday! Yum!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From Trash to Treasure


I picked up this metal glider at a yard sale for $2. I just loved the "bones" of it. Well, 2 cans of spray paint later, I have a fabulous bench for my deck:
Although the spray paint is not the most eco-friendly option, it is certainly better than this bench in a landfill.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Green Tip of the Week

Now that we are all in summer mode, energy efficiency is key! To help keep your cooling bill down, make sure you cover your windows and french doors with heavy curtains, to help keep the sun out during the hottest part of the day. It really makes more of a difference than you think! I just finished making mine:

See! Going Green is fun and can be stylish:)!
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Green Your Food Tip # 1


Us moms are always fighting against the media and peer influences when it comes to nutritious decisions in the supermarket. We hear about eating locally, and from our own gardens, but what about busy moms?! Should we feel guilty about pouring L*cky Charms in our kids bowls?
If you have the same lingering green guilt in the back of your mind every morning, I suggest you run and pick up Mom's Best Naturals. This cereal impressed me first because of the organic whole grains they use. Then while I was pouring it, I noticed the back had info about how they power their productions-100% wind power. That's right, they use ALL green energy! And if that's not impressive enough, their company is committed to recycling and using recycled materials. The best part is that this ultra green & eco-concious cereal is not $5 a box (they are rather large boxes too). I get mine for $1.99/box at Wal-Mart. Seriously. And my kids LOVE it! It's yummy, healthy, nutritious and eco-friendly. Go get some! And no, I was not paid to write this:) Just really love it!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Farmer's Market goods

These are my purchases from the last farmer's market:

The organic zucchini and squash is so yummy, but hopefully I won't have to buy it anymore once my garden starts producing! The dark fruit is a type of cherry, and tastes a bit like a mini plum. The bag is full of garlic scapes, which are delicious chopped in stirfry or a salad dressing. The flowers are also locally grown, and I love having flowers that are lovingly grown and cut without having to travel 3000 miles to get to me!

Be adventurous and try something new at the farmer's market near you. Eating in season is very satisfying and it's thrilling to try out new foods I've never eaten before. For a map of what's locally in season, take a look here.
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Can someone who gardens please help?!

Okay, I am such a rookie, and pride always comes before the fall! Is this bacteria wilt?
On my zucchini:









On my green beans:







On my pepper plant:


On my squash plant:

On my tomato?!Starting on my honeydew?!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Harvest Table-Sustainable Dining!


Living in the mountains of Southwest VA has its perks and its downsides. Loading my recycling into the van is often accompanied with grumbling of some sort bemoaning the lack of curbside options. Heck-I'd pay for it if someone would let me! But the passion for local here is downright ingrained. People want local businesses, local food, local entertainment, and if it's not "from round here" locals are downright suspicious of it. As a transpant of a big city, I am constantly taken off guard by the intricacies of small town life. The fact that people who I have never been introduced to still know who I am and where I live is a bit disconcerting! But for all the culture shock that I have been through, I am thankful for this place. I am thankful that the passion for local has been easier for me to catch here than it would be in a big city. Case in point is The Harvest Table in Meadowview, VA. Everything served here is made locally, and in season. Local farmers' harvest literally comes from the field straight to this restaurant's table. This is a place I can feel good eating out at! Thankfully, I have these organizations built into our local community. If you have a passion for local and sustainable, but not many options, I encourage you to start your own organization. We are all hungry to connect to our food in a personal and gratifying way. We are growing gardens, and supporting our local farmers to do it. It's nice to see what a little effort can bring forth.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Garden is Growing....but not my worms

Okay, so we've been out of town for 3 weeks, visiting the Shriner's Hospital for my son. While I was gone, look what sprouted!

My pepper plant:

My zucchini:

And some very yummy lettuce!

Also, tomatoes, honeydew and squash have blooms, everything else has sprouted wonderfully! But sadly, my worms have died. Too much new for me to handle at once I'm afraid. We are going to try again soon. My problem was too much moisture, the poor little guys drowned:(

I am so excited to be blogging again, and at home where things are simple! Lots of driving and eating out all the time can make a green girl feel blue!
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