Make life a little more earth-friendly without going to extremes.

July 2008 Archives

japanesebeetle.jpgAs if the bug situation couldn't get any worse at my house, we've discovered a few Japanese beetles loitering on our sunflowers.
For those who have dealt with Japanese beetles, you know there are more where those come from. Those of you who haven't dealt with them, welcome to the states east of the Mississippi.
Japanese beetles are pretty and shiny, and they tear through the leaves of your plants viciously, with no native predators to give them the boot.
If you looked at the picture accompanying this and though, "Oh, that's what those are," you probably need to do something. But it doesn't have to be drastic or nongreen.

projectbluefly.jpgSuede, who has bad hair and refers to himself in the third person, made a pretty cool dress on "Project Runway" last week.
For those of you not familiar with the show, the Bravo series pits a bunch of fashion designers against one another in various challenges designed to send them home in tears see who has what it takes to succeed in fashion.
Last week, in "It's Not Easy Being Green," the designers had two major challenges: They had to let their models shop for fabric with little input and had to use eco-friendly materials. (Now you get why I'm talking about this, right?)
Suede's dress was a mix of couldn't-wear-it couture and hey-that's-cute niftyness. Now, it's available for preorder on, part of his reward for winning the challenge.
Take a peek at the image above. Eco-friendly does not mean burlap bags worn by unshaven hippies.
The next episode likely won't be green, but it's on tonight on Bravo if you're interested.

A greener god

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In today's OpenLine comments, Louis Lagger responds to Ken Wilson's Guest View, which deals with, among other things, religion and environmentalism.
"Both groups have different word views," Lagger says. "Environmentalists embrace science and reason. Evangelicals look to the Bible ..." Lagger specifically addresses birth control, but it's interesting as a general argument.
People tend to assume religious people are conservative Republicans, and that Republicans hate the environment and would sell polar bears and the ice caps in a heartbeat. Therefore, they argue, devout Christians hate the environment. Those things are occasionally true, but they're stereotypes, not facts.
There's nothing in religious dogma that I'm aware of to suggest we should be polluting or using up the planet's resources as fast as we can.
Actually, there's some stuff that suggests God's probably a pretty Earth-friendly guy.

Tuesday links

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Pesticide Action Network North America
Read all about the scary side of pesticides, action you can take to protest dangerous chemicals and alternatives you can use in your yard.
This is one-stop shopping for people who don't want to breathe and consume these chemicals.
The group "combines science and community-led campaigns to force global phase outs of highly hazardous pesticides."
I'm not saying that every pesticide on the planet should go the way of a sprayed locust, but it's absolutely absurd how quickly homeowners and companies will dump on the chemicals without looking for alternatives. People tell themselves that the government wouldn't allow them if they weren't safe. Pesticide Action Network will make you think otherwise.

My husband and I were at my parents' house Saturday to see my uncle and his wife, who were visiting from the east coast.
Warming up to one of his favorite topics, my husband starting talking about a group that promotes something very nongreen. The group, he explained, is supposed to appear like a grassroots, nonprofit, but in truth they are funded by ...
Before he could say it, my uncle supplied the name of the Big Evil Corporation.
Don't get me wrong. I'm pro business. I'm pro capitalism. I'm just anti this specific Big Evil Corporation.
My husband was thrilled that someone else shared our suspicion and horror regarding Big Evil Corporation's activities.
Then my uncle dropped the bombshell.

Our cuke plants are finally producing, but the pickling cucumbers aren't all coming in at the same time. As far as I can tell (which means I asked my mom and the Internet), those little guys must be pickled within 24 hours of pickling.
Do you just have to hope that you get enough in a 24-hour period for a whole batch of pickles? That seems a little crazy.
And they sell pickling cucumbers at the store. Those most have been picked more than 24 hours before. What are they selling them for if not pickling?
Canning gurus: Do I have to wait and hope for a day when the plants magically unite to bestow a batch worth of cukes on me? Any tips? Comment or e-mail me if you have words of wisdom to offer.

Want to comment?

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If you're having trouble with our comment form, feel free to e-mail me comments to be posted with a blog item. Sometimes our system is persnickety.

Rain barrel chic

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rainbarrel.jpgIt's summer watering season. It's time to bite the bullet and get a rain barrel. Really.
If you read my diatribe informative entry about rain barrels here, you know their benefits. But maybe you don't think they're attractive enough.
Gardener's Supply has a gorgeous option that's smaller and more expensive than the ones you get from The Conservation Foundation, the Will-South Cook Soil & Water Conservation District and other groups, but this thing is really pretty. And if pretty is what makes you help us conserve water, who am I to stand in the way? It's also functional. You don't need special spouts to angle the rain and you can pop the top off to drop your whole watering can in for a fill-up. It's easier and less painful than filling your tank at the pump.
Thanks to our rain barrels, we haven't used a drop of Lake Michigan water on our yard or garden. But I do know some neighbors don't like how they look. They're not in the front yard or anything, and they're a lovely forest green, but the hints that have been dropped about hiding them haven't been subtle. Note to neighbor: We're not dumb; we're green.
I'm not telling you to buy this barrel, or even to buy one like it. I just want everyone to realize that there are so many green options now.
If you see someone doing some green thing that doesn't suit you, find out if there are other options that are just as green.
You can hate how my rain barrel looks, but get a stylish one for yourself. You can dislike the things sprouting from my compost bin, but you can pick up a clean, stylish spinning bin for yourself.
Being green doesn't have to be ugly or inconvenient. If anyone is telling you that it does, yell, "Look, they're abusing a spotted owl!" and run away while they're distracted.

In a Post Gazette story today, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers is saying cell phones pose a risk to our health.
Dr. Ronald Herberman "believes he is the first U.S. cancer center director to approve the release of such an advisory," according to Joe Fahy's story.
Despite other countries limiting exposure, many in the US, including the American Cancer Society, say cell-phone use hasn't been proven to cause brain cancer, according to the story.
Do warnings like this make you rethink your cell phone usage? Or do you think this is a lot of bunk?
I'm, frankly, a little worried about this. We're bombarding our bodies with so much stuff.
Doesn't sound like a green issue? It is.
A lot of green choices are about our health. We choose organic because we believe it is healthier; we recycle because we don't believe turning our countries into a giant landfill is good for us; and we try to reduce pollution because we know our lungs aren't set up to filter out so many poisons. A lot of eco-friendly choices are actually people-friendly choices. The earth is the only habitat we have. It makes sense that things that are good for the earth are good for us.
This might be one of those things. Cell phones could be linked to brain tumors. Some people also worry about what effect cell towers and "beamed" conversations have one our bodies. (I know they aren't "beamed" per se, but this is an eco message, not a science lesson.) Maybe cutting back would be a good idea.
Herberman suggests limiting conversations, using the hands-free option and keeping kids from using cell phones. (Like lead paint, a little goes a long way in a kid's body, Herberman is saying.)
I have a cell phone, but I only have 300 minutes a month, a small package by today's standards, and I rarely use all 300. I'm going to strive to lower that number or to use the hands-free option when possible.
Let's say it doesn't cause cancer. I'll still be less likely to become that idiot driver that is oblivious to the world because of her cell phone. You're welcome. *grin*

I like paper towels. I admit that. But my husband and I try to use as few as possible. And when we do buy paper towels, we buy all-recycled ones from Marcal's Sunrise line or real low end ones that we figure use as little paper as possible.
Then there's Bounty. Bounty ads inevitably seem to boast about their durability and strength. The mothers using them in the ads are made to look smarter than their families, who are portrayed as dumb for thinking the towel can't be rinsed and reused. If we use these towels, it's implied, we'll be smart household heroes.
"No mess can outmatch the cloth-like durability of Bounty," the Bounty Web site boasts.
This begs a question: Why not just use a cloth?

Tuesday links

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lunchlessons.jpgLunch Lessons
Children's nutrition is a big deal right now. Obesity is, well, growing, and the school cafeteria is under fire for allegedly piling kids' plates with fried foods.
In many schools, that's not the case. But could cafeterias use a little greening in terms of what foods they give to children?
Chef Ann Cooper is on the case. A "renegade lunch lady," Cooper wants to turn the national school lunch program into something that offers organic, healthy options that kids want to eat. And she's starting working on it through a pilot program and her current job at Berkeley Unified School District in California.
How does that help you? Cooper's Web site offers tools you can use to assess the food your child is eating. How many calories does he or she need? Cooper can tell you. Download her MealWheel to see what portion of your child's meals should be each food type (grains, fruits and veggies, etc.). Or print out a report card to grade the meals, from the ones you make at home to the ones consumed in the cafeteria.
There are recipes, links and other resources. You can even subscribe to a weekly podcast. If that doesn't make your kid think the new healthier meals are better, I don't know what will.

simplyorganic.jpgGoing eco-friendly isn't always easy, especially for a small business. Two men opted to star a green body-product line after family members developed cancer. Like so many others, they saw a connection between family members' cancers and the chemicals we eat, sleep, breathe and bath in every day.
But persisting can pay off.
Read all about Simply Organic Beauty's rise, fall and rise again from a writer at the Minneapolis Star Tribune or check out the product line at Simply Organic's site.

nyebegley.jpgIf you watch "Living with Ed" on Planet Green (or its run on HGTV), you've seen Ed Begley Jr. and Bill Nye (formerly of "Science Guy" fame) compete to see who can have the greener gadgets, the most sustainable lifestyle and the most self-made power.
Turns out the green feud isn't just a scripted, play-it-up-for-TV thing. They're really starting to get under each other's skin.
It does make for good TV though. If there's anything cuter than Bill Nye creeping around a corner to spy on Ed's green innovations, I don't know what it is. (Actually, I do. It's Bill Nye trying to pick up a former MTV anchor with his organic veggie beds.)
And in the green world, I have to say Ed's probably the winner. Bill's house is greener, but he doesn't have a wife holding him back.
But for general charm, Bill's got it by a smidge. See, he's Lincolnish. His face is craggy. His hair is a 1950s-esque delight. And he's a big-old patriot, which makes him a winner in our book. His show, "Stuff Happens," hasn't premiered yet, but Planet Green showed the first episode and we love it.
(A news release says he got a restraining order against his former fiancée after she allegedly snuck on to his property "carrying two plastic bottles filled with some sort of solvent. Apparently she was trying to poison my plants including some vegetable(s)." My first thought is to feel bad for him. My next is that this might be the appropriate attack to commit on a green science geek.)
Anyway, a green-off is good for the planet and Planet Green's ratings and we like both Ed and Bill, just not in a way that requires a restraining order.
Who gets your vote (on charm or green) and why: Bill Nye or Ed Begley Jr.?

Celebrity neighbors Begley, Nye carry eco-grudge

By Noaki Schwartz
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- On a tree-lined corner of Studio City filled
with modest homes, flower gardens and neighbors who chat across
back fences, two wiry celebrities are engaged in a green grudge
The good-natured competition between actor Ed Begley Jr. and
Bill Nye, the host of the educational series "Bill Nye, the
Science Guy'' began when Nye moved into the neighborhood two years
ago. Since then the two moderately famous and slightly geeky
environmentalists have matched wits over whose home can leave a
smaller carbon footprint.

killawatt.jpgKill A Watt
My husband picked up this device for about $20 from
He's been lording my energy usage over me ever since.
I'm pretty good about energy consumption. What I'm really bad about is vampire.
Energy vampires are those appliances and electronics that stay plugged in, sucking up energy, even when the item itself isn't being used. The California Energy Commission says about 13 percent of the household electricity use is from these vampires.
The easy solution: Unplug it if you're not using it or put a bunch of vampires on a power strip so they can all be shut off at one time. I'm bad at that.
Enter the Kill A Watt. You plug in an electronic time into the Kill A Watt and plug the Kill A Watt into the wall. The item works as usual, but the Kill A Watt displays its energy use.
Kill A Watt's Web site says:

"Large LCD display will count consumption by the kilowatt-hour, same as your local utility. You can calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, even an entire year. Also check the quality of your power by monitoring voltage, line frequency, and power factor. Now you'll know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money."

Frankly, I don't understand all of that. But my husband does. And Kill A Watt is simple enough that I learned my high-efficiency washer is indeed using some power when it's off and none of its lights are glowing. And some of my lamps need newer CFL bulbs. Seems those with the old, old CFL bulbs are sucking up some power they don't need to be.
Will Kill A Watt change the way I live? Probably not, but it will help me clean up my act a little. And the next time I try to turn on my computer or lamp, only to find out my husband unplugged it, I'll say a little thank you instead of grumbling. Kill A Watt: Marital happiness and lower utility bills for just $20.

Say aloha to a lot of trash.
According to an AP story (below), Hawaii is making more trash that it can store in landfills. Now, the state is looking at trash being their biggest export to the rest of the states. It makes sense: Small island, tourists making trash.
Anchorage, Alaska, and NYC are sending their garbage away, too.
And there are probably some people here who are ticked that we're accepting Hawaii's trash. If you're one of those people, look at your own trash pile because at some point, it's not going to have a place to go either
North America is huge, but every continent is an island of sorts. If we don't change our ways, we will eventually reach a point where there is more trash than space. That's the part where the nongreenies will be shouting, "Send it to Africa!" or whatever continent they want to victimize first. Then, it'll be sending it to space or the bottom of the ocean.
But at some point, we're going to have to accept that we're screwed if we don't figure something out now.
Shifting the garbage is as effective as shifting the blame. How about exporting some more of that "aloha spirit." I'm having delightful "Lilo & Stitch" flashbacks.

Hawaii's next big export: municipal trash
Associated Press Writer
HONOLULU -- With sugar cane and pineapples fading, Hawaii's
next big export to the U.S. mainland could be less sweet -- 100,000
tons of trash a year.
In one of the most ambitious municipal disposal plans yet, Oahu,
Hawaii's most populous island, is looking to send some of its
garbage on a 2,600-mile voyage to the West Coast.
With 900,000 residents and close to five times as many tourists
each year, Oahu is running out of landfill space. And neighbors on
other Hawaiian islands say they have enough garbage of their own,
thank you very much.
Some Oahu residents see the export of trash as running counter
to the benevolent "aloha spirit.''

Green U.

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Would an eco-friendly building help sway your decision about what college your or your children attended? Would you donate money to your alma mater specifically for green initiatives?

College residence halls go green with students
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK -- This fall, students at Sarah Lawrence's Warren Green hall will be composting together, monitoring their electricity usage and drying their laundry on a clothesline. They will share appliances, cooking and shopping to reduce waste and energy, and use electric light as little as possible.
And rising junior Josh Butler, 20, couldn't be happier to live there.
"It means a lot to me that the college is thinking about this really seriously,'' says the co-founder of Sustainable SLC (Sarah Lawrence College), which partnered with the school on the green residence house. "It's very different if it's just students working for this as opposed to it being a joint effort.''
Most colleges have been environmentally conscious for years, with campus cleanups and recycling efforts that are often led by students. But now they are focusing on where students live, creating green residence halls that are becoming a hot destination for eco-minded students.

cahootie.jpgRemember those fold up things you made in grade-school to tell fortunes?
We called them fortune tellers; other people call them cootie catchers.
No matter what the name, these beauties required only a piece of paper and something to write with. They provided hours of entertainment.
Now a company is selling these things as Cahooties.

If you're familiar with my tales of basement terror (the centipedes and brown recluse we've found in our new-to-us basement), you'll love this one: The husband just called to let me know we have a big-old, underground nest of yellowjackets in the yard. Yup, those yellowjackets that like to swarm and sting repeatedly.
Seriously, was the previous homeowner having freak insects sent to him to create a bug farm or something?
Fortunately, there are nonchemical solutions to this, many of which involve ice and rocks. Now, that's natural.

Tuesday links

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The Center for Food Safety
Not sure what the deal is with bovine growth hormone, irradiated food, genetically modified crops and all the rest of the food hoopla?
Go to The Center for Food Safety's Web site. It's a nonprofit advocacy group.
Like any other group they aren't completely unbiased. But if you want to know what bad things your 2-year-old was doing while you were out of the room, you ask the 4-year-old who resents him. Then, you believe a select percentage of the things the 4-year-old tells you. I think of some of these groups that way.
And the Center for Food Safety is your one-stop shop for food information. Think genetically modified foods are good for you, but you'd know if you were eating them? Think again. Read the sites info to decide whether they're good and you'll learn that the U.S. doesn't label GM food ... and you probably eat it everyday.
Even if you're not worried about cloned bacon, the Center for Food Safety can give you the lowdown on mad cow disease and the sewage spills that cause recalls like the spinach scare of a few years ago.
On the "Take Action" page, you can learn what companies and parts of government are considering changes you may wish to take as stand on. For instance, you can tell candy companies that you oppose the use of genetically modified sugar beets. Sweeeeet.

Conservation Plainfield will offer "Water: Our Greatest Resource," its sixth annual environmental panel, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Plainfield Public Library.
According to a press release, panelists, including Director of Public Works Allen Persons; Water Superintendent Mark Stofko; Wastewater Superintendent Doug Kissel; environmental scientist Kris Slamen; and Conservation Foundation CEO Brook McDonald, will discuss water availability, resource management, conservation, creative use and reuse, and how these tie into our quality of life. It's free and everyone can attend.
I love the folks at the Conservation Foundation, and Monday I learned that I really like Plainfield's public works director. "The trend is toward water conservation," Persons told me Monday. Water usage in the village, and the nation overall, is increasing, he said, and "there has to be more water conservation in the future."
You can see why I like him, can't you?
And I'm thrilled to have the event in Plainfield, because we have some lawn-watering fans who aren't happy with their bills.

organicchoice.jpgWe're trying to do mostly organic gardening. I say mostly because we didn't buy organic seeds, meaning that they could have been covered with all sorts of terrors in their short lives. Other than that, we're going greenish.
And it's easier than it used to be, I suspect. Now you can waltz into Menards and pick up their organic gardening products.
We've gotten the blood meal and all-purpose plant food.
I'm not a scientist, so I can't vouch for these being good for the planet. But I trust them more than the products created by chemical companies.
Either way, we're not ladling it on. We're only using what we must have to fix imbalances in our soil. (Our flowerbeds and garden are full of glass from the Plainfield tornado, so I'm going to guess no one has been fiddling with the soil balance in years.)
Why spotlight Menards for this?

  1. I'm sure other stores, like Home Depot and Lowe's, have similar products. But they didn't send an e-mail about them. I'll tell you a little secret. Sometimes, journalists are lazy and use the examples that fall into their laps ... or in boxes. In this case, this fell into Patrick Ferrell's in-box, but he forwarded it, making it a no-effort choice. This is why, if you're submitted a press release, make it easy for us. You'll like the results.

  2. The irritating guy from the Menards ads is the father of "CSI" hottie Greg (Eric Szmanda). Petty, but can you tie Home Depot to Kevin Bacon in six or fewer links?

  3. Menards routinely includes "Made in USA" on product listings in their fliers. That's important to me. Not only are they being from American vendors (and helping keep jobs in the U.S.), but they think it's important, too. From a green point of view, this means you're not buying a product that required fuel to ship it from halfway around the globe.

Like recycling, going organic needs to be easy and affordable to get more people to do it. This is a step in the right direction.

But greenies shouldn't be excited.
They're filming an auction of the gorgeous architectural treasures being torn out of a historic home that is being torn down. All sorts of controversy is circling the purchase and decision to tear it down.
The Naperville Sun has a fantastic package about it. Check out the comments on the blog if you want to see which side residents are on. (Hint: The preservationists are coming out of the woodwork on this one, god bless them.)
"Total Wrecklamation" will film the auction and track the piece to their new homes.
I'd like to do a documentary instead about why the sellers should stop the teardown and repair the house, or sell it to someone who will.
You know what's greener than saving the architectural details of a home? Saving the home itself. The greenest house is the house that's already built.
Instead, this buyer will cash in on the pieces, stick the rest of it in a landfill and use new materials to build a new home that he can then also sell.
Greed is winning out over green, this time.

Good news: The editorial page gave a thumbs up to a proposed permanent collection facility for hazardous household waste in Will County, saying:

"We use cleaning supplies, batteries and automotive fluids every day but hardly give a second thought to what's in them. When it's time to dispose of such products, however, caution is often needed. Chemicals in household products might not be dangerous by themselves but can become a hazard when mixed with other substances, sometimes in the back of a garbage truck or when tossed into a landfill. Or they can cause problems after leaking into the water supply."

Bad news: The raging debate over waste companies making money from our recycling has reached a sad stage. Now, residents are threatening to throw recyclables away in the regular garbage cans just to stop the waste companies from making money recycling them. So you'd put something in a landfill for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, ad infinitum, to deal with, just to have a moment of joyful spite? How about forgive the companies their profit and accept that they're doing a service that needs to be done. Filling up the landfills with plastic is a permanent solution to your temporary anger.
And even worse, this caller is agreeing with a previous call to do the same thing:
"... If I had to buy the big trash receptacle, I wouldn't buy it. I would rather throw all of my recyclables in the garbage and forget about them."

You can forget about them, but your children's children won't have that privilege. Please don't cast your problems onto future generations just to get petty revenge.

Tuesday links

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Will County Land Use Department's Waste Services Division
Ever find yourself throwing something away because you don't know how or where to recycle it? Toss your trash no more, Will County's Land Use Department makes recycling easy.
This Web site lists special local recycling events and what they're accepting (in September, there are book, hazardous waste and tire collections, for instance) and permanent collection sites.
Permanent sites, you ask? Yup. Did you know the area has permanent sites for dropping off medications, electronics and compact fluorescent bulbs? Just click on the above link for the land use department's guide to regional drop-off sites.
Now, there's no excuse for throwing away tons of things that take up space in landfills and can pollute our groundwater when thrown in the garbage.
You can save up your special recycling items in a box in the garage, and take them to recycling events, or you can hit on one of the permanent sites whenever you have something to get rid of, whether it's an outdated prescription, a broken CD player or the remains of the pesticide you decided to stop using.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh and local students stand in front of a pile of shoes, which will eventually be recycled, at the Will County Annual Environmental Awards Program. The last countywide shoe collection bought in nearly 8,000 shoes for recycling or reuse.
If your shoes wear out before you outgrow them, recycle 'em.
If you outgrow them before they wear out, donate 'em for someone else to wear out.

We were ready to turn over a new, pesticide-free leaf when our home's centipedes went to the big basement in the sky.
We'd broken down and bought a spray for the house when we realized there were a ton of the creepy things in our new-to-us.
We'd would take care of the problem the poisonous, nongreen way, we reasoned, then start over fresh, doing the right thing.
Great plan till Thursday night.
I went down to the basement to wash clothes. Not wearing my glasses, I saw a bug on the wall, but couldn't tell what sort it was. A short centipede? Not again.
I grabbed the bug spray without thought. I sprayed. It was empty.
Not taking my eyes off of the thing, I backed up and grabbed a different bottle. I sprayed. Nothing came out.
The bug, sensing I was out of ammo, started to take off. I finally figured out how to use the stupid bottle and sprayed right on him.
I yelled for my husband, whose vision is actually good, and got a little closer to look.
Now, we're not experts, but that was probably brown recluse spider.
That's bad.
Really bad.
We didn't get close enough to see the tell-tale violin shape, but everything else matches. It scurried off to die. We let it go, mostly because we're not into bites that necrotize. Everything else matches.
So soon, we're going to have to go down there -- in the daytime, thank you very much -- and find the body. Then, we're sending it off to the guys running this site for confirmation. They're collecting suspected brown recluses from northern Illinois to track 'em, confirm 'em, etc.
This isn't boding well for our pesticide-free future.

plastictip.jpgThe cover story may be about cats, but Sunday's USA Weekend promises six simple ways to rid your house of unsafe plastics -- especially if you have a toddler. Pick up Sunday's Herald News to get USA Weekend and the checklist.
Considering we're a Tupperware society, let's see how doable this plastic-ridding business is.
I'm definitely part of the plastics problem, but I've been trying to mend my ways here and there. I love, love, love old Pyrex, even the stuff from the 1970s.
I've been buying small Pyrex, hoping it'll eventually replace my plastic wear.
But man, you just can't throw Pyrex in a lunch bag that easily.
And the stainless steel options for replacing Tupperware are a little scary. They look a little torture-device like.
Anyone have anything they like? Or a reason to re-embrace the plastics?

walle.jpgMy husband and I saw "Wall-E" on Sunday morning.
To quote my husband, "I think I should be on suicide watch now."
You think I'm crazy, right? You've seen the funny ads and you think it's a nice Pixar movie about robots in space.
Actually, it's pretty serious glimpse at what we're headed for if we don't take this whole recycling thing a little more seriously.
Is it about cute robots? Yes. But cute robot Wall-E lives on an earth bereft of life. The trash is stacked higher than skyscrapers and the air is so polluted poor Wall-E can barely get a glimpse of the night sky. The story reveals that humans just kept consuming and throwing everything in landfills till there was no space for us.
Charming, eh? Add to that the fact that Wall-E is the only machine still moving, and he longs for love but is all alone, and you have a recipe for smeared mascara in movie theaters nationwide.
The good news is that there's a message of hope that we'll get off our asses and do something eventually. And the kids in the theater didn't seem to get the whole death-of-the-world subplot, so it's probably not going to have your kid trying to chuck himself off the monkey bars, yelling, "Goodbye, cruel playground!"
But maybe they should know what's going on. Take your kid to "Wall-E." Let them laugh at the fat people jokes, if that's your thing, and take them home happy. The next day, please start a conversation with them. Ask them if they understood that Wall-E's life mission was cleaning up all of the perfectly usable stuff we throw away. Ask them if they think the humans would have had to leave Earth if they'd just recycled more? Ask them if they really want to keep throwing away scuffed up toys, getting new ones instead, or if they want to help keep stuff out of landfills.
Pixar used a ton of resources to make this movie. And a lot of people think it's a movie about robots, not recycling. But maybe we're subtly programming our kids for a greener future. That's a little subliminal advertising I can back .... as soon as I'm out of the fetal position from the sad, sad "Wall-E."

Tuesday links

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Local Harvest
At Local Harvest, you can find local sources for organic food, including farmers markets, commmunity support agriculture farms (CSAs) and delivery services.
Just type in your city or ZIP code, and you'll get a list of local resources.
This link is running today because it's mentioned in Janet Lundquist's story about a Plainfield CSA.
A few months ago, a rerun of "Get Fresh with Sara Snow" touted CSAs as the best way to get food with minimal chemicals and minimum damage to the environment. Food from your CSA isn't sprayed with chemicals in third-world fields before being shipped to your grocery store using tons of fuel for planes, boats and trucks. Sara Snow suggested we take part in our local CSA.
My husband and I snorted. You don't exactly trip over organic-food-growing, hemp-wearing hippies in Plainfield, we reasoned.
Or maybe you do. We found and discovered Gray Wiechern's CSA. Even better, we realized it was a farm we already drove past a lot and noticed.
I greedily wanted to keep this to myself so I could buy a share. Well, greed is rarely green.
But then I greedily wanted to keep it to myself for this blog. But, frankly, we could all use some education on CSAs, not just the folks who are likely to read a green blog.
I finally did the right thing and told Janet about it so she could do a story.
Shortly thereafter, a blogger I enjoy, Amy Karol, started posting interesting salad recipes on her blog, Angry Chicken. What prompted her veggie fever? She was coming up with recipes to use up what she found in her CSA box.
CSAs are here to stay, and they're more plentiful than you'd guess. Sure, a lot of them are sold out now, but head to Local Harvest to find one convenient to you, then call to see about a waiting list.
As for this summer's produce, put your ZIP code in at Local Harvest for a farmers market that you can buy from.

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