Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Impact Does the Phone Book have on the Planet?

As a prequel to this post I must say I love this world and the way things always seem to work out just the way they should. Most of the time the winds and waves of fate push us in the direction we are supposed to move so if we do not fight them we end up landing right where we should; carried by the natural way of things. When this type of thing happens it always makes me smile.

This morning I felt a strange need to go back over to read through the comments on Jason’s latest blog posting. It is truly rare that I do this on anyone’s blog, generally I leave my comment and go about my life until I see the next posting and then, repeat, but for some reason I felt compelled to be there today so I went with it and the end result, as referenced above, was a big smile.

One of the comments shared a couple links to the issue of the Yellow Pages and how the unsolicited delivery of them nation wide creates a huge draw on natural resources (sadly this person’s profile is set to private so I can not link back, sorry!). I had been considering what to write about today and bingo, there it was, a story I had forgotten about came rushing back. Here is what laura had to say:

“Arrrgh! Phone books came this week and I hung my head in shame. Not only did I get my shiny new set at work, but at home too. So now I feel like a complete drain on mother Earth. So I did a little searching online to see if this issue was being addressed by the sane.
EVERYONE please sign up to stop the madness! Go Paperless people! 540 million copies of these tree wasting bricks are delivered EVERY year in the US alone. The Google has it all kids!
Sign up to be removed from the mailing lists.
I know that Jason's friends love the planet and thought they'd want to know. Heck, I might be the one catching up or should I say waking up.
Spread the love.”

I responded there to thank laura for the links and share a story about our own phone book delivery a while back. Matt and I were out front when the delivery person arrived. The books were not shrink-wrapped and he stacked them on the side of our front lobby. We, almost simultaneously, indicated we did not need one and thanks anyway but he could give it to someone else. He told us that he was not allowed to do that, he had to leave them or he would not get paid. We were stunned that trees were being chopped down for something we do not even need but at the time we had no idea what to do other than to take our copy back upstairs and recycle it with the paper later that week. We thought, who needs a phone book when there is Google or these days? (The really important thing to note here is that I just went down to the lobby and there are still 32 various books just sitting there, taking up space and getting no use. Some have been there well over two months.)

Enter laura and the links so generously shared over at the Freshness Factor.

I immediately went to Yellow Pages Goes Green and began investigating. Turns out this grassroots movement is pretty alright! They indicate that 540 million yellow/white pages are printed each year (that is 1.79 books per every person in the United States) and their mission is to turn it around so these books are not simply left (unsolicited) but a consumer has to call to have one delivered if they want one, thus saving millions of tons of resources and emissions annually but still making the resource available to those who really want or need it. Clearly these folks felt the same as Matt and I about the advent of the Internet for providing information that meets our needs. After reading through all of the information on the website I was elated and signed up, hopeful it would make a difference.

Then it was time to visit the Paperless Petition link. I found this site to provide about the same information as the first and opted to use Matt’s information instead of my own so we would be doubly covered just in case. The cool thing about this site is they are able to support requests from Canada, the UK and Australia in addition to the US. International readers, this is the one for you!

I am not sure how effective signing up will be as we live in an apartment building and I do not know if this would be something my landlord would need to request but I figured it could not hurt to try anyway. Here is hoping that there will be at least one less book in all of the piles downstairs from now on. Please feel free to sign up if you no longer use the physical yellow pages. It takes just a minute and the planet will thank you.

As laura said “spread the love”.

UPDATE: Laura's profile is up but she does not have a blog so please don't spam her, thanks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Green I alone?
Note: Hi Jenn-fans, it's Melissa. I'm taking the wheel today while Jenn takes a break (painting...not an actual break!) for a day. Hope you'll read on, relate and respond! Thanks!

Here's a kind of scary look at what goes on in my head on any given day:

First thing in the morning: I turn the shower on to warm up while taking care of other a.m. necessities. Sometimes (OK, fairly often) it runs a little longer than absolutely necessary just to warm it up...guilt ensues. Then more guilt for not having so far had the guts to incur my husband's exasperation by putting a bucket in the shower to collect the wastewater for eventual the spring, which seems absurdly far where would I put this water anyway...and would it then collect mosquitos...and would I then have to worry constantly about EEE (Eastern equine encephalitis for those who are wondering)?

Later in the morning: Debate with self merits of trying to find here in town all the odds and ends I have run out of or been wanting to get, knowing that even if I convince myself to go into the one icky grocery store in town, not everything is available. Feel like uncommitted jerk for not being able to convince myself that some of these items are unnecessary. Wind up going to Target (a few towns away) AND getting a green-tea lemonade at the in-store Starbuck's (to which I am hopelessly addicted). Mild happiness at having remembered my reusable cup (assuming I actually remember it; otherwise, self-recrimination for forgetting it).

On drive to Target: Ponder how I can offset the cross-country drive to Arizona I am hoping to take this summer. Ponder how to do this without enraging either of my adult driving companions, who are probably already a little irked by my lack of willingness to fly in the first place, thereby subjecting all of us to a possibly endless chorus of “Are we there yet?” and/or screeching by a not-quite-three-year-old who has been stuck in a car seat for the best part of eight hours.

On returning home from Target: Pat self on the back for green purchases, like Smarty Dish automatic dishwasher tabs (remind self to write e-mail to Method about lame packaging though!). Another pat for decision to give up disposable dust cloths...but wait, closer inspection of microfiber cloths purchased with idea of reuse reveals they are made from petroleum-based chemicals. ARGGGGH!

Prepping husband's and kids' lunch and snack any night of the week: Find all 12 to 15 reusable containers needed. Contemplate telling 6-year-old to “just deal” with graham crackers presented as squares instead of intact rectangles in order to be able to fit them into a reusable container smaller than his head. Take deep breath and try to forgive self for using a plastic baggie. (Award self and child partial bonus point later when six-year-old turns out to have brought empty bag home for reuse.)

On recent visit to friends: Driven somewhat mad by lack of recycling at place I'm visiting, but not wanting to be overly in-your-face to kind, much-beloved, hosts, await opportunities to hide recyclables in my own bags, including toilet paper rolls – appropriately enough – in my toiletries bag, many chipboard packages in reusable grocery bags, and a surreptitiously snatched and flattened plastic milk jug whisked upstairs to my backpack. Carefully leave some items in trash to avoid alerting host to covert activities. Fret over left-behind items. Try to avoid thinking too deeply about all the other forms of waste probably inherent in this vacation.

OK, this is just a sampling, and I should point out that between all my agita and somewhat muddled decisions, I occasionally do some things right. But does anyone else ever have days where they feel like they're hopping from one green decision point to another to another, and get to the end of a day feeling like they haven't appreciated any of the beauty around them?

Hear this: I am committed. I am definitely moving forward, making the changes in my day-to-day life that I can make, looking out for opportunities to do more, and trying to support others who are doing the same. But I have days where I feel absolutely overwhelmed by how slight all the good changes I've made so far are in the face of what's needed. Times when I feel lame and weak and not good enough, worried about what I'm not doing, or by all that I could be doing, and days where I just miss living without thinking so hard all the time.

So all you folks out there living the greenest way you know how, does it ever get overwhelming for you? And how do you keep it from getting to you when it does?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sharing Is Caring

Yesterday I was desperately trying to contribute to the novel I am currently working on and I must have opened it fifteen times but could not conceive of a single sentence that would add to it so I closed it just as many times. It frustrated me that there was nothing inspired coming to mind with regard to the story or character development so instead of typing I picked up my journal and pen. This is one of my favorite exercises as it tends to free the blockage because I am just frantically writing whatever comes to mind no matter how insane it may read later.

At one point while scribbling away I happened to sprawl out lengthwise on my sofa and glanced out the window at the treetops that are visible out back. I stared at them for quite some time and was instantly inspired by their naked beauty so I threw down a little bit of prose.

Generally when I write poetry it is about me, dreams I have had, feelings I need to purge and for the most part I tend to use words that no one but me understands the true meaning of, although many people can relate to the feeling or tone. Prose in my world tends not to be literal and never about nature but for some reason yesterday was different. I posted this over at my personal blog but got to thinking about it this morning and wanted to share my view of yesterday’s nature with all of you as well. Hope you enjoy it.

Just Outside
The wind blows through the branches
And they sway effortlessly,
Against a backdrop of cloudy sky.
A tree can bow in the
Strongest storm
As long as the trunk is sturdy
And the roots are deep.
A shaft of light bursts through
Illuminating the brown bark
Creating shadows for birds
To hide from my eyes.
The light begins to fade
But the tiny tips of the branches
Protrude proudly.
The wind picks up
Branches thrash wildly,
Waving at me inside my home
As if to say ‘pick me for the team’.
Trees do not show emotion
All they do is hold firm.
Years go by,
They see everything
But remember nothing
Except how to flower in the spring.
The monochromatic brown
Suddenly turns to green
Still a singular color palate
Nothing more than the same waving tree,
The same swaying limbs,
Now against a blue sky.
But the branches are hidden
And the leaves show the spirit
That swelled up from deep within the trunk.
The trees may not know how to show joy
But I do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Follow Up Discussion on the Save A Seed Coalition

Back on January 12 I posted a link over to our friends at SuperForest who have started an initiative called the Save A Seed Coalition which is working to raise awareness as well as money to support just one seed in the Millennium Seed Bank. As global warming becomes an ever increasing threat and extinction rates for many species sky rocket it is comforting to know that there are people out there doing what they can to ensure the collection of over a billion seeds for plants that can sustain life on this planet. I joined in the fight with SF and began spreading the word through that first post. I want to keep the ball rolling however and share a video they posted last Friday which discusses some of the initiatives Kew has undertaken with regard to this endeavor.

If we all donate just a little either through monetary contribution or by spreading the word about the initiative (or both!) SF will be able to adopt their seed. A worthy cause indeed and I hope everyone has a chance to get involved.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lots of Fun New Finds!

It’s a lazy Sunday morning around our house. Matt is sleeping in and I am doing some research for this week’s upcoming Green Leaf Reviewer posts. We are awaiting the snow which should be falling within the next handful of hours and are looking forward to making a tasty brunch later. We have a Sunday that is completely free from plans outside of our apartment and it feels great! Once Matt gets up however, there is a lot to get done around here.

The first thing we are going to do today is take the trash out in our GoodSense recycled trash bags. When I discovered these (at Walmart believe it or not!) the other night I was excited to give them a try. So far I am really impressed! They are sold in a box of 20, thirteen gallon bags and although I can not fill them with lots of sharp or pointy things, for a 60% recycled plastic content bag they are really sturdy to handle everyday trash. They have a drawstring and when comparing price they were actually $.04 cheaper per 40 count box.

After that we have got to throw in some laundry. We have been using Arm & Hammer Essentials and Downy Free fabric softener, as both products left out the petroleum based chemicals, but I discovered some recipes for a few natural based solutions over at Better n Before this morning and plan on giving them a try once we are out of what we currently have. (PLEASE NOTE: I have heard that Borax can be harmful to pets so be mindful to research the ingredients for yourself to determine the recipe’s individual worthiness!)

Perhaps as we watch the snow fall I will take some pictures of the entertainment center that has finally entered our home so Matt will have some visual inspiration to write Part III of the construction journey. Of course it has been a while so he will likely want to review Part I and Part II in order to ensure the story flows.

Maybe after all that is said and done I will pop over to Ideal Bite and finally sign up to receive the daily ‘living green tip’ newsletter in email. It is too bad we already went grocery shopping because today’s suggested Mardi Gras jambalaya experience sounds pretty tasty!

To wrap up my day today I am going to take some time to carefully review the 266 projects that Massachusetts deems “shovel-ready” or rather projects that could receive grant money now that the stimulus bill has gone through. I may even decide to rate a few projects as worthy or not worth the money. Everyone can join in! Just head on over to the Stimulus Watch website and sort as you see fit (by your state, keywords, by project) then click away to rate and review. I have a feeling this one might get a little bit more than end of the day attention as it is chock full of useful information and loads of projects I had never even heard were proposed in my state.

For a Sunday with no real plans it sure looks like we will be busy around here!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

In Support of the Arts

As an independent, artsy type person it makes me crazy to hear that programs, or other essentials toward the development of creativity in America’s youth, get cut from public schools. Many of you know that aside from my love for writing, I also run a multi-faceted company called Chucka Stone Designs which is 100% artistic work and I would not be where I am today without the ability to try out different artistic endeavors through encouragement of teachers while I was growing up.

Math, English, Science, History -- yes these are the big subjects deemed most important by the school system as they provide a foundation of knowledge toward expansion of that information down the line. It is true that without at least a moderate and basic level of learning in these subjects it would be very difficult to function in daily society (2+2=4, house is a noun, H2O creates water, Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776). My concern is that without the addition of creative based subjects to a curriculum, such as Art or Music, there will be less and less distinction between children as they are not encouraged to express their individuality and interests openly.

So what can we do to ensure the Arts remain a supported and important part of the school curriculum across the nation so every child has a chance to decide if there is something of interest for them personally within that arena?

One of the strongest ways we can show support is to donate! Get in touch with your local school system and see if there is an organization or program set up which accepts donations in any form -- monetary, product or even time. Time can be one of the best donations so do not overlook this. Do you run your own successful business in an artistic capacity? Why not go and talk to students about it or better yet, schedule a demonstration for how to create one of what you do!

Another great way to show support is to purposefully become a patron of independent artists. Go out on a Friday night and listen to an unsigned band play and then pick up their disc after the show while you thank them for doing what they do. Get over to a site like Etsy and browse through the thousands of shops run by independent owners then pick up something completely unique for your Mom’s birthday gift. Pop into a local poetry reading, buy furniture hand crafted by the guy down the street, paint your own picture to hang on your living room wall -- the opportunities to show thanks for the many ways artists contribute to our culture and society are endless!

Why not sign a petition indicating your support of art as it would trickle down from the highest level? Something I came across recently while checking out Bushwalla’s tour schedule was he provided a link to an online petition encouraging President Barack Obama to create a Secretary of the Arts position in his cabinet. I felt this was a fantastic idea as many other nations have similar positions and we never have. The idea was started by Quincy Jones and I was signature number 235797. It was one small step but it felt good knowing I was doing even a little something to encourage arts remain a strong part of our country’s daily life. Please consider signing the Secretary of the Arts petition.

I will continue to create through words, paint and fabric on a daily basis as well as continue to support the creative endeavors of as many artists as possible. What do you do to show support for the arts? I want to hear about it so we can continue to learn from each other!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank You Mr. President

While doing some research this afternoon I came across a link to a noteworthy blog over at my friend Charmaine’s place. It is called Post to the President and the entire purpose of the blog is for anyone and everyone to voice their thanks to President Barack Obama. Comments are disabled so those who wish to offer thanks must do so via email and it will go up on the blog as a post (don’t worry, you can remain anonymous if you like). I think this is a wonderful idea and certainly if it picks up a lot of steam (hint, hint: pass it on!!) it might be something the White House staff picks up on so maybe President Obama will be able to see that amidst all of this stimulus controversy or foreclosure bailout brouhaha that there are still many people out there who want to express their gratitude to him and his staff for doing the best job they can possibly do.

Please take a moment to check out the site and if you are feeling it, send him your own letter of thanks! Click below to be taken directly to the blog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It’s, It’s An Email Blitz!

In the past forty eight hours I have received a bunch of emails and many of them are related to causes that are dear to my heart -- The Environment and The President. In fact two emails in particular not only show support for one or the other but managed to combine both the environment and President Barack Obama into one message. Now that is something I can sure get behind!

Let’s start by talking about 1Sky. This is an organization dedicated to creating alliances with politicians to effect real change in the realm of fighting global warming on a larger scale. Yesterday they sent all of us supporters a message to let us know that when President Obama signed the recovery plan into effect it included $87 billion in green investments. From what they have indicated this is the largest expenditure the government has ever made in the area of clean energy. Hooray!

Of course 1Sky was not simply letting us know about this wonderful turn of events, they have asked us to please send a thank you note to Congress and President Obama showing our willingness to continue to support the efforts they are standing behind with this package. The great news is they made it easy to express our gratitude! Simply go to and enter your zip code. A pre-written message of thanks (and thumbnails of our local Senators) will pop up. Enter the required information (name, email, zip) and hit submit. Then please pass this link on to as many people as possible. Showing our support for their support ensures the gratitude loop for positive change keeps revolving!

Speaking of change…

Is it time to change that old, worn out T-shirt yet? Well perhaps I could interest you in one of these:

Jason Mraz and Rock the Vote have partnered up to bring us this 100% Organic cotton t-shirt in two fun colors. As if that wasn’t enough the inks are water based and all solvents are environmentally safe. Considering all of these factors, the shirts are not expensive like many tend to be -- small to XL, men’s or women’s, silver or blue will not cost you more than $25.00 (plus shipping -- please note that I found the shipping cost to be a bit pricey but I feel the cause is worth it!). They will ship within the next couple weeks and 50% of the purchase price proceeds will go directly to Rock the Vote efforts.

That gives a whole new meaning to ‘Rock On’ as these folks spend countless hours educating and encouraging voter registration. Plus how cool will it be to walk down the street with the caricature version of President Obama emblazoned on the front of a shirt?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nature and Poetry Make Lovely Bedfellows

While searching for poetry this afternoon for another project I came across a website called Poetry in Nature and I must confess I spent a fair amount of time reading through many poems. The site seems to be chock full of more modern poets and so many were beautifully written but when I came across this one I knew it must be shared here at Green Leaf. I hope everyone has a few minutes to get over to the site and check out many of these promising poets.

As the Sun Sets

© Kenneth G. Howard

The wind blows softly against my face,
The shade cast by the tree cools my heart.
The ocean waves relax the tension within,
That would otherwise tear me apart.

Alone on a calm hill for hours I lie,
Waiting only for the golden sun to set,
Prepared to see a moment of true beauty,
One that which I could never forget.

The warm glow of the sun begins to fade,
The ambient noise of the beautiful birds dies down,
The air around me cools ever so much,
But not even to that do I ever frown.

There it hits; my big moment of peace,
I move not a muscle; not even a bit.
I breathe deeply gazing at it's beauty,
Until the skies have become truly starlit.

The moon shines now; the warm glow is gone.
The owls have taken over the birds place.
I still move not, as I continue to breathe the air.
And I continue to feel the soft breeze on my face...

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Muppets Sing Coldplay

This morning I found out my bloggy friend Kate named one of her fish Beaker and I started thinking of how much fun the Muppets were as a kid. There was nothing quite like taking off for a world of fantasy and fun where creatures of all types lived together and enjoyed each other’s company. Turns out we do not have to be kids to enjoy the fun of these furry and talented creatures. I think Beaker does a fine job of singing the song Yellow by Coldplay. Hope this video brings a little joy to your day!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Is the Harm In Dumping My Expired Medication?

After posting my findings on how awesome Tropicana is to do their little part to get Green, I was surprised to read a comment from Julie regarding my disposal of the expired medication cluttering up my bathroom.

“You haven't been dumping them down the toilet or into the trash, I hope. Old meds, be they prescription or OTC, should be taken to a pharmacy/drugstore to be properly disposed. Otherwise, they'll more likely end up back in our water supply or "infecting" our soil. Just a PSA!”

As a kid we were always taught not to take any medications that had expired as they could be dangerous and/or not even work to help with the problem we were facing. I have always thrown away anything that was old or washed it down the sink, as I’m sure a lot of people out there have, because it was what I had always done when replacing with a fresh bottle so Julie’s comment woke me up. Because I am a gal who likes to have all the facts in order before I either debate or take the advice of someone else, I decided to do some research into what Pharmacies do with expired medications once we return them into their capable hands.

There are a slew of websites out there who all offer the exact same advice -- do not flush any medications down the toilet as waste treatment facilities do not have the capacity to handle filtration of every type of drug and those drugs could end up back in the public water supply so a local pharmacy, doctor or hospital should be contacted to retrieve and properly dispose of the medications. It was just as Julie had recommended!

My first stop was directly to the Walgreens website as this is the most prevalent local pharmacy in the area. I was surprised to learn the Federal government released drug safety disposal methods almost two years ago. Please feel free to visit the page where I gained the information that various governmental agencies endorse. In the end I visited approximately six online sources and discovered that most pharmacies who do accept these drugs end up sending them out to be incinerated.

Through this research I did come across some information that raised my red flag meter -- “don’t believe everything you read”; each of us needs to use our best judgment to dispose of old medications in the safest way possible for both the environment at large as well as our own personal environment. Two examples of scary information follow. I will point out however that not everything was scary, these websites also contain exceptional tips. Again, listen to your gut.

☼ “there are organizations that donate expired medicine to third world countries. Even though your medicine may have expired, it may still be good long past the printed date. (Only professionals can determine this.) Rather than have it waste away in your medicine cabinet, why not donate it where it will be put to good use?” From wiseGEEK. I believe that redistributing expired medications, prescription or not, is completely illegal so this is something I would love clarification on if anyone has additional information.

☼ “If you're tossing liquid medication, you can minimize the chance that a child will drink it by putting something terrible-tasting in it, like cayenne pepper.” From Baby Center. This is a tip for how to prevent little ones from getting their hands on medications and it sounds a little odd to me. Yes cayenne pepper is a strong flavor however the child would have to drink the liquid to know this was in there. Unknown ounces might be ingested before they stop tasting it.

The best suggestions I came across today came from as they seemed rational, logical and truthful. I am not endorsing any one method over another but I will certainly do my best to be mindful of the local and global environmental impact my drug disposal has in all future instances. Again, we all make personal choices in these matters so the more information we can be armed with on all sides, the better.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forcing the Recycling Issue

Over here at Green Leaf it is rare that I copy and paste a news story as I like to put my own spin on things but this one is too good not to share just as it is. I am not quite sure what to make of the person behind this “hoax” but I will tell you what, they get a Five Green Leaf rating in my book not only for the content of their letter but for the ingenuity!

This story is taken from the Thursday edition of The Boston Globe and shared on; the title of the article is linked to the original. Enjoy!

Prank attempts to get Boston residents to put out recycling bins
By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff

If you see your neighbor carrying his recycling bin out to the curb Friday morning, tell him to relax. It was all a prank, perpetrated by someone who apparently wanted to see the streets of Boston abounding in blue.

A hoax letter written on official-looking City of Boston letterhead went out to some residents in recent days, demanding that people put out their blue recycling bins for the city to pick up by Friday morning or face a hefty charge on their real estate tax bill.

“Unfortunately for the very few not willing to comply, we have been approved by Mayor Thomas M. Menino to add a standard fee of $327.00 to your real estate tax bill,” said the letter. “The Boston city council has also approved this measure. Your last chance to avoid penalties will be Friday, February 13, 2009. Please place bins on sidewalk by 9 a.m. on this date.”

The name of the signer on the letter was a giveaway. When pronounced phonetically, it was an expression containing an expletive.

“This is obviously a prank,” said spokeswoman Dot Joyce. “The most concerning part was that someone used City of Boston letterhead.”

The city learned of the hoax when a West Roxbury resident called to ask about it today. The city doesn’t know how many people received it or who wrote it.”

City officials are investigating, Joyce said.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

There Is a Benefit to Boosting the Immune System

As many of you know I have been sick for just under a week now. It is only a head and chest cold but since every bottle of red and green syrupy liquid in our bathroom expired two to six months ago I know it has been at least two years since I have had a significant illness. Even our aspirin was past its freshness date! Generally I am not a person who takes medication, in fact the reason the aspirin was expired is because I do not like to take that even for a headache, I feel that with a healthy diet, exercise, tons of water and the generally positive attitude I try to maintain most of the time I will stay energetic and ready to tackle the world. Most of the time it works but right now I have been dumping out old bottles, tossing them in the recycle bin and restocking with medicines that I have not been shy about taking the past few days to help me feel human.

One of the first things I do when I am sick is start drinking a glass of orange juice every day as I feel vitamin C has its own medicinal benefit. I try to drink it at night with dinner as I find my body is worn down by this point in the day and my immune system is at its lowest so it is in need of the extra boost. Last night as I was pouring my glass I looked at the juice container and immediately became impressed with Tropicana.

On the top of the carton are the words Rescue the Rainforest, a short blurb in reference to the rapidly declining number of trees in our rainforest and what we can do about it now that we have purchased this tasty beverage. In association with Coolearth, Tropicana is eager to preserve 100 square feet of rainforest for every promotional code entered on the Rescue the Rainforest website.

I went to the website, located my code on the carton and began the registration process. Registering on the site was quick and easy -- I first had to enter my birth date then complete a form providing an address and email (no phone number) and then it took me to the page to enter my 11 digit code. I entered the code and it was just that simple, I was thanked for helping to save 100 square feet of rainforest!

There is no limit to the number of times a new code can be entered! So if Tropicana orange juice is a staple in your household, or you just have one small carton like me, I strongly encourage everyone to take the two minutes to enter the information and help preserve this endangered resource. Upon completing registration, there is invaluable information regarding the current state of the rainforest and its resources on both the Coolearth and Tropicana websites. I hope everyone has a chance to read through this information as well as it is indeed eye opening.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Waterless Eagle

Yesterday my Aunt sent me an article from the Boston Globe about street sweeping in the city of Boston. The title of the article was related to the future of street sweeping and I was immediately curious if this wasteful yet somewhat necessary institution was about to be disbanded due to the recent economic downturn. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to read about a newly unveiled, waterless street sweeper proposed to the city of Boston called the Waterless Eagle.

The Waterless Eagle uses forceful suction and brushes to intake all the dirt and grime, as opposed to simply pushing it forward until it reaches a low point to fall into as a standard sweeper does. In a city demonstration the Eagle managed to suck up dirt that a standard sweeper missed and left the asphalt shiny clean. City officials were certainly impressed but there is one great downfall to the Eagle, the price tag. At $235,000 per unit, to replace all seven city machines during a time of proposed budgetary cuts would be a hit of over $1.6 million so there would need to be some very strong reasoning behind the change other than pretty roads.

During my research I discovered that street sweepers can have a tank with up to 420 gallons of water and as the article states, the seven trucks in operation in the city of Boston (not to mention all the privately owned trucks operating around town) are capable of using over 800 gallons of water per day, each. That is a hefty number especially when considering sweepers are out from spring to fall. In addition to the wasteful aspect of the machines, all that water has to go somewhere. As the machine sprays at the curb the large rotating brushes literally sweep away the dirt, grime and trash leaving this water free to run right into neighboring streams or sewers. Let us not forget all that rock salt or sand that was used over the winter that is now headed straight downstream, compromising waterways and nature in the process.

The Eagle runs on a powerful John Deere motor and can travel as fast as highway speed which means increased efficiency in the time it takes to complete an entire neighborhood. The hopper will hold up to four and a half cubic yards of waste and can sweep a swath of up to ten feet. The hopper and sweep path are comparable to that of a standard sweeper but the most excellent feature of all is the optional fuel systems. The Eagle can be fitted to run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) meaning an immediate savings of fuel cost and emissions city wide.

I am hopeful that the city of Boston will see the benefit of such an efficient and Green machine and invest in at least one for this year as a test run toward greening up the city. Once they find the benefits of such technological advances far outweigh the cost it will only be a matter of time before residents start seeing big white trucks sucking up our grunge as opposed to the well used, once loved, yet completely outdated dirt stained yellow machines of yesterday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Karma Might Be Tougher Than Originally Thought

One of my blog friends Karen constantly shares amazing recipes and wonderful insight into the world of Montana living on her own blog. She is a regular reader of Green Leaf Reviewer (thanks!) and sent me a link to this video back at the end of January. It is a hilarious and truthful depiction of what just might happen if we all decide to stop caring about our planet. Enjoy this short video and then please visit the website for Connect 2 Earth.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thinking Nothing but Healthy Thoughts

The tissues I received as the BBGG door prize were timely indeed, I have caught my first cold like something in well over two years and it has definitely knocked me out. It is difficult for a go-go gal like me to do nothing more than watch cheesy movies all day, to lie on my sofa and simply take care of myself. Sometimes the body has its own way of telling us to slow down however so today I am taking the hint.

I have been thinking all day about the ways I could tie my illness into an environmentally significant post -- touch on one of the comments I received regarding cloth hankies, the benefits of orange juice on the immune system or how I reduced my carbon footprint by not surfing the internet all day -- but in the end I want to do exactly what I have been advising friends and family that have caught various illnesses recently -- think healthy thoughts.

The power of our minds is just that, powerful. We have the ability to heal ourselves, acquire the things we want and do the things we want to do by focusing on them and allowing them to come to fruition. I am a firm believer in mind over matter and I imagine this is one of the main reasons why I have been exposed to many sick people this winter but have not yet caught anything myself; I live each day with the knowledge that I am simply a healthy person. This time I must laugh at the irony; my cold comes after literally a week of working from home, being exposed to virtually no one let alone a crop of sick people. As I lay here and type now I am visualizing myself up and around, starting yoga for the first time in a long time and enjoying swim class this upcoming Friday morning.

To see myself as healthy, breathing well and feeling no aches in my muscles makes me happy, it makes me feel like myself. With that feeling comes the knowledge that my body will do its best to cycle through this sickness and expel it quickly. I will do what I can to assist it by staying hydrated with juice, tea and water, eating bowlfuls of soup and taking it slow and steady so as not to aggravate any residual germs into a relapse. Then I will be again the person I know I am, healthy and happy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

There Are A Few Things I Simply Can Not Give Up

Green design, green products, green living, green this and green that -- the word Green has overtaken the general media! With the advent of so many fine things there will always be some things that just do not make the cut where safety, convenience, comfort, price, or a combination of all of the above, is concerned. As a self proclaimed Greenie I tend to give everything a try and if it works for me, fits into my lifestyle, then it will be here to stay. If not then I must revert to my old choices with no guilt and know there are so many other ways I can make a difference instead.

This past Thursday night was the latest Bennetts Brook Green Group (BBGG) meeting. It was small, only seven of us, but once again we touched on many fantastic topics and I was the lucky recipient of two lovely items that evening! One of the members picked up reusable shopping bags for everyone at Walgreens (I love this store) and at the end of the night I also won a door prize. I had the option of choosing between a bar of soap and a box of tissues. I eyed both but decided to go with the tissues because I had never used any of this company’s products before and was rightfully curious.

The brand is Seventh Generation, a well known name just about everywhere these days. The box is eye catching with little green leaves on a white background and on one side details of the product are given. These hypo-allergenic tissues are made from 100% recycled paper, have no dyes or bleach and are two ply. The bottom of the box indicates that if all households using tissues were to purchase a recycled product we would keep 17,000 pounds of chlorinated pollution from water ways and save:

☼ 283,000 trees
☼ 730,000 cubic feet of landfill space
☼ 102 million gallons of water

Yes this is wonderful and yes I am excited to feel good about making a difference. But am I literally looking down my nose at this gift? Well, sort of. No, they are not soft and no I do not believe I could use them if I had a cold as my nose would be raw after just one day. I am certainly happy to have the opportunity to try them out but I am a firm believer that anything we use has got to be the right thing for each of us personally or it will end up in a landfill before its intended life cycle is complete.

I will leave these tissues in the holder on the back of the toilet because we do not get sick often in this household and may only ever use one tissue a day. For that purpose they will be just fine and it will make me feel good knowing I am doing something more environmentally friendly but when this box runs out I will not replace it with another. Instead I will donate to plant a tree and use that as the trade off for the box of Puffs Plus with lotion that will make its way into my cart.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tom Lehrer Talks Environment

Over forty years ago singer and songwriter Tom Lehrer wrote and performed the song Pollution, an issue frequently given attention in the 1960’s. My Mom used to play this album often when I was a kid; his music is fantastic, he is a great piano player and his lyrics sure are delivered with a healthy dose of humor. Although his music is somewhat tongue in cheek, the message sure is serious. Thanks Mom for sharing this video with all of us today!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Celebrate Green Celebrities!

No I do not mean Kermit the Frog (although I did just read about the fact that ten of his relatives were recently discovered) I am talking about Greenies! Celebrities who care about the planet make me very happy even if I am not familiar with their body of work because they are using their well known voice to spread the word about a strong sense of community caring.

This morning I read that Miley Cyrus received a Porsche Cayenne as a Sweet Sixteen present from her mom. The car formerly belonged to her Mom and even though Miley enjoyed the benefit of recycling, the environmental impact was not thrilling her so she traded it in for a shiny Toyota Prius. In addition to her eco-mobile the singing and acting starlet also has a song called “Wake Up America” which will be released as a single soon and basically tells everyone to get the clue that we only have one planet so we should probably take care of it. Right on Miley!

A couple days ago Ginger posted some information that peaked my interest in Leonardo Dicaprio. Turns out he is quite the environmental activist with a website dedicated to sharing information on global warming and what we can do to help reduce its effects, links to films he has created with regard to global warming and water (he narrates as well) and links to multiple resources for organizations or foundations which he supports. Who knew Leo was so hot (and by hot I mean concerned with our planet)?!

I have discussed others before such as Edward Norton or Jason Mraz but these are just the celebrities who I am personally drawn to. Since I am not considered a fan of Miley Cyrus or Leonardo Dicaprio but applaud them wholeheartedly for their environmental efforts I decided to do a little digging to see who else might support such endeavors that I may not be aware of. What I discovered is that to care about our planet does not mean being the stereotypical “Tree hugging Hippie” of the past; eco-conscious celebrities are vast and varied. Some of those I discovered who care are: Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews, KT Tunstall, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ozzy Osbourne, Hilary Clinton, Jay-Z, Sting, Walter Cronkite, Morgan Freeman. And this is just the very tiny tip of the iceberg!

Here is a great collection of names and what each are personally involved in environmentally:

Bottom line is we all have a voice, we can all discuss the issues that are dear to us and take our own action to make necessary changes in order to save our planet it is just that people of a certain status of fame are better equip to reach a larger audience and for this I am granting every single one of these concerned celebs Four Green Leaves!

Thanks celebrities for spreading the word on a global scale so we can all take action on a local one. You rock!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Want to Express Great Gratitude

It is hard to believe that it is the first day of the second month of a new calendar year. Since starting this blog in mid October of last year I have logged over ninety five posts, only three of which were not mine and it has been rewarding as well as exciting to dive even deeper into the world of eco love to find all these pearls and gems to share. Without many bloggy friends these posts would not have been possible and I sincerely want to thank everyone who has shared their stories, ideas, thoughts and posts with the readers out there. Also all of you who come back to read these posts every day you are truly awesome and it makes me so happy to know you are enjoying this blog. I would be writing it even if no one was reading but to know there are so many of you interested, concerned and open to discussing environmental topics makes my smile beam!

As the spring heats up and so do the temperatures I fully intend to rub the hibernation from my eyes and get back out into this great big world of ours to explore. I will be doing my best to continue posting as often as I have been up to now but there could be times when I skip a day or two so please do not hold it against me. Instead I strongly encourage everyone to get out there on those days and conceive of your own eco ideas and put them into practice!

Some of the items I discovered I must follow up with as February rolls on are…

☼ Matt posting his final entry on the entertainment center. Part I is here, Part II here.

☼ Me getting in touch with our local public schools to discuss recycling bin availability.

☼ Changing all our bulbs to CFLs (there are 2 left & will be replaced as they die out)

☼ Join to reduce my junk mail.

☼ Begin replacing all petroleum based products with more natural counterparts (shampoo, dish liquid, packaged items, etc.)

Looking forward to continuing this great journey together in 2009! Thanks again from the bottom of my heart for your unyielding support.