Howdy! And welcome to the green pages of this website. Here is information to help you enjoy, understand, and preserve the only planet we've got--Earth!
Regular topics will include:
- healthful foods and recipes,
- useful websites,
- reducing your carbon footprint--and, yes, definitions for any new terms!
Thanks to years of teaching at the Duke Marine Lab here in Beaufort, NC, I know fine folks who are eager to share sugggestions for living a healthier, more mindful life.
- About Your Carbon Footprint...what do you know? You can find out with the help of World Wildlife Fund's new carbon calculator. At their website you can figure out your footprint in the following categories: food, housing, transportation, and goods and services. Learn how you're doing compared to the rest of the world. Do check it out and learn how to do even better! worldwildlife.org/carboncalculator
- Go Take a Dive...into the oceans of the world. Okay, it's a virtual dive, but still mighty interesting. You'll be going online to explore the world's oceans. These amazing waters cover over 70% of the Earth's surface, they're a matchless source of protein, and we all need to guard them. Find out more at earth.google.com/ocean
- Gardening Success
In March 2009, we recommended Mel Bartholomew's All New Square-Foot Gardening book. Well, the vegetable person here, my spouse, followed the advice and created two four-by-four beds this past summer and it REALLY WORKS. We'll be eating our last tomatoes and peppers tonight, December 2nd. (Of course, it's warmer here in North Carolina than some places.) We also successfully grew green beans, parsley, basil, and zillions of peppers, all colors.
- AMAZING WEBSITE: http://inkrethink.blogspot.com
Here's a terrific resource for parents, homeschoolers, kids, and teachers. For famous children's non-fiction authors in your classroom, go to www.inkthinktank.com, which is an amazing, free database of non-fiction books.
On these sites you can search for material required for schools nationwide, for national education standards, for current titles in all required schooling fields, and more. You can search using author names, titles, and keywords. Boys often prefer non-fiction to fiction, as you may know, and here is the best collection of well-written, interesting factual books I've heard about!
Best of all, www.inkthinktank.com brings authors into your classroom as these writers discuss how they research, give suggestions for using these books in class, and explain the professional development workshops that they bring to schools. Books in the database have won hundreds of major awards, so let's check them out, and note the printable list of award-winning factual books!
- DOE Weatherization Assistance
The Department of Energy has set aside over $5 billion to help us make our homes more energy-efficient. Individual homeowners may qualify for loans as well as city, state, and county governments. Go online at home or at your library's computers to find out how you may receive assistance. Just type in Department of Energy and snoop around.
- Planet Green
If you are on cable TV, you may have a channel called Planet Green. If so, lucky you!
- "New" Clothes...FREE!
Fact: Women love new clothes. The latest trend in living a less materialistic, "greener" existence is swapping clothes/boots/purses/books. All around the country, groups are gathering, loaded down with stuff they want to swap for "different stuff." Enroll 10 or 20 of your friends and give it a try in a church basement or any central meeting place. Divide the stuff into logical piles and find all new stuff to take home and enjoy-for free. One rule: no fighting.
A Great Green Booklist
You may remember that Dr. Seuss's character, the Lorax, said, "I speak for the trees." Other writers also speak eloquently on behalf of our Earth and its inhabitants. We offer you their books and will add to them periodically.
THE SELF-SUFFICIENT-ISH BIBLE, An Eco-Living Guide for the 21st Century, by Andy and Dave Hamilton. (4/2010)
The Hamiltons assure us that we don’t have to give up our urban ways to lead a more eco-savvy life. This is a UK team, though, so not everything applies to the USA, but MOST of it does. Overall, this book is stuffed with good information and ideas I’d never have thought of. A strong title, and a great gift for the eco-conscious folks in your life. Check it out.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, by Dick and James Strawbridge. (6/2010)
This father and son team is known in UK as eco-wise folks well qualified to give advice on how to live in a more sustainable manner that is kind to the earth. Their book offers up-to-date information for city dwellers as well as urbanites and the few who live in the country. Best advice is for you to find this book in a bookstore and browse its contents to make sure it meets your needs.
ORGANIC GARDENING, published by Rodale Press.
Useful tips and practical news you can use in your garden.
You don’t have to have a farm—we don’t, yet we are putting out 2 brand-new, made-from-scratch boxes, after following advice in Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square-Foot Gardening.
We are excited! We’re planning to start simple, with tomatoes, radishes, beets, and butternut squash. Maybe a few pole beans. Maybe some peas…. Yup, we’re excited.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS —the magazine.
This is the grandma of all “green publications,” of course—the foundation of what is by now a huge enterprise, and for good reasons. Mother Earth publications are many; all are helpful.
One title fits our needs now for sure: Living on Less: An Authoritative Guide to Affordable Food, Fuel, and Shelter by John Vivian (1998).
STOREY'S BASIC COUNTRY SKILLS: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance, Ill., paperback.
Once again, you don’t need a farm, just a little bit of land. It doesn’t even have to be where you sleep. You can visit a plot on weekends and have a great time gardening. Think of it as a Victory Garden, a` la WWII. I grew up eating the amazing produce from my dad’s victory garden, an experience that marked me for life. The best food is your own! Give it a whirl.
HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED: Why We Need a Green Revolution-and How It Can Renew America, by Thomas Friedman.
Yes, we know that the world is now a worrisome place. We've been "as dumb as we wanna be" for too long! Building on his earlier book, The World Is Flat (2005), Friedman here offers us thoughts, facts, and suggestions for rescuing our troubled planet. At first he discusses 5 topics: (1) tightening energy supplies, (2) the accompanying growth of what Friedman call "petrodictatorships", (3) climate change (weather volatility and global warming), (4) differences between societies' use/availabity of energy sources, and (5) the loss of biodiversity. Friedman spends the latter half of the book offering solutions and strategies for working through these difficulties. Maybe this book is too long and sometimes repetitive, but it is also passionate and accurate. It's an important book, in other words.
WORLDCHANGING: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century Ed. by Alex Steffen.
Packaged protectively in a slipcase, this important volume gives us dozens of ideas on living a “green” life in a reasonable way, so that this world we now inhabit will be as good as humanly possible for our children and grandchildren. These are practical solutions, not unrealistic ones, to the many unhealthy developments in the world. For instance, “if you’re under 30, you can expect to see a post-oil civilization in your lifetime.” What can you do now? Do you harvest rainwater? Why not? And food--do you know how to obtain healthful food for your family? This book offers some answers, many books to read, websites to study, and movies to watch. Each separate essay is followed with information sources. If, as editor Steffen says, you want to live in a future that is “bright, green, free, and tough,” you will want to own this book.
A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, by Aldo Leopold.
Aldo Leopold is considered the father of the modern conservation movement. Much of his prose is so beautiful it might as well be poetry. This classic book belongs in every home.
THE SEA AROUND US, by Rachel Carson.
In the 1950s, Carson wrote passionately on behalf of birds, animals, and the earth plus its oceans. She is credited with saving the brown pelican, nearly extinct in its home territory of Louisiana when Carson issued a wake-up call. She also wrote about the indiscriminate spraying of DDT, and other topics that alerted Americans to the need for protecting their world. The Sea Around Us won the 1952 National Book Award and the John Burroughs medal.
See also Silent Spring published in 1962.
BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS: Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay, by William W. Warner.
I loved Pulitzer Prize-winning book. It features outstanding writing and a fascinating story of blue crabs and the fishers who haul them in by the netload. [Of course, if we don't practice sustainable fishing, we won't continue forever to haul them in.] This book, first published in 1976, reads like fiction and keeps the reader's interest throughout, a remarkable feat, given the topic.
COD, A Biography of a Fish that Changed the World, by Mark Kurlansky.
Europeans crossed the Atlantic because of cod, a fish whose numbers were legendary. It was a dietary staple in medieval days and as recently as my own youth. [A fisher hauls in a cod much as you would bring up an old, unresisting tire. I guess the fish just gives up once it's hooked.] Fish sticks made of cod were, and are, delicious! Yet the northeastern cod fishery collapsed. How and why are revealed in this history, called "One of the the "25 Best Books of the Year" in 1997/98. I agree. Another terrific read created by a darn good writer.
ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, A Year of Food Life (2007) by Barbara Kingsolver, with Stephen Hopp and Camille Kingsolver.
I think this is a better look at a family eating a year's worth of only local and homegrown food than PLENTY, which is reviewed under Adults Read on this website. Kingsolver's husband, Stephen Hopp, contributes interesting scientific bits, Camille and Barbara offer recipes and reminisce about some hot canning days in the kitchen, Lily (8) runs her egg and chicken business (Lily's Lovely Layers), and the reader can browse at will. I thought the book should have been edited for brevity, yet I'm sure that it encouraged me to eat more local-grown food and resist that which has traveled too many miles to make sense--like strawberries in winter. Think of the fossil fuels we could save by not shipping produce from far-flung places!
EYE OF THE ALBATROSS, Visions of Hope and Survival by Carl Safina.
Winner of the 2003 John Burroughs Medal, this title takes us across the lonely seas with Amelia, an albatross. Amelia wears a satellite tracking transmitter so that scientists can learn about her real existence--how far she travels (as much as 7,000 miles from her nest at times), how she parents her chicks, and where she sees turtles, whales, sharks, and seabirds. This is an inspiring book and a rare chance to view the sea in a whole new way. In order to protect our oceans, we need to know as much as possible.
THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA, a Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan.
This title, by the author of The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World , discusses how our beef is brought to the marketplace; what exactly is in a fast-food meal (be nervous, be very nervous); where corn came from and why it is now everywhere and in everything--you will be amazed!-and other gripping topics, all about food. This is a mighty meaty book and I plan to re-read it very soon. My next Pollan read is his newer book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto .
THE $64 TOMATO: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden by William Alexander.
As a frustrated gardener myself, I could hardly wait to read this funny book. Between the covers I met another person obsessed with natural fertilizer and heirloom plants. Does an heirloom tomato really taste better? You betcha! Are all plants perverse by nature? Yup. But with books like this as joyous guides, you, too, can be the greenest folks on the block with your own garden.
TROWEL AND ERROR, (garden tips), by Sharon Lovejoy.
A charming, useful, witty book like this belongs in every gardener’s library. I began reading it for the fun of it, fell in love with the illustrations, and then became hooked on Lovejoy’s practical, earth-friendly approach to gardening. Excellent index. Outstanding gift!
Green Kids' Books
Out the fall of 2008 from Simon and Schuster are a few eco-friendly titles made from recycled materials and printed with soy ink. They will sell for around $10 and help us to pass along the values we want to share with our children. Please follow the links to learn more about these innovative new books.
My Big Green Teacher: It's Easy Being Green by Michelle Y. Glennon. Ages 4 to 8.
Michael Recycle, by Ellie Bethel and Alexandra Columbo. Ages 4-8.
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches and Pete Whitehead. Ages 4-8.
Miss Fox's Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli, Ill. Anne Kennedy. Ages 4-8.
I Can Save the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Rescue, Reuse, Recycle
by Alison Inches
I Can Save the Earth: A Kids' Handbook for Rescuing Life on Earth
Polar Bear's Home: A Story About Global Warming by Lara Bergen
Brochure on "Thinking Green"
How efficient is my home and what can I do to improve efficiency?
First, find out where you stand now. There are many energy use calculators available, but Progress Energy’s site provides simple guides, tips, and calculators. Their Energy Calculator is quite extensive and can be found at: https:// secure.progress-energy.com/sid/custservice/ energyaudit/fla/EnergyCalculator.aspx
An alternative site is the Home Energy Saver (http://hes.lbl.gov/) Their home energy librarian page is useful for finding the most energy efficient products on the market.
For only $25 dollars, Duke Energy has put together a home energy efficiency starter kit which includes the following:
- 1.5 Gallons per Minute (GPM) Showerhead
- 1.5 GPM Kitchen Faucet Aerator
- 1.0 GPM Bathroom Faucet Aerator
- 15 Watt CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) Bulb
- 20 Watt CFL Light Bulb
- 17' Roll of Foam Weatherstrip
- Shrink Fit Window Kit
- Combo Pack of Switch and Outlet Draft Stopper Gaskets
- Teflon Tape
- Energy Savers Booklet
Find the kit at: www.dukeenergykit.com/
Make your own effective and safe cleaners.
Some of the cleaning heavy-weights are:
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Distilled white vinegar
- Olive oil
- Liquid castile soap
- Washing soda
Duke's Green Tipster's favorite cleaning mix:
1/2 cup of borax with 1 gallon of hot water. To that I add a bit of spearmint all for fragrance and put it all in a spray bottle. See http://thisweeksgreentip.wordpress.com/
For more recipes and uses for the ingredients listed above, go to: www.thegreenguide.com/doc/120/diy
Don’t have time to make your own, find a green cleaner near you:
Bio-Kleen: http://biokleenhome.com/products Has a variety of environmentally friendly laundry and carpet cleaning products.
Products include: household cleaners, paper products, baby care, and personal care. Also, get coupons at their website.
Soon to come:
Clorox: will be producing a natural line of cleaners called Green Works (look for it in winter 2008) which will be biodegradable, non-toxic, plant-based, not tested on animals, non-allergenic, and come in recyclable packaging.
Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish, NO FISH!
How many times have you ordered fish and wondered whether what you got was sustainably harvested and healthy?
- Text Blue Ocean Institute to retrieve their sustainable seafood information guide on your mobile phone.
- Send a text message to 30644 with the word "fish" followed by the name of fish or shellfish you are interested in
- In a matter of seconds you will have a host of helpful information.
Blue Ocean Institute has over 90 species in the text or PDA compatible FishPhone service and includes alternatives to fish with “significant environmental concerns.” Blue Ocean’s rankings are determined by evaluating “species’ life history, abundance in the wild, habitat concerns, and catch method or farming system.” In addition, health advisories, where excess consumption poses a threat, are included in the return text where necessary (i.e. high mercury levels in tuna and swordfish).
The opportunity to buy organic foods has grown in the past few years. But what does organic mean? The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets national standards that products sporting the label “organic” must meet. Some of the standards include: not using fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; not using ionizing radiation; and not using antibiotics or growth hormones on meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
USDA Organic Food Program: www.ams.usda.gov/NOP/indexNet.htm
The Green Guide’s Smart Shopper’s Cards:https://ssl.thegreenguide.com/cart/docs.mhtml?i=pdfssc
Common Questions: Is organic food better for me and my family?
The USDA makes no claims about organic foods being “safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.” However, organic foods are different in how they are grown, handled, and processed.
If I need to choose between non– and organic food which should I spend my money on?
The Environmental Working group found 12 fruits and vegetables that often have higher pesticide residue levels than their organic counterparts. See below for foods to purchase organic.
- Grapes, imported (Chili)
- Bell peppers
Carbon Offsets: What’s the purpose?
In March of 2007 Bill Chameides, the new Dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment wrote an article, “Carbon Offsets Count.” In it he explains that buying carbon offsets doesn’t fix the CO2 problem, but if you like your current level of energy consumption you can reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing reductions in carbon emissions. Chameides also notes that “Green Certificates” and “Renewable Energy Certificates,” do not reduce your carbon emissions because no link exists between your purchase and the company’s purchase of greener energy.
The new wave of responsible travel Volunteer tourism is a phenomena that helps combine travel with volunteering. In the past, volunteering abroad required long term commitments of months to years, but now many companies are offering short term experiences. Volunteer projects may include stream restoration, rebuilding schools, biological monitoring, and education. As part of your volunteer opportunities search, look for sustainable projects. The goal of the group should be to help the communities maintain the projects after foreign aid ceases.
Volunteer Vacation Resources:
Lonely Planet: Volunteer: A Traveler's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World by Charlotte Hindle; Nate Cavalieri; Rachel Collinson; Korina Miller; Mike Richard
Traveling with children, check out:www.thevolunteerfamily.org/Volunteers
Greening your Home
Resource guides for greening your home:GreenHOME has several downloadable Green Tips .pdf guides at their website:
GreenHOME’s mission is to help build environmentally friendly homes for all. They work closely with Habitat for Humanity around Washington DC to improve the energy efficiency of the Habitat homes built. GreenHOME also holds trainings and workshops to help communities decrease their environmental impacts.
Take a look at their winter months tip sheet at: http://www.greenhome.org/
Choosing Environmentally Friendly Products:
Caught off guard at the supermarket? With thousands of products available, it is often difficult to figure out which products are less harmful to the environment. From clothing to cooking, another website helps you make wiser decisions. On www.greenhome.com/products/, you can search for products by clicking on the house icon (see below) to find products that will help green your living space.