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Archive for June, 2009

Change the World Wednesday Challenge from ReduceFootprints

Posted by eemilla on June 25, 2009

This week the challenge is to be a locavore for at least three (or one full day if you eat min meals) of the twenty plus meals that make up your dining week.  In this town many a restaurant makes it easy; Laughing Seed Cafe has a farm that they source many things from, and many other restaurants either do the same or use local farmers.  Even though my fair city makes it much easier than other places, it is summer, and I love mangoes, which don’t grow in zone 7.  I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know exactly what is in season throughout the year, but thankfully, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has a friendly chart for the area.

Many a critic of eating local will argue that it is too expensive, and I agree that it can be pricey; however, the trick is to grow it yourself or make friends with someone who does.  My co-worker rents, and she still grows zucchini, red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, parsley all in containers.  Although this year some unexpected family emergencies gave us a pass on planting our victory (against corporate agriculture) garden, we have big plans for next year.  Alternatively Community Supported Agriculture shares are a great thought for those without the time or the inclination to grow their own vegetables (or the space to raise chickens, cows, goats, etc).

I will post some photos of our local meal, as its content will depend on what Mom has ready for harvest and what the Coop has in stock.

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Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Posted by eemilla on June 24, 2009

Last week’s Change the World Wednesday challenge from Reduce Footprints really got me thinking about how many plastic bags I use without even noticing them.  I hate getting them at the store but only at the checkout line; when I’m in the produce or bulk section I think about how much I need to get reusable bags, especially for the mushrooms, but week after week I use one or two new bags.  I do save and reuse the old ones, but those thin produce bags tear if you look at them wrong so I usually only get one or two uses.  I do better with the zip top sandwich bags that I put herbs in, and for the heavy bulk (rice, beans, tofu, etc) I bring some plastic storage containers.

Single use bags are just plain bad.  Americans waste about 12 million barrels of oil annually in the production of plastic bags, and if you use paper, we harvest about 14 million trees each year.  Aside from being a waste of a valuable, finite resource, plastic bags are here to stay.  Like the bag scene in American Beauty, they float and fly and land in trees and in the water.  Once in water they can resemble prey causing some obvious issues for the unlucky predator.  Even if the bags don’t retain their original shape, once they get into the water they flock; the Northern Pacific Garbage Patch is bigger than Texas.  To help protect their seascapes, several coastal North Carolina counties are thinking of joining the growing global ban (as reported on Morning Edition last week or so).  A few of the local green grocers (Earth Fare, French Broad Food Coop, and with Greenlife leading the way) began to charge for plastic bags this year, and even if the stores didn’t want to charge, couldn’t they give a credit like Earth Fare used to that the shopper can donate to a charity (which both decreases single use bag usage and gets the company a tax deduction).

Paper at least breaks down when thrown away, and all of our textbook covers were repurposed grocery bags.  However, paper still wastes plenty of resources.  Some of those trees may be old growth stands while others could be from GMO tree plantations, but either way a whole bunch of trees go down.   The GMO trees for paper production are being selected for less lignin which makes them easier to process.  The issue is that lignin makes trees strong (literally it fills the spaces between the cells’ walls), and it also helps the tree conduct water efficiently (sounds like a recipe for more less efficient water usage and increased pesticides).  On the carbon side, it also plays an important role in carbon sequestration.  Even if you recycle your bags a great deal of energy is used to do so (in both transporting and processing).

My organic cotton bags have another one up on plastic and paper: they hold pounds more.  Two bags can easily handle a week’s worth of groceries (I usually keep the delicates, like bread & fruit, in their own bag).  On the downside, baggers at the Ingles are so used to flimsy plastic bags that might hold ten pounds, I bag my own groceries which saves Ingles on labor costs (I avoid the stupid robo-checkouts) as they will invariably use half the bag then resort to plastic.

This weekend I will make or buy some reusable bags for my bulk items so I cut the plastic bags out all together.

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Weekly Green Challenge (aka Change the World Wednesday)

Posted by eemilla on June 18, 2009

Small Footprints over at Reduce Footprints has targeted one of my numerous pet peeves with this week’s Change the World Wednesday Challenge; a more informative (and ranty!) post is forthcoming on why the question shouldn’t be paper or plastic at the check out line.  Our household will be striving to remember to bring the reusable bags to every trip to the store.  Hope you’ll do the same!

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Do state legislators really deserve free healthcare?

Posted by eemilla on June 13, 2009

With the budget crisis looming for counties, cities, and states across the country, cuts are being proposed to mental health services and education among other things.  To their credit they did cut their own pay just like the state employees down the chain, but in the middle of this crisis our state legislators are wasting time with bills to amend our state’s constitution to deny rights.  

As healthcare isn’t that important for the weakest members of society, I bet the state legislator’s could save much more money by cutting their own health insurance.  Most of them are older and are probably prescribed a plethora of pharmies, which as well all know (especially those without health coverage or with only basic major medical coverage) cost a lot. Additionally, being a state legislator isn’t even a full time job, and how many of their constituents have health coverage working either a full or part time job?  I have never worked a part time (or even a full time job) in which my health care was provided free of charge.  Even if one does have health coverage, it certainly isn’t free, and I would wager one month’s premiums that it isn’t as good as what the legislators provide for themselves.

I’ll be sending this to my elected officials, and I hope you will join me.  I will also bring them to task for wasting time on a stupid Constitutional amendment to deny citizens’ rights and trying to break down the proud tradition of the separation of church and state.

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Bruegger’s doesn’t sell bagels.

Posted by eemilla on June 10, 2009

The now defunct Buddha Bagels brought me back into the bagel fold after years of absence and craving for kosher tofu cream cheese, so when they went under I decided to try Bruegger’s again.  I ate a fresh bagel in the store, and it was lame.  The peanut butter was sugary and oily, and my sesame bagel didn’t have a crusty exterior.  Even though I requested it toasted, it felt like dense Wonderbread, and I thought I might be able squish into a dough ball.  One bad bagel isn’t really enough to condemn a place so I spent $5 for two bags of seconds.  Their bagels have plenty of seeds and seasoning on them, but they are smaller than Buddha’s (which with my waist line that might not be all bad).  My biggest complaint is even though they are boiled (you can see the cauldron when you walk in), there isn’t a crusty exterior just a dinner roll like interior.  After these seconds I will have to do something else for breakfast, I guess it is back to smoothies in honor of summer.  On a positive note, their staff was friendly and efficient, and the restroom was reasonably clean.

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Weekly Green Challenge

Posted by eemilla on June 10, 2009

Over at Reduce Footprints, there is a new weekly Green Challenge.  I’ve signed up for this week’s challenge of cutting my shower time to less than ten minutes, and I’ve decided to up the ante by employing the water pause feature.  Last year we spent about $40 dollars on a new shower head that has a detachable head (for dog washing), and it also had a water pause feature in addition to being a low flow head.  We have a seen about a ten dollar  savings on each water bill so it has already paid for itself, and the pressure isn’t really noticeably different from our old shower head.  Kudos to my husband for already taking six minutes showers!

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One Car Household Week 40!

Posted by eemilla on June 5, 2009

Frankly, I am a bit shocked that we have made it this far without seriously thinking about buying another car.  We have not had one conversation about even looking at cars aside from some day dreaming in which we get some fast and nimble little car that I can haul ass up and down back country roads (and in this fantasy I could so without endangering anyone, getting a ticket, or  wasting gas).  From the onset my honey has sacrificed the most by riding the bus and walking more than I have, but this week I have walked and/or rode the bus in five out of eight commutes!  My calves are singing in that good muscle building way, and I like to think I am getting less winded than when I started around Strive not to Drive.  Another benefit is that the stress that builds in my shoulders, arms, and wrists from typing all day seems to disperse by the time I get home; I don’t know if it is the endorphines or increased blood flow, but I certainly appreciate it.  I even walked home in the rain and stayed dry (although I have yet to try Beth’s bubble umbrella idea).

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Orange Day

Posted by eemilla on June 2, 2009

Checking the forecast at Ray’s, my husband noticed that tomorrow (2 June) will be an orange day for Asheville Ridgetops, which means that the ozone levels will likely reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups (i.e., those with breathing issues, the old, and the young) and outdoor exercise should be avoided during the afternoon.  Ugh, it isn’t even summer, and the ozone levels are already an issue.  On the bright side, we are still on the low side of yellow with the particle pollution.  I guess I should up my walking commuting while I can.

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