I’ll Have a Green Christmas, With or Without you

My intention this year: I’ll Have a Green Christmas, With or Without you

 

 

As the Christmas insanity begins, I wonder how much environmental damage this holiday racks up every year.

I recall last year, that my daughter received several LARGE gifts from a favorite relative. Gifts she adores, but they make me think the problems that are created by such items. One, was a giant stuffed ridable horse that makes noises.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81Az97Zm%2B0L._SL1500_.jpg

She has used it about 5 times over the course of the year. It sits in her door way on a regular day. It blocks the entrance to her closet, and doesn’t allow us to close the door in her room.

She has a lot of big furniture, some that needs to go, but some that won’t, like her over stuffed bookshelf. So, this pink monstrosity lives on there.

It was made in China, and was shipped via Amazon to the gifter. There are obvious eco damages that occur from transportation alone. And this is a BIG HORSE. Made of petrochemical based materials.

It will not be recyclable.

I will be donating it, as she decides to do so.

I won’t just take her treasured horse.

Some other little child will also get to enjoy this pink horse, but at the end of its life, it will go to landfill.

I am not complaining that my child got a gift, but rather, it is not a gift that a treehugger, and a person with a smallish house needs. We had mentioned that she might take horse riding lessons last year, and thought items related to that would be great.

But a giant pink pony was not on my list.. lol

 

 

 

 

 

So what could a Green Christmas look like in our house?

 

Items I always appreciate:

Green water bottles (glass, stainless and lead and BPA Free)

Gift cards for Etsy

Audiobooks, or credits for them

 

Not shockingly, these are gifts that help me to be green all year. A water bottle keeps me from using disposables at work, or while hiking or shopping. Etsy gifts can be for anything from a new handmade purse, some new mamma cloth, or parts of my costume for the Renaissance Festival. And of course I listen to audiobooks all year,

 

Gifts I appreciate more:

Gift cards for dining- with that person

Time spent somewhere, doing something we both like

Anything solar

 

Most of my family lives away, so any time I spend with them is special. If they even wanted to come visit as a gift, I would enjoy it. Time cannot be bought! Ugly kitten sweaters are definitely not needed, either.. lol

 

Gifts that are great for someone else:

Donations made on my behalf to someone else- an eco cause, an organization like Heifer International, a donation to a women’s shelter

 

These have so much more happiness per dollar than any sweater, or card you can send me. Helping others, and the planet are my favorite causes. I don’t get to do it enough, and if you can help, that is going to make me feel great. I will also know that you KNOW me, and took time to get something you know I really wanted.

 

So, is it possible that I’ll Have a Green Christmas? I am not so sure, but one can hope.

 

 

Biodegradeable Glitter

I was recently reading an article about the environmental perils that the world has accumulated because of glitter.

As a mom of a small girl, I have a not inconsequential collection of glitters in my house. These range from crafting glitter and scrapbook glitter, to hair and facial glitter. I could easily have 3 or 4 pounds of the shiny disaster in my house at any given time. YES- this is a disaster in the making.

I can’t do much about the glitter I have already accumulated, but as it turns out, glitter does come in a more palatable environmental form.

There are several companies that sell biodegradeable glitter! I am supposing it is made of fresh unicorns and rainbows that biodegrade quickly in my nearest landfill or sanitary sewer.

(I am imagining a wastewater control technician watching the glitter from my daughter’s shower as it parades through the treatment plant.. omg- rainbow sparkle wastewater!!)

I have not tried any of these products yet, but please do weigh in if you have had any experience with them. I would love to try a few. My daughter will run out of her bad glitter soon enough, and more will need to be acquired- this is where I will start!

Biodegradeable glitter

https://www.bioglitz.co/

Juicing for a Sick Kid

This week, I have been Juicing for a Sick Kid. The little person of the house has had a cough and I think, a developing cold all week. I sometimes struggle to get fluids in her to compensate for her being sick, but I find Juicing is something she will always accept. I am mindful that this is a lot of sugar, and not a lot of fiber, so we really don’t make a habit of it. I feel good about it really.

So we use the Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor with these little bags.   With this set up, the dried or semi dry materials are pretty easy to clean up.

Over the past few weeks, we have been getting fruit and vegetables from  CSA, and we have a lot of things I have been lazy to cook or prepare. The juice is an easy way to clean out the fridge and not waste the goodies we have.

 

Juicing for a Sick Kid has looked like this:

Day 1

2 long carrots

2 ripe pears

Ginger chunk

beet

A few sprigs of parsley

 

Day 2

2 green apples

A few sprigs of parsley

Chunk of ginger

2 celery stalks

A small Satsuma orange ( no peels)

 

Day 3

A beet

1 carrot

1 pear

Ginger chunk

A small Satsuma orange ( no peels)

A few sprigs of parsley

 

 

Each of those make a small serving of juice in a coffee cup for me and the short person. It is about a full coffee cup for each recipe, depending on the size of the materials you use. The kid inhaled all of these juices in seconds. I do encourage this, since they are pretty thick if you let them sit and separate.

She may be on the weird side, but she asked for more beets last night. We were out, so we need to shop for a few more, I guess.

As for me, I am not a huge fan of greens in my juices, even though I know the value of them. I could not taste the parsley at all. I COULD taste the celery in the  Day 2 juice, but it was nice in that blend. I have some chard and I am considering using it tonight with some apples. Apparently it is the new kale.

I am not a fan of juiced kale.. so hopefully that will not be true. HA!

Juicing for a Sick Kid is pretty easy though. Try it!

 

Your Air Quality

Your Air Quality is very important to your health, and to the environment around you. There are tons of websites online that can tell you the air quality for the air you live in.

I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and we have some seriously miserable air quality during certain times of the year. All of our hours of sunlight, and a gazillion cars  add up to produce high levels of ground level ozone and many other pollutants.

It is easy for me to see what is coming up by signing up for their free air quality alerts at: http://cleanairmakemore.com/

I get their emails at home and on my work account.

 

I find that not only do they have great air quality forecasts, their weather forecasts are even better. Over time, I have realized that they are more accurate than weather.com and wunderground.com. Go figure- the forecasts are created  locally..

 

They have an app and even text messages as well. I use them at work for my Trip Reduction contests and they are amazing. I can see everything I need to reward my coworkers for taking part in rideshare activities.

 

If you live outside of Maricopa County, you can do similar tasks on https://www.airnow.gov/ 

Your air quality is tracked all over the country, so all you need to do is look it up.

More information is better when it comes to Your Air Quality. You can now plan to stay in, or go out and know how clean your air is!

Solar Power Saves Money

Solar Power Saves Money

Solar power saves money for a lot of homes and businesses in the US and around the world.

I was a relatively early adopter of household solar panels on my home. I have a contract with  Solar City, and as year 7 comes to a close, I find that my savings have been more than they promised, and as satisfying as I knew they would be.

 

$9,874

Your estimated savings so far

56.9

Tons of CO2 conserved and counting

Equivalent to

 Not driving a car for 134,642 miles

 Or avoiding the use of 29,137 gallons of water

 

I live in Arizona, where a lot of our power comes from nuclear. While this is a low cost (relative) and low emission (short term) source of power, even APS realizes that the long term disposal of spent nuclear is not resolved.

https://www.aps.com/library/resource%20alt/2017IntegratedResourcePlan.pdf

“Another consideration is the ultimate disposal of spent nuclear fuel as the federal government has not succeeded in establishing a permanent repository. Spent nuclear fuel from existing nuclear power plants continues to be stored at the individual plant sites, either in spent fuel pools or in dry cask storage facilities. “

Nuclear energy is at best delaying the cost and pollution of energy to the future generations. At worst, it is a destroyer of land, water and human life, as we have seen in Japan with their latest issues with their reactors.

Solar is resource heavy up front, but the operation over 20 plus years certainly seems a more viable solution. The wastes and pollutions that are generated are able to be mitigated with current technology. The same cannot be said for nuclear.

Pollution generated from coal fire plants is a huge issue. Air, soil and water are wasted and destroyed during mining as well as during power generation. Some of these are able to be mitigated, but air pollution seems to be a source that no one is willing to pay for, even though the technology DOES exist to mitigate it.

So back to my house.

We installed the solar system on my home in December of 2010. It was just in time to realize the last decent solar tax credits that were offered by the state and local government. Those tax breaks still exist to some extent, but not nearly as much as I received.

At the same time though, the prices were higher.

Demand was high, but production wasn’t really refined at that point.

The politics of all of this has led to cheaper systems, and less companies vying for the install money.

Solar City has stuck through all of us, and in my opinion it is because of their superior product and service. It is also due to their early leasing options.

I considered this when I got my system. The return on my investment, as projected, was pretty close either way- a payoff in 8 years.

They beat that. I was getting a return part way through the 6th year. I ended up using more power than projected, and it saved me even more than they estimated. Lucky me!

(now if APS would stop raising their generation fees, I could maintain my savings.)

The current environment has found energy companies wishing they had put more fees on the early adopters. They were no longer making as much money off of our solar systems. We saved money, when they obviously thought we wouldn’t.

They are restructuring rates so future installs are going to pay more than I will on my grandfathered system. But I still pay more than I used to.

The benefits are still there though. Leases can be very attractive ways to hedge the risks of an owned system.

If you think about the alternative, money wise- do you save any money or generate any power on your normal non solar home? Probably not.

You are tied to the grid no matter what, and need to pay what they offer you. You generate nothing. You just spend and consume.

And yes- I am on the grid, and I consume more than I make, but what else is my roof doing for me, besides keeping the rain out?

Solar Power Saves Money. Solar also saves air, water and soil in the long term.

Take a look at it in your area.

The links above are going to take you to the Solar Ambassador program. If you decide to buy a Solar City system, I might get a kick back. I never have gotten one before, but hope you might consider clicking it if you do want a quote on solar.

They can show you what to expect on your roof based on Goole maps and the amount of sun you get. It is interesting.

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Practical Environmentalism

Practical Environmentalism

Over the years I have worked on a number of projects, both at home and at my different jobs in manufacturing plants.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park- Photo credit- DeathtoStock

I have learned that the best environmentalism, is the kind that saves the person or organization money, as well as having an impact on the environment.

I call this Practical Environmentalism.

So many think that treehugging is the very definition of wasting money, or creating overhead in a company. While this CAN be the case, a lot of times the effects of a project can be more than just a good feeling, or future air, water or soil preservation effort.

The best projects save money as well as protect the environment.

There are a lot of people that like to put together their arguments against even these projects, but they are missing some bigger points, in almost all cases.

I question their motivation.

Yes- it sometimes is true that unintended consequences occur. I think you will find that practical environmentalists feel that HUMANS are a problem that never will be solved completely. But we do our best to bring our nasty human habits into some kind of coexistence with the natural environment, such as it is.

Some of the bigger controversies surround my two favorite personal projects- solar and hybrid vehicles. In the following blog posts, I will talk about these two projects and how they have impacted my household and my bottom line, as well as summarizing the pollution reduction efforts that have been realized.

Follow along, comment, debate if you like. But think it through. Investigate the data for yourself and see if practical environmentalism is more reasonable than mindless resource consumption.

I am just a working person, trying to get by in an ever changing world. A person that cares about the environment, and is not making millions off of anything. A person trying to make a living, put a kid through school and TRY to make ends meet.

I would really like you to think about the motivation of debaters that argue against practical environmentalism.

What do they gain? What do we all lose?

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#NoDAPL Today is a Day of Action

https://www.facebook.com/iswsr/photos/a.167198977058737.1073741828.166574913787810/201980840247217/?type=3&theater

Photo from IStandWithStandingRock Facebook page

What is happening at Standing Rock is horrifying to me. I am a real believer that water is life. That lands that belong to a long standing group, still belong to them. They have no right to be treated in this way.

Today has been designated as a day of action.

This link will tell you places and ways to support this land and these people:

https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/nov-15-nodapl-day-of-action-at-army-corps-of-engineers

Share the hashtag and links with your friends and family on social media. Tell the story to everyone you meet today. We can express our disgust with the process going on there, and maybe, just maybe, bring some positive change.

 

#NoDapl #waterislife #ISTANDWITHSTANDINGROCK

CSA Vegetables

csa-score

 

I recently signed up for a CSA delivery basket. This is community supported agriculture.

In Phoenix, we have weird growing seasons compared to the east side of the world, and this is our best time of year for a variety of foods.

I made some awesome stuff with those Anaheim chilies. I will be posting the recipes on My Itzy shortly.

Organic produce is amazing for so many reasons.  If you get the chance to support it, please do!

I found my CSA on this link for Local Harvest.

Check it out for your area.