Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm Above Average

I just took one of those quick calculate your carbon footprint quizzes online, and guess what. My carbon footprint is above average! 

There were about 8 very generic questions that I answered that led to this conclusion. One of the questions was how often does someone in your house fly across country per year. My husband flies at least 6 times per year out to CA for business (we're on the east coast), and I think that one fact put us over the top. 

I wonder if these quick online quizzes that measure my carbon footprint are any more useful than the "how compatible are you and your dream guy" quizzes I used to take in Seventeen magazine (is that even still around?) when I was a teenager. 

There were not nearly enough actual facts measured in the carbon footprint quiz to really get an accurate picture. It asked what kind of cars we drove, but not how far we drove to work. We both work out of the house. That should be worth some extra points on the plus side of the quiz, shouldn't it?

I know that the point of this type of quiz is to get the taker thinking about the resources he or she uses and how it effects the environment. It's not a scientific evaluation at all. But I worry about someone taking one of those quizzes and then clicking on the link for a carbon offsetting site without really understanding all that goes into it.

If anyone has any easy to understand sources that explains the process of erasing your carbon footprint with carbon offsetting, I'd love for you to post what they are here. It's one area I am very unfamiliar with, and frankly I worry about a lot of it being a big scam.

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Green Thursday at Primal Parenting

I've got a new post up at Primal Parenting's blog about shrinking your trash. Check it out. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Light Green

I was contacted today from someone who had seen this blog about doing some writing. They are looking for someone to write for the 'light greens" out there. Those who aren't yet treehuggers but are on their way to becoming so.

So today's green term definition is light green. I suppose I'm a shade slightly darker than light green by now,what with the fact that I am trying to get a little greener every day. But I'm probably not so far dark that the "light greens" can't relate to me.  Or that I can't relate to them.

I did a little googling and apparently the "light green" term has been bouncing around for a while. Many of the comments I read were by people putting the light greens down. But hey, when it comes to the environment doing a little is far better than not doing anything at all.

This is not second nature to many of us. I'm  a child of the 80's - raised to believe that I am entitled to all of the conveniences life has to offer from paper plates to strawberries year round to a 10 MPG SUV that I use to solely go to the grocery store and pick up my kids from school in. Changing that mindset takes time. It takes education. It takes encouragement, not belittling from those who are "darker" than the rest of us.

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Why is There High Fructose in my Corn Syrup?

I have been making big changes in the food my family eats over the past six months. I'm trying to take us all organic eventually for our health. But I'm also trying to change what we eat so that it helps not just our bodies but the earth, too. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I realized just how much our food choices effect the environment.

One of the things I learned in the book was how and why high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has slyly made its way into so much of our food. One of the reasons is that the corn conglomerates that are subsidized by the government can make a ton of money by creating the genetically modified sugar substitute. The corn used to make high fructose corn syrup comes from fields that are pesticide laden, which of course is really bad for the environment.

So the growing of the corn for HFCS is bad for the environment. The consumption of the HFCS is bad for our bodies (the subject of which is another blog post waiting to happen). Armed with those two facts, I have been eliminating as many foods as possible that contain it.

Today, as I was making my homemade granola bars, I happened to look on the corn syrup bottle. Here is what had I assumed. Corn syrup has been around for way longer than HFCS (which reared its genetically altered head in the 1970's) so of course there wouldn't be any high fructose corn syrup in it. Why would there? But, I found out that one of the ingredients is HFCS. It obviously isn't needed for corn syrup. So why is it in there? It's in there because it makes the corn syrup cheaper to manufacture.

So now I've got another thing to research. I need to find a corn syrup that is just that - corn syrup. The more I learn the more work I make for myself. But it's all good and all leads up to being a little greener every day.
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What Should Go in the Packet?

As I've mentioned before, my town is going green. There are some very exciting, progressive things happening in my little town that has always prided itself on its old fashioned community way of life. 

As part of the town committee, I've been asked to create a Green Packet to be given to new residents. My task is to come up with materials for an information packet on the town's green initiatives and inform new residents how they can contribute. That's about all of the instruction I was given. So I'm wondering, what should go in this packet?

I've got a few ideas. 

A FAQ sheet for both paper recycling and plastic, glass, can recycling.
A refrigerator magnet with the department of public work's number on it for special trash pick up (like refrigerators or metal objects)
Information on CFL light bulbs including how to properly dispose of them and the closest disposal facility.
Information on the closest disposal facilities for many items such as batteries, paint cans, motor oil, electronics, etc.

Those are my ideas so far. If anyone reading this has any other ideas, let me know. I really want to do a thorough job.
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Friday, January 18, 2008

Provoking My Thoughts

Here are some things that caught my attention this week that are related, some way or other, to being green.

Cloned Animals Safe to Eat, Declares FDA  - This news puts me one step closer to making the decision to form a relationship with my local organic farmer to make sure I know exactly where my meat originates.

Have you seen the commercial for SC Johnson's products like Windex and their Greenlist label? I did and it sounded fishy to me - read it about it here.

Some insurance companies are paying to rebuild damaged homes greener than they originally were - even if it costs more.

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Green Thursday

I'll be blogging each Thursday over at Primal Parenting magazine's website. Take a look at this week's post about keeping things out of landfills while purging. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Proud of my Hometown

I went to a meeting last week at our borough hall because I've been invited to be a committee to researching the possibility to green our municipal energy. At the meeting we had a question and answer period with someone from a company that would do an energy audit of our municipality and then come back to us with a "sustainable energy master plan." They would make recommendations as to how all of the energy that our municipality uses (borough hall, police station, fire station, traffic and street lights, etc.) could be changed to use sustainable energy sources.

It was a very educational meeting. I'm really proud that my little town is investigating these options and that the powers that be are really interested in seeing if it's possible to make this happen. 

It's also got me thinking about the renovations that my husband and I are planning for our home in the near future. We've already started talking about perhaps going a little smaller than originally planned to save on energy. But maybe we can have solar panels put on the roof. There are lots of other options that I don't know anything about, YET. But I am definitely going to do some research before we forge ahead with our plans.

One thing I definitely learned at that meeting the other night, I've got a lot left to learn.
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