Thursday, October 16, 2008

All Bound UP.... no more!

This week I wanted to share with you my journey through some natural remedies, what worked and why I began searching for something in the first place. On with my story...

Ever since I was born it seems I've been constipated. Whoops can I blog about this??? Anyway, I used to use all the common and OTC remedies like laxatives, psyllium husks, fiber, prunes, citrate of magnesia, etc. Think I tried them all. Fiber bound me up even more, most laxatives were way to harsh and I never understood the fascination with prunes. Didn't work at all. So I'd go once a week, if lucky, and usually felt miserable. The picture is the little wee me at 3. Awe! Was I ever that young?

In 1986 went to the doctor, he poked and prodded around my abdomen. Couldn't find anything. Suggested some tests. Through ultrasound they found I had gall stones. I was completely asymptomatic but they wanted to take out my gall bladder. Was told that 'I was a ticking time bomb and if I didn't have surgery one day I'd have an attack and may die as a result'. Oh my GAWD!I asked my doctor if there was an alternative to surgery. He said not that he knew of and if I found one he wanted to know. I began searching and found a natural gall stone flush which I did several times. Saw the little green stones in my stool... it worked!Told my doctor about it. He was amazed and said, " I still think you need surgery." Hummm. My conclusion... he was fixated on surgery, rather then the cause of my constipation. Seemed there was nothing else he could offer. So I opted to keep my gall bladder and went on my own personal search to end my constipation. Looked to natural remedies, various colon cleansers and herbal laxatives like Cascara Sagrada. They worked about as well as the OTC I tried, but didn't fix the cause. healingcenterAZ

In May 1989 I traveled to Sedona, AZ for a week long healing retreat at the Healing Center of Arizona. I wanted clarification that a decision I made was on target. I wasn't really looking to be healed, rather wanted to experience everything I could. The week was filled with all sorts of treatments, crystal healing, 'Life Healing', massage, veggie diet, acupressure, past life regression, daily walks on the land and nightly dancing. It was a veritable feast of alternative treatments, joy and fun. I met lots of folks who felt like family and felt truly at home. It became clear that my decision was on target. I felt full of energy and purpose. cassia-angustifolia

Fast forward... January 1992 started a 3 year spiritual journey  traveling and camping all over the country without a stationary home. Well you can imagine the effect traveling and camping in the backwoods had... hummm, no private bathroom to sit and cogitate. In early 1993 made a brief stop in Sedona where I met a chiropractor. Told him about my constipation and he suggested a product he sold called ChiroCleanse. I bought a box and tried it... was a miracle! It moisturized the stool, was gentle and effective. The main ingredient was Cassia Angustifolia. But I couldn't find it anywhere else so was still in a bind... so to speak. Blush, ahem.

LaciLaBeau On another trip (1994) through Sedona I met a man who had the same difficulty. He used Laci Le Beau Super Dieter's Tea and enemas. I opted for the tea, thank you. It was widely available at health food stores and contained Cassia Angustifolia which I already knew worked for me. Everything was good in my life. I drank a cup of poop tea, as I affectionately began calling it, every night before bed.

Back in Sedona again (early 1995) rented a room for a couple of months from a woman who talked about the value of coffee enemas and green juice fasting. You guessed it! I did a week long fast with daily coffee enemas and poop tea too. Even opted to do another gall stone flush in the process. I felt squeaky clean as a result... but, afterward was still bound up. The only thing I didn't try during all of this was a colonic. oatmeal

Fast forward again... in 2004 a friend suggested I read Outlander  by Diana Gabaldon. Are you thinking, "What that heck does Outlander have to do with any of this?" Well it was one of the steps that lead me to a solution. In the 'Outlander series', Jamie and his Scottish comrades protest the lack of oatmeal in their diets because they swore it kept flaxseed them regular. When I read this a bell went off. I added oatmeal a couple of times a week which made a difference. Then another friend suggested I add ground flaxseed too and sent me some to try. It also made a visible difference.

In 2006 still doing nightly poop tea and oatmeal with ground flax... I began wondering about long term deleterious effects of the tea on my body. I didn't notice any, but hey 13 years of doing any herb nightly seemed excessive to me. Enter my x-husband, his fiancee, son and great aunt. While they were concentraceminerals staying with me for a couple of days he let me try some ionic minerals which he took daily and swore by. He mentioned that too much gives one loose stool, so gave me a smaller dose. Wow such an effect. I stopped drinking nightly poop tea. I bought some of the same product he suggested online, used it up and started looking for a local source. Ended up buying ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops and taking 1/2 teaspoon in orange juice daily. I thought the minerals would be a replacement for the nightly tea and most likely I'd be taking them for the rest of my life. Wrong! After 8 months of taking a daily dose, my body started having reactions after I took it. This was an indication the body had enough so I stopped altogether. I thought I'd have to go back to poop tea again. Joyous surprise... I haven't taken any more tea since.

I continue to eat a bowl of oatmeal with ground flax regularly. I haven't been constipated at all. Thank God for small miracles!

Here's a couple of oatmeal/flaxseed recipes I created:

Bonnee's Yummy Breakfast Oats (microwave or stovetop) for 1 serving

1/2 cup regular organic oatmeal, 1 cup filtered water, pinch of sea salt, handful nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.), handful pumpkin seed (shelled), handful sunflower seeds (shelled), handful chopped or whole dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots, dates, etc.), 1/4 to 1/3 cup ground flax seeds.

Microwave: Put all ingredients except flax into large microwave safe bowl. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add flax, stir and serve with real maple syrup or vanilla almond milk.

Stovetop: In a small stainless steel pot bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in oats cook till soft about 3 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl stir in flax meal, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Serve with real maple syrup, vanilla almond milk or whatever you like.

Bonnee's WoW Soft Oatmeal Cookies

Bake 350° 11 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen 2" cookies.

1 cup organic whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup ground flax, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 lb. (1 stick) organic sweet butter, softened, 3/4 cup packed brown cane sugar, 1 large organic egg, 1/8 cup organic unbleached sugar, 3/4 tsp real vanilla extract,   1-3/4 cup organic oatmeal, 1/2 cup mixed raisins, gogi berries and dried cranberries (softened in hot water and drained) and a handful of each pumpkin seed (shelled), sunflower seed (shelled) and chopped walnuts.

Sift together flour, salt, spices, baking powder and soda. Stir in ground flax seed, set aside. In another bowl cream butter, add sugars and beat until smooth and creamy. Add egg and vanilla, beat until well incorporated. Slowly add sifted flour. Dump in oatmeal, nuts, raisins, and seeds mix to incorporate well. Drop by tablespoon onto Silpat, parchment or greased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool 2 minutes on sheet and transfer to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Conclusion: My chronic constipation seemed at least in part to be the result of a mineral deficiency. When the minerals were balanced my chronic constipation was gone. Hope my discoveries and journey were interesting and helpful.

Caveat: Always use discernment with everything in life. Never ingest something to which you are allergic and ask your doctor's advice before trying something new.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Exciting New Environmental Technologies

I've been reading up on some innovative new products and technologies. It's so exciting I just had to blog about what I found.

Effective Environmental Services - Organic EM

Discovered by Dr. Teruo Higa, EM or Effective Micro-organisms are Probiotic, non-harmful, and non-genetically modified. They are the same cultures found in yogurt, cheese and beer. Some uses of EM include: agriculture - organic fertilizer increases crop yield by 30%, 90% decrease of antibiotic usage in livestock, sewage treatment - 50% increased efficiency, 90% reduction of toxic gas, organic mold handling, home - extends shelf life of produce, reduces laundry detergent use by 2/3 and more. A list of EM products are available here.

Petro Algae - Oil from Algae

PetroAlgae Melbourne, FL owned by XL Tech Group is growing a renewable, sustainable, essentially carbon neutral source of oil. High yield - can produce 200x more oil per acre than traditional biofuel crops like soy. PetroAlgae systems do not need arable land for production, so are not in competition with traditional food crops. Algae oil can be used for transportation and home heating fuels, bioplastics, nutraceuticals, pigments and cosmetics. In addition the byproducts can be utilized for livestock feed, fertilizer and biomass for electricity generation.

PetroSun Rio Hondo, TX algae bio-diesel plant started production April 2008. First Algae Biodiesel Plant Goes Online: April 1, 2008 (29, March 2008) 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million lbs. of biomass per year off a series of saltwater ponds spanning 1,100 acres. Twenty of those acres will be reserved for the experimental production of a renewable JP8 jet-fuel.

GreenFuel Technologies high yield algae farms recycle carbon dioxide from flue gases to produce biofuels and feed, reducing net carbon dioxide production as waste becomes profit. Harvesting algae for biofuels enhances domestic fuel production while mitigating CO2.

Green Tech Media Life on Mars: The Secret Ingredient for Bio-fuel (27, May 2008) writes about algae bio-diesel applications and companies.

ABsalutecology - new filtering system cuts CO2 by 99.95%

ABsalutecology Karaganda
Kazakhstan has developed a new filtering technology which removes Sulphur dioxide, CO2, Nitrogen and particulates from factory smoke emissions. This new filter removes 99.95% of harmful particulates and toxic gas.

Amazing! A great interim step to help clean the atmosphere while other environmentally friendly manufacturing processes are developed.

6 ways Mushrooms can save the world

Paul Staments, Mycologist talks about fungi. He says partnering with mycelium can save the world and illustrates its' beneficial effects. Some of these include: medicinal -fungi has strong antibiotic action against Pox and flu viruses, natural pest / bug control - testing shows desporated fungi kills most insects, petrochemical spills  - mycelium cleaned up a diesel spill and regenerated the soil restoring life, ethanol production - fungi is fast growing and can be converted into ethanol, nerve gas breakdown, and agricultural applications. Staments holds 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies.

Ethos Environmental, Inc. - Ethos FR reduces emissions by up to 63% and increases fuel efficiency as much as 10%

Ethos FR is a fuel additive which helps engines burn liquid fuel more efficiently. It is non-toxic, non-hazardous and works with any fuel or oil. Ethos is free of carcinogens and is not derived from petroleum. It utilizes three specific cleaning and lubricating esters suspended in a 100% pure mineral oil base. One cleaning ester group penetrates the metal and dissolves carbon buildup, as well as cleaning and removing gum and soot buildup. The other two esters are lubricating esters. One is a surface lubricant the other a penetrating lubricant. Ethos FR, a great interim product to help lessen environmental impact now.

Some links you may enjoy:

Aarcher Institute of Environmental Training - courses address developing environmental management and regulatory challenges, while remaining centered on core environmental concepts and standards.

Bainbridge Graduate Institute - BGI's pioneering MBA and Certificate programs prepare diverse leaders to build enterprises that are financially successful, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.

World Resources Institute - is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people’s lives.

Earth Policy Institute - dedicated to building a sustainable future as well as providing a plan of how to get from here to there.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Green ecology, Green finance, Green consciousness

This week I've been talking to people and reading a lot about the condition of the economy. But from the most gut wrenching levels... the effect financial mis-management has had on the people and the world at large.

tentcityDid you know there are increasing numbers of people who are jobless and homeless too? Some people are living in their cars or in tents. I lived in a tent and a car for 3 years so I know what it's like, but mine was by choice, not necessity a very different thing.

The foreclosure rates are soaring in the USA. 102,000 in August alone. Year-to-date, 1,450,000 US homeowners (19.6 of every 1,000 households) faced pre-foreclosure. That is mind boggling.

Credit-card debt is on the brink of imploding and will be the next storm to hit. Innovest StrategicValue Advisors, a consulting firm, forecasts that banks will charge off $18.6 billion worth of credit card receivables in the first quarter of 2009 and $96 billion in 2009 -- that would be 261% more than in 2007 and 131% higher than the level it expects by the end of 2008.

Makes one wonder why? Since 2004 the interest rates on credit cards have climbed from 4% to more then 24.99%. This is for those with good credit scores who maintain a balance and pay their bills on time. The credit lenders promoted card usage by upping available credit limits, issuing checks and offering 0% rates on some new cards. Some credit card companies even issued cards to those who had just filed bankruptcy. Would this be considered questionable credit lending practices? Some people abused the system, over spent and were irresponsible. But many, perhaps unwisely, used credit cards to supplement income; to buy food and pay bills, insurance premiums and medical expenses. Thinking they'd be able to payoff the balance at the current interest rate. But the rates kept getting higher and higher which can be devastating financially. 

As well subprime and prime mortgages were written with questionable financing. I have a disabled friend that refinanced his home in 2007. Said he couldn't afford the principle and interest payments, so opted for interest only for 5 years. Another woman I know purchased a home 3 years ago and her payments ($4,600/mo.) are more then 75% of her income. Why would any responsible lender do this? Why didn't they deny the loans? Have we put our trust in a faulty system?

Even if the lending practices were responsible life circumstances can change. Another woman I met over coffee last week said she lost her primary income source and is doing everything she can to keep her home. She has it up for sale, but the slow markets keep her house poor. What little income she's able to generate goes to the house payment. She applied for food stamps but was ridiculed and investigated because she owned a home. She opted instead to visit the local food bank to survive. Do we sometimes judge others to harshly? Or come to sweeping conclusions which are erroneous?

These 3 good, honest people are on the brink of financial collapse. If anything else is added to their plates they may all end up homeless. And these are only a few of folks I know. Imagine what it must be like nationwide or perhaps worldwide?

And we've got the opposite end of the spectrum. WAMU's CEO Alan Fishman worked 3 weeks, now is headed out the door with $19 million in his pocket. There are too many other stories like that I won't write about. I'm certainly not against people getting bonuses, but when the CEO gets $19 million and the stock holders get zip... that's convoluted.

When there is so much disparity, one may ask, 'What's wrong with this picture'?

Global Financial Crisis?

U.S. turmoil churns up an ill wind worldwide (1 October 2008) Park Yung-Chul, a Korea University economist, who also has taught at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says of the USA, "On finance, you're becoming a second-class economy. How could you do so badly managing your economy and managing international affairs? And now you've created this global financial crisis for which everyone is going to suffer!"

Put pollutionClimate Change Solutions on hold?

In Australia there is talk about a 60% or even 90% reduction  in green- house emissions by 2050. (30 Sept 2008) Rudd's expert wants tougher carbon goals. Top climate change adviser Ross Garnaut has warmed to the idea of a deep cut to greenhouse emissions - but he thinks it probably won't happen. The Business lobby group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said tackling climate change must be approached cautiously because of global financial instability.

Let's rethink this...

Global financial instability is a reality. Global warming is also a reality.

Green ecology...

Massive change is needed in the world financial markets for survival of the global economy. Just like massive change is needed in the current pollution of the environment for survival of life. While the financial world is being restructured it is an excellent opportunity to consider greener ways of doing business, living life, interacting with each other and our environment.

This is Green ecology -  the interrelation of people, the environment and the economy. It considers the big picture.

Green finance...

Green finance specifically considers money and how it is managed. The creation and distribution of money with consideration given to how it impacts not only the economy but society as a whole, the earth, and all life. How we can wisely manage money to benefit all... not just a few.

With wise restructuring of money also comes the wise use of resources and the impact on society and the environment. Green finance as I see it is a holistic approach. It is no longer possible to live on our small planet without rethinking... implementing and living in harmony with consideration given for all life.

Green consciousness...

Green consciousness considers our interactions with one another. It addresses the issues of our peaceful co-existence and the creation of a worldwide balanced, equal, loving, supportive, helpful environment.

The way things have been done in the past no longer work. Rethinking, devising a plan and implementing changes on all fronts is necessary for our survival financially, economically, socially and environmentally. The alternative... we have economic chaos, social disorder and an inhabitable planet. 

It is a critical time. An exciting time. It's not too late to turn this mess around if we all jump on board and come from a place of  compassion and love for all life. It's time for action...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green Concepts, Green Action, Green Change

As ever I seem to be stumbling upon a lot of wonderful and exciting concepts and actions being taken for environmental change. Here are a few of the coolest....

Carrot Mob - consumer mobs for environmental change

Consumers have the power to make change. Carrot Mob located in San Francisco, CA, the brain child of Brent Schulkin is proving that by organizing consuming mobs for environmental change. They interview businesses and pick one that offers the most toward change. Then organize a large group of consumers to mob the store and buy something. The first mob in March 2008 called 'We Make it Rain' was a resounding success. The mob spent $9,276.00 at K & D Market in a couple of hours. The store committed to spend 22% of the money on greening their store with guidance from the San Francisco Energy Watch Program. And the local SF Food Bank received 366 pounds of food. Carrot Mob has taken off, is growing and has lots of great ideas for the future. The second mob of a Cafe in downtown is currently being organized. You can find out more at Facebook Carrot Mob.

A mob is also being planned in Kansas City at World of Spirits on October 21, 2008. This great new idea is expanding worldwide too. The UK has jumped on board. The first UK Carrot Mob took place September 16, 2008 in London at Redchurch bar. It was a resounding success. A second UK Carrot Mob called 'Maddness in the Minimarket' event is planned for November 6, 2008. According to facebook all of Finland has jumped on board and 2 mobs are currently in the works. This is exciting... grass roots activism at its best! - Random acts of environmental kindness is a website dedicated to offering ideas and stories of people helping each other. They suggest the following ways we can help the environment...

Practice kindness towards the environment. Participate in beach or park cleanups. Reduce air pollution by carpooling, taking public transportation, biking, or walking. Recycle all aluminum, plastic, and paper materials. Cut down on the energy you use by lowering the heat and turning off lights and unused appliances. Learn more about solar energy. As gifts, give houseplants to teachers, friends, or coworkers. Plant a tree in your neighborhood. What a terrific website based on the concept of 'Pay it Forward'. How cool is that!

Sheryl Crow singing in environmental change

Sheryl Crow, singer/song writer and environmental activist is singing about change. Her latest album Detours is her most out-spoken record to date. She says about the album, “the most honest record I’ve ever made. It’s about being forced to wake up.” Sheryl Crow Interview: Can "Detours" Help Pave the Way to a Better World? by Larry West. Sheryl says, "Although I hate that a movement can be inspired by fear, at least people are talking about it, talking about ways they can incorporate green living into their homes and workplaces. If the IPCC reports are right, then we’ll see a third of our species, counting man, become extinct, a thing of the past. It’s very worrisome, but I have to believe that there is hope and that we can incite a sense of urgency in everyone. Our farming community [in Tennessee] is trying to go wind and solar, to remove ourselves completely from the grid. If we’re successful, hopefully we can be an example to other communities of how they can come together, work as a community, and become part of the solution." Thanks for your great work Sheryl!

UK's Big Green Challenge working together for change 

Big Green Challenge, the people-powered innovation prize from NESTA. The £1 million prize fund is designed to encourage and reward people who work together to develop new ways to save energy and lower CO2 emissions by 60% in their communities. 350 projects were entered, of them 10 finalists were selected. Each team of finalists were given £20,000 to develop their ideas further over the next year. Here is a list of the finalists.

Mirror News (12 September 2008) Big Green Challenge: Finalists up for £1million environmental prize. Nesta chief executive Jonathan Kestenbaum told the Mirror: "The fact that we had over 350 communities submitting strong ideas demonstrates there is the passion and knowledge across the UK to devise imaginative responses to climate change. "We are confident the 10 finalists will step up to the challenge of tackling the biggest single issue facing the planet." A very exciting contest can't wait to read who the winners will be. Yahoo!

A few interesting environmental links:

People & Planet an online global resource for environmental issues and solutions and their impact on the peoples of the world.

E - the environmental magazine - online and print magazine which provides independent coverage on a wide range of environmental issues.

Grist, environmental news and commentary - “Grist: it's gloom and doom with a sense of humor. So laugh now – or the planet gets it.” An online environmental magazine with a sense of humor and a little seriousness thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Change Please!!!

The girl who silenced the world at the UN for 5 minutes.

Severn Suzuki a 13 year old Canadian who formed ECHO (Environmental Children's Organization) speaks from her heart to the UN. Her message is powerful and thought provoking.

Severn says, 'I'm frightened for my future. I'm here to speak for all generations to come. I'm afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in our ozone. I'm afraid to breathe the air because I don't know what chemicals are in it. You don't know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it."

But she says so much more. It leaves one pondering if indeed our children's children will even have a habitable planet to live upon.

In the late 1960s I joined with tens of thousands of other young people in Pittsburgh, PA in a peaceful demonstration. We chanted and sang for several hours with exuberant naive hopes of ending the war. Because of our efforts the park was renamed 'Peace Park'. Our message wasn't just about the end of war. It was also about love and respect for each other. The Vietnam war did come to an end eventually. But war didn't! How many wars have there been since? Our message of peace was forgotten. Peace is a collective worldwide vision. It's about love for all of humanity and a peaceful worldwide coexistence. Peace sustains us. It is something we carry forward through generations. Peace is a lifestyle. If we don't live in peace we could ultimately destroy all of humanity and the planet.

As I see it the same message is brought forward again in our Green movement. Living green is about love and respect for ourselves and the planet. Green is a collective worldwide vision which sustains us. It is something we carry forward through generations. Respect for humanity and our eco-system. Green is a lifestyle. If we don't live with this respect we will destroy our eco-system and ourselves ultimately.

Severn's message was given in 1992, 16 years later have we got it? In 2008 we have powerful spokespeople for climate change and perhaps we can turn things around. But we'll only do that if we all jump on board and make changes in our world, governments, societies, businesses and family.

Change begins with me... so I'm doing what I can at home and at work and writing this blog to let you know what I've discovered.  And I trust my little bit is enough...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Extreme Green - 'Zero Waste' Businesses

I just read the latest issue of The McKinsey Quarterly entitled 'Business strategies for climate change'. The report says, "Climate change is top of mind for many executives. We believe that the shift to low-carbon economy is already underway and that businesses must get ready for it, especially in energy, transport and heavy industry." The report suggests that businesses utilize existing methods to lower carbon output and suggests that it will be necessary to develop new low-carbon technologies to meet carbon reduction goals. It also suggests methods for implementation including reducing trash output, utilizing power from alternative sources like solar, wind and water, improving insulation and utilizing enzymes.

Have any businesses jumped on the Green bandwagon and made positive changes to the way they do business, manufacture products or handle waste? The answer is, absolutely, yes!

Here are some who are zero waste leaders...

Boulder Outlook Hotel - Zero waste program

Boulder Outlook Hotel in Boulder, Colorado is actively working toward Zero waste. Currently it recycles or composts 80% of it's waste. The current goal is 90%. They hold weekly brainstorm sessions to generate ideas on how they can become even greener. They utilize cornstarch based straws, cups and to-go containers which are compostable, utilize enviro-friendly cleaning products and give all frying oils to a bio-diesel firm. Their slogan is 'The cure for the common hotel'. They even have allergy friendly rooms with air filtration and other features. How cool is that!!

General Motors - landfill free program

GM's Transmission Facility in White Marsh, Maryland Achieves Landfill Free Status (28, August 2008). It eliminates 8,000 tons of trash by smart plant design, recycling, reusing, or removing and unique partnerships.

General Motors' goal is to have 1/2 of it's major manufacturing operations landfill free by 2010. Go GM go!!

Goodwill Industries works with GM disassembling obsolete containers. Then selling them to recyclers and compounders who turn the materials back into usable parts for the auto industry.

Anheuser Busch - Work Green program

Anheuser Busch Brewery in Baldwinsville, NY institutes numerous eco-friendly changes. The brewery recycles 99.9% of solid materials. They have also under taken measures to further reduce their carbon foot print. This was done by  changing lighting -which led to a 40% savings, reclaiming heat, and utilizing an anaerobic digestion system (bio-energy) for waste - producing methane gas for 19% of their fuel needs.

15 other Anheuser Busch plants have bio-energy, some also utilize solar and one is brewing organic beer. You rock AB!!

Subaru - WasteWise programSIA

Since 2004 Subaru Indiana Automotive (SIA) has achieved zero waste by recycling 99.3% of its' excess / leftover steel, plastic, wood, paper, glass and other materials. The remaining 0.7% is utilized by the city of Indianapolis to help generate steam.  SIA was awarded EPA's Gold Achievement AwardOne in 2006 for its' long-standing environmental program 'Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics'. It has heightened awareness for a clean environment by taking it's Leave No Trace program on the road reaching over 8 million individuals, in 48 states. Thanks Subaru you're leading the pack!!!

Other auto companies are greening their manufacturing facilities too...

Subaru's "Zero Landfill Waste" Auto Plant Raises the Bar by John DiPietro says, "In the automotive high-jump event known as environmental safeguarding, Subaru set a world record of sorts by being the first automaker to achieve "zero waste to landfill" status. Indeed, the company set the bar very high, and it's great to see that others have been inspired to start clearing that bar as well. Honda's Alabama plant is also a zero-landfill plant. Rolls-Royce's Goodwood, England plant (opened in 2003) boasts an 8-acre "living roof." Covered with sedum plants, this roof provides insulation from the heat and the cold; of course, as is the case with all green plants, these sedum plants also clean the air by ingesting carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. The Rolls plant also sends waste leather (from the upholstery division) to shoe and clothing makers, and filters run-off water from the roof and parking lots before it enters an on-site lake. Ford's Rouge plant also employs a living roof and similar water-saving measures."

This is great!!! Now if we could only get all businesses, plants and products zero emissions too. Am I crazy to think that's possible?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Makin' it Green

I was wondering if there were actually people out there who have changed their lifestyles to be more eco-friendly. I searched the internet to see who was doing what. Are people Makin' it Green? The answer is a resounding... Yes!!!

One man moved to the New Mexico wilderness to live without oil. Another family in California changes their urban yard into a farm complete with animals. And a Canadian couple goes off the grid but keeps their middle class lifestyle. And there are a lot more. All wonderful stories which inspired me. 

Inspirational stories of folks 'Makin' it Green'...

Farewell my Subaru - a greener life in New Mexico, USA

Doug Fine is the   author of 'Farewell my Subaru' a book about  his life without oil. Doug moved to New Mexico, USA with his girl friend. They built a green sustainable home, are raising goats, chickens, dougfineducks and growing much of their own food. You can read the continuing story of his new greener life at his blog. He is funny, charming and actually doing it... well. Amazing!!!


Path to Freedom - urban homesteaders in California, USA

An eco-pioneering lifestyle in Pasadena, CA. This is a story of a family who turned their lot into a 1/10th acre  farm which, produces 6,000 lbs. of organic food annually. On a path to self-sufficiency the Dervaes grow and preserve 99% of their ecopioneerown food, recycle, make bio-diesel, utilize solar power and more. You can read their blog or watch more videos at Dervaes' channel on Awesome!!!


 Off Grid Living - with renewable resources in Canada

Bill and Lorraine Kemp live a normal middle class lifestyle in an average home with all the things you'd expect like a big screen TV, home office filled with computers and other equipment, washer / dryer, and even a cappuccino machine. But the thing that makes them unique is that they live completely off the grid. They have wood heat, solar/wind power for electricity, a well and waste water reclamation system. You can read their blog or watch more videos at aztextpress channel on

We can make it green living well and inexpensively. So exciting and inspirational!

Some wonderful sustainable resources...

JanaiaDonaldsonPeak Moment TV - A network dedicated to sustainability and issues of our changing world. There are 23 interesting 28-minute episodes hosted by Janaia Donaldson (photo left) you can watch at Global Media. You can also read Janaia's blog about the latest goings on at Peak Moment too.

Natural Life Magazine - A paper and online magazine that is about how to create a greener, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

Your Backyard Farmer Located in Portland, OR. A great concept people who love to farm, do it for you and it's all organic.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nanny, Nano, Boo, Boo Food?

I've been finding a lot of interesting developments with regard to food lately. So thought I'd share them with you...

Nanotechnology - photo by Nano-food, nano-tech?

Something new is being added to our table and life called Nano-foods or nano-tech products. What in heavens name is Nano-food?

The internet is buzzing with a lot of stories. Reuters (2008, July 30) Nano-foods: The next consumer scare? In essence Nano-foods are produced by using nano-technology, which involves design and manipulation of the molecular level. Companies utilizing nanotechnology claim it can enhance flavor or nutritional effectiveness.

The Observer Welcome to the world of nano foods. Claims the food industry is developing a colorless, tasteless programmable nano-drink that you zap in a microwave which has been encoded with your eating preferences.

Sounds like sci-fi... Star Trek's Captain Picard ordering 'Tea, Earl Grey, hot' and it materializes in the replicater. That's an interesting concept. But I wonder about eating what appears to be synthetic food. What about the food's vitality?

Are there food products that currently contain nano-technology?

Out of the Labratory and onto our plate. (2008, March) A detailed report on Nano-tech products in agriculture and food funded by Friends of Earth. List of food products currently containing nano-products include: Canola Active Oil (Shemen), Nanotea (Shenzen Become Industry & Trading Co.), Fortified Fruit Juice (High, Nanoceuticals Slim Shake (assorted flavors, RBC Lifesciences), NanoSlim beverage(NanoSlim), Oat Nutritional Drink (assorted flavors, Toddler Health), and 'Daily Vitamin Boost' fortified fruit juice (Jamba Juice Hawaii).

Do we know if there are risks consuming nano-foods or the potential toxic effects to the body? 

Science Daily ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (2008, July 22). Nano-modified Food: How Much Are Consumers Willing To Accept The Associated Risks?. Reports, "Nanoparticles, however, are considered as highly reactive and it is not yet clear whether under certain conditions they can get the better of protective mechanisms and have a toxic impact on the body." Consumer Reports (2007, July) Nanotechnology Untold promise, unknown risk. Reports, "A growing number of scientists say the unique properties of nanomaterials might pose substantial risks, which are largely unexplored, to both human health and the environment."

Besides food there are a lot of products containing Nano-tech over 600 and growing. NanoForum offers an interesting report called Nanotechnology in Consumer Products (2006, October 25) which contains a list of products. As well Madison's Nano Cafe is a great resource for news and articles about nanotechnology.

I like to make informed decisions about everything in my life. So I'm all for labels disclosing complete information.

Viagen, Cloned Cow - photo by CNNCloned animals for food?

Wired (2007, December 19) Senate Votes to Keep Cloned Meat Out of Your Burger, for Now. The Senate passed a Farm Bill measure intended to bar the FDA from approving meat and milk from cloned animals until further study was conducted. Center for Food Safety (2008, January 17) Press Release. EUROPEAN UNION GROUP ISSUES OPINION CALLING CLONING FOR FOODS ETHICALLY UNJUSTIFIED. Center for Food Safety Praises Opinion; Calls for Swift Passage of Farm Bill Mandating Examination of Economic Risks to US Agriculture.

Public Opinion Center for Food Safety Reports, "Recent opinion polls show the majority of Americans do not want milk or meat from cloned animals in their food. A national survey conducted this year by Consumers Union found that 89 percent of Americans want to see cloned foods labeled, while 69 percent said that they have concerns about cloned meat and dairy products in the food supply. A recent Gallup Poll reported that more than 60 percent of Americans believe that it is immoral to clone animals, while the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that a similar percentage say that, despite FDA approval, they won't buy milk from cloned animals."

CNN (2008, January 18) FDA OKs meat and milk from most cloned animals. When introduced there will be no labeling required. The FDA asserts that there is no material difference between cloned and conventionally grown animals.

What's up with the swift approval by the FDA? If cloned animal products ever hit the grocery shelves I'd sure like to know so I can make informed purchasing decisions.

GMO Peas - Green Peace ad campaign 'Do you know what you eat?' rBGH and GMOs?

Called old news. The newest hot topic is nano-tech, but they haven't gone away. FDA tells us both are ok. Their endorsement means companies aren't required to put this info on packaging. Since around 1996 about 70% of our processed foods have contained GMOs. I'd like to know by reading the packaging instead of having to do an extensive online search. My body has an adverse reaction to both of these technologies so I cannot eat them.

Public Opinion A CBS/New York Times poll done recently found that 53 percent of Americans wouldn't buy genetically modified foods. 

If you're interested here's a list of products which contain GMOs. The photo above is an ad from Do You Know What You Eat?Greenpeace's advertising campaign against Genetically Modified Organisms. What a superbly done and wonderfully creative campaign. Kudos to BBDO Russia.

Organic vs. conventional food study underway some findings released. Green MSN (2007, November) and BBC News (2007, October) reported - a Newcastle University study shows organic foods have far more nutritional value. They found levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle were between 50% and 80% higher than normal milk. Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce had between 20% and 40% more nutrients.

Is this just the beginning of lots of comparable studies? To my taste buds naturally grown food (buzz word organic) has a fuller, richer flavor... like homegrown tomatoes vs. store bought. Studies proving what my mouth distinguished at first bite. Exciting! Tastes better and fresh organic food is better for you too! Yahoo!!!

Now if we could only get those crazy prices down...

P.S. I've been eating locally grown and organic produce all summer and I started walking. Really strange. I haven't desired to walk in years. But now most mornings I walk to the Post Office and evenings around the neighborhood; about 2 miles total. I have more vitality and feel better too. Don't know for sure if it's related, but it's sure interesting.

Here are a couple of links you may enjoy:

Food Routes - A resource on locally grown foods. Why to buy and where to buy.

Organic Made Easy - A guide to understanding and buying organic produce on a budget.

The Practical Guide to Healthier Living - Lots of videos and articles about natural healthy living. Why to buy at Farmer's Markets, recipes and more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Crazy CFL Contamination

Update on CFLs...

cfl-bulb CFL Light Bulbs? Had a CFL energy efficient light bulb break the other day. Luckily it broke inside a glass fixture cover, everything was contained except a bit of the gas. None the less I did get a headache and begin to sweat as a result of breathing it. Went online to find out more about them.

Like all florescent bulbs CFLs contain small amounts of mercury and require special hazardous waste handling when they burnout or break. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and is especially dangerous for children and fetuses. Some states require that CFLs be taken to a recycling center and not thrown into the trash. EPA states, 'If you improperly dispose of products with mercury in them, they may break and release mercury vapors which are harmful to human and ecological health.' When they break there are very specific instructions for cleanup which I didn't know about. Here they are...

EPA's recommendations for broken CFL bulb clean up  

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

  • Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

  • If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

  • Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
  • Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

  • The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
  • Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

This is frightening, especially since I'd imagine most folks don't know about it. I didn't! Mercury is extremely toxic! What doesn't make sense to me is why? Knowing the toxicity of mercury, why make bulbs utilizing even a little bit for sale on such a large scale? A lot of little bits add up to... well, a big toxic mess. It got me really wondering does the end justify the means?

My conclusion... NO! I replaced all of my CFLs with incandescent bulbs again, because I don't want the potential contamination of myself, my family, my pets or the earth. I'd rather keep the lights turned off as much as possible and use candles.

After reading all of this I sure won't recommend using CFL bulbs again. Yes, they help reduce mercury from coal burning power plants which is good. But potentially poisoning myself in the process isn't a good trade off. Maybe I'm over reacting here... but the way I see it 'forewarned is forearmed'.

Perhaps a better use for all the money spent on CFLs (advertising and sales) would have been to upgrade the electric power plants to solar, wind, water or other eco-friendly methods. Then there wouldn't be mercury from either coal or florescent bulbs poisoning us and our beautiful earth.

A thought... according to the U.S Census Bureau Population Clocks as of August 20, 2008 there are 304,922,151 people in the U.S. If every person bought 1 CFL at roughly $6.00 each that comes to $1,829,532,906. That is almost 2 billion dollars and that's a conservative figure. If that money were spent on upgrading power plants we would be much further along in the process of our environmental stewardship.

Plus, there's got to be a safer, more eco-friendly, cheaper lighting solution! I'll let you know what I find.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Horrible Harmful High Housing no more...

Thought you might enjoy reading about some of my adventures.  Redwood Camping - photo by Light. ©2002-2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan. All rights reserved.

For 3 years my husband and I traveled around the country, without a home and everything we owned in our very small car. We camped in a lot of great places, met many wonderful folks and were invited to stay in many homes. It was an amazing spiritual journey.

We crossed the USA about 4 times driving through all the states at least once except Alaska and Hawaii. Spent a little time in Canada andMexico camping - photo by Light. ©2002-2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan. All rights reserved. Mexico too. Our very favorite place was anywhere in the redwood trees. The photo above left is our home in the majestic redwood forest. Cool, crisp and filled with critters. We had owls, deer and fox come for a visit. The photo right is our home on the beach in Mexico. It was beautifully steamy by the Sea of Cortez. The photo below is our home by a rushing stream in Utah. The stream was singing its' song of creation so loudly, we finally succumb to earplugs. Snigger! We've had thousands of homes. Everywhere we stopped to lay our heads was home. The saying, 'Home is where the heart is' was our life.Utah Camping - photo by Light. ©2002-2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan. All rights reserved.

It's an interesting experience living without running water or electricity. We loved it. We didn't label it as green or eco-friendly or even low impact. Though I suppose it was. Our car often got 45 to 50mpg. Maybe we were hypermiling, we called ourselves blessed. We had all the comforts of home including an air mattress with feather bed and down pillows. Solar shower bags with hot water for bathing and doing dishes. Once in a while for fun we bathed in cold streams or waterfalls. Burrr... refreshing! Had 2 cook stoves and complete kitchen gear. We bought local produce at roadside stands because it was convenient, tasted better and was usually cheaper then grocery stores. Then dined on simple homemade meals in the fresh air. Ever notice how food tastes better outdoors? We woke up in forests, by lakes or oceans, in fields or deserts. What scenery, what beauty, what majesty!

I won't lie to you, this lifestyle was harder. Packing and unpacking the car. Really conserving precious water. Everything we carried had to serve several useful purposes. Space was very limited, we couldn't acquire. When we did something else had to go. Living simply was natural. Sometimes what seems to be less is actually more. When we finally decided to set down in Arizona and moved into a small 400 sq. ft. efficiency apartment we felt like we were living in a palace. Everything is perspective it seems.

I loved life on the road, but decided I enjoy nesting and going out for adventures now. I've owned and lived in large homes, but prefer them small and cozy or using today's buzz words low impact, green living, sustainable homes.

Here are a few more small low impact homes I love...

Cabin Dream - 1800s beautifully renovated guest cabin

Randy's Cabin - photo by Light. ©2002-2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan. All rights reserved. Located in Tennessee. 1800s log cabin, dis-assembled, numbered, moved and rebuilt in its' existing location by the owner. With added space for kitchen and bathroom. 700 sq. ft. including loft bedroom. 3 acres of rolling grassy land with organic flower and vegetable gardens and a large pond.

Porch Gathering - photo by Light. ©2002-2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan. All rights reserved. Features: Original logs, salvaged wooden floors, windows and doors. Composting toilet. Propane heat and cooking stove. Well water. Gray water reclamation. Organic gardens.

During our road journey we had the privilege to stay in this guest home several times. The photo above is all of us gathered on the deck of the cabin. I'm the one on the far left, my late husband is standing in the middle.

How to build a log home Information about building log homes.

A Hobbit House - lovely, creative, imaginative living

Cob House photo by Gary Zuker Located in Austin, TX, just up the hill from Lake Travis. 900-square-foot Leichtlehmbau modified cob (straw and clay) energy efficient home on 2 acres of wooded land. 3 people - 3 yrs. to build including 1 yr. to dry. Built by owner Gary Zuker who wanted to build a low-maintenance weekend get-a-way home for $10,000. Finished house, well, appliances and Cobhouse Model - photo by Gary Zukerseptic estimated cost $40,000 not including Gary's labor. Photo right is a model of the house before it was built.

Features: Rock foundation and chimney. 18"- 24" inch thick walls made of Leichtlehmbau cob-type material (more straw and only clay) increases insulation. Wood framing embedded in Leichtlehmbau. Dries to a strong, dense mass, 25-40 Lb/cu.ft. Post and beam frame. Finish, exterior: white lime and sand with fibers, then whitewash (white lime, water, rocksalt, alum). Interior: Gypsum Plaster. Salvaged pine floors, floor joists, granite, windows, soap stone and cabinets.

Building with Cob workshops Natural Homes cob building courses. Photos of cob building and more workshops from House Alive!.

Extremely Tiny House - home to go

 Jay's House - photo for Tumblewheed Tiny House Company Located on planet earth, but resides mostly in Sebastopol, CA. In 1997 Jay Shafer built his first 96 sq. ft. house on wheels himself for around $10,000. Today Jay owns Tumblewheed Tiny House Company which offers plans, books and truly tiny homes for sale. The Epu shown left is 88 sq. ft. and weighs only 4700 lbs. It comes with a tiny fireplace, living room, kitchen with  tiny refrigerator and 2 burner stove, wet bath and sleeping loft. Pull away price $42,997.

Features: Designed with thoughts of light, warmth, energy efficiency, and proportion. Propane cost to heat and cook about $5 per month according to one owner of a tiny house. 16 Tiny house plans available for homes from 65 to 774 sq. ft.

Learn how to build a truly tiny home workshops available.

Some more interesting links about low impact housing...

Low Impact Housing Listing of low impact housing resources Cusato Cottages Plans for inexpensive small cottage style homes Resources for Life and Small House Society Low impact ideas    Sustainable House Plans Links to sites which offer building plans

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Horrible Harmful High Housing

Houses gassing off. Carpets, insulation, paint and more. So tight and filled with chemicals they're sick houses. Literally! The building materials are bad for us. Real bad. Have been for years now. Since the '50s we've had Horrible Harmful Housing.

I remember back in the late '70s when I was a young thing living in Pennsylvania. Me and my best beau (that's us in the photo, weren't we cute!) would stop for a look see at houses from time to time. Was fun... we loved it. Once we pulled into a mobile home lot and took a tour. It was hot that day. The sun was frying eggs. Walked in one home. Looked around a bit. It was really nice inside. Could imaging living there. The longer we spent ooing and awing the more our eyes burned and watered. When we both started coughing we beat it out of there fast. Talked about it as we drove away. Said to each other, "We're protected for sure. Thank you God." Came to the conclusion it musta' been the formaldehyde. That was the buzz word back then. The stuff in the insulation that gassed off and made folks sick. They were ripping it out of all the schools.

But it's still used in some building materials. Read an article at ABC News dated July 9, 2008, "Makers of Katrina Trailers Grilled by Congress." The mobiles that were bought as temporary housing for hurricane Katrina victims were filled with it. Made some folks sick. Huh. Scratching my head. They were ripping it out in the early 80s why is it still used? In our modern society can't we come up with affordable housing that is people and earth friendly???

Well that got me curious about green housing. Sustainable, affordable, earth friendly? I like words and always find it interesting to look at dictionary definitions. Here is what I found in the Oxford American Dictionary and dictionary.reference online.

The definition of the word sustain: to support; to keep alive; to endure without giving away. To keep in existence; maintain. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage. Definition of sustainable: capable of being sustained or maintained. Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. How interesting.

So what does sustainable mean with regard to housing? Here are definitions of sustainable housing I found online:

Sustainable Housing: Affordable and comfortable. Climate appropriate design which minimizes or eliminates the need for artificial heating and cooling. Design and construction which maintain sites natural resources. Collect and efficiently manage water resources. Management of own waste on site including greywater and black water. Produce and efficiently manage electrical power. Provide food resources from a permaculture garden. The house becomes part of the local ecosystem. Use of building materials which are recycled or made from renewable resources.

I enjoy housing designs which are unique and creative. So I did I a search. Found lots of stuff on natural or recycled building materials. Lots from companies building passive solar and other things. I was looking for something more then your average home... something fun, unique, affordable, beautiful, sustainable, earth and people friendly. Here are a few of the inexpensive homes I liked a lot....

A low impact woodland home - beautiful, natural living

Wales woodland home Located in Wales, UK. Built with maximum environmental regard by 2 people and passersby. 4 months start to finish:  1,000-1,500 man hours. Cost: about £3,000 (£60 per sq. ft., not including labor). Part of Lammas ecovillage project a carbon neutral, low impact development.

Features: Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter. Stone/mud at site used for retaining walls, foundations etc. Framed with oak from local woodlands. Reciprocal roof rafters. Straw bales in floor, walls and roof. Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof. Reclaimed wood floors and fittings. Reclaimed windows, burner, plumbing, wiring, etc. Lime plaster walls. Breathable and low energy to manufacture. Heat is wood burning stove - renewable and locally plentiful. Flue through thick stone/plaster. Retains heat. Slowly releases for even warmth. Fridge cooled by underground air through foundation. Skylight in roof. Solar panels for lighting, music and computing. Water gravity system from nearby spring. Composting toilet. Rainwater from roof collects in pond for garden, etc.

Building workshops available. Learn how to build a low impact woodland home.

Thanks to Pipa's Porch for directing me to this wonderful home.

Eco Dome Earth Dwelling - a small gnome-like homedomepod-home1web

Located in California, USA.  House built by students to learn about Superadobe coil construction. Very small, 400 square foot, very low cost. Easily built by 3-5 people. Part of the Cal-Earth educational and research program.

Features: Built from local earth-filled Superadobe coils (soil-cement or lime-stabilized earth) and barbed wire. On site soil utilized, coil bags low cost. Covered with adobe. Tree free. Main dome and four niches, very low cost. Can be repeated and joined together to form larger homes and courtyard houses. Very thick walls have significant thermal mass, which reduces heating and cooling costs. It also provides sound insulation, structural integrity, fire and pest protection. Designed with the sun, shade and wind in mind for passive cooling and heating. Wind-scoop can be combined with a rated furnace unit. Solar energy and radiant heating may be incorporated. Water collection and reclamation can be incorporated. It is estimated that a four-bedroom, 2,000 square foot house would cost $75,000 ($37.50/sq. ft.) to build, including labor, materials and utilities.

Building workshops available. Learn how to build with Superadobe coils online or apprentice at Cal-Earth.

Sculpted concrete homes - Live in Art

Living Art concrete home by Flying Concrete Located in Mexico. Beautiful, imaginative custom, free flowing, sculptured concrete homes built by Flying Concrete. House shown is 700 square foot with various out buildings. Has been a design-as-you-go, evolutionary, spontaneous project. Built by 2 people.

Features: Roofs built with lightweight aggregate. Walls are lightweight concrete or local rock. Vaulted roofs – 400 year guarantee. Solar green house and other interior solar spaces.  Passive solar heat and good insulation. Water recovery systems.  Detached composting toilet. Low cost units as low as $25 per sq. ft. (2005). Roof represents 10-15% of cost.

Building workshops available. Learn how to build a sculptured concrete home.

Whoo Hoo!!! There are lots of great healthy, natural, beautiful and affordable alternative building techniques that I can learn and do myself. This is so great I can't wait to get started. Now if I only had a plot of land...


There are a lot more green and sustainable building methods, I've only mentioned a couple. Here are some links to additional stuff:

Green Home Building is a website which talks about sustainable architecture and natural building.

Natural Building Network is an association which promotes natural building principles, materials and practitioners worldwide.

Green Builders Directory a listing of various builders who build green and sustainable housing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Green am I?

This weeks blog is about me and how my green life is going. Been getting progressively greener since March. My organic veggie, earth friendly roommate moved out beginning of July, so I'm living alone again. We won't be laughing, dancing and singing round the house together anymore. Sniff, sniff. I thank her for getting me on board with a greener way of life.

Town Square, photo by LightI live in a very small community of about 4,000 mostly elderly  folks. We've got a beauty salon, senior center, doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, realtor, small clothing store, restaurant  and post office all in our little town square. It's so cute. The  photo left is of the square. Across the street is an 18 hole golf course with clubhouse and restaurant.  Don't know the meaning of the words healthy food. Look at you like you've got 2 heads when you ask for a veggie anything. Say what???

Anyway, I walk to the Post Office everyday. It's about 1/2 mile from my house. The nearest grocery store is about 10 miles via interstate. There's no public transportation and because there are no back roads bicycling is out. Weird I know. 'Sides I don't have a working bicycle. Have a 1997 Honda Civic hatchback which gets about 40 mpg most of the time. Feel fortunate. Keep tires inflated and only drive when necessary. I've cut trips into town down to about once or twice a month. Would like to go more... feelin' a bit deprived.

When I go in for a shop, I buy water in bulk too. Have 5 gallon bottles. Cost is only $1 for 5 gallons. Won't drink the tap water, would if I could but, it tastes bad and is full of minerals and other unmentionables. It's called aggressive water cause of how fast it builds up like rock formations on everything it touches.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still using locally grown or organic produce and eggs mostly. Grow many of my own herbs. The photo right is sage in my garden. Buy rice, beans, grains, flours, oatmeal, salt, sugar and spices in bulk. Store them in quart or 1/2 gallon canning jars. Use organic dairy products including milk, butter, cream cheese and yogurt. But cheese is a different story. Started baking and making lots of food from scratch including bread. Have a bread machine that looks like R2D2. Makes terrific bread. Bake my own cookies too. That way I know what's in 'em. Taste better, cost less and there's less packaging to deal with. 

Never ate much meat but now it's a flavoring agent, because I like the taste, instead of the the main ingredient. Mostly I cook vegetarian. Been trying recipes from around the world like Pad Thai and curried coconut veggies. And I'm eating lots of fresh organic salads with greens, shredded beets and carrots, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and lemon juice. Never thought I'd say I love salad... but I do now. The food tastes different, fresher and more alive. But the odd thing is I'm not wanting to cook and eat very often. I just noticed I was hungry and thought 'Is it time to eat again already?' What's up with that?

I'm still using eco-friendly dish liquid. Right now it's Bio Pak Ultra with tea tree and aloe, Green Apple scent. Works great, but don't like the smell much. Will try a different green kind next time. Or might buy the Dishmate Almond, I liked it. I've noticed my hands like these products better too. They aren't rough and dry any more. And my dish sponge still smells nice. I do the dishes by hand, don't have an automatic dishwasher. But I think I run the water too much. More then is frugal. So I'm not perfect... humph.

Haven't noticed a change in my electric bill since my roommate left. But we'd already cut way back. I'm cooking a bit more and I've got an old 2001 Dell with a big fat monitor that's on at least 6 hours a day so I can keep blogging. Wondering about that. Sure, it's EnergyStar rated, but I know it sucks power. And it's slowing down real bad and making growlin' noises too. Materializin' a new laptop. Visualizing myself using one, concentrating, focusin' every day... poof... new laptop. Poof... old computer gone, in that order please. Thank you. Whole bunch of poofin', no materializin'. Sigh, what's that 'Secret'? 

Keep blinds closed and ceiling fans on. Air conditioners off except when it gets really hot a couple hours in the afternoon. Have switched off the power strips mostly. I forget once in a while. The old TV, VCR and DVD players are unplugged all the time cause I don't ever watch them. The clock on my stove doesn't work. Don't own a coffee pot. Drink tea with milk mostly. Heat a mug full of water in my electric teapot. The microwave has a clock. It's the only one in the kitchen. Don't have a cell phone or power charger. Think I'm doing pretty good with all this stuff generally. Conserving, doing what I can. Writing about it and telling my friends too.

Now we're all on board the green train to conscious change.

Oh yeah a P.S.... ants invaded my house again. Did a cinnamon treatment inside and out. Worked great for all rooms except my bedroom closet. I must have missed a spot or something. Those buggers invaded my laundry basket and chewed holes in two of my favorite tee shirts and a pair of undies. Now they look like Swiss cheese. Rotten ants. Had to get out the artillery... big guns. Read about cornmeal killing ants. So I put some out. They took it back to the nest and I haven't seen 'em since. Not very compassionate. Pppppffffftttttt!!! Good riddance!