We can solve it

Have you seen this ad on tv? I almost fell off the couch in shock, when I saw these two sitting together, agreeing to do something about climate change. It’s easy to do, it’ll save us all a lot of money, we’ll have a cleaner planet (who likes smog?), and we’ll help the environment. Here’s the ad with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson.

Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich have also come together to tackle climate change (or talk about it, at least). It’s a wise move. While the videos won’t solve anything, they show that we can work together to make this a human issue, not a political issue. It’s something we can all agree on.

Green jobs are American jobs. You can’t outsource solar panel installation. If we don’t innovate soon, we’ll be buying “green” technology from our international competitors forever. That situation isn’t beneficial for anyone. We’ve got to start creating renewable energy technology. Oil is not the answer. Drilling in Alaska won’t help – that oil won’t be available for more than 10 years. Geothermal and biodiesel (from used vegetable oil – not food crops!) are available now, and they’re renewable.

It’s time people look past politics, toward the future. It’s only a political issue if we make it one. We’ve got to take this issue back and make it cooperative. Don’t let the politicians control the dialogue. We, as consumers, have to come together and do what’s best for our health and our planet.

Even if you dispute the science, don’t you want cleaner air? Cheaper power?

It’s about taking responsibility, not laying blame.

Let’s create a better life for everyone.

We can solve it. Ok, they changed their name to Climate Reality. I wrote this a few years ago, but it’s still relevant and impressive. And Climate Reality has a new project that will address Dirty Weather (caused by dirty fossil fuels) on Nov. 14, so check it out and see how you can get involved.


999 bottles

We all know how bad bottled water is, right? Here’s a little reminder

  • In 2006 the global consumption of bottled water was 177 BILLION liters.
  • At 42 billion liters, the U.S. accounted for about 23% of that.
  • It takes two to three liters of water to produce and distribute one liter of bottled water
  • For most of us, bottled water is of no better quality than our tap water (which is more highly regulated and monitored).
  • In the U.S. alone we use more than 17 million barrels of oil to create those disposable bottles (this does not account for the fuel used to ship bottled water across the globe)

I’m sure you “recycle” your water bottle, but look at how wasteful it is to simply produce that bottle… 2-3 liters of water is used to make 1 liter for you to drink, and 17 million barrels of oil is used to create the bottle. (That means you’re drinking out of a container made from oil. Yuck!)

Why not choose a reusable bottle instead? 999Bottles is a cool project that helps you track how many resources you’re saving each time you refill the reusable stainless steel bottle. You advance the counter each time you refill, and you can use an app or the website to find out how much you’ve saved. If you refill just 8 times, you’ve paid for the bottle; 15 refills is a stack as tall as a giraffe. “At 147, the bottles you non-consumed have saved you $326 and 7 gallons of oil.”

The 999Bottles is currently a Kickstarter project so you can’t buy the bottle in stores yet. They need to raise about $47,000 in order to start production. You can follow 999Bottles on Facebook or contribute to their Kickstarter goal.

– Artefact


Easy iced tea

DSCN2560I’ve been making the easiest iced tea lately. The instructions on the box of tea says to use 2 tea bags, boiling water and ice. But then I use up all my tea in twice the time. I don’t like that.

Instead, I just take 1 tea bag, add about 3 cups of water, and store it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. It will steep while you’re at work or overnight, and you’ll have tasty tea whenever you want it. Add a squeeze of agave nectar (about 1 TBSP) to sweeten.

I like to have a little green tea in the afternoons, just to wake up a bit. Or some lemon-ginger lemonade. (Aren’t those the cutest tea boxes you’ve ever seen? I got them from Marks & Spencer in Prague.) Wild Berry Zinger is like cool-aid for grown ups. Today I’m trying Nettle tea, to help ward off the allergies.

I got that fabulous jar at a tag sale last year. Love it!

Lifehacker inspired this tea.

Plastic bottle light bulbs

When people build shantytowns and impromptu housing (as millions do around the world), it’s hard to get sufficient light inside because of lack of electricity. So, people live in the dark or have to go outside to see anything. Solution: plastic bottle light bulbs.

Liter of Light takes empty pop bottles, fills them with water and a little bleach (to prevent mold), and installs them in the roofs. The result is similar to solar light tubes and it allows people to have light in their homes throughout the day, without electricity.

Good.is explains how it works: “plastic bottles refract the sun’s rays, scattering about 55 watts of light across a would-be pitch black room.”

(The video on Liter of Light is even better!)

Guest post: Collecting rain, if and when it comes

Guest post from Annie at Dough, Dirt & Dye. Annie writes about baking, gardening, and living green in Oklahoma. And she makes fabulous greeting cards for her Etsy store, Empty on the Inside

It’s difficult not to be dreaming about water during this record-breaking summer in Oklahoma. Rain has been practically non-existent and there hasn’t been a single day this July below 100 for the high. The grass is brittle, the garden (not to mention the dog) is panting, the ground is cracking and even well-established trees are drooping with the heat and lack of water.

Which makes the fact that just this past spring my partner, Kel and I, finally installed a rain-water collection barrel, ironic. We’d talked about it a few times over the preceding 3 and half years – years with plentiful rainfall – but as with many of our projects, it got pushed aside for other seemingly more pressing things. The rain barrel now sits empty – dry as a bone. But it’s good to know it’s there when and if the rains return to this part of the state.

When I say it was a fairly simple project to complete, I mean that it was a lot of work for Kel, but not so much for me. I like to think of myself as the idea and encouragement person. He’s the hands-on person. The first thing we had to do to get our contraption up and running was to install gutters on one side of our work shed. We’d seen rain gushing off of the roof so many times that we knew we’d get a good amount of water off of it. Kel did the math and it turns out that collecting half of the rain run-off from our shed – a 20’ x 25’ building – would yield approximately 125 gallons of water (calculating that we’d lose about 20%) during a storm that dropped approximately 1” (figure this amount by putting up a rain gauge) – and again, that’s just for the half of the roof we guttered. If your math skills, like mine, are stuck somewhere in the third grade, you can find a good rain collection calculator here:http://www.csgnetwork.com/rwcollectioncalc.html. 125 gallons was enough to have us eyeing the house (already guttered) as well as the other big rain run-off roof: our 60’ x 40’ barn – but those projects will remain on the “to do” part of the list for a little while yet.

After we installed gutters on the shed (which also put an end to the battering the flowers alongside the wall were taking each time it rained), we hauled out from the barn one of four 275-gallon containers we bought locally through craigslist. These containers can be found all over Oklahoma (and probably elsewhere) and go pretty cheap if you keep your eyes open and are willing to bargain. Ours had been filled with mineral oil – so the water we collect will be safe on plants, but of course, we wouldn’t drink from it. Once the container was in place – elevated with some wooden pallets we’d inherited from the previous owners of our ranch – it was ready for a hose to be attached to the spigot. The hose and coupler are a bit out of the ordinary, but easily obtained online or through a farm supply company.

Now all we need is a long, soaking rain to refresh the pastures, the flowers, vegetables and trees – and to fill up that thirsty rain barrel for the next dry spell.

Reuse dehumidifier water


If you’re like me, you’ve been running at least one dehumidifier in your house for months. And, like me, you’ve been pouring the water down the drain. Clean, fresh water. Down the drain. There’s got to be a better way.

Idea of the day: instead of dumping the dehumidifier water down the drain, use it in the garden! Water saved, plants nourished. Pour it straight onto the grass, into pots, or store it in your watering can for the days when we don’t see 5 inches overnight.

You probably thought of this years ago.

Moneysaver Monday: Bring back the hankies!

Tissues were introduced to the American consumer (and marketed to women) around 1910 by Kleenex. In “1927, Kleenex advertisements used the phrase ‘for colds, never again use handkerchiefs.'” I say, let’s bring back the handkerchiefs!



My husband had seasonal allergies and used to go through tissues like water. It’s hard to find precise numbers on tissues, but the typical American family uses 2,460 lbs of paper each year, including tissues. Only 10% of that is recycled. When we noticed this wastefulness, we decided to change. We bought handkerchiefs. They cut down on purchases (saved us money!) and reduced the trash pile to almost nil. They’re great for traveling too!

You can find handkerchiefs at any big box store. But the real gems can be found at antique stores or estate sales. I found the pictured hankies at an estate sale this weekend. Oh, there were more. All equally beautiful. They may even be hand embroidered. These will be so cute in my purse. Better than a bulky tissue paper pack. Definitely helpful for watching Harry Potter 7.2. When you’ve used one, just throw it in the wash. I hung these to dry, to preserve their lovely stitching. Husband uses about 1 a day and always has one with him. They get softer over time and he doesn’t miss the tissues at all.

So, won’t you ditch the tissues and try handkerchiefs? You could even make your own with old bandannas or pillowcases.

P.s. Disposable Kleenex hand towels? No, thank you. See 3 wasteful products and their eco alternatives.

Summer heat


hot sun

It’s hot hot hot in NE Ohio. We talked about tips last summer. Here are some more.

  • #1 recommendation – never ever leave your dog in the car. Ever. The temperature in the car can quickly rise to over 130 degrees, even if the outside temperature is in the 70’s.
  • How to prevent/treat heat exhaustion.
  • Wet your clothes, like the sleeves of your shirt, to stay cool. But don’t waste water – a little water should do the trick.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Use your stove less. Grill your dinner, or make cool meals during hot summer days. Using the stove or oven will heat the whole room, sometimes prompting the A/C to kick on and waste energy.
  • Use peppermint soap or lotion. Peppermint on the skin has a very cooling effect. (think IcyHot or BioFreeze)
  • Go to the library. Chances are, the A/C is blasting in there. Learn and cool off at the same time!
  • Remember, it’s summer… it’s ok to be warm. Turn down the A/C to save energy and money. You’ll also feel cooler when go you somewhere that is air conditioned.


Mushroom solution


Oyster mushrooms

It turns out that diapers are nearly as bad for the environment as styrofoam. They take centuries to biodegrade. But, scientists may have found a solution… oyster mushrooms! Oyster mushrooms grown on soiled diapers break down 90% of the diaper in just 2 months. (The mushrooms can be eaten, but I’m not sure even I would go that far.)

Oyster mushrooms were tested because of the other things they grow on – straw, coffee grounds, tequila-making leftovers, and more. They seem to just want to grow somewhere. Why not diapers?

The mushrooms don’t need to be edible to make this a valuable discovery. The fact that they can break down the diapers is worthwhile.


More about mushrooms

Mushrooms pictured here were grown from used coffee grounds. Check out backtotheroots.com to get your own mushroom growing kit.

Lifehacker helpfully tells us how to tell if a wild mushroom is safe to eat.