A teacher growing green in South Bronx

Stephen Ritz is a teacher who has changed the environment and the lives of his students and their community. All they had were seeds. Now, they have jobs, healthy food, and hope for the future.


Facebook doing good

Saving lives

Facebook is doing some good in the world, other than keeping people connected with friends and family. Now, you can let everyone know that you’re an organ donor. They’ve added a “health and wellness” section to profiles that asks some weird stuff, but also includes an “organ donor” box to check. More than 114,000 American are waiting for an organ donor. If you’re not officially on the list of donors, you can follow a link to find local donation registries. The hope is that this will go viral and encourage (by peer pressure) more people to become donors.

Teaching unemployed youth

Apps for Good teaches unemployed youth how to write web code, hoping they can use that valuable skill to get a job. Apps for Good recently teamed up with Facebook to teach youth how to build Facebook apps for social good, and how to market the apps. They’ll learn not only coding language, but some entrepreneurial skills as well.

terra, not terror on Facebook

We’ve joined Facebook! Find terra, not terror on Facebook and “Like” our page for more stories and posts about living simply and reducing your impact on the environment.

Palm oil vs. Coconut oil

Coconut TreeMany of us are aware of the destruction caused by palm oil. But what about coconut oil? Coconut oil seems to be the new trend among the vegan / vegetarian / environmental / health blogs. I’ve started using coconut oil as lotion and sometimes in baking, so I had to find out if coconut oil is as destructive as palm oil.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a lot of information about coconut oil. That could be good news – it’s not causing a lot of destruction; or bad news – the destruction hasn’t been noticed yet. I found one source, Mongabay, that describes the coconut oil market and lists articles related to forest destruction. It does not point to coconut oil as a source of forest destruction. It does, however mention palm oil; so I know it’s aware of the problem. Pretty good.

I really couldn’t find anything else. It seems that more research needs to be done about the sustainability of coconut oil. I’ll keep looking, and I hope you’ll post anything you find too!

Good things about coconut oil

Palm oil

OrangutanP.S. I never use palm oil. Ever. I’m stricter about palm oil than I am about hfcs or sugar! The good news is, palm oil is not in anything that I need. It’s only in processed food. And it’s unhealthy. Read up on the dangers of palm oil.

Your actions mean something! One company has promised to stop rainforest destruction due to palm oil.

Don’t you want to adopt that cute orangutan?

Will you unplug?

Today is the National Day of Unplugging. It started last night at sundown and goes until sundown tonight. (I missed it, so maybe I’ll try it tomorrow.) The idea is to get away from our glowing screens and reconnect with each other.

Shut down your computer,” the pledge states. “Turn off your cell phone. Stop the constant emailing, texting, tweeting and Facebooking to take time to notice the world around you. Connect with loved ones. Nurture your health. Get outside. Find silence. Avoid commerce. Give back. Eat Together.”

Can you live without your phone? Twitter? Facebook? Blogging? Email? Shopping? Pinning?

I’ll admit, I’m hooked on Twitter and Instagram, and my iPod is basically an extension of my hand. But I took the Facebook app off my iPod, so that’s no problem. Email, phone, shopping… easy to avoid for a day. Sadly, I have papers to grade and they’re all on the computer. Maybe I’ll pledge discipline to get those papers graded (without my online distractions extending the process) and spend more time with my family. I can make that pledge. Tomorrow.

Do you ever unplug?

Green Royal Family

In honor of today’s festivities, I’d like to share how much I admire the royal family’s commitment to reduce their impact on the environment. As world leaders, their actions send a message, and on this day of celebration, I am expressing my gratitude and admiration of their efforts.

A green wedding

In lieu of gifts, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge requested charitable donations. How lovely. Westminster Abbey was decorated with local greenery, growing in planters. The wedding feast will consist of locally sourced, organic foods, which are kind to their bodies and the planet.

The royal family

Other members of the royal family make attempts to reduce their impact on the planet too.The Queen converted her Bentleys to run on biofuel. Biofuels can come from new plants, or from kitchen scraps, so this was a considerate choice. Prince Charles was named Hero of the Environment by Time magazine in 2007.

Fresh water in a reusable water bottle

I love my reusable water bottles. I use the stainless steel kind that can be found inexpensively just about anywhere. Some people notice a metal taste to their water that turns them off the reusable water bottle. I notice a detestable plastic taste from plastic water bottles. We’re all different. Here are a few solutions:

To get rid of the metallic taste:

  • Rinse your water bottle with vinegar and water. Or let it soak with vinegar and water overnight. Then, rinse with clean water. Ready to go.
  • If it still tastes like metal, put baking soda in the bottle and add just a splash of vinegar. When it settles down, add water and shake it up. Give it a good rinse… ready to go.
  • See more from the source
  • Other info about metal water bottles, from SIGG.

Water Bobble

Alternatives to metal bottles:

  • Nalgene plastic water bottles. They’ve removed the BPA lining so they’re save and stylish. People swear by them. (I don’t have a dishwasher and I notice a little pond-water taste after a while, so I prefer the metal bottles)
  • Glass water bottles. These are intriguing. I think they would be heavy, but reviewers say nay. You could turn glass jars (from peanut butter, brown rice syrup, whatev) into drinking jars. If this is too hippy for your style, check out some of these different styles. I’ve seen these plastic-wrapped glass jars at Home Goods.
  • Bobble. It’s a plastic bottle, made from recycled plastic. It has a filter between the mouthpiece and the water so you get fresh, clean water every time. The bobble is my favorite for days when I’m on campus all day. It’s light and I can fill it up at the drinking fountain and the filter will take away the drinking fountain and plastic flavors. It’s cute, and you can get it just about anywhere. Winner!

Why I try to eat organic food

strawberriesI try to eat organic, not just for me, but because the people who pick my food are exposed to all the chemicals that get sprayed on the food. Insects become more resilient to pesticides, so they use more and more pesticides in this fruitless effort.

Bats are good at eating insects! And bats probably don’t enjoy the pesticides either.

Here are the veggies on the “dirty dozen” list of foods that are more beneficial for you to eat organic.

  • Celery
  • Thin-skinned fruits like peaches, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, cherries
  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, etc)
  • Potatoes

Find the complete list on The Daily Green.

Upcoming Events

Do not miss these fantastic upcoming events in NE Ohio.

Farmers Markets

… are in full swing in August! Choose from Lock 3, Stan Hywet, Mustard Seed, and so many more.

Great Lakes Burning River Fest

Besides having a really cool name, this is seriously the best festival ever. You’ll find great food, education, activities for the kids, music, and fun!

Saturday, August 9 from noon to 11 p.m.
Nautica Entertainment Complex, Cleveland
$8 online preorder, kids Free

Green Energy Expo

by Green Energy Ohio. Meet local green energy companies, learn more about what you can do to reduce your impact, maybe even find a green collar job!

Saturday, August 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
John S. Knight Center, Akron

Taking Time Off

I have decided to take a break from this blog. I hope to do it for just a month, but it may be longer. I’m doing this so I don’t quit outright. This decision has been influenced by 2 factors.

If you want to keep up with what I’m reading, you can follow my del.icoi.us news at http://del.icio.us/terranotterror/green. This is where I bookmark all the articles that I find online that relate to reducing our impact on the environment. These will include all the fantastic ideas that I enjoy reading. So, you won’t get my summaries, but you’ll be able to see the resources I find to write them.


1. I work two jobs, and am trying to continue my schooling. One job involves staring at a computer for 8 hours a day. Since I don’t write posts when I’m at work, I have to write them at home, when I’m pretty tired of looking at a computer.

2. See comments for my 2nd reason. It gets political, which I’ve decided won’t get a place on the main page. I will make one request – take a look at the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, and then call your Senator if you are as concerned as I am about privacy and upholding the bill of rights. The FISA bill (HR 6304) will be voted on July 8th. United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Super Thanks to Senator Sherrod Brown for sticking up for the Constitution so far.

Happy 4th of July!!

European Sustainability

I just got back from a trip to Europe, and have a few notes I found interesting. Itinerary: we flew from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Amsterdam, and then Prague.

There’s no recycling in Cleveland – to be sure, I even asked an employee where I could recycle my drink bottle and he said “oh, just throw it in the trash.” Philadelphia Airport had thorough recycling – with separate containers. Amsterdam gets its own paragraph. Needless to say, recycling is available in Amsterdam (except in the “travel-to-America” section). Upon return, we landed at the Akron-Canton Airport, which does recycle. What’s up, Cleveland?


We had a few hours in Philadelphia, so I look my husband to see the town. We both appreciate history, and especially the freedoms our founding fathers had in mind when they created this country. After our experience in the Cleveland Airport, I bought a pocket Constitution to comfort me for the remainder of the trip. Philadelphia is a beautiful city, where public transportation is used by anyone who isn’t already riding their bike. The streets are 2 lanes, so cars are bothersome. I wish we had more time there.


As we flew into Amsterdam, we saw fields of windmills generating power for this coastal city. The air was crisp and clean, and the city was just beautiful. We saw many more windmills in the city, and a fantastic irrigation system for the fields. I’m sure the food there was deliciously fresh!


IMG_0856Our final destination was the free country of the Czech Republic. Prague was just as beautiful as anything we imagined. And talk about public transportation! … We rode the tram, train, or bus throughout the city and found public transportation to be clean, safe, stress-free and overall enjoyable, even in a foreign language.

Recycling is available everywhere. Trash cans (and trucks) are noticeably smaller than recycling containers.

I especially loved the local markets that were specialized. Instead of going to a one-size-fits-all shop for your culinary desires, you can go to the fruit and vegetable market for the freshest produce, the bread store for delectable pastries and loaves, and the cheese store for dairy treats. There were locally-owned, specialty shops for everything you need. For convenience, all-in-one shops are also plentiful. It’s nice to have choices. How could I forget the tea shops? They were delightful!

The cuisine was largely meat-based, but we were able to find great vegetarian options everywhere we went. Our best discovery (our friend took us there) was an Afghan restaurant. Delicious!

Dresden and LeipzigDresden

We took a train to Dresden and Leipzig for a day trip. These beautiful German cities demonstrated reduce and reuse, and everyone rode bikes. It was fantastic. After the US firebombed Dresden in WWII, the city decided to rebuild itself using the same bricks that were used in the original buildings. They had to incorporate some new bricks, and the result is a city full of charred-black and new-white speckled churches and city buildings.

The train stations were nearly the highlight of this trip. They were so clean and efficient. The Leipzig train station doubles as a 2-story shopping mall. The food here was also good, but heavy, with lots of cheese and everything fried. Good thing we took public transportation so we were forced to walk off our calories.


Because of “security” rules, we weren’t as environmentally responsible as we would like. Therefore, we drank a lot of bottled water, and even had to use styrofoam. We refilled our bottles whenever we could, but were forced to go through so many security checks – despite never leaving an airport – that we consumed and disposed of many bottles. One time we bought bottled water, but it was warm and tasted like plastic, so I dumped it out and filled it with drinking fountain water. Ha! It was unfortunate that we aren’t allowed to stick to our ideals. In the future, we will bring our empty bottles and have them filled inside the airport (if we’re lucky), and bring our mugs for coffee and tea. Do you think I’m allowed to bring my bpa-free metal bottle? I’ll try it.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. We learned a lot about history, experienced the joy of public transportation, and saw some good friends. I can’t wait to get back!