Let’s Be Honest

December 17, 2007 at 3:43 pm (Experiences) (, , , , , , )

UPDATE: Turns out I have nothing to feel bad about. According to Treehugger even if you’re careful about how you hand wash your dishes modern dishwashers use less water, soap, and energy. I love my dishwasher even more, so much so that I think he needs a name. Suggestions?

Hello again! I’m back at home. My trip was fine. I was able to help my grandfather recover from surgery. He’s doing very, very well. Seems the new hip is working just fine. But here’s what I really wanted to talk about today…

We bought a dishwasher. It’s a two-year old portable Maytag that we got on Craig’s List for $150. As I was thinking over the purchase I had a split-second moment of guilt…after all, hand washing dishes (done properly) uses less energy and water. But let’s be honest…Mr. E and I never get around to actually DOING the dishes! And let’s be honest about this too: you can’t always make the perfect choice. Mr. E and I both struggle to find the time and energy to do dishes. The dishes pile up. The kitchen looks worse and worse. And we get depressed. We also end up eating out way more than we should because cooking means we have to clean dishes. That’s bad for our sanity, and our wallets. So we got a dishwasher. And we’re thrilled. And you know what…we can’t be perfect environmentalists. Trying to be perfect would be a useless pursuit and it would just drive us batty. My point is this; forgive yourself for being human. As long as you’re still trying to be better, as long as you never give up, then I say you’re doing great!


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Pleasantly Surprising Selection

November 16, 2007 at 10:41 pm (Other, Product Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I just heard about Better World.com about five minutes ago. It’s a source for buying used books (and when the library isn’t good enough, used is next best). Additionally they donate money to literacy programs, are a carbon neutral company, and seem downright good for the planet and the people on it. Surely the obscure books I’m interested in wouldn’t be available right? I’m happy to be wrong. I checked for three books on my wish list (which are pretty random…not sure one of them is even in print anymore) and 2 out of 3 were available. I’d say that’s pretty darn impressive. That got me thinking that the popular book selection would leave potential customers disappointed. However The da Vinci Code, Harry Potter 6, and and the newest Michael Crichton book, Next, were all available used. When a used copy of a book isn’t available you can purchase a new one, so it’s important to pay attention if you’re looking to go the eco-friendlier path. All in all it seems like a good service and an ethical business. I’ll refrain from assigning a grade since I haven’t made an order yet (maybe when we’re less broke). But I’m very optimistic. via: Treehugger, via Planet Green

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Christmas, Birthday, and [insert holiday here] Gifts vs. Presents

November 16, 2007 at 4:35 pm (Ideas) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What’s the difference between a gift and a present? According to Merriam Webster…not much. But in my own personal semantic universe I view things a little differently: a present = a gift, a gift may or may not = a present. See, the way I see it is that a present is an item given as a gift, it’s tangible, physical. A gift might be an actual object…but it could be an action, the gift of time or service. Ecologically speaking it’s non-present gifts that tend to be the greenest, and often the most appreciated. After all…haven’t we all felt like we’ve been smothered in clutter after the holidays at one time or another? The vast number of people who flock to the stores after Christmas to return this gift or that gift testify that giving presents is a hit or miss endeavor. So…what’s the solution?

Give your time and yourself to the people you love. Most people feel more loved if they’re given someone’s time because time is so precious. The amount of time given is proportionate to the perceived value of a gift. Offer to clean some-one’s entire house, or babysit once a month for free, or whatever service is needed. The only impact your gift is likely to have is on the hearts and minds of the receivers. But if you feel a present is important just carry over the “time=value principle” to the object you give…make up baking mixes in jars, craft a handmade article of clothing (knit, sew, whatever), create a personalized Christmas ornament (try getting creative with household items before rushing out to the craft store).

If you still want to receive or give a conventional present consider a practical one. I know our culture often views such gifts as taboo…but it shouldn’t be that way. For example we’ll likely be moving to my home state next year, and into an apartment with carpet. We don’t currently own a vacuum. I’d be thrilled to get a high quality vacuum for my birthday or Christmas. Why should I be offended that someone gave me something I need, and want? Why should I be offended that someone knows what’s going on in my life, is paying attention to me?  I don’t see it as insulting in the least. I guess some might think it’s somehow sexist to give a girl a vacuum…a loud, tacky way of saying you belong in the home. But since I want to be a “domestic executive” that’s just fine with me. Besides, I know that no-one who loves me enough to give me a gift would purposely try to insult me. And if you’re concerned about offending something there are other gifts that are practical besides home appliances…think about their needs. If you’re still worried they’ll be disappointed with a practical present, or a non-present gift…perhaps you should consider making friends with people who share your values….or give them a charity gift (available through organizations like Heifer International) and let it go if they don’t ooh and ahh over your gift. It’s the thought that counts.


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Thank Goodness for the Lost & Found

November 16, 2007 at 4:07 pm (Experiences, Ideas) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

You may have seen my posts about Sigg waterbottles (this one, or this review). If you haven’t, suffice it to say that I’m quite fond of mine. So it was quite distressing when I realized I had lost my beloved water bottle. Of course it’s clear from the post title that it was recovered and is again in my possession. I’m grateful for the kind soul who turned it in to the campus lost and found. It’s a nice little reminder that being kind to the planet isn’t enough, we need to be kind to each other as well. True compassion extends beyond one single cause. True activism involves daily acts of service along with the anything else you’re involved in.

You can never really predict what impact your small deeds might have. I’m attached to my water bottle (perhaps a little too attached) so I was pretty saddened by the idea that I had lost it, especially considering how long I had waited for it to be delivered in the first place. Getting it back safe and sound made my day. Plus it meant I didn’t need to replace the thing…which would have been frustrating since the reasons for having it in the first place was to have a reusable bottle that wouldn’t need replaced. So while you’re busy saving the world, please, don’t forget to save the people in it too.

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Fine Art Fridays

November 16, 2007 at 3:52 pm (Fine Art Fridays) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Annabuilt.com features sculpted birds made from old metal tins and cans. I can only assume Anna is the artist’s name. The sculptures are just lovely. And though sometimes she buys her cans from the grocery store it seems most come from the trash or thrift stores. It’s amazing to me how organic man-made “junk” can be made to feel. I’m a big fan of real birds, and these make me almost as happy. via: HAUTE*NATURE


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Family Crisis

November 11, 2007 at 8:25 pm (Other) (, , )

If you don’t hear from me for a little while it’s because my mom is in the hospital and my grandfather is getting his hip replaced. I’ll be flying home to help out. In the mean time don’t forget to visit the websites featured on my links page!

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Fine Art Fridays

November 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm (Fine Art Fridays) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Though I’m worried that my crazy schedule may interfere I’ve decided to try doing a weekly feature, Fine Art Fridays. I’ll tell you a little bit about an eco-artist and provide some links. You’ll expand your knowledge. The artist’s featured will get extra publicity. Everybody wins.

A good place to visit if you’re interested in eco-art is the Environmental Art Museum. Or just check back on Fridays to see if a new artist has been featured.

Lynne Hull gets to be first!

Lynne Hull was raised in New Mexico, and now lives in Colorado. She makes what she calls “trans-species art, sculptures contributing to wildlife habitat. [She] want [sic] to make a positive gesture toward the earth and express [her] concerns for nurturance of other species and endangered lifecycles.” Some of her earlier works include islands for creatures (such as turtles) to utilize, as well as roosts for raptors to nest upon (see below).

To learn more about Lynne Hull and her innovative eco-art visit her website, or the Green Museum.


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