28
Jun

Keep Cool & Save Money This Summer

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Hot enough for you yet? Here in central Ohio the temperature has been in the high 80s, low 90s with outrageous humidity levels. To keep costs down and keep us all cool we are rocking most of the tips I outline in my post on 10 Ways to Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning. I despise high energy bills for a variety of reasons but one big one is that I would rather spend that money on fun times with my kids! Another is that I find it a personal challenge to consume less and prove that we can live leaner and greener without sacrificing quality of life. Heat can be a deal breaker for many (understandably so) but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some “Cool” ways to save this summer…


Cool Ways to Save with ENERGY STAR infographic

27
Jun

Gardening in June: Blackberries, Jalapenos, and Bell Peppers

by Tiffany in Gardening

June has been an exciting gardening month for me. It is a daily joy to go outside and see how things are growing and changing. Unless of course I go outside and see that squirrels have been eating my bell pepper plants, then I just want to go outside with a .22 and maybe have some squirrel stew for dinner. In lieu of that I have been making sure to spray them with an oil/cayenne pepper mixture and so far that seems to be working. I have already lost 4 of my 6 original bell pepper plants though. Those two are starting to grow peppers and are currently about the size of my thumbnail. Cute!

bell pepper plant

On the plus side though the blackberries are growing (their first year) and I am letting the birds eat them. Next year will be a different story. My blueberry bush is looking green and lush (also its first year) but no blueberries.

blackberries

I have salad greens and herbs growing on my back deck in containers since we have very little space to work with. I find it a delightful challenge though to see how much we can grow in so little space. Each corner of our deck looks something like this…

salad bar porch pots

salad greens container garden

In our raised beds we have the aforementioned bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and pumpkin vines that are getting downright massive. We did not intentionally grow them, they just kinda happened because we used the raised beds as a compost bin during the winter and our Halloween pumpkins were in there. Once they started sprouting I didn’t have the heart to remove them, I just thinned them out and I hope we can keep them manageable and prevent them from strangling out everything that is growing around them. We shall see.

Pumpkin plants

Also growing are some jalapenos. Salsa here we come baby!

jalepenos

Also got the compost bin I so desperately needed AND the rain barrel. After our first big spring rain I collected over 55 gallons of rainwater. I haven’t had to use the water from the hose even once and we have had some pretty hot and dry days lately. We got it via a nifty city program. I had to take an online test about rainwater collection and benefits and then after passing I got a rain barrel at a wholesale price.

rain barrel in the garden

The compost bin was built in about 15 minutes and for about $20.

compost bin

What are you growing? What gardening adventures have you had so far?

26
Jun

Los Angeles Bans Plastic Shopping Bags!

by Tiffany in Political Action

plastic-versus-cloth-bags
 

Way to go Los Angeles!! As of yesterday they have become the largest US city to ban plastic shopping bags, joining other eco conscious cities like Seattle and San Francisco. They have taken a stand and declared that consumer convenience can not be placed before the environment and plastic bags are a serious environmental problem.

According to Business Week:

The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 to require stores that make more than $2 million a year or occupy retail space measuring more than 10,000 square feet to phase out plastic bags by Jan. 1; smaller stores will have until July 1, 2014. Paper bags will be available for 10 cents, with proceeds going to the stores.

I am excited because LA is a trend setting city and this could give other cities the motivation they need to enact their own bag bans, which I fully support. Chicago and New York City may have something in the works already.

Freebie plastic bags are given away willy nilly all over this country and it has to stop. As society we have already demonstrated we aren’t mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with accepting them. If we were, they wouldn’t litter our countryside and our oceans, threatening ecosystems and wildlife.

Do you support bags bans?? How do you feel about this decision in Los Angeles?

25
Jun

Obama Outlines National Plan for Climate Change – Is it Enough?

by Tiffany in Political Action

obamaWhen the news started pouring in that President Obama was making a major announcement about climate change today I was unsure what to think at first. My feelings about his performance this term have been rather lukewarm. He hasn’t done anything to stand up to Monsanto and their stranglehold on this country and he hasn’t done nearly enough lately on green issues such as climate change and clean air. I was especially hoping for more action on this after the Forward on Climate rally in DC this past February, which I attended with my 12 year old son. He was largely mum though after what was the biggest citizen rally to date.

I always hold out hope for a Bulworth moment since he is on his second and last term. Now is the time to stand up to corporate interests and take one for the planet. What has he got to lose? Only the chance to make history and be “the one” who got the wheels spinning and started to turn our current global crisis around I say.

The President’s speech today was not quite on par with my wildest hopes and wishes but I am pleased by what we heard today. I applaud the fact that he is giving the issue the attention it deserves and that he seems to be accepting of the fact that we have some tough decisions to make. The road to finding solutions will not be easy but neither are the ramifications of our failure to do anything. In 2012, extreme weather disasters cost Americans more than $100 billion. If now is not the time to act on climate then when will it be?

In the speech today the President touched on serious flaws in our current legislation. Right now there are no federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution that energy producers can pump into our air. Mercury, arsenic, and radioactive particles are spewing into the air we breathe and no one is doing enough to keep it in check. “It’s not right, its not safe and it needs to stop”, Obama started out by saying. He then declared that the EPA is directed to end the limitless dumping from energy plants by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing facilities, which account for around 40% of total U.S. emissions.

I love that he put the kibosh on the naysayer talk right away, confirming that we are sure to hear that this will kill jobs, crush the economy, and end free enterprise. We hear it it every time anyone wants to enact tougher legislation on pollution and increase environmental protection. In 1970 our government acted on smog with a clean air act and we heard back then how the economy would be crushed. The only thing crushed was pollution. The same thing happened when legislation was put in place to combat acid rain. The naysayers are out of gas.

I also liked how Mr. Obama basically challenged the patriotism of the naysayers out there by hinting that they have no faith in the innovation of businesses and their ability to be leaders and to find solutions when limits and standards are put into place. They bet against American industry. Why? There need not be a contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth. Our American businesses and leaders can take this challenge and run with it. Anyone who hems and haws about the economy swirling the toilet is basically saying we are too dumb to meet this challenge and come out on top. We should ALL be insulted that conservative leaders and media are implying such a thing.

GM and Nike have issued climate change declarations. Walmart has made it a goal to cut emissions by 20%. It is one of the greatest opportunities of 21st century to be a leader on this issue and the companies stepping up should be applauded.

The President briefly touched on the subject of oil and drilling saying that we are not going to stop producing fossil fuels anytime soon but that more drilling is not a solution we can accept. We are already producing more oil now than we have in the past 15 years. We need to scrutinize our use of oil and projects such as Keystone Pipeline to see if the benefits outweighs the costs to our environment and natural gas will be a transition fuel. This part of the discussion was lackluster for me. He targets dirty coal power plants with this new plan (yay!) but dances around the Keystone issue  (boo!) when a rejection is what I was hoping for. Also, natural gas gets touted as a “clean energy” solution. What the frack?

Along the lines of REAL clean energy though he shared that we have doubled the amount of solar and wind power used during his term and this plan will set us up to double it again by 2020. He also called for cooperation to end tax breaks for oil companies, end the funding of new coal plants overseas, and invest in the clean energy companies instead. They are the businesses of the future! He also touched on the fact that developing nations have more to lose to climate change than the US so he plans to work more intimately with other countries to combat these issues together. He intends for the US to be the leader on this issue.

The last part of the speech was intended to mobilize us as a country I think and light a fire under our behinds…asking us to help spread the message about climate change far and wide in our communities. As he stated, “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society.”

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan isn’t perfect and it wasn’t the Bulworth moment I wanted. It’s not quite aggressive enough in my opinion. Yet all things considered the plan is a monumental step forward for us and it deserves the support of the nation and the world. We do not have to choose between the health of our children and the health of our economy. We cannot fear the future, we have to seize it. Now. Thank you Mr. Obama for opening up the discussion today and laying the groundwork for what will hopefully be important change.

Will you send a message to your Congressional representative telling them to support President Obama’s plan to combat climate change? 

24
Jun

Has Your Life Been Touched By Breast Cancer?

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Group of women wearing pink

This post is written by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.

Breast cancer always seem to be at the forefront of the news and media. We are bombarded by the latest research and studies, conflicting information about risk and prevention, environmental causes, instances of “pinkwashing”, and of course the more sensational stuff like Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy. It is hard to make heads or tails of anything you hear about breast cancer…at least it is for me. What breast cancer news can you trust and actually use?

In many ways my own journey with cancer was a piece of cake in comparison. Colon cancer just isn’t as newsworthy I guess and treatment doesn’t vary too much. Yet lately I have been trying to muddle through the data and the latest information regarding breast cancer because it has touched my life quite intimately. A loved one in my life has inflammatory breast cancer (one of the rarest and deadliest kinds) and of course I have taken to the Internet to read up on it.

When you are going through cancer or someone in your life is you have almost daily questions. Cure rates, treatment options, surgical options, treatment myths, stages, nutrition, side effects, and reducing risk are all things you find yourself wondering about and wanting to research. You also seek out others who are going through what you are. I have come to some pretty eye opening conclusions about breast cancer after my own research and first hand experience as I come along for the ride. My own battle with a different cancer in no way prepared me for the special brand of nasty that is breast cancer. Everything about it is different including treatment. Who knew that there were so many different types chemotherapy? Even for the same type of cancer. Not me.

Lifescript.com is a site I have been visiting often lately. It covers all sorts of health topics for women but their sections on various cancers are pretty helpful. It is hard not to be fearful of breast cancer when you have it in your family, especially when it is that rare cancer with the lowest survival rate. For me though it is empowering to be informed…