I spotted this video (below) over the weekend and I got a little teary eyed. It is true that I was born in the Midwest (Ohio) and live there currently but I consider myself to be a Southwestern gal at heart…a desert rat. I lived in Arizona for over twenty years and spent my childhood there. The Colorado River is a treasure to us desert rats and in the years before I left it was so alarming to hear how badly we were decimating it. The unsustainable way in which many live there is one big reason I left. I couldn’t feel good about buying local foods from local family farmer’s when I knew they were using water piped in from the Colorado River to sustain their plants/farms. It seemed very unnatural to me. Living in a sustainable way to me means not stealing water from hundreds of miles away and from the people in that region who need it.
This video from American Rivers highlights the problem beautifully. They have named the Colorado River America’s most endangered river of 2013. It might not be the biggest river out there but it works the hardest as the lifeblood of seven states, two countries, and nine national parks. It has been so used and abused that it no longer reaches the sea. :(
Their site has some great information on ways we can action to save it and also to save other American rivers and waterways. One HUGE way is to make sure we patronize businesses and corporations that are not exploiting these resources and research our purchases before we make them to ensure it. Vote for the world you want with your dollars.
Many thanks to Reuseit for sharing this video (the place I discovered it). In addition to being a company with great eco products and ethics they partner with American Rivers and other environmental organizations and donate 1% of anything you buy to support them.
Do you know how to attract bees to your yard? Maybe a better question is why would you possibly want to attract bees to your yard?
While there are some people who will do whatever it takes to eliminate all kinds of insects from their property in an attempt to create the “perfect” yard, the more informed and conscious gardeners, homeowners, and consumers understand that the presence of bees is actually a good thing. Vital in fact. The more bees that are present in your yard or garden, the healthier your space is. If you are a gardener, you’ll understand that flowers, fruits and vegetables benefit from having more bees around. One out of every three bites of food is pollinated by bees and other pollinators. They give us food and they are a sign of balance and good health in our local eco systems. You really don’t want to live in a world without bees.
Aren’t convinced? Try watching one of the bee documentaries out there currently. I recommend Vanishing of the Bees. It highlights the bee crisis we currently face and just how dire it could be if we don’t turn it around. I was crying inside of ten minutes…it’s powerful stuff. I re-watched this week and then was horrified by the news a couple days ago that over 25,000 bees died in a Target parking lot after trees were sprayed with pesticides.
If you are one of those who understand the benefits, you will do whatever it takes to lure them to your yard or garden and your local community in general.
There are a number of things that you can do to attract more bees to your yard or garden, and not all of them require that you be a master gardener or landscaper. The most important thing you can do is to start thinking like a bee. This includes understanding what it is that bees like (or don’t like) and then creating an outdoor space that reflects this.
What a Bee Wants. Bees are looking for two things when they visit a plant; nectar and pollen. By using plants and flowers in your yard or garden that are rich in either nectar or pollen, you will find yourself with more bees than you can shake a stick at and an outdoor space that is a gardener’s dream come true. Unfortunately, not all of these plants (however beautiful) are created equal.
Keep it Natural. One of the main detractors for bees is flowers and plants that have been hybridized. While these plants have been designed to be easier to grow, to have bigger blooms and be resistant to disease, they usually come with a price; reduced production of nectar and pollen. So keep your selection of plants and flowers as natural as possible.
And speaking of natural, one of the worst things that you can do for your yard is to use many of the chemical pesticides that are on the market today. Yes, they may get rid of pests like aphids and gypsy moths that leave your leaves ragged, but most are not selective and will also kill off the more beneficial insects such as spiders, butterflies and even bees. Believe it or not, once your yard or garden has reached a natural balance, these pests will be balanced out by the more beneficial insects that keep them in check.
Go Native. Yes, exotic plants, trees and flowers may be attractive and alluring to humans, but you are looking to attract local bees and local bees prefer local plants. The more plants and flowers you can include that are native to your area, the more luck you will have in attracting bees.
Think Variety. The bigger the variety of flowers and plants you have in your yard or garden, the more bees you will be able to attract. This includes a variety of colors and shapes. Be especially careful to include plants that will flower at different times of the growing season, this will give your bees a constant source of attractors.
Buy Organic and Buy Local. Support your local farmers, especially ones who garden organically. They are doing their part to garden without toxic chemicals and they are providing food for bees. Many of these small farmers even keep bees to pollinate their crops. They need our monetary support so they can keep doing this important work. Buy local and organic and you support your local economy and your local bee colonies.
Bee Generous. Donate money to bee research and other organizations that are doing important work to support bees. Look for ones locally, perhaps at a college or university.
Be a Backyard Beekeeper. If you have the space take the plunge! We need more eco conscious people to keep the movement to save our bees going and growing. Check out the book The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally for a good getting started guide.
Yes, it may seem like a lot of work, but with a little time and attention you can have a yard or garden that will attract bees. You can also do your part to support those in your community you are making the world a more hospitable place for bees. Your reward is that you are making the world a better place for everyone to “bee”.
I admit to you that I did not watch the Super Bowl. It did not play anywhere in my home and we attended no parties. My husband and I could give two licks about football so why bother? I guess this also means I missed out on all the wonderfully entertaining commercials but I will survive I think.
Because I didn’t watch I don’t care to get irate about the inappropriate content of the commercials. I have two eyes that are capable of looking away when I see stuff I don’t like anyway. I see no need to sanitize the content of the world and make sure it is all to my liking only. Yet I did get pretty miffed when I heard that SodaStream tried to run an ad that shows how their product can reduce needless waste (via plastic bottles) and that it was rejected. CBS is saying they rejected it because it unfairly disparages Pepsi and Coke but we all know they allow those two companies to attack each other via commercials all the time. I guess it stops being funny when it is done by a company who wants to create consumer change and has a good product that can actually do so.
SodaStream ended up airing an ad but they had to change it slightly to protect the not-so innocent.
The original ad doesn’t even really attack the soda companies, it simply highlights that you can make soda at home and save more than 2,000 bottles a year. Pretty incendiary stuff! CBS better protect us from all that vitriol! Thank goodness we have them to shield the public from its destructive consumer ways and protect the interests of big business. At least we can keep talking about the issue and make sure the ad gets seen…
What do you think of this move by CBS and what do you think of the SodaStream ad?
Energy is always a hot discussion in politics. Alternative sources and solutions for our energy needs are often discussed and encouraged but we have been using certain forms of energy for so long that some may be confused about how we can utilize greener energy. Recent events (Hurricane Sandy) and discussions about climate change should tell us we need to bite the bullet as a nation and as a planet and invest in alternative energy NOW.
Wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy are probably terms you have heard before. You have likely read about them on various blogs and Internet news sites. You have likely seen arguments break out about the long term viability (or lack thereof) of each. Yet you may not know much about them such as the pros and cons, the costs to our environment and our economy, and the potential for individual savings if we were to convert. Here are basic facts about these forms of alternative energy.
1. Solar Energy
Let’s start with the big daddy. Most people probably think about solar energy first when the subject of alternative energy comes up. This energy method allows us to harness the power of the sun via solar panels that are attached to the roof of homes and corporate buildings. Solar farms exist to collect sunpower on a larger scale even. Solar can be used to meet the energy demands of entire households or entire communities and it is easy to find solar accessories for homes so that you can harness solar power.
Solar energy can only be aquired when the sun is shining
Solar panels can be cost prohibitive and often require special training to install and maintain
Sometimes the materials used in making solar panels and cells are not very planet friendly
Solar energy is clean, renewable, and sustainable
Extra power not immediately used can be stored in batteries for later use
New companies and technologies are always emerging that will make solar more affordable and accessible.
2. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy makes use of the earth’s cooler (in summer) and warmer (in winter) temperatures. Just think about how basements works to understand better. They are often nice and cool during the heat of the summer months and relatively warm in the winter even though they probably aren’t all that well insulated. The temperature of the earth around and underneath them affects the temperature. In a personal residence geothermal heat pumps circulate liquid under the surface to be cooled or warmed depending on the season. This is done on a much grander when geothermal energy is harnessed via the earth’s crust.
Lots of digging and construction required for geothermal installations
The best locations are often far from populated areas (think geysers and volcanoes)
Sulfur dioxide and silica emissions
Lots of water usage (another resource we must protect)
Renewable source of energy that is clean with almost zero emissions
Almost limitess supply of energy which is constant and not fluctuous like wind/solar
Can be built underground and not be seen as an eyesore
3. Wind Energy
The wind provides us with another renewable energy source. Even though it comes and goes and has a mind of it’s own it can’t be depleted by human greed. This makes it a very attractive means by which entire communities can be supplied with power. The wind’s energy is harnessed by rotating blades of various shapes and sizes called wind turbines. Wind farms now operate all over the country/world to collect this energy on a grand scale.
The wind is inconsisent and unpredictable
Often the best locations are the most picturesque and bring up “eyesore” complaints
Turbines can be noisy and also dangerous for flying creatures
Wind is a renewable, clean energy source
The power is basically free after the infrastructure is paid for
Abundant power that will not be depleted
4. Hydro Power
Harnessing the power of water for our use is one of the oldest forms of energy and we all know how powerful water can be…just look at the Grand Canyon. In modern times hydro is used mostly by damning rivers and then redistributing the water at high pressure to turn a water turbine and thus create energy.
* Damming a river and building a plant is expensive
* Drought can impact production
* Damming a river can be destructive to communities and eco systems with flooding and/or removal of a local water source
* Clean and green energy
* Renewable under ideal circumstances as rainfall replenishes the rivers
* Hydro power plants last for a very long time and require less maintanace than other plant types
It is easy to get passionate about converting to greener energy sources and we absolutely must. It is a moral imperative. Yet we must also acknowledge that all of these have certain pros and cons associated with them. We must find the right balance and we must divert more funding to advancing the technology in each of these areas so that the cons list shrinks. These four energy sources represent the major players in green energy and the more we educate ourselves about them and pursue their advancement, the easier it will be to realize the dream of getting rid of dirty energy sources that have deadly impacts on our climate, planet, and our health.
One of the most pressing reasons that so many parents seek to live a greener lifestyle is because they are mindful of the fact that the earth is an inheritance left to the children. What we do or do not do today, can and will be their problem to face tomorrow. This is why raising green kids is so important. Even at a young age they can be made aware of the issues facing their generation. Tween and teens are closer to their inheritance than younger children and they are also more aware of their impact so it is important that they too show a concern for the environment and step up to protect it as their parents have.
This may be a tall order in today’s fast paced world where teens are wired up, plugged in, and in sync with all the latest and greatest that the marketplace has to offer. At every step the media around them is trying to turn them into yet another mindless consumer. The values of mainstream society around them conflict with the green values you hope to cultivate in their minds and hearts. But tweens and teens are more worldly and savvy than ever, so it follows that they are primed to make a real difference and as parents, we can help them. A good place to start is at school…
Here is a list of ways that they can get their green on!
3. Instead of burning CDs use an iPod or a cell phone and charge it with a solar powered charger. Listen to your tunes via iPod, with a sound dock, on your computer, or with an iPod attachment for car stereos.
4. Use planet friendly school supplies such as post consumer recycled paper, eco pens/pencils, and Naked Binders.
5. Go digital! More and more schools are encouraging students to use iPads and laptops and going digital can drastically eliminate paper waste.
6. Help clean up your school by starting a recycling program and a weekly day for volunteer trash pick up to keep the school grounds and surrounding neighborhood areas beautiful. Plan something special for Earth Day and get your classmates involved.
7. Ask the school administrators to host a viewing of eco documentaries like Food Inc, The Cove, or No Impact Man. If the response is lukewarm ask fellow students to sign a petition showing interest.
8. Shop at second had stores and pick up some cool vintage clothing. Second hand clothing is far cheaper and you can create outfits unique to you and your style. Looking like everyone else is way overrated. BUT if you want to look like your peers, thrift stores often carry brand name clothing at a fraction of the original price.
9. When second hand won’t do and you need to buy new…buy organic fibers like organic cotton, hemp, and wool.
Hi there! I am a green, paleo, crossfit mom of three. I am concerned about health, wellness, and sustainability issues. This is my life. This what I am passionate about. Come get to know me and feel free to connect. Enjoy!