Thursday, May 06, 2010

Return to My Roots

It's been too long since I've visited my blog. Many changes, both good and bad, have transpired since I last wrote about the Carnival of the Green. I look back at this blog knowing that my core beliefs have been firmly represented here. This is who I am, a person concerned with important issues that go beyond the self.

And yet, I am looking at myself in wonderment. I no longer question who I am, but look with curiosity at who I may become.

I am changing, and hopefully for the better. I am willing to let go of decisions I thought were once good, but have unfortunately soured. What to do, but to get back to my roots and my core.

Thank you everyone who have participated in this journey with me. Thank you for the ride and for the good stories. The adventure must go on, even though the characters and plots may change.

As is with nature and its steady fluctuations, we move on. Hopefully to bigger and brighter things, but never guaranteed. I hold fast to these memories forever grateful. Take care of yourself and of those who love you, plants and animals.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carnival of the Green #186! Yay!

Treehugger's Carnival of the Green is a great way to read all the latest blogs on environmentalism. And it's fun to host a carnival, too. This is my second time hosting, but I don't want to monopolize all the fun - if you've never done it before, check out Treehugger to get more information on posting and hosting a carnival.

Last week, The Daily (Maybe) did a fabulous job organizing the carnival. And next week, Plant a Tree USA will have the pleasure of hosting another carnival. So round and round we go! Now without further delay, please enjoy this week's selection of green posts and tweets!

Summer Reading

Now is the time of year to relax and enjoy a good book. And if you're looking for some inspiration and a few good laughs, check out Living the Scientific Life's balanced review of Sleeping Naked in Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days. (For all you bloggers out there, this book was adapted by blog called Green as a Thistle!)

Summer Cooking
Why not take advantage of a full sun when it comes to cooking your favorite pasta? That's exactly what Y-2K Hippie did with their homemade solar oven. Check out the pictures and see the two thumbs up from their toughest critics (the kids!).

Of course, if you're caught in the rain, then maybe using your kitchen appliances would be the best option. In this blog, Frugally Green discusses the merits of getting the most out of our appliances.

Summer Cleaning
Isn't the sun a glorious source of energy and inspiration? Why not take advantage of the sun when it comes to meeting your cleaning needs? Condo Blues discusses several bleach alternatives that don't require chemical bleach. And yes, the sun is one way to bleach our clothes. Read on to find out other alternatives. If you own a horse, you should definitely take note of this blog post!

Perhaps an obvious reason why people choose to make homemade goods is because it saves money. But is that the only reason why we ought to create our own household cleaners? Five Cent Nickel reveals the seven benefits of relying on homemade cleaners. Can you guess what they are? Check your answers on Five Cent Nickel's blog!

Summer Eating
Here’s another pop quiz for you: Can you list seven reasons why we should eat organic foods? In case you’re stumped by this question, refresh your memory by reading The Conscious Shopper's blog.

Interested in learning how to create your own square foot garden? Bargaineering teaches us how to create this type of garden, which is great if you don't have a lot of land for this purpose. What a brilliant and efficient way to grow your own food with only a square foot!

Which reminds me: My Zero Waste has a fun summer project to reuse plastic bottles for making slug collars. This is a creative way to reuse plastic and deter slugs from ruining your garden!

But what to do with all your leftover veggies from the garden? Before placing your tasty leftovers in plastic containers, check out Fake Plastic Fish’s post on storing organic foods in plastic packaging.

Green Gadgets
It’s no surprise that Google wants to help us to reduce our carbon footprint. Read Little Green Blog’s to learn how Google is taking initiative to provide households a computerized way to measure our electricity usage in 'real time'. This sounds like a great idea!

Here’s another gadget that may be useful in the car from Energy Savings Gadgets– it's called a PLX Kiwi, which provides a computerized account of your driving habits, both good and bad, in an effort to help you increase fuel efficiency.

And here is an innovative gadget for those of you curious to know how you can recycle old papers into your personalized toilet paper. It’s called the “White Goat,” and you really should go to Japan Technology Information’s blog to read how you can reuse old papers for your toiletry needs.

The Green Standard
Speaking from personal experience, I know how frustrating it can be to constantly receive junk mail. Check out Money Blue Book’s blog to find out how to get rid of your junk mail. I know I will be reading this site for some tips as I have not been successful with other services that claim to eliminate junk mail. I hope this does the trick!

By now, many of us are avid recyclers. When this behavior becomes automatic, it’s sometimes easy to forget why we have adopted a new habit. Sure, we have the general idea of recycling being a good thing, but why is this a helpful practice? Test your memory by reading Guffly’s post on the benefits of recycling. It’s great to refresh our memory (I know, I’m a cognitive psychologist known to have a faulty memory!)

And here’s a political question to ponder: Should the Federal Reserve be regulated? The Truth provides a critical synopsis of Ron Paul’s views on regulating the Federal Reserve. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Part of the reason why I’m a happy environmentalist is because I respect the existence of other species on this planet. And I love science because it’s a great way to learn how other plants and animals thrive on our planet. We are truly not alone. And I was surprised to learn that human beings are not the only species capable of cheating on their partners! I hope you get a chance to read Veggie Revolution’s blog about the antbird and how these creatures seduce their lovers by singing duets. It’s remarkable! And in case this post leaves you wanting more, check out Veggie Revolution’s other post that links you to a recent NPR interview with Sadie Kneidel.

By the way, have you ever heard of the ice plant? This plant is nature’s way of desalinating saline salts. Check it out by reading Japan Technology Information’s blog. Very cool!

Final Tweets

Hosting this week’s carnival has been lots of fun. But before I go, here are the top five green tweets from Twitter:

1. @Musubi Good luck in your meetings tomorrow. Keep us posted on the green meetings. I look forward to your tweets. Best always!! - submitted by vcolon

2. @tommcfly green is indeed the best colour and your tweets are never pointless =D - submitted by Lazza1307

3. @greenmom I am adding you to the longer best green tweets list it will be a couple a days until I expand the article from 22 to 100. - submitted by iportion

4. @sleepydad Thanks for the retweet! Diggin' your #iranelection tweets and green avatar pix. Crazy times, hoping for the best outcome. - submitted by tomatoejane

5. Best eco-advocates & I'm one of 'em! : -) Green Tweets: 75+ Environmentalists to Follow on Twitter - submitted by michaelqtodd

Ciao, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s Carnival of the Green!

Update - This just in from Green Gigs - What is the brown side of green and how does this relate to green jobs? Find out how restoring the environment is done through the lens of a green collar worker.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tough Stuff Recycling Fest - RESULTS!

This year's IUSB Tough Stuff Recycling Fest was a huge success! I was physically sore (for two days!) from hoisting and wrapping hundreds of TVs and other electronics into pallets on Saturday. Thankfully, about 30 students, faculty, and staff worked together to make this event happen, so I was definitely not alone in this endeavor.

Without further adieu, here are the results:

Shoe Collection
We collected many, many shoes that will be donated to one of three organizations:
a) Seven 30-gallon bags of shoes to GoodWill (over 200 pounds)
b) Three 30-gallon bags to Nike Grind (soles will be ground up and used to make athletic courts)
c) One 30-gallon bag will be donated to Shoes-4-Africa (gently used athletic shoes are given to people who would not otherwise have shoes in Kenya, Africa)

Styrofoam and Packing Material
Approximately 900 gallons of packing peanuts and packing material were donated to UPS stores, and 900 gallons of styrofoam were sent to Michigan City for recycling.

Plastic Bags
900 gallons of plastic bags were given to WalMart for recycling.

Egg Cartons
Over 800 egg cartons were collected. These cartons are being given to local egg farmers.

Electronic Waste
We conservatively estimate that 100,000 pounds of electronics were diverted from the landfill. 25 of the pallets were nothing but Computers (we estimate 400+). Free Geek Michiana (see below) will test each of the computers, those that are viable will be rebuilt and donated back into the community to help overcome the digital divide and raise the IT capacity of the community as a whole. Electronic equipment contains toxic metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, that can leach into groundwater and contaminate soils. Recovering these toxic metals and other reuseable material from the electronics helps reduce the amount of raw material that needs to be mined and reduces contamination of water, soil, and air from landfills.

Four semi-trucks (donated by Apple Computers) will be collecting this equipment (104 pallets). All of the equipment will be recycled in the United States in an environmentally responsible manner. This collection would not have been possible without the generosity of Apple Computers and the IT technology departments on the Indiana University campuses!

Financial & Community Support
Community members generously donated more than $900 to help cover costs of this event and future sustainability events. During the first two hours, cars were backed up down Mishawaka Avenue, and there was a 20-30 minute wait to drop off. It was great to see individuals who had organized collections within their neighborhoods, and brought materials in pick-up trucks.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tough Stuff Recycling Fest Poster

Thanks to the fabulous marketing department at IU South Bend, we were able to get a really cool poster to help promote the upcoming recycling festival. 

Here is a link to the poster:

Feel free to share this poster with your friends!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tough Stuff Recycling Fest!

Please mark your calendar for this event - the Recycling Committee at IU South Bend has organized its annual recycling festival the week of April 19 - 25.

From Monday, April 19th, to Saturday, April 25th, people can drop off the items listed below at IU South Bend campus locations: Administration Building (Grille cafeteria), Student Activities Center, Northside Hall, and Wiekamp Hall:

STYROFOAM - Expanded polystyrene #6 (we can only accept white, small beaded, Styrofoam that has a recycling symbol that says #6 PS; e.g., Styrofoam coolers, Styrofoam used to pack electronics)


EGG CARTONS (any type)

PLASTIC BAGS (any type, including grocery bags, dry cleaning, bread bags, newspaper, etc)

SHOES - shoes need to be rubber banded together in pairs

On Saturday, April 25th, from 10am - 2pm behind the Administration Building, in addition to all of the items listed above, we will also be collecting:

COMPUTERS - $15 charge for each monitor

• Giving away
TV COUPONS (one coupon per household) from the St. Joseph Solid Waste Management District. These coupons will allow you to take your used TV to Solid Waste for proper recycling free of charge (TVs will not be collected at IUSB, but must be dropped of at Hazardous Waste Facility on 5th Street in Mishawaka).

What will be done with the materials collected?
Styrofoam will be taken to the TEGRANT Corporation in Michigan City, where it will be remolded into new Styrofoam containers. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap will be taken to UPS stores. Egg cartons will be given to local chicken farmers and churches. Plastic bags will be recycled at Wal-Mart and area grocery stores. Shoes will be sent to the Shoes-4-Africa program, local Goodwill, and really worn shoes will be sent to Nike Grind (to be ground and used to make surfaces for athletic courts). Computers will be refurbished by Free Geek and redistributed to lower income households in Michiana.

This event is being sponsored by the Environmental Justice Club, Recycling Committee, and Center for a Sustainable Future.

I hope to see many friendly faces at this year's event! 

Friday, January 30, 2009

An Era of Consequences

I have the pleasure of introducing James O'Shea as a guest writer on my blog. James comes to us from the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Cancer Center, where he serves as a content developer to provide current and accurate information regarding issues pertaining to the treatment and prevention of these cancers. If you have any questions for James regarding his post, feel free to leave a comment or email him at

As we enter a new administration and era of Barack Obama’s governance, it is time we recognize and correct the problems with our current energy and environmental policies. What I wish to focus on however, is a little-known effect of our energy attitudes of the past, which had much less regard for not only the environmental impact, but also the human impact being wagered. What needs to be brought to light are the harmful health effects being caused by fossil fuel burning and chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) release. What will be clear then is not only are we threatening the future of our planet and sustainability of resources, but the human health condition has suffered because of our environmental policies.

The burning of fossil fuel and related emissions has long been suspected to threaten respiratory health. It should be no surprise then that asthma rates are markedly higher in known high-pollution areas such as Los Angeles and surrounding area. Skin cancer rates in places like South Africa and Australia are similarly high due to depleted ozone in the atmosphere, an effect of CFC release.

There is another level of consequences. Industries which harm our environment, such as oil refineries and coal plants, are among the most hazardous working conditions. Asbestos and benzene are used extensively in these industries in older piping and fixtures. In recent years there has been a rise of the asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma in oil refinery workers, largely due to occupational exposures to asbestos.

Despite campaign promises to lower carbon dioxide emissions, the prior administration ignored global warming initiatives. When President George W. Bush ordered military operations in Iraq it became clear that securing access to oil had become a national security concern. This act solidified the Bush presidency’s legacy with regards to foreign fuel and the same old attitudes towards fossil fuel production. Rather than invest some of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the war in Iraq into the development of alternative energy solutions, we simply decided to fight a war for a rapidly dwindling resource. President Obama’s continued support of ending the war in Iraq and much more comprehensive investment in alternative fuels would seem to suggest a shift in our paradigm.

These are clear cause and effect examples of how our environmental attitudes and policies are harming us and our health. The next phase of our energy and environmental policies/ legislation needs to account for these facts. Renewable energy sources will eliminate a dependence on dirty (and unsafe) industries like oil and petroleum processing. We must push for these because soon we need to realize that we’re not only threatening the planet of our children and posterity, but also the health of her inhabitants today.

James O’Shea
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center

Monday, January 26, 2009

Still Dealing with Virtual Cobwebs

I thought I could just get back on the ole' blogging saddle, but that's not been the case thus far. But the inspiration is starting to kick in, thanks to some nudges I'm getting in the mail (i.e., Better Bag) and on the blog.

I had hoped to post my documentary online (it's really short, only about 10 min), but I don't know how to convert the files to be compatible with youtube. Maybe one of my students can help me.

In the meantime, however, I just received this really cute short from Mark Dixon, who's affiliated with the YERT project. Take a look at this film - I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back from sabbatical

I feel like I've taken a sabbatical from this blog. Having jaw surgery this summer really took me away from my daily routine. And honestly, I've felt like I haven't had much to say recently. Of course, once I recovered from surgery, I was back to the grind: riding my bike, recycling, composting food scraps and pet waste. But there wasn't really anything new in my life to report, so I kept quiet and listened to others discuss their personal triumphs (congratulations, Beth!) and woes.

But I finally have good news to share with you. My paper about BagFest was accepted into the Journal for Civic Commitment. I'm working on the final revisions right now, but as soon as it's published, I'll post the paper for anyone to read.

And the BagFest documentary is officially complete!!! Thanks to Kate Reynolds, a documentarian out in Seattle, who graciously edited the film out of the goodness of her heart. I still need to figure out how to make copies of the documentary, but as soon I do that, I'll have it available to anyone who wants a copy of it (free of course, excluding any potential shipping costs).

So that's it for now. Boy do I feel rusty getting back to this blog. Let's see if I can shake off these virtual cobwebs and get back to the blogging routine!

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Innovative Way to Reuse Plastic Bags?

My friend Len sent me this comic. Humorous, isn't it? On a serious note, this comic reminds me of the time my friend and mathematics guru Amanda Serenevy once calculated how many plastic bags could be used as fuel. Based on her calculations, she estimated that it would take 14 plastic bags to power a vehicle for 1 mile. Not bad, right? Another estimate projects that each year, the US allocates 12 million barrels of oil for making plastic bags. Many of my students have expressed surprise when they've recalled that plastic bags are made of oil. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of these things, even if it's from reading a comic.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

UK's Not My Bag

I chuckled to myself when I read about Chis Jeavans' mission to refuse consuming any plastic for one month. I instantly thought that she's the British version of Beth's Fake Plastic Fish. Although Beth hasn't outright banned the use of plastic, her consumption is so darn minimal that it seems nearly non-existent. Plus, Beth has been doing her best to give up plastic for over a year. I think Chris has some catching up to do, but it will be interesting to track her progress on the BBC.

Watch Chris discuss the mound of plastic she is trying to forgo this month: