Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Green For the Holidays

If you must have a real tree, think about one with a root-ball on it - I grew up with several of these trees in the yard and loved them.

If you must have a cut tree, remember that many organizations will take them for mulch, trade you saplings for them, or (if you have woods behind the house like we do) they make a fine habitat for little critters.

Happy Chritsmahannukwanzikuh!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Renovate This

So I'm watching Renovation Nation on Planet Green, and I'm annoyed.

They never seem to show (barely) middle income families like's always people who have plenty of dosh to go green. Right now, they're showing a family in California that put in in-ground cisterns for rainwater and an in ground watering system for their lawn, a grey water system, and solar panels.

It cost them what T makes in a year to do the panels, although they'll get some rebates so it will end up costing only half his income. Sigh.

Anyone want to subsidize the greening of my home? Please?

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Hey there, anyone who's reading this! I know it has been a long time since I posted, but I'm not certain anyone actually reads this, and so am not certain anyone has missed me. Oh, well.

On Halloween I had some friends over. We carved pumpkins and I had a fire in the portable fireplace on the driveway. We ate dinner out there.

I opted for paper plates - I wish I could say I had truly green motives, but honestly, I didn't want to run twelve loads of dishes through the machine or hand wash them all. Paper was easier. When we were finished eating, we threw the plates onto the fire - no landfill, anyway. The utensils we used were compostable plastic - cool, huh?

I used the leftovers from dinner to make soup - recycling, right?

Sometimes, going green is all about the convenience - not having to wash something, knowing it will compost or burn, using a product that will not clog up the septic system or the sewers.

Speaking of septic systems, sewers, and the things we put in them...

I do not enjoy green-friendly toilet paper. The nicest I've used is almost on par with a diner's paper napkin, and the worst is like those brown paper hand towels you find in public restrooms. Is there some reason it can't be soft? I understand why it's not pure white or colored - who needs all that bleaching or the dye? I don't want scented paper, because I am not interested in a perfumed bottom - really, who is? And why? But something that doesn't feel like it's exfoliating my nethers would sure be nice.

Meanwhile, it's slow going around here - our roommate likes to sleep with his giant, almost too big for the room television on, and sometimes the light. He leaves his desktop and laptop computers running all the time, and often doesn't turn off the bathroom light or fan. He has also, on occasion, turned on his space heater to warm the room, then left it running while he turned on the A/C because he was too hot. Whiskey tango foxtrot, y'all - short of a death threat, I just don't know what to do about him!

Want more people to care, to at least make an effort at greening up their lives? Make it convenient, make it comfortable, and make it cheap.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Talkin' Trash

Ah, trash.

Lots and lots of trash.

All over the side of the highway, secondary roads, and even at the end of my driveway.

What is it with people and their inability to contain their waste? How hard is it, really, to keep a grocery bag, a paper sack, or a rubbish bin in the car? Heck, if you've just hit the drive through, they provide the paper sack to put trash in - the bag wherein your food came!

How on Earth does someone thing it's OK to leave a dirty nappy in a parking lot? Usually right where it will be run over several times, spreading its horror all over tires, pavement, and people's psyches?

How is it that I can neatly bag my trash, place it in the bin, make sure the lid's down and nothing is loose or available for a quiet midnight snack for the local wildlife and pets-off-leash, I still end up with batteries at the end of my drive, flattened and scuffed by multiple tires?

Once in a while, I'll find litter in my yard or in the middle of the cul-de-sac, something random and odd and not at all from my household, a little gift from the trash-fairies.

It is disheartening to see how much is dumped on the side of the road, flung from windows, blown from the backs of trucks, or trickling out of the trash-trucks that are overladen with all of the waste we generate. Cans, cups, plates, clothing, plastic bags and bottles, wrappers, and all sorts of other fluttering reminders that humanity was here and didn't give a damn.

We carry bags with us when we hike the trails at the nature center. They start out empty, but they always get filled. I found a nappy in those woods. I didn't pick it up - I gave it serious thought, but considering its disreputable state and the length of the hike back, not to mention that whoever had so thoughtfully left it had managed to place it far from the path and directly in the middle of a flourishing patch of poison ivy, well...I gave it a pass. But I did report it to the staff at the center...they have tools for picking up litter, tools that negate the need for gallons of hand-sanitizer after. We find many cigarette butts. I won't let the Evil Genius pick those up - do you know how many germs live in saliva? The human mouth can be a cesspit! I pick them up and toss them, and get annoyed.

Hey, litterbugs,

Smoke if you will, smoke if you must - but do not inflict the damage from your addiction on me or my environment!

If you give your kid a juice box, make sure you collect the little plastic straw wrapper thingy.

If you give your kid a piece of candy or any other wrapped food, make sure they toss the wrapper where they ought or give it to you to dispose of. You could try teaching by example.

Don't let your plastic grocery bags get away from you - I see them blowing along in the air, tangled in trees, and floating in the water all the time.

You could even try recycling some of that stuff you've been dumping on the side of the road!

Come on, would you walk into my house and dump your trash?? Would you find it acceptable if someone came into your house and deposited their waste in the living room? So consider the great outdoors our global family room, would you please??

Either that, or I'm going to start following you around, collecting your trash, and dumping it in your bed when you aren't looking.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's the Point, Part Two

I've been dragging my feet with this because, well, that's what I do. Also, I hate feeling like an idiot, and trying to make sense of all this greening up from a practical viewpoint makes me feel like a first class dunce.

In the last long blather I covered going green for environmental reasons - carbon footprint and offsets, global warming, and...well, go read it if you want to know. I'll wait.

Wasn't that fun?

So this time, it's all about the money and resource availability, and this is where I feel like I can be more practical and perhaps better make my point.

Can going green help save a buck? Not in the short run. Retro-fitting my house with solar panels will cost tens of thousands of dollars. It won't start saving money on power until I've paid off the panels in twenty years or so. Yowza!

Wind may be cheaper to convert to, but it's not always reliable and still costs more than I've got in my pocket (about four dollars and some change).

Hybrid cars are costly, and may end up presenting an environmental hazard all their own with those batteries.

Converting to bio-diesel is fine, but if you don't know how to do it yourself (and I really don't) then there's the expense of having it done, as well as procuring, filtering, and converting fuel. I can't begin to understand how to go about that!

The best solution I've come up with so far is to start building new houses with green features, making them a part of the building cost and less noticeable to the consumer. When we build our next house, we'll factor in solar, wind, and even geothermal into the costs and it won't sting as much.

This brings us to what I feel is the most pressing reason to be conscious of our consumption - resource availability.

Eventually, oil and coal will run out. It's a finite resource, and even with recycling it'll come to an end. What will we do, globally, when that happens? The same goes for metals - there's only so much in the ground for us to take, and that's it.

When that happens, what will we do? I don't know about you, but I'm not keen on living in the dark ages. I like hot showers and clean clothing more than once a week! If you already have solar or wind powering your home, you're in good nick...but the rest of us will have to figure ourselves out in a hurry, or suffer. Wouldn't it be a better idea to forestall privation now??

We will have to deal with this eventually - running away from it until it catches us is just silly; we need to face it head on, chin up, eyes wide open.

I would go on, but I am informed that my other blog is not loading, but rather showing error messages, and I may have to spend the next year or so trying to figure out why.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's the Point? Part One

There's an important question that needs to be answered before we can get groovin' on the green: Why?

To what purpose do you want to get green, or at least a little greener?

I have boiled it down to two answers. No right, no wrong, just answers. There may be more, but these are what I have come up with: You want to go green because of environmental issues, or you want to go green because of practical reasons. Practical can be broken down into two sub-sections - money and resource availability.

Environmental issues are varied in scope and intensity. Two phrases come up over and over again - "carbon footprint" (sorry Mum)(Mum loathes that phrase - it really irks her)(mostly because people throw it around like a bludgeon, I think, and with terrific ignorance as to its usefulness)(she doesn't like ignorant bludgeoners) and "global warming". As far as I can understand it, "carbon footprint" is, loosely, the impact you have on the environment. More specifically, it's the amount of carbon dioxide you and your lifestyle put into the atmosphere on any given day/week/month/year, depending on who's doing the measuring and how they're doing it. There's a mind boggling variety in all that. There are some folks trying to offset their impact, their footprint, by going greener or buying...well...offsets.

What's an offset?

An offset is a tree planted, an investment made in green energy, a bit of dirty water or earth cleaned up, some air filtered - anything that undoes or lessens the impact of modern human living. I find offsets fascinating - I mean, unless you're doing them for yourself, how do you know, really, that people are really doing anything but pocketing your money? And people are paying themselves to offset their footprint, which makes my brain hurt. Al Gore is doing that. He uses more power in one month at home than the average American does in seventeen months. When this was made public last year, many people were outraged on both sides of the green debate - some that he uses so much, some that anyone would dare point out he was a deeply flawed man with deeply flawed behaviors...just like the rest of us.

What interests me about him is his purchasing of offsets...from himself! How do I get in on that? I know...send me a few bucks and I'll plant a tree in your name. Honestly, I'll plant the tree anyway, but if you, dear Internet, are willing to pay me to do it, why not?? For a few (thousand) bucks more, I'll install solar panels on my house, sell excess power back to the EMC and tell you all about it in a quarterly e-newsletter.

Or you can reduce or mitigate your footprint yourself. Drive a high efficiency vehicle, drive less, carpool, use alternative fuels, walk, bicycle, or telecommute. Buy organic, locally produced foods and goods. Turn off the shower between soaping and rinsing. Install greywater collection systems, rainwater collection systems, and low flow toilets. Use low VOC paints, recycled building materials, renewable resources, and insulate, insulate, insulate. Reuse, recycle, and compost. Grow or make your own. Think deeply about what went into producing everything you touch in your daily life, and alter what and how you choose to use.

Hell, just use two cloth bags every time you shop. It'll be a start.

So what's "global warming"?

Well, if our planet were a person, global warming could be seen as a perfectly natural part of the organism's cycle - we humans get warm and cool off on a regular basis - or maybe as a fever useful for getting rid of deleterious organisms in the system...which could just be us.

Our planet is a planet, though. It doesn't have a conscience, a mind, a thinking, reasoning process. It's a ball of dirt rolling along the cosmic lanes, unthinking, unfeeling, unaware. Ouch, that hurt. I love my planet, and I happen to believe that it is alive and does have spirit...but that's another story. For the purposes of global warming, I'm looking at our Earth as a system, not a being.

Stick with me...I know I'm flaky and a bit off-center and in no way scientific or educated in this, but I'm also good for a laugh with my weirdness!

For years beyond counting, our planet has warmed and cooled. I learned recently, despite the dire warnings of the green and crunchy communities, that we are actually in an ice age. It was on National Geographic, so it must be true.

An ice age? How can that be? Everyone's screaming about global warming!!

Well...perhaps we're on the back end of an ice age. I mean, if they're cyclic, we have to go in and then come out, right? And coming out...wait for it...would require...wait...warming, right??

So the two are not mutually exclusive.

What I wonder about is how we humans impact that natural process of warming and cooling. How do we measure that, when we've never been through this before? Should we even be concerned, really? I mean, if it's a recurring thing...why worry?

Except, I'm pretty sure that, warming or no, it's only since humans were around in such abundance that the air was chewable, the water flammable, and the very structure of the earth was altered because of foundations, levelling, landfills, drilling, mining, bombing, draining, watering, and every other thing we do to make the Earth what we want, as opposed to figuring out how to live with it as it is.

The answers to global warming, at least as humans impact it, are not as easy as those to carbon footprint, although some are the same. You see, to keep from influencing global warming, we'd have to give up on oil, coal, and all they produce for us. We'd have to stop burning things, go solar and nuclear, wind and wave powered, if we had power at all. We'd have t give up on plastic, on much of our modern medicine and technology, on food packaging and preservation, even food availability. We'd have to let people die of hunger, thirst, and disease.

To reverse warming? Paint the planet white and pray. White reflects light and heat, helping to cool the globe - that's one of the nifty things the ice caps do, and as they melt, it starts a vicious circle; melt, warm, melt more, warm more...

Ultimately, I haven't got an answer. We are biological beings answering a biological imperative (the biological imperative) by perpetuating and preserving the species. Everything we do is based in that.

So what's a body to do? A body muddling through life hoping not to do too much damage while maintaining a level of comfort?

I have no idea. That's the point of this blog, isn't it? Finding a way to make green mainstream...

We'll get to resource availability next time - I've aired enough of my silliness for one post.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Meat of the Matter

Or would that be "The Matter of Meat"? Or "Meat is the Matter"? Wait, now I'm feeling dizzy.

Y'all should know, I'm not getting anything for blathering on about a particular product or service. I'm nowhere near famous, let alone famous enough to garner that kind of graft, so feel free to hit the links I provide over in the side bar and read on without fear of ulterior motives - I'm writing this because I believe what I'm saying.

A couple of months ago my friend Michelle asked me if I'd like to get in on an order for mail-order meat. Yeah, I said Mail-order meat. Before you say "eww, gross" and go trolling for Charlie the Unicorn videos on YouTube, hear me out.

It's a damnit long web address to type in, and I did it wrong the first time or twelve, but eventually I ended up at a site run by the Slanker family in Texas. I'll save you the effort and make a link, because I'm all about making it easy. Go look at the meat, I'll wait.

I checked out the website she told me about, and it looked good. A bit chaotic and old school, as sites go (although still far more than I could manage if I didn't have wonderful Blogspot to do most of the work for me!), but very informative, easy enough to navigate and...most important...the product looked worth a try.

I called Mum and asked her if she was interested - we're always looking for (mostly) affordable organic alternatives to farm-raised, feed enhanced, solution injected, antibiotic and hormone pumped critter products.

We pitched in on the order - the company allows for cooperative orders to save on shipping, how cool is that??? Five families - Mum, myself, Kit, Michelle, and another friend of Michelle's who actually started the whole thing - ordered, and we had it shipped here to Casa de Crazy because among all the accoutrements of my ginormous carbon footprint, I have an industrial sized freezer that will more than hold whatever we decide to order at any given time.

So far, we've all been pleased with what we ordered.

I like the pork chops, but they're tiny. No, really - compared to the regular, factory-farmed ones at the market, these things are miniscule. No worries, though, because in this case size really doesn't matter. They're small but mighty...mighty good!

The steaks can feed a legion. I grilled two while camping in Ohio and fed four and a half people with them. You heard me - two ribeyes fed four and a half people!

The salmon actually converted a woman who doesn't like fish - D ate two helpings. Two. Of fish. And she loathes fish. She only tried it to be polite. Her husband J was ready to grab the whole piece of fish in his teeth and bolt to woods, growling and bear-like (and he's not really at all bear-like, normally) as he gobbled it down. He was really quite funny. I gave them the web address of the company so they could order some for themselves. A warning about the fish - it's not small. It's huge. It's half a wild-caught salmon, and it's not at all apologetic about its size. I cooked it in foil over the fire in Ohio and shared it with many people, because I knew Mum and I would never finish it. Luckily, our friend J was quite happy to take care of any leftovers!

I haven't tried the whole chicken yet, or the roast I ordered, but I am comfortable presuming they'll be the same quality. Some day, when I'm having a few hundred guests over, I may order the lamb.

OK, so here I am on a green-type blog, talking meat. What's up with that? Aren't green-type people supposed to be all about the tofu, tempei, and vegetables that volunteered to be dinner? Uh, yeah. That would be some other green-type person.

See the title of the blog? See where it says "Mainstream..."? That would include us folks who still eat any critter that didn't get out of the way fast enough to avoid being dinner. The whole point to this blog is to share ways that regular folks can reduce their impact on the planet. So, meat.

But don't despair - they have a few vegetables and fruits, too, as well as dairy products and eggs.

Give them a try. I found the prices comparable to organic at the market, and if you can find a few families to co-op with, you'll all save on shipping.

If you order from them, let me know what you think. Meanwhile, tell me about ways you're going organic or green with your food.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rain Barrels

I am considering rain barrels for my home. We've had some decent rainfall lately, but the drought isn't over. It's just...paused...for a bit.

So - rain barrels. Hook 'em to the downspouts and use 'em to water the landscaping. I don't really have landscaping - I am not the sort who will put on the effort proper landscaping requires. I have some trees and some grass mixed with weeds (mostly weeds) and a few hers. One of these days I'll have some fruit things - blueberries, maybe, or cherry trees - but that's in the future. Still, I like the idea of watering the iris once in a while instead of watching them get brown and sad and wondering if they'll return next year or if THIS was the season that finished them.

I like the ones that have screens to keep out leaves, pine straw, and weirdoes, and spigots on the bottom for attaching a hose. I have a huge roof - one day, it will be prime space for solar panels - so I should be able to fill a few barrels quite easily with a rainfall or two.

Have you considered barrels? What sort? Wood? Plastic? Covered? With spigot or without? I'd like to know - if you have them, how effective are they?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere...

...And that's the problem.

I live in Georgia. We've been living with drought conditions for a few years now. It's dry enough that Lake Lanier, the lake that provides water for much of the state south of Gainesville, is down some thirteen feet. People who had homes with waterfront find themselves suddenly posessed of extra yards to mow.

I have long tried to be aware of my water usage, even before the drought. I've been known to turn off the shower to soap up, turn it on to rinse, off to condition my hair (hey, it's down to my bum, it needs conditioning or I'll blister the paint with my profanity while combing it), on to rinse, and done. Sometimes it was because I didn't want to waste water, and sometimes because there wasn't much hot, and have you ever tried getting conditioner out with cold water??

So I live in a state with a serious problem, exacerbated by the fact that other states also need water and are demanding more. No one wants to conserve, and they wait until the absolute last moment to institute watering bans. Two years ago, only a few granola people and me gave a thought to rainwater collection systems for their homes (I still don't have one, dang it, but I want one!!). Now that water is costing them so much, they're thinking about barrels, tubs, all sorts of things. Hmm. Why does it take a blow to the wallet to make people think??

Let me preface this next bit with a statement: I am a nutter. Yes, I am. Nutsy-cuckoo, me!

OK, now that's out of the way (I was trying to save you some time - nothing but thoughtful!), let me get to something I've been thinking about for a few years, now: bottled water.

Imagine a grocery store. Just one store. Now, imagine walking down the aisle where they house bottled water. See all those bottles? Now, the soft drinks. See all the liquids with water for their base? Now expand that mental picture to include the entire store full of bottles, cans, and packages full of liquids - shampoo, tinned tuna, vegetables, cleaning supplies, even the packaged meat has water in it.

Where did all that water come from?

Now, take that grocery store and multiply it. Add in all the Super-Whatever stores, warehouse clubs, gas stations and vending machines. Don't be shy, think globally. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Get it?

You want to know why so many places have shortages?? Hello? The water cannot flow if it's bottled up!! If you think bottling water in New York won't affect Georgia, or California, or Africa, think again. We have a global system. Let's think - does a bleeding finger affect your feet? Eventually, it will. Lose enough from one place, it will start to hurt other places.

I say we start a movement - the "Free the Di-Hydrogen Oxide" brigade!! Anyone with me? Anyone?

Why do I hear crickets?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mmmm, compost!

I have been researching compost. You wouldn't think it needed much research, but you'd be...well, right, ,actually.

When did composting get so complicated? There are dozens, if not hundreds, of sites dedicated just to composting and the finer points therein. When I was a kid, composting meant anything that didn't come from a critter went into the pile and turned into dirt. That simple. Nowadays, it seems you can't compost the "right" way without a bin, barrel, box, or special gizmo for the job.

One of the best things about compost, when I was a kid, was watching the pile every spring just to see what would pop up. We had mystery melons, mystery squash, all sorts of mystery fruits and veggies that happily made their home in the pile. We didn't, as far as I can recall, turn the pile, stir it, water it, lace it with newspaper, add worms, or any of that stuff. Just kept adding to it. When it got tall enough, we might start another, or we might topple it, shovel the soil out from the bottom, and keep going. It was easy.

I'm a little intimidated by composting today. It seems one cannot simply start a pile and let it go - one must have a container for it (plastic, no less, and how is that helping the environment any??), keep it moist but not too moist, feed it the right mix of dry and wet ingredients, turn it, stir it, and play violin concertos to it fortnightly.


I had the idea to start a community compost pile with some friends - everyone would have a bucket which would get dumped on the pile weekly. Yes, even leaves and lawn clippings if they wanted to gather them up. I thought my back yard would be a good place, since it's huge and relatively unused (and I'm lazy and don't want to haul my compostables somewhere else when I could just fling them out the back). Hasn't happened yet - I don't have the money to buy one of those fancy barrel rigs, and there are enough wild critters scampering about that I'm not sure about having a pile just...sitting there.

Then again, why not provide a smorgasbord for them? They live here, too! The critters get fed, and their poo will turn into dirt, too - win-win!

What do you think? Would you participate in a community compost pile? Start one of your own? Or is the Dispoze-All just too convenient? Is it OK to just toss the stuff in a heap like I did when I was a kid? Or do we have to use bins and whatnot, now?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Trip the Plastic Fantastic

I just got home (OK, just may not be accurate - I've been home since around Noon) from my annual trip to Ohio, where I camp, vend the various junk I make, perform with my band, and lead a few workshops.

It's a cool way to spend a week, if a touch (a LOT!!) exhausting. This year, I didn't have the Evil Genius with me, and while I missed him, I was also quite glad he wasn't there. I had too much to do to have a little guy to worry about!

One of the neat things about this community that comes together every year is the way everyone is so focused on community well being, from helping neighbors put up, stake down, and cover over tents to watching each others kids. Hungry? no problem, we have plenty of extra to feed you! Cold? I have an extra blanket, or you may crawl in with me for a snooze! Thirsty? I have gallons of water to drink! It's community wide, and it's a beautiful thing.

Another neat thing is the trash/recycling truck. It's an old RV with the top half cut off, hauled behind a pickup truck. They have bins for non-recyclable trash, as well as recyclables. Cans, bottle, compost, the lot.

Something that puzzled me about the recycling was the plastic bottles. They accepted the bottles, but not the caps. Why? Is it simply that they're different kinds of plastic? In fact, they only recycled numbers one and two plastics, leaving the rest for the trash.

I have recently learned that recycling plastic isn't at all cost effective. It seems that the cost of recycling plastic bags is prohibitive - there's no money to be made in it, and I doubt anyone will do it out of altruism...yet. Several countries have even outlawed the use of plastic bags, they're so destructive and such a danger to the local wildlife.

Do you recycle? Is there a recycling center in your community? Do you reuse plastic bags? Toss them? What's the alternative to plastic bottles, bags, jars, and other containers? Is the alternative any better than the plastic it would replace?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Do you think my neighbors would object to one of these?

It's so yellow and happy! I'm not sure there's enough wind here for a turbine, but it would be another way to go.

Oh, or...I could sponsor one in Washington D.C. (all those pompous gasbags must make for some hurricane force winds, right??)(I mean, come on! Politicians, lobbyists, and lawyers, oh my!!!)(Don't get me started on how I feel about the UN in NYC...let's just say if bullshit was our sole energy source, we'd be set for the next thousand years) and get credit for the offsets. Anyone want in on this action???

Sunday, June 8, 2008


A few months ago, Mum and I wandered around a home show looking for ways to spend her money improve our homes and perhaps be a little gentler on the environment.

We saw lots of rain-barrel systems, patios, garden ideas, siding, windows, and some really nifty solar items.

In fact, some of the coolest items were solar powered. Are you a gadget geek? You might like the new backpack with solar panels built in to charge your cell phone, iPod, or other gizmo. The messenger bag had the same features.

In the works is a laptop bag that will charge your little computing buddy while you walk, pedal, or blade to work or the park, or wherever you happen to be going, and will keep charging while you tap away at your keys outside the coffee shop or wherever.

Am I the only one that wants one??

Friday, June 6, 2008

An angle?

My local EMC has a program wherein they provide solar panels to local schools. The idea is to help offset the massive amount of power used by these gigantic buildings while simultaneously providing an educational opportunity to the students - they learn to read the meter, understand solar power, and learn about energy consumption in general.

I home school.

Think they'll hook me up??

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Small Changes

A few months ago, I finally made one small change I should have made years ago - I gathered up all of the various cloth bags lingering in corners gathering dust creatures and cat hair, cleaned them, and started using them as grocery bags. They're mostly canvas bags, and they hold far more than a plastic grocery bag would. I am pleased with this, as it means fewer trips up and down the house stairs to fetch groceries in from the car - oh, and of course, less landfill. Woo-hoo, green and lazy!!

Some other small changes that have taken place here at Casa de Crazy in the last couple of years:

I recycle and reuse plastic grocery bags. They make terrific receptacles for cat box cleaning, holders of various items traveling from my home to anywhere else, and excellent packing materials, among other things.

I'm trying to switch our meat consumption to organic, locally produced critters whenever possible. I have also tried a mail order company, and like their products. Also, they permit co-op orders, so families can order together and save on shipping - cutting cost and pollutants at the same time. Woo-hoo, green and cheap!!

Without consulting my family, who probably won't notice anyway (because who do you think actually does the cleaning around here?)(No, not brownies, fairies, or sprites.)(I wish they would.), I started switching our regular household cleaning products with Seventh Generation stuff. Mmm, I like the smell, and our septic tank is probably a lot happier about it. We aren't fully converted, but more than halfway there.

I bought some socks. Go ahead, laugh - but they're knit from recycled cotton, they're funky, and I love them. Also, I rarely wear socks, so less to wash.

I buy organic or recycled goods when they're available and I can afford them.

I have begun using washcloths and dishcloths that I crocheted myself from cotton yarn.

I filter drinking water at home and refill bottles when I can - and I'm looking at various healthy bottles like stainless or glass to see if they'll work for me.

I believe in using it up, wearing it out, and recycling it.

They're small, so very small, my changes...but I have hope that they'll eventually build into something big.

How It All Started

You could say I was born.

I had an odd childhood, a peculiar mix of wealth and privilege (lobster once a week, leg of lamb often, dining on fine china using actual silver flatware, new clothes just because the old were soiled, and champagne on a regular basis - in crystal flutes, no less) and scrabbling-in-the-dirt poverty that often left our heads spinning and our thoughts wandering along the lines of "A Kool-Aid sandwich on stale bread is perfectly nutritious, right?" Which state we were in was determined by whether we lived with the Grandparents (wealthy) or Mum (not at all wealthy).

I often claim I was raised by feral hippies. And Republicans. At the same time.

I had no concept of environment being something one should be concerned about until I was in my teens, but I often picked up litter because it was just rude not to.

I remember swimming off the coast of Florida and having to stop at a tar removal station before we left to beach to get the sticky black stuff off the bottoms of our feet. Bleh.

I am much more aware of the impact of my life on the world around me, now. I know why the tar was there, and that it didn't have to be. I understand about recycling, both for financial and environmental reasons. I never bought into the idea that there were starving children in China who would be happy for the food I was wasting, but at least I understand why waste is folly.

Being Pagan has added a layer of complication to the idea of being green - the Earth is at once my home, one of my Goddesses, and my temple. I really don't want to use up, deface, pollute, and completely ruin any of those sacred things.

Now comes the fun of reconciling the need for my family to live a realistic life with being as green as can be. In a perfect world, this wouldn't be an issue. There are plenty of people in the world who will scoff at my idea that there's a middle ground, a way to minimize impact while still maximizing comfort and ease.

I have been thinking a lot about this very thing.

I really believe that going green is nowhere near mainstream enough, and it should be. If environmentalists want Mr., Mrs., and Mizz Middle America to get on board, they're going to have to find a way to make green affordable, easy, and comfortable. So far, not so good.

It's all well and good for Ed Begley Jr. to crow about his solar panels and all that...quite another for the average homeowner or even renter to install, maintain, and benefit from solar panels.

Not everyone can compost - we don't all have the space, the time, or the inclination, and composting can become expensive if you don't want a pile of waste sprawling all around the landscape.

Recycling can cause as much damage to the environment as waste, considering the pollutants dumped into the air by diesel powered trucks - and reuse isn't always feasible.

My particular branch of the Pagan tree has a rule...our only one, in fact. In plain English it says "As long as you aren't hurting anyone, do what you like." Think about that. Hurt no one. It's not possible. Just by existing, I am hurting someone. My life is a balancing act - how can I mitigate the harm I do?

Going green is much the same - how can I balance what I consume and how it impact my world (and fellow dwellers thereon) and my desire to be comfortable, my inability to raise my own organic foods, use natural materials for home and living? It's nearly impossible to live a modern life without plastic.

In the coming posts, I hope to share ways my family (and the families of my friends) has found to add a little green to our daily lives.

In the Beginning...

...there was Shade and Sweetwater.

No, actually, there was MySpace, and that begat Shade and Sweetwater.

A post bemoaning the expense of solar power combining with a regular topic of conversation 'round my life begat Mainstream Green. What Mainstream Green will begat is anyone's guess.

Don't expect daily posts - maybe not even monthly. I just wanted a place to put my maundering about the struggle to balance going green with actually, you know, living a realistic life. I have vague, half formed ideas about having some guest-type bloggers lending ahand if they feel benevolent towards the idea.