Wednesday, July 9, 2008

3 Reasons Why Have Not Posted in 4 Months

We all start blogs with great intentions. Though many bloggers intend to post frequently, it's pretty easy to fall off the wagon after a while, and go for weeks, even months with out posting. I apologize that I have neglected this blog for so long, but I have 3 decent excuses:

  1. I broke my right wrist. It's my dominant hand, of course, and on March 13, 2008, I thought all the treacherous winter ice had melted. But I was wrong, and just as I was about to start jogging, I slipped onto my outstretched arm. I knew right away that I broke my poor little wrist, and so did the doctor in the emergency department. I returned to work the next day, but I had a plaster cast on my arm for 6 weeks, and writing was pretty challenging. I am now operating with about a 95% useful right wrist (it's still not that easy to ride a bike), so I can resume writing as much as I want.
  2. I have been busy growing things. Just as I stated in my early March post, Spring turned out to be a busy time for me. Despite my broken wrist, I started seedlings in my basement, prepared my garden (with some help), and planted lettuce, Swiss chard, broccoli, carrots, bean, potatoes, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and sunflowers. We had a cool late Spring, so some things are growing slowly, but we have already eaten some broccoli and lettuce, and can't wait until the tomatoes ripen and the raspberries burst onto the scene.
  3. I am blogging for greenoptions media and Yep, I have moved into the big leagues, and now people actually pay me to contribute to their blogs. Please read my posts on ecopreneurist, ecolocalizer, and now primarily, planetsave. And log onto to receive the e-mail newsletter that periodically features my writing, albeit without attribution.

Now that it's finally summer, and the days are longer, I promise to post more. I probably won't slip on ice and break a bone any time soon

Sunday, March 2, 2008

It doesn't get any greener than this--part 1

What's the greenest thing you can do?  In other words, how can you lower your carbon footprint the most?  Well, you could move to a tropical jungle or deserted island and become a hunter-gatherer, but I'll bet that for most people reading my blog right now, that's not quite plan A.  
A last drastic way to reduce your use of fossil fuels, but very effective, is to grow your own food.  I do not have a farm, and I live in a small house on a city lot, but I do have a community garden plot about 1 mile away.  I enjoy gardening, and it's great to watch my vegetables grow, and walk my dog down to my garden in milder weather to plant, weed, water, and harvest, but I have never had much of a green thumb.  In years past, I have successfully grown the things that grow easily in Chicago: tomatoes, basil, and peppers from seedlings and pumpkins and sunflowers from seeds I have sown directly into the ground.  In anticipation of spring, and in my quest to become a little less dependent on fossil fuels in my daily life,  I have decided to try something a little more ambitious this year: I will start my own organic seedlings in my basement, and then start to plant outside as the ground thaws.
To start the process, I decided I needed help in becoming a better gardner.  So a few weeks ago, I asked my friend Kathy Shepherd to stop by and look through seed catalogs with me.  Kathy, despite working part-time as a pediatrician, and spending the rest of her time with her three boys, aged 5 1/2, 3 1/2, and 6 months, is an avid and successful gardner.  She grows vegetables in her backyard and uses words like 'cultivar' when talking about a cherry tree she is considering buying.  She was a great first resource, and she gave me advice on which seeds to buy.
Then a few days ago, I attended a lecture on starting organic seedlings at a coffeehouse here in Evanston.  The lecture was sponsored by, Evanston's first urban farm, which is still in the planning stages.  The speaker, John, did an excellent job of explaining how to start seedlings from scratch at home in late winter.  He aimed his lecture at people like me--those gardeners who need basic, detailed information, and I walked away with a list of which seeds to start when, and a lot of helpful notes.
Yesterday, I completed the first step of the process.  I went to my local hardware store and I bought a florescent grow light, a peat moss mix, and some compostable containers.  (I already have some seeds, but I will buy some more.)  I took out my drill, and I installed the light myself in a warm corner of my basement.  Next week I will plant my lettuce seeds, and the week after that, my chard seeds.  Stay tuned as I recount the story (hopefully) of my first greener planting season.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My first eco-fest

Last Sunday, I attended my first eco-fest to promote my new environmentally-friendly party planning business, Despite the day's high temp of 1 degree (no global warming this snowy, cold, icy month), many hearty souls stopped by the free festival, sponsored by local religious organizations and held at Temple Beth Emmett, here in Evanston. Well-known businesses and non-profits, such as I-Go Cars and the Evanston Ecology Center had representatives along with local vegan restaurants, fair-trade goods stores and green architects. I even got a little help promoting my business from my daughter.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How green is that salad in a bag?

We eat salad almost every night at dinner, but I am going to stop buying those already prepared bags of lettuce.  I like to go grocery shopping, and I do it frequently, and I admit I have been often tempted to buy those bags of pre-cut and washed lettuce, lined up in the grocery case, beckoning me by their ease at the end of a long day.  Once I get home, I could just open the bag, toss on an organic dressing and maybe some nuts and cheese and a few dried cranberries...but at what environmental cost?  I have been reading Michael Pollan's acclaimed book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals," and I just finished reading about how large organic farms produce all those bags of prepared lettuce on display at Whole Foods.  The energy expanded to pick the variety of lettuce leaves, wash and bag the lettuce, and then while keeping every single bag refrigerated it at 36 degrees, storing it and then shipping it from a farm in California all the way to the Whole Foods here in the mid-West where I shop is enormous!  Starting tonight, I will prepare my own salads from intact heads that I buy in the store, at the farmers' market or grow in my own garden.
I want to eat truly green lettuce. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How I scooped the NYTimes on global warming and health

Global warming can threaten more than just our ecology. It can threaten our health, as climate change allows infectious disease to emerge in different parts of the world.

On December 23, 2007, The New York Times published a story on the emergence of the Chikungunya virus in Italy:
As Earth Warms Up, Tropical Virus Moves to Italy

But back in November, 2007, I published a similar story for Internal Medicine World Report:
Climate Change Culprit in Emerging Infections

For the latest on health and global warming, always read first.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Great friends, good bubbly, and a tiny bit of recycling

Last week, on a cold December evening, I got together with a few friends for some holiday cheer. They are among my most environmentally-conscious friends (Beverly rides her bike or takes the elevated train to work every day and she and her husband do not eat animals, and Joy and her boyfriend don't own a car, and just returned from trekking in Bhutan), and we had a great time drinking champagne and catching up at Pops for Champagne here in Chicago. After we had emptied the bottle of champagne, and we were getting ready to leave the restaurant/jazz bar, I asked our waiter if the establishment would be recycling our bottle. Sadly, he reported that they don't recycle, because Chicago's recycling program has really never worked well.
I tried hard not to think about all the bottles they must toss into the trash every night, and I offered to bring home our bottle, and put it outside in my weekly recycling. Our waiter promptly returned with our bottle in a little take-out paper bag, grateful to see one less bottle tossed into the trash.
Beverly, Joy and I bundled up and headed out into the winter night. I brought along my little bag, and it is now sitting in a recycling bin somewhere rather than in a landfill.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Even the House is doing it

Some news from

House of Representatives' food service goes sustainable Cafeterias in the House of Representatives are getting a makeover today: out with the high-fructose corn syrup, in with the free-roaming hens. (Well, there won't actually be hens roaming in the cafeterias -- you get what we mean.) Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi's ambitious Greening the Capitol initiative, the privately owned House food service -- which provides more than 2.5 million meals a year -- will start dishing out local, organic, seasonal chow, which can be taken out in compostable containers and eaten with biodegradeable utensils. Unfortunately for hungry senators, the Senate-owned food service will continue to provide iceberg lettuce, processed chicken tenders, and is-it-OK-to-call-them-French-now? fries.

Bipartisan biodegradable utensils? Now that's green democracy!