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22 April 2009

AND ECOJUSTICE FOR ALL: Happy Earth Day, Fellow Earthlings

Photos depict a stream in Colorado, a rock formation in Sedona, Arizona; redwoods and the Sonoma Coast of California.

I'm tickled pink about the green movement.

Here are some images of Earth to enjoy.
These photos show
the beautiful American West:
Colorado, California, New Mexico,
As our new energy secretary--a guy who won a Nobel Prize--said,
...from here on in, every day has to be Earth Day."


As a nature lover, a gardener, and a farmer’s granddaughter, I’m tickled pink that so many people are going green.

Waking up to the responsibly of living as stewards of Creation is good news—and it’s about time. For all of us, living more conservatively is a process. As we all learn more, we all can do more. I consider it a privilege to educate myself about ecojustice, to learn new habits, and to walk as softly as possible upon this bountiful Earth that gives us so much by way of basic needs—food, shelter, clothing—and also beauty and inspiration.
Like the Romantic British poets, I aim to let nature be my teacher.

Here is a PARTIAL list of my conscious efforts to help the planet.
(Maybe you’ll make your own list or glean some practices from this one.)

• I have more plants than I have sense. (Plants, of course, use water, but “eat” CO2 and release oxygen.)
• I don’t drive much. In the last 18 months, I’ve only put about 2,000 miles on my car. And last time I bought a car, I bought a used car. It’s a very luxurious used car that doesn’t get the greatest mileage, but still, buying used vs. new saves a lot of energy!
• I keep fresh water in a bird bath for birds, squirrels, butterflies, and anybody else who wants to belly up to the bar.
• I signed up for wind power as part of my power bill as soon as it was offered. I'm in awe of the look of those wind turbines--always brings to mind Don Quixote. (Watch out, birdies!)
• I try to buy organic foods. I like to buy local foods.
• A few years ago, I bought Energy Star appliances: washer, dryer and refrigerator.
• I wash clothes in a front-loading washer with cold water; and since 1989, I’ve dried them outside on a retractable clothesline with some privacy in the secret garden. (Colorado boasts 360 days of sunshine, so this is possible with rare exceptions in the dead of winter.)
• I had an irrigation system installed to conserve water.
• I’ve planted 5 trees in the last 2 years.
• I've planted species to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. This is my joy.
• I got rid of a long swath of thirsty lawn in favor of river stones and xeric junipers.
• I recycle and have for many years—long before curbside recycling. I used to drive my newspapers and magazines to a bin.
• I have three compost bins. I’ve had two outside for about 15 years. I’m big on composting. Last year, I bought an indoor model, tho’ I’m not sure about it since it does use electricity. But when I went to the Smart House at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, I noticed one there, so I figured it can’t be too bad. If only I can master it, the composting process will be easier during winter.
• I’m something of a water miser. When I wash vegetables or fruits, I catch the water in a big bowl and then fill my watering cans from it. But see a related water confession under GREEN NIGHTMARES posting.
• I catch water from the roof’s watershed to water plants. Psssst: This is illegal in Denver, due to archaic water laws.
• I garden organically. I, happily, have lots of bees. (Watch future posts for easy, economical, enviro-friendly tips for the garden.)
• I use earth-friendly cleaning products, like baking soda and natural air fresheners.
• Many years ago, I took Denver up on its offer to replace toilets with water conserving models. If it’s yellow? Well, if I’m the only one in the house, I’ll now let it mellow.
• I have a low-flow shower head, too.
• I carry reusable shopping bags and finally have gotten into the habit of using them almost all the time now. SO much nicer. This trend is catching on.
• I cut my electrical bill in half last winter by switching to zone heating. I bought a product called Eden Pure; and I recommend it. I first heard about it from the late, great Paul Harvey. Even before this new heater droid, I kept my thermostat turned down and put on a couple of warm layers. Cashmere over silk is lightweight and long-wearing and about as warm as you can go. Another super warm natural fiber I am now a fan of is alpaca. Much softer than wool! Renewable resource!
• I use draft dodgers at the bases of drafty doors. (They have some pretty ones now--not just the original fleecy ones, but be aware of them or they could trip you up.)
• I invested in a SolaTube, installed in one of the dark stairwells of my house.
• I invested in an electric kettle that heats water quickly and shuts off automatically. If you’re still using a stovetop kettle, you might check this out. I am a big tea drinker and make coffee in a French press, so I use mine a lot and am a fan.
• I try to unplug appliances I’m not using, shut down the printer, turn off lights.
• When I’m art directing projects, I try to purchase paper with a portion of recycled materials.
• I use a stainless steel water bottle. The fridge has a water filter, so I'm rarely using bottled water any more.
• I’m vowing to grow more succulents in containers so as to use less water this growing season.
• I gave up my Perrier habit, figuring that water is heavy, and glass is heavy, and France is a long ways away, and it’s just an affection, anyhow. But I do miss the Perrier.
• I had a ton of insulation blown into my attic and went for the recycled newspaper kind.
• I had the draftiest windows on the house replaced with glass block and a well sealed slider.
• I avoid eating over-fished species like Chilean sea bass.
• I've switched out most incandescent bulbs compact fluorescent light bulbs.
• I had energy saver shades put on most of my windows.
• I am big on reusing. (Empty tissue boxes hold wads of plastic newspaper bags that I pass along now to friends with dogs or cats. Broken terra cotta pots get used for crocking at the bottom of containers. Styrofoam packing peanuts get added to the bottom of containers, too, to keep the pots from getting too heavy. I never toss a piece of bubble wrap; somebody is always moving or knows somebody who is moving and needs it.)
• I use only cloth napkins and shun disposable plates. Have for many years.
• I print a lot fewer pages; and I recycle ink cartridges, giving them to nonprofits who get cash for them.
• I contribute financially to a number of animal advocate organizations.
• I do more and more business without paper.
• Instead of tossing unwanted, but still usable things into the landfill, I donate them to thrift stores that benefit nonprofits.
• I use my fireplaces only rarely now--big air particulate problem--and when I do, I buy those composite logs—supposedly better for the air.
• I avoid chlorofluorocarbons. These are the nasties depleting the ozone.
• I’m careful about disposing of hazardous materials like batteries, paint, mercury bulbs. But not as consistently careful as I should be.
• I avoid wrapping papers unless they are recyclable. (I’m using up old rolls and reusing a lot of those beautiful gift bags too pretty to just throw away.)
• I mulch my garden to conserve water and protect plants. I amended my clay soil with organic material to loosen it up and to hold water better.
• I have a lot of wind chimes that mitigate noise pollution on my heavily trafficked corner. Of course, some people might classify wind chimes as noise pollution.
• In summer, I cool my house with an evaporative cooler rather than central air. The evaporative coolers use a lot less energy.
• I do not watch television. Well, rarely. Proud to report that I have no cable. But I do often have the stereo going.
• I rarely use plastic, ziplock baggies any more. Instead, for food storage, I use my glass containers (Corningware). I know those baggies are convenient, but I feel guilty using them now. Plastics stay with us forever, so I'm trying to use less and less.
• I manage a worm relocation program: I transfer nightcrawlers and red wigglers to help nurture soil on my property.
• For much of my career, I’ve written about nature, wildlife, gardens, stewardship and art-directed printed materials that showcase elements of the natural world.
• I make a point of reading about ecojustice to educate myself and, in turn, others.

Photos depict cacti in New Mexico, aerial view of I can't remember where, and Cherry Creek Lake in Denver.


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