Thursday, November 19, 2009

What do your neighbors think of a clothesline?

U.S. residents fight for the right to hang laundry

Thanksgiving, how we eat affects the Earth

Thanksgiving is in one week. Have you thought about what you will eat or serve? What's that got to do with the environment? Plenty.

While you are planning your Thanksgiving dinner think about each and every aspect of it. Will you use Styrofoam for plates or cups? How about take-out or take-home? What about your turkey or ham? How was it raised? What was the impact on the Earth during the raising of your holiday turkey or ham? What was the animal's daily life like?

I have become a flexitarian, meaning most of the time I am a vegetarian. I am not against eating meat. I will eat sustainably raised animal products.

So, as you prepare your Thanksgiving meal, decide ahead of time if you want to eat locally grown vegetables and animals, and what is more important to you locally produced or organic.

Here is a passage I took from Sustainable Table's blog The Daily Table

When people think about Thanksgiving, the first thing that should pop into mind is gratitude for all of the blessings received throughout the year. The real first thought, however, may be food. Thanksgiving, the most delicious of holidays, is a great time to experiment with sustainable and heritage foods. Read more at Sustainable Table blog post: You can have your turkey and eat it too.

Food, Inc. - live streaming video powered by Livestream

Have you seen "Food, Inc."?

I had embedded the video into this post, but it played, with sound, as soon as you visited the blog. I thought that might irritate some people. Therefore just click the green link above to see the promo for "Food, Inc."

Local television station has regular environmental feature

Caption: Logo of Northland Newscenter's environmental feature.

Many of the mainstream media now have regular environmental features. In the Duluth area the Northland's Newscenter (CBS 6, CBS 3, My 9 and Northland CB) features "Your Green Life." Often in many areas it is the meteorologist or weatherperson who reports the environmental features.

This morning as I watched my morning news, Meteorologist Jeff Edmondson asked, "Which is better, paper or plastic?"

During my environmental presentations I ask this as a trivia question. The winner receives a piece of organic, fair trade chocolate.

So what does the United Methodist Women answer to "Paper or plastic?"
"Neither, I brought my own."

See the the reasons why on this video Paper verses plastic and resusuable bags.

Prof. Cricket and I would love to hear from you. Does your local television station carry an environmental feature? How about your local newspaper?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Choosing a toothpaste and the a company's commitment to water

I try to use natural health care products. Yesterday I needed more toothpaste. I purchased Nature's Gate Cool Mint Gel. I had been using Tom's of Maine. I liked it fine, but I thought I would try something else. I don't know enough about toothpastes to make a recommendation. Do you know about toothpastes and what ingredients are safe and preferred?

As for Professor Cricket, we do have toothpaste for her, but we haven't brushed her teeth in months, maybe even years.

P.S. I just visited the Nature's Gate website and I see they are involved in Water Aid America. Today is November 19: World Toilet Day ››

World Toilet Day is a key date to champion the human right of people everywhere to sanitation.

P.S.S. And now I have just visited the Tom's of Maine website and they are involved in Charity Water. See their community involvement here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Superior Grown Food Summit discusses our role in what we eat

Caption: Rick Dale spoke about his experience as a blueberry farmer near Bayfield Wisconsin. He owns Highland Valley Farm, Bayfield, WI. Website:

Today I attended the Superior Grown Food Summit. The topic was food security and how we might do that with locally grown foods. I truly believe in consuming locally grown foods. I try to do that and also try to eat organic foods. Last summer we had a community garden. It was interesting for me to listen to the people who wanted to get into farming, as what I would say is a small-time farmer, not a huge mega farm, because many of my relatives left the farm. Farming is very hard work.

I stayed until 2 p.m. I took lots of notes, but I am getting tired now. I hope to post something more about this event.

You may also visit the site

Caption: The keynote speaker was Darrin Nordahl. He talked about growing food in public spaces like boulevards and landscaping around parking lots. This photo shows graphs of the obesity epidemic in the United States since 1990. Some states have a good size of their population at over 40 pounds overweight. He is the author of
Public Produce: Building a New Urban Agriculture. He currently works at the Design Center Davenport, IA

Here is a list of the guest speakers along with weblinks.

The Lure of the Local: What's Happening in the Local Foods Movement and Why?" (30 min.)
Maggie Adamek, Executive Vice President, Fourth Sector Consulting

A Locally Adapted Food System Assessment (30 min.)
David Abazs, David Syring, and Stacey Stark, University of Minnesota, Duluth

11:00am-12:15pm: Panel II: Building Blocks for Locally Adapted Food Systems

Family Farms and Locally Adapted Food Systems (30 min.)
Rick Dale, Highland Valley Farm, Bayfield, WI

Integrated Farming Systems for Adding Value: The Case of Free Range Poultry (30 min.)
Reginaldo (Regi) Haslett-Marroquin, Rural Enterprise Institute, SE MN

12:30-2:00pm: Keynote Speaker during Lunch
Public Produce: Building a New Urban Agriculture
Darrin Nordahl, Design Center, Davenport, IA

Friday, November 13, 2009

Women's Division's deputy general secretary says Repower America

Repower America asked people to add their voices on the Repower America Wall visit that here.

Here is a YouTube message from the Women's Division's chief executive officer, Harriet Jane Olson. The Women’s Division is the national administrative and policy-making arm of United Methodist Women. Olson's formal title is deputy general secretary of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Women. Read more about Harriet here

Real dishes instead of throwaway

Yesterday evening I attended a spaghetti dinner for Neighborhood Housing Services. As I was leaving, I double-checked to make sure I did have my extra plate, cup and silverware in my car. I now keep a plate under my passenger seat so I can use it at public functions where Styrofoam or other throwaway products are used. It is wrapped in plastic to protect it.

Turns out I didn't need it because there is a young man, Brendan, an employee with NHS, who is really fighting the use of Styrofoam and paper throw-away products. The group held their spaghetti dinner at a church and used the real dishes and the dishwasher.


One curious thing I have noticed about these dinners is that even though people use the real plates, they put the dessert on paper or Styrofoam plates. I am not sure why. They already have the dishwasher going so why do they do this?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Postcards delivered: Green Team to go to Copenhagen

Green Team members received an email from Sung-ok Lee on Thursday. Sung-ok is Assistant General Secretary Section of Women's Division, GBGM. She informed us that some of our Green Team members will be going to Copenhagen.

Some of her key points:
  • UMW collected 4,000 plus Countdown to Copenhagen postcards and hundreds of online sign-ons and more individual cards sent directly to the Church World Service office in Washington, DC.
  • The total so far counted from the entire ecumenical community is 14,200 postcards.
  • On Thursday Nov. 5, postcards were delivered deliver to the White House and UMW and other faith groups made senate visits. Green Team was represented by Betty Henderson and Grace Pyen, along with Esmeralda Brown, Pam Sparr and Sung-ok working together with our ecumenical partners, Church World Service, National Council of Churches and other faith-based partners.
  • Our UMW leadership, Harriett Olson and Inelda Gonzalez, attended the entire day's events and spoke to the importance of climate justice and U.S. role in setting strong domestic and international policy on climate change.
  • Four persons will participate in the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark. Our president, Inelda Gonzalez, has selected one director and recommended a Green Team member and staff persons to organize this delegation. Sung-ok recommended Pat Watkins, as he has been a strong advocate around the US legislative process around climate change in the past couple of years and has steadily guided us in framing a theological perspective on this issue.
  • The two persons attending and assisting with organizing the delegation will be Esmeralda Brown and Pamela Sparr. Inelda has recommended Tupou Kelemeni of Honolulu, HI as the director attending this conference. As a Tongan-American living in Hawaii she has been following what has been happening to small islands in the Pacific with deep concern.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

No Bottled water at the county courthouse

On Friday I was in the St. Louis County Court House in Duluth and noticed this water fountain. With sign "filtered water" above it. I like to take photos of public water fountains because bottled water is very hard on our environment. While I was taking a photo of this a woman came out of her office and filled up a plastic water bottle. I told her that I was happy the county was not encouraging bottle water.

What is in NILoder?

The other day I went into our church bathroom and noticed what seemed to be an artificial smell used to disguise bad odors. I tried to find out what is in this air-freshener, but I did not have any luck. I never noticed it until last week, so I don't know if this is something our building engineer or janitor has always used to keep the restroom smelling fresh, or if it was a recent addition.
I am very sensitive to scents, and it was too strong for me. I also wondered what the ingredients were inside this product. The website says their products are environmentally-friendly, but I am not sure. Have you ever seen these or heard about them? Are they environmentally friendly?
It says NILoder on it and the website is here, but I can't find anything about it.

I don't really care for these things that put smells into the air.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Recycle on the Go!

Captions: Upper left - Left to right; Lena Schaumburg - MSOCS, Kirk Grandell - Coca Cola, Ellen Telander - executive director RAM, and Olaf Urban Coca Cola and Mike McGrath. Lower - The Message in a Bottle container to recycle bottles away from home. (Photos by Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff)

Lots of people clean out their cars when they refill their tanks at the gas station, but many stations do not provide recycling options. Now when people go to a Little Store convenience store and gas station in Duluth, they will see a four-foot tall plastic bottle beside the trash cans. These bottles are actually containers to place plastic recyclable beverage bottles.

This afternoon I attended a kick-off event at the Little Store on 1831 W. Superior St. The purpose of the event was to introduce the concept of recycling away from home and to catch people in the act of recycling. Prizes of soda pop, bumper stickers, t-shirts and products made from recyclable materials were given away. I met several people including Ellen Telander of Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM), a non-profit organization which encourages people to recycle. RAM is working in partnership with Minnesota Waste Wise and Western lake Superior Sanitary District with two programs - "Message in a Bottle" and "Its' in the Bag"

An organization which employs developmentally disabled people, AirPark Products & Services (APS), will collect the containers of plastic recyclables so that they can use them to make recyclable products. APS is a division of the Minnesota State Operated Community Services (MSOCS) programs. APS employees will sort and package the recyclables for transport. The program is projected to create more than 20 full-time jobs at APS.