Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stuff, stuff, and more stuff

Ahh, how I love a good article about consumerism.

Today's issue of the Seventh Generation newsletter has a great one, with a history of consumerism that ought to be required reading in school. Read it here, or the original article "The Gospel of Consumerism" from Orion Magazine.

When you're done, check out Carrotmob, and then here, too.

I also read an article about getting insane amounts of better gas mileage. Tricks include:

- going at 55mph, or the speed limit, whichever is slower (Read more about this here)
- stay back from the car in front of you (recommended: 1 car length for every 10mph)
- drive steadily and accelerate evenly and slowly
- ride 3 seconds behind trucks (keep out the draft)
- turn off your engine whenever you are stopped for at least 10 seconds (but not while moving! dangerous!)
- combine errands and try to park so you don't have to back out
- keep tires inflated to the maximum recommended (some inflate them even higher, to the sidewall pressure inside, but that will wear out your tires faster)
- use cruise control for long stretches to keep your speed steady

I have a Civic Hybrid and aside from driving less overall, am going to try some of these strategies.

Oh by the way, in decluttering, went through a lot of old files and tossed things I didn't need to keep (shredded papers), and gave away more things (I'm not officially back on Seven Things, but here's a start):

- various bottles of lens solution
- a blue mug
- color inkjet refill kit (was ordered for Dell All-in-one)
- several cds (returned to owners or given away)
- infant clothes i received but won't use
- box of Similac I received
- bag of cosmetics/toiletries I don't want to use anymore
- bag of cleaning supplies that are not green
- some candles
- some beads

That makes 10 different items.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Nesting Instinct

Nesting is apparently not limited to birds. Cats and dogs do it (think of all the newspaper they shred), and well, so do we humans.

In the final-run-up to baby-time, I'm trying to get through my list of 764 items that need to be done (if anyone needs a list made, write me!). Fortunately, I've made a smaller pre-baby list. However, it does include cleaning, washing, packing, accumulating (despite my best efforts, I guess a new person does need some things) and my favorite: decluttering.

There is still something very gratifying about going around the house and finding things you don't need, don't want anymore, and sneaking them off to the giveaway bin. Especially those funny things someone you love gave you but which appears to have no inherent use or beauty. And those little things you were saving for "someday" or "just in case." And there are the things that are beautiful but chipped or broken and not reasonably fixable. And the duplicate items - why do I have five nailclippers?

Go, go, go. All you tiny things, almost not noticeable things, but somehow they free up my mind.

And all the mental clutter, the guilt (is my baby going to have peanut allergies because of the peanut sauce I ate last night?), the worry (what kind of life am I going to have?) the panic (1 down, 763 to go?). I take deep breaths, walk with a handful of stuff to the giveaway box, and dump my mental clutter in, too. It may try to creep back into the house, but I'm keeping the door closed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In the midst of it all

I don't write much about politics, but really, being green and sustainable and free all are interrelated. Inalienable rights.

So, I would have supported Dennis Kucinich for the presidency, at least in part, until he dropped out. And now I'm sure, since he read out the articles of impeachment against George W. Bush on C-SPAN. Read them here. And weep, because no one seems to be doing anything about it.

But we can!

1 get informed by reading
2 tell people (post on your blog or email)
3 vote for people you truly believe in (after doing #1)
4 take part in local government

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why this site looks different

I came across an amazing new discovery today: black backgrounds save energy over white! That's the logic behind a search engine called - saves lots of energy over the white screen of Google (on Google itself, it would save 750 MWh a year - equivalent to over 400 barrels of oil!). And that's true even though most of the world now uses LCD monitors. More info here .

Another blogger at ecoIron has also created a energy-saving website palette for use with the black background, so that is what I'm using here.

Greenergle (see the -gle theme here?) also has further energy-saving computer tips, like taking a moment to turn down the brightness on your monitor.

So, let me know what you think of the new color scheme. In the meantime, I'm going to be a little leprechaun painting low-energy rainbows over my websites. And that is your eco-tip today.

Update: Of course Google has a response to this that suggests that on several LCD monitors, blackle can actually be worse (mine still saves about 2 watts though). Still, the CRTs do show good savings overall, and it's important to note that CRT monitors are still in use in places that cannot afford to replace computers quickly. So the question is up for debate. I'm playing it safe and going to the black background anyway.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fashion, Sex, and the (Global) City

First of all, thank you to everyone who sent baby wishes and great advice. I'm persevering in my bid to keep things green and (mostly) secondhand to conserve on resources.

And then I go and see the Sex and the City movie. For me, it was sort of a girl-fling-thing. But oh, the indulgence. The excess. The violation of nearly every defashion rule!

I have been reading 's newest issue, Sex(ism) and the city, which covers a range of more socially-conscious topics related to the movie. So even if you are a die-hard fan, I recommend you take a moment to be a defashionista, to think about what all that glorious glamour means.

A few highlights:

- the show has never repeated an outfit, which though fashion-amazing, means a huge wastage of clothes
- fur-wearing is still considered cool? (a nod to this in the movie)
- allegations of sweatshop labor
- has anyone noticed - they're all white (Jennifer Hudson notwithstanding)

Take a look and report back. I'll be here, incubating :)