Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour 2009 Update

On Saturday night, lights went out in 4,085 cities in 88 countries in what is being described as the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change in history. How did you spend your Earth Hour? We enjoyed a candlelight meal of eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic fresh from the farmers market. After dinner we played some rummy by candlelight while enjoying some organic wine. I noticed a few of our neighbors had also turned off their lights for the hour. Earth Hour was a message for world leaders to address climate, however you are responsible for doing your part to battle climate change. Here are some easy earth friendly changes you can make:

1. Switch to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)and remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
2. Replace your air conditioner filters monthly.
3. Be aware of phantom loads - unplug appliances and electronics when they are not in use.
4. Go vegetarian at least once a week.
5. Drive smarter - keep your car tuned up, your tires properly inflated, and plan your errands to avoid unnecessary trips.
6. Shop your local farmers market.
7. Line dry your laundry whenever possible.
8. Install a low flow showerhead and strive to take 5 minute showers.
9. Reduce the packaging that comes into your house by buying fresh produce and bulk items.
10. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tonight is Earth Hour 2009...

Don't forget tonight is Earth Hour 2009. Tonight at 8:30pm local time turn off all non-essential lighting and mark the hour by gathering your family for a game night, enjoying dinner by candlelight, stargazing in the darker sky, or by joining friends in a candlelit party for the planet. However you choose to mark the hour, supporting Earth Hour will send a message to world leaders it's time to address climate change.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

5 uses for hydrogen peroxide

Who knew that little inexpensive brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide could do so much?

1. Dip your toothbrushes in peroxide after brushing to keep them germ-free.

2. Clean your counters and table tops with peroxide to kill germs.

3. After cleaning your wooden cutting board, pour peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria.

4. Fill a dark colored spray bottle, since peroxide breaks down quickly when exposed to light, with a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water and use it to disinfect the toilet and bathroom surfaces without harming your septic system.

5. Add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to your white laundry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

White House Garden

On Friday, March 20th, 2009, 23 third graders joined First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn of the White House to break ground on an 1100 square foot kitchen garden that will provide organic produce for the first family and for world leaders and guests at formal dinners. In an effort to lead by example and to encourage others to plant a garden, the garden is being planted so it is visible from the street. A food garden was last planted on the White House lawn in 1943 by Eleanor Rossevelt during a time in our country's history similar to our current struggles - the economy was weak and the country was at war. According to the New York Times, the garden will have 55 varieties of vegetables grown from organic seedlings started at the executive mansion’s greenhouses. Michelle Obama says the garden will be a family affair with everyone helping out including the president.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

On March 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m., join hundreds of millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund. Earth Hour will send the message that Americans care about climate change and that they will join the rest of the world in finding solutions to the escalating climate crisis.

During last year's Earth Hour over 50 million people, including 36 million in the U.S., representing over 400 cities on all seven continents turned out their lights. The lights were turned off at some of the world's most well known landmarks including the Sydney Opera House, Bangkok's Wat Arun Buddhist temple, the Coliseum in Rome, Stockholm's Royal Castle, London's City Hall, New York's Empire State Building, Sears Tower in Chicago, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Cola-Cola's famous billboard in Times Square.

New for this year is a great website just for kids, On the Earth Hour Kids site there is information, games, and lesson plans for teachers to use to educate their students about climate change and Earth Hour.

So gather up your soy candles and join in this worldwide statement about global warming and turn off your lights at 8:30 p.m. for an hour. Visit for more info.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hope's Lessons

Recently our guide dog puppy in training Hope returned to Southeastern Guide Dogs to finish her training. Hope is the second puppy we raised for this awesome group who provides free guide dogs for veterans and other who have need them. While we taught Hope all the basics she needs to hopefully succeed in her training she taught us a lot about life. Here are some lessons Hope taught our family:

1. Live in the moment. Dogs don't worry about the past or future, they fully enjoy the current moment.

2. Trust your instincts. Pay attention to others body language and energy, it will tell you more about them than the words they use.

3. Be sure to communicate clearly with others. Dogs only understand clearly given commands, too many words can be confusing - the same can be true for people.

4. Don't hold on to negative feelings. If dogs in a pack have a conflict they resolve the dispute and move on.

5. Celebrate each day. According to Cesar Milan, "For a dog, every morning is Christmas morning. Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, every game is the best game." Live like a dog and celebrate life's simplest moments.

Want to learn more about the amazing experience of being a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs or more about their great programs check out

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are lower gas prices really a good thing?

Now that gas prices are staying below the $2 a gallon mark, are you still conserving gas? When gas was $4 a gallon people were more conservative with their driving and got in the habit of combining trips and eliminating unnecessary driving. Low gas prices can mean more money in your pocket if you continue your improved driving habits, but are they good for our country overall? Maybe not...

1. There is a direct relationship between the price of gas and the number of deaths in auto accidents each year. This past year when gas prices skyrocketed and people reduced their driving, there was the first significant reduction in driving fatalities in decades.

2. Mass transit ridership will decline.

3. There will be less pressure to find ways to reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil.

What can you do to help with these negative aspects of low gas prices?

1. Continue to limit your driving as much as possible and remember to be a safe driver while on the roads.

2. Encourage local politicians to increase mass transit opportunities in your town and continue to lobby the government to pursue alternative energy sources.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Green your St. Patty's Day

Tomorrow is the "greenest" of all holidays - St. Patrick's Day. When you celebrate tomorrow spread a little luck of the Irish to the planet by making earth friendly choices for your bash.

1. Serve "green" beer by purchasing organic beer. Some great choices - Whole Foods’ Old Plowshare Stout, Peak Organic Beers, and Anheuser-Busch's Stone Mill.

2. When it comes to the Wearing of the Green, avoid the cheap St. Patty's themed clothes and opt for a green organic tee instead.

3. Serve some great Irish veggies - organic potatoes or organic cabbage. Or look for recipes for Irish favorites made with meat substitutes since going veg is once of the greenest things you can do.

4. Discover your own pot of gold in the form of money saved. Choosing reusable products for your party will save you money while reducing your impact on the planet.

5. Irish eyes will be smiling when you give your guests something green for their garden. Give seed packets of organic clover as party favors instead of some plastic item that will eventually end up in the landfill and your guests just may be rewarded with a four-leaf clover.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Greener Kitty Litter

Traditional clay kitty litter is not very earth friendly as the clay is strip-mined from the Earth destroying animal habitats. Not only is clay litter bad for the planet, it can be dangerous for your cat as it contains silica dust which is a known carcinogen.

I have tried several alternative, earth-friendly kitty litter options - ground corncobs, wheat, recycled newspaper pellets. However my absolute favorite is pine pellets. Pine pellets are a by-product from sawmills in which sawdust that would normally end up in landfills is formed into pellets. The pellets have a fresh woody smell, are low tracking, and are very absorbent. I find that the pine pellets absorb odor better than clay litters and last longer. My cat made the switch to pine pellets very easily and since he loves to dig around in his litter I'm glad he is not exposed to the silica dust found in regular litter. I personally use Publix's Greenwise Pine Pellets which performs the same as brand name pine litters but is more reasonably priced.