a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for June, 2009

The Real Green

Friday, June 26th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Making our lives more sustainable and saving the Earth, Step Two: RE-EVALUATE YOUR GREEN HABITS.

Over-consumption of green products and energy systems is still over-consumption. Lower carbon emissions is not the same as very little or zero carbon emissions. Using less water may not be enough to have enough water in the future, while using A LOT less water may do the trick, and so on…

For instance, If you replace your incandescents with CFL bulbs and then leave a light on in every room, it’s not green. If you buy a Prius and then drive to the store every day, that’s not green. If you get a solar hot water heater, and then take 10 or 15-minute showers or fill the bathtub every night, that’s not green.

Eco-Entrepreneur blogger, Shea Gunther says this:

“There’s a big difference between green and greener and we as a society need to recognize it. We can’t pat ourselves on the back thinking the job is done when we’re all greener, we need to keep on chugging until we’re all green. The only way that’s going to happen is if EVERYTHING is green. The electricity that comes out of the outlets and the fuel used to drive from the factory to the store need to come from renewable sources, the cars used to dive us to the store need to be powered by green energy, the materials used to build it need to be either compostable or fully recyclable.”

This issue takes some thinking through. Fortunately, there’s a lot of information available out there – most of it at our fingertips. Don’t stop too soon. There’s a little engine inside all of us that really, truly wants this to happen. Dig Deep. Grow Green.

Consuming Kids – the documentary

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

by Tao

According to an article from the Valley Advocate, published in March 2009, “America is in the midst of a baby boom; federal statistics released last week report there were more than 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2007, more than the number born at the peak of the post-World War II boom. And, according to the recently released documentary, Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood, the child-marketers are ready and waiting.

Consuming Kids is one of the best films I have seen in years that explores the various ways in which the identities, values, and future of young people are held hostage to a world shaped by the poisonous culture of consumption and commodification. Every school should buy this film and learn from it. And every parent, educator, and concerned citizen should watch this film if they believe kids deserve a more just world and future.”
– Henry Giroux | Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University | Author of Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?

The sections of the film cover a lot of ground, including, “The Floodgates Open | By Any Means Necessary | Under the Microscope | Brand New World | Cradle to Grave | Rewiring Childhood | Our Future”. I haven’t yet seen it, but it sounds like a message long over-due. Take a walk into Babies/Toys/kids R-Us and look around and you won’t need much more proof.

I could (and I have) touted the merits of green goods for kids, but consuming green goods is still consuming and it’s not enough to save our earth or our children’s perceptions and mental health.The critical step in cultural and social change is to reboot the brainwashing process that has convinced us of what we “need” both as adults and as adults consuming in the name of our children. This film is a good start and is hopefully making its way through all libraries, schools, educators and non-profits as we speak.

Written and directed by Adriana Barbaro and Jeremy Earp, watch a preview and learn more here.

Water, Electronics, Rice and Blessings

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

I don’t know what’s up with me and water lately, but I drowned both my cell phone and my electronic car key in the lake/creek in the past week. I thought I’d have to give up on both, lose my phone numbers and ordere a new and expensive key…but after I pulled out the phone and went back and found the keys a couple days later, I learned of a little drying out trick. It worked.

I put them both in a bowl of rice for 3 days. The rice pulled out the moisture and both things work perfectly. I feel pretty lucky and wanted to pass on the info.. Be patient and don’t try to use them too soon. It was worth being patient.

I also feel like I was given a get out of jail free pass since both incidences happened out of my own carelessness. Did I deserve the happy ending? I don’t know. But it made me think about all the many things (much bigger than car keys and phones) that I have to be grateful for.

There is a lot to think about and notice and reawaken this weekend as the New Moon ushers in the Summer Solstice. Be ready.

It’s a Rap

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

I admit that as I’m nearing the launch date for my Summer VT journey, I’m getting a bit off task when it comes to writing posts. Fortunately, I have some friends and family helping out. Thought I’d share this – spilled out spontaneously by a 14yo who drums a lot. See if it hits you, too….

Remember our family poetry night? Well, we had rap night tonight. This is what showed up:

By Orange Drummer, Carrboro, NC:

I’m getting just a little bit too big for my cage.
Letting go of everything but my drums and my rage.

The unlivable living climate like a bullet in my brain.
All that’s unloved will remain the same.

I can’t do this, you knew this, everytime we all go through this like a new wish like my old risks like a reused to-do list.

Every time I’m still I’m not moving I just  feel dead. Don’t worry, I promise I won’t let it go to my head.

Weeds, Local Eggs – Sustainable Health

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Here’s more nutritional wisdom from Greg Gillette — !

by Greg Gillette, Glenwood Springs, CO

Eat Your Weeds:

There’s more than grass in your yard. In fact, grab a knife and fork and have a salad of chickweed, dandelion greens, cleavers, miner’s lettuce, plantain, etc. Your salad will vary depending on the month and where you live.

All the above herbs are a good source of vitamins and minerals and some have medicinal
properties, externally and internally. For example, chickweed is a great source of Vitamin C and it is a great topical treatment for skin irritations and bug bites. The same applies of plantain. Dandelion greens are slightly bitter so they enhance bile flow and digestive health and they aid in kidney health. They also have diuretic properties. Cleavers are a great lymphatic helper as they stimulate lymph drainage and help move toxins out of the body. Since cleavers act like velcro as they stick to almost any material, it is best taken as a tea.

Instead of looking at your yard in disgust at the weeds, remember, these weeds are a great source of food and medicine. Mother nature knows best!

Eggs – local and healthy:

Once deemed healthy and then not, the egg is back, even with approval from modern medicine, not that modern medicine ever influences me when it comes to nutrition.

Fried in coconut oil, scrambled, sunny side up, over easy, hard boiled, soft boiled, poached, with cheese, with bread, on your head (a great moisturizer and conditioner),
raw in fresh squeezed orange juice, raw in a fruit smoothie, raw in raw milk, raw on top of a cooked bowl of rice, millet or quinoa, raw in a glass (a la Rocky style), on your skin for sun burn, in a cake, in a casserole, deviled, in pancakes, or even green eggs and ham.

Eggs are best raw if you want every ounce of nutrition it offers, but anyway you want them, they are a healthy part of a good diet. Packed with 60% fat and 40% protein, lecithin, iron, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A, selenium and many other nutrients, eggs are a powerhouse.

If eaten raw, they aid in cellular structure and permeability, hormone production and balance, toxin removal, energy production and increased immunity.

Of course, eggs that are from healthy farms that allow the chickens to have access to the great outdoors to eat grass and insects are far superior to the factory-farmed eggs. Don’t forget to go local and support you local egg farmer.

Sunscreen Effectiveness and Safety – important

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

There’s so much to love about each season, but Summer ranks high on my loving it list.  I like the heat best in the early mornings and evenings, when the sun is low to protect my skin and health.

Sun – can’t live with it, can’t live without it. We need enough exposure for Vitamin D, but no so much that we put ourselves at risk for cancer or major skin damage. Most days, I do my intense outdoor time in the early morning or evening, but I’m still outside enough during other hours, so I wear sunscreen much of the time, about 6 months of the year. There’s a lot of questions about this lately. I’ve tried to keep up on the facts and theories and have come to some conclusions.

We need sun protection regularly, not just when we’re at the beach. But most sunscreens have ingredients that that pose health risks. Some ingredients act like estrogen and may disrupt normal hormone signaling in the body. Others build up as toxins in the body that can cause cancer, and some harm the environment. In fact, a recent study of 886 brands of sunscreen has shown 4 out of 5 to be unsafe and/or ineffective.

In the past few years, chemical-free sunscreens have appeared appeared with a safe and effective active ingredient: good old zinc oxide – remember the white stuff lifeguards used to proctect their noses? It works. But, yeah, it’s white. Titanium dioxide is another mineral that works safely, but also leaves a white sheen on the skin.

The market never says never, so next up: sunscreens hit the marketplace that contain these two ingredients, shrunk to nano-particles so it becomes clear. Consumers love it. But, there is a question as yet unresolved. Does a molecule act differently when altered in this way? Preliminary testing is hopeful but inconclusive.

In the meantime, I decided that I’m not giving up the outdoors, so I’m willing to be white. I like Aubrey sunscreen. It goes on really, really white, but after about 20 minutes, it’s not quite as noticeable. Don’t get me wrong, I still look like a bit like a vampiress – though I’ve come to think of it more like “milky-white” beauty. The “white” is the mineral sitting on top of your skin (instead of being absorbed), reflecting the suns rays. It’s great protection and some people even say it keeps them a bit cooler because of it reflects the heat, too.

If I’m cycling, hiking or otherwise intensely and extensively exposed to the sun, I’ll take the whiteness over vanity. If you’re in it for the enjoyment of nature and exercise, you’re gonna forget all about it in a few minutes anyway, right? I found that I do.

Here’s more info. and a best and worst list from

LIDS Away – small plastic trash wreaks havoc

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I owe this one entirely to Ideal Bite. They finally gave me some answers when it comes to recycling plastic lids.

No more gray area – REMOVE the plastic lids from the bottles you recycle so that the recycling facility system can work most efficiently. What do to with those lids? First, check with the recycler in your area by entering your zip code here and ask if they take plastic lids. If not, you can drop your #5 lids at any Aveda store for recycling.

Why bother? Because those tiny plastic lids easily escape a secure waste stream and end up in our waterways and other areas where wildlife mistake them for food. “Scientists estimate that around the world, up to one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic.” Albatross are especially attracted to plastic, feed lids and other small plastic items to their young. With their bellies full of plastic, they slowly and painfully die of starvation.

(photo from

Inspired Bicycles – this video took my breath away

Monday, June 8th, 2009

This is beautiful, courageous, outrageous and breathtakingly inspiring.

Danny MacAskill is 23 years old and has been riding eleven years.

Be Free and Ride.

Inspired Bicycles – Danny MacAskill, April 2009

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