All right-thinking people did a smug little dance of joy this week when it was announced that the last Hummer H3 had finally rolled off the line in Louisiana. I almost feel bad for the Hummer, for the way it became the poster child for an entire Earth-destroying lifestyle. Did it really deserve all the hatred?
Recently as I was checking out the Treehugger site, I noticed a bar on the side for Climate Culture Calculators. Intrigued, I clicked through to check them out. What I found really blew me away.
I love the idea of lifestyle carbon footprint calculators, but they always have the same set of problems:
1. They aren't configurable enough. I heat exclusively with a wood stove. (Which is carbon neutral, by the way!) That's never been an option on any carbon footprint calculator I've found so far.
2. The numbers vary widely from one calculator to another. Most calculators lack transparency. Where are these numbers coming from? Who knows!
3. You quickly get the feeling that the entire exercise is just to make you feel bad, or smug, rather than to provide valuable feedback.
There's no good answer on a carbon footprint calculator. Either you are shocked and horrified at the amount of carbon your lifestyle produces a year, or you feel smug about how small your footprint is compared to most people's.
This is a topic near to my heart and my home, because Skagit Valley is one of the few places in the country with a working cow poop electricity plant. The manure digester went online last September, and has been merrily accepting deposits of cow manure and pumping out electricity ever since.
The most recent issue of Mother Jones magazine, ostensibly devoted to "the overpopulation taboo," shows a surprising lack of self-awareness. Even the main editorial points out that "the average American's carbon footprint is 23 times bigger than that of the average Indian" but then goes back to the topic of the average Indian.
Did you know this? I didn't know this! This is the second time I've run headlong into the fact that the United Kingdom is a lot better about advocating for better quality food than we are here in the United States.
The Daily Mail has a typically tawdry article about the source of McDonald's chicken in Britain. The author is all up in arms about how it comes from massive factory farms in South America. Which I agree is a bad thing.
First, cut off the top—the part with the plastic, where the tissues come out. You can either recycle it or use it for scraps in your cardboard projects. My daughter likes to glue them in with collages, paint them and add them to masks for added details, and sometimes even have me draw animals on them that she can cut out and play with. Then you have an open box that you can use for…
I wanted to address some responses to my last post, and a lot of people's reactions when I tell them about my awesome new laundry detergent.
(Quick backtrack: it IS awesome, bee tee doubleyew! I had a grungy old cotton pillowcase that came out of the laundry looking brand new. And it whisked away a cherry Kool-Aid stain on a white cotton dishtowel like it had never happened. All this for about $1.65 for 2.5 gallons!)
Since 2005, Greenpeace has been surveying the field of consumer electronics and rating their environmental friendliness. The news in the first report was dire. Five years later, even though "companies have made increasingly stronger commitments to eliminate toxic chemicals, increase their products; energy efficiency and improve their recycling efforts by embracing financial responsibility for their electronic waste" the situation has improved only marginally over previous years. [PDF]
Ever wondered what's in a bottle of Zout Enzymatic Stain Remover? It is made of, and I quote the label, "Cleaning agents and enzymes." Cleaning agents! You don't say? Wow, thanks for clearing that up, because I thought your stain remover was made from baked beans and kitten whiskers.
There are a lot of reasons to make your own laundry detergent! From a health perspective, homemade laundry detergent lacks irritating chemicals like perfumes, petroleum distillates, and my personal enemy SLS and SLES. From an environmental standpoint, homemade laundry detergent isn't made with toxic chemicals and byproducts from the industrial process, and it doesn't result in an endless supply of empty plastic detergent containers having to be recycled or thrown away. And from a crafty perspective, it's fun to make, and you can give it any smell you like!
Best of all, from a frugal perspective, Trent at The Simple Dollar calculated that homemade laundry detergent is about 1/20th the cost!
The basic recipe for making your own laundry detergent is: 2 parts soap flakes, 1 part borax, and 1 part washing soda.
I recently found a great reason to switch from commercial detergents containing sulfates like SLS, SLES, and other irritating surfactants. I'm loving life free of adult acne and dandruff, don't get me wrong! But it can be a mind-bender to shift away from standard over-the-counter detergents for shampoo, toothpaste, laundry, and other uses.
Luckily, making the switch to better cleaning products isn't just good for you and your skin: it's good for the environment, and your budget too! Traditional detergents are made with petroleum products. (Hello, Gulf of Mexico, nice knowing ya.) And they don't biodegrade, which means that their toxic ingredients seep into our ground water and the ecosystem at large.
to the store.
Microsoft Hohm community is an online resource that allows users to compare relative energy costs in their communities and find ways to save on their electricity bill.
The Hohm website asks for your zip code and information about your home including the date it was built and the size.