Super Quick Week 3 Update

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

For those of you that might be following, I haven’t “cheated” and am still not eating out.
I did the math and the numbers show that in three weeks, I have saved $300 on food versus the previous 3 weeks. WOW!
I’m thinking of extending another 40 days in observation of lent. Just because.
Maybe I’ll go for the long haul of “100 days of real food”.
The health benefits are undeniable too, but the financial savings are a huge motivator.

I need to plant some tomatoes! Now is the time to start them (if you grow from seeds like me).

Wish me continues success :)

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Ecological Literature and Week 3′s goals

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

So it’s finally Spring Break for us here at Bridgewater State University.

Instead of getting on a plane and taking a vacation somewhere where I’d have to participate in an incredible expenditure of fuel, I’m going to stay home and commit to my personal work and  writing.

I’ve read a lot of interesting literature as part of my “Sustainable Cities” course, one of which is Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic”. I’ve Linked it below, and I highly recommend the read to anyone. How true his words remain today. He essentially discusses extending our concept of ethics to incorporate the physical world. Without the necessary attitude, moving on to policy change will be difficult.

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/texts/text3/leopold.html

Next up is Herman E. Daly’s “Steady-State Economy”. Daly is an “ecological economist” a branch of economics that emphasizes ecological sustainability as the top priority. I couldn’t’ find an except of the text but did provide an article by the guy on 10 policies that would help us move into a more sustainable economy. He claims the current economic paradigm suffers from something called “growthmania”, or the over-emphasis of economic growth. The biggest concern is that costs to the environment are not subtracted from our GDP and instead are added to it; effectively removing the only measure we could have on the ecological consequences of our own economics.

Finally, I’d like to update my status on my own sustainability goals.

So far my family has been pretty good at separating the waste but I’ve found several items that could have been recycled in the trash. I’m going to follow the example of my cousin Pat and actually create a bin with separate compartments to make recycling easier. One of my goals was to reduce the amount I’ve been eating out but so far that’s been a challenge and I’ve given in a few times. However, I made sure not to stop at large chain stores and choose local businesses instead.

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TAKE THE CHALLENGE

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

AFTER THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, OUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS SEEM TO DRIFT AWAY. RECENTLY, I BECAME AN INTERN WITH THE SOUTHCOAST ENERGY CHALLENGE AND I WAS REMINDED OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ACHIEVING A GOAL. SOME RESOLUTIONS I MADE IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR WAS TO LEARN HOW TO MANAGE TIME AND MONEY AND AS THE MOTHER OF A 6YR OLD, MY LIFE GETS PRETTY BUSY AND I AM ALWAYS ON TOP OF FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION QUICK AND ON A BUDGET! AND THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE IT A HABIT. I BELIEVE THAT BASICS SOMETIMES HELPS YOU THROUGH THE DAY AND HELPS YOU SAVE THE DAY!

SIMPLE RECIPES LIKE THE FOLLOWING MAKE IT EASIER TO MAINTAIN A GOAL, SAVE TIME, MONEY AND MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD WHILE DOING GOOD!

  • SUPER CLEANER – 4 INGREDIENTS, MANY POSSIBILITIES.

- ½ CUP OF VINEGAR

- ¼ CUP OF BAKING SODA

- ½ TSP OF DAWN DISH SOAP

- ½ CUP CITRUS VINEGAR (PEELS OF ORANGE, LIME OR LEMON KEPT IN A SMALL MASON JAR FILLED WITH VINEGAR)

o   MIX ALL INGREDIENTS IN A SPRAY BOTTLE AND SPRAY ON ALL COUNTER TOPS, SINKS, BATHROOM, MOP YOUR FLOOR, CLEAN WINDOWS, TV, ETC. FOR BEST RESULTS WARM THE VINEGAR FOR 30 SECS TO ACTIVATE ITS POWERFUL POWER! (SOME FIZZING WHEN THE BAKING SODA IS ADDED.)

 

·         DIY LAUNDRY DETERGENT – EASY, CHEAP AND WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE?

- 1 SMALL OXI CLEAN BOTTLE

- 1 BOX OF BORAX

- 1 BOX OF BAKING SODA

- 1 GRATED NAPA BAR SOAP

o   MIX THESE INGREDIENTS ONCE AND USE THEM FOR OVER 3 MONTHS, STORE IN AIR TIGHT CONTAINER IN A DARK PLACE. WHITES COME OUR BRIGHT WHITE WITH COLD WATER AND CLOTHES SMELL FRESH!

 

·         WEDNESDAY DINNER SAVER – A QUICK MEAL THAT GETS ME OVER THE WEEK’S HUMP.

- 1 PCKG OF SOFT TORTILLAS

- 1 PCKG OF MOZZARELLA SHREDDED CHEESE

- 1 CUP OF ROTISSERIE SHREDDED CHICKEN

- 1 SLICED AVOCADO

- GREEK YOGURT DRESSING (SALT, PEPPER, SMOKED PAPRIKA)

o   SAVORY AND QUICK DINNER AND CAN BE EASILY REPLACED WITH OTHER INGREDIENTS, SUCH AS PULLED PORK & BBQ, CHICKEN BUFFALO, ONION PEPPER AND TOMATO,ETC

LIFE CAN BE EASY OR DIFFICULT BUT IT IS UP TO YOU TO TAKE THE CHALLENGE AND FIND OUT!

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

    IT IS LACK OF FAITH THAT MAKES PEOPLE AFRAID OF MEETING CHALLENGES, AND I BELIEVE IN MYSELF  -  MUHAMMAD ALI

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Action Steps Update

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

I have now experienced almost four weeks of being an intern with the South Coast Energy Challenge. My action steps for reducing my carbon footprint have remained: bringing my reusable bags to the store, increasing my usage of Tupperware/decreasing my usage of Styrofoam, and placing lids on pots and pans when I cook. I have always tried to refuse plastic bags at the store, but now that it is a serious goal for me, it is funny how when I need a plastic bag, it is actually hard to find one around the apartment.

Recently, I went to the New Bedford Home Show and set up a table there to get the word out about the challenge. When the crowds died down a little, I decided to talk to other vendors there. To my surprise, many of the other vendors have already gotten a home energy assessment within the past couple of years. Chatting with the other vendors gave me insight to how people in the area had heard about the challenge originally and what they thought about the home energy assessment. During one of the conversations, I discovered a new way to save energy.

Now, when I do laundry, I will dry my clothes in two steps: 1- dry my heavier sweatshirts and jeans in a small load on high temperature only for 30 minutes, then 2- dry my shirts and other things on a lower temperature for also around 30 minutes, or if it a small enough load, air dry them. Due to the two separate loads, both get dry in a shorter amount of time and the second load uses less energy. This definitely seems better than putting a heavy load in all at once on high and still having damp clothes. So far, I have done this each time I have done laundry, so hopefully I will stick with this new action step.

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King Corn’s Kingdom- America

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

                King Corn is a film about the country’s obsession with corn and how the government plays a role in the future industrialization of what once was a type of family business. Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis drove from Boston to Iowa to grow an acre of corn and follow the path of the corn. Through the year, they examined the fate of what most of corn becomes and how it affects the people of America.

What shocked me the most in King Corn was that, yes, many farmers grow corn, but most of that corn is not edible until it is processed. To have extra edible corn and using it in ways that are not wasteful would be fine but something needs to change when we grow corn simply to be used in cheap and non-nutritious food products.  This is difficult because the government pays  farmers to create a surplus of this inedible corn. Individual farmers and families have contributed to this new crop and others have dropped out of farming completely as larger businesses take over.

Though we see this corn as “evil”, I was surprised to learn that this product started as a good way to provide inexpensive food. The food may not be good for you but the legislation behind our current corn policy served its purpose and allows us to spend only about 17 percent of our income on food.   We are now able to spend money on other things.  Aside from learning about “king corn”, this documentary further taught me that things that may seem awful now start out as seemingly good solutions to past problems.

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King Corn – It’s looming over us

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

Earlier this week, I saw a documentary on the corn industry in the American Midwest called King Corn. These two regular guys from Taunton, my hometwon, went off to find out more about how the corn industry works. What they found was extremely shocking. For just growing the corn, the government gives massive subsidies. You make more from the government than you do selling the corn itself. That was the first part that made me angry. The next part was the way the cows were handled and treated at the ranches. Their 80% diet of corn makes them extremely sick. Cows stomachs are not designed to digest that amount of starch, therefore giving them ulcers and open wounds that go straight into their stomachs.

Not only are the cows getting sick, they have literally no room to move around. That is by design to fatten them up as quickly as possible to get to the slaughterhouse faster. Not only does the corn make the cows sick, it is making us sick as well especially through diabetes. The amount of high fructose corn syrup that I found in my own pantry made me panic. I feel overwhelmed by it. The documentary did not leave a good taste in my mouth and I know, from now on, I will be actively avoiding high fructose corn syrup as much as possible. This documentary also strongly inspired me to keep to my “no more soda” decision. I’ll try to get as many people as I can to watch this because this is something that is not OK anymore. Not even the farmers who grow the corn want to eat it and people need to be aware of that.

Personally, however, I am comforted by the fact that the milk we get comes from Monroe Dairy in Rhode Island. If you haven’t tried their milk or other products, I highly recommend you do as soon as possible. Their cows sleep on WATERBEDS. These cows are less stressed and produce better products. If there is any hope,  it is from places like Monroe Dairy.

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King Corn Reflection

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

Hey all,

During last week’s team meeting, wel watched the King Corn documentary. The opening of the movie revealed an interesting fact;; carbon from corn products is detected in the filmmakers’ hair due to their consumption of corn products in its various forms as both oils and sweeteners.

While there’s nothing inherently bad about corn, the way we grow and produce it has some rather startling consequences. It was revealed that over half of the corn grain produced becomes feed for animals, about 32% was turned into ethanol, and the rest became artificial sweeteners.

It’s tough to say which concerns me most but it’s probably  the first. I was surprised to find that the cattle cannot be sustained for much longer than six months on a grain diet due to complications that arise in their digestive systems.  Our insatiable appetite for meat not only demands that industry set aside enormous tracks of land to produce feed for the not-yet-slaughtered cows but also produces feed unfit for the healthy rearing of livestock.

I wonder how these these farmers would fare without the work.  In the past, the government paid them to reduce consumption.   Since a 1973 decision that reversed that policy, farmers make most of their money from government incentives and pay and not from grain profits.  In other words, an inhumane and unhealthy industry is perpetuated by our own government’s funding in order to sate our population’s appetite for an inefficient albeit tasty product.  As more  and more of these small farms are bought out and replaced with corporate operations, an otherwise unprofitable industry has become quite lucrative with the government’s help helping farming and  the production of meat and corn products..

Can you imagine if a  fraction of these government subsidies were used to fund PSAs describing how overconsumption of corn-based food products affect our health and to support more sustainable ways of raising our food?   The representative from the high fructose corn syrup industry was neglectful about describing how her product affects our health in the the King Corn documentary.   Corporations might lose out on a profitable venture but their profits are less important than increasing food security and the health of our people.

 

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Raising the Ante

Mar 17 2014 • Posted by

This past week I decided to raise the ante a bit when it comes to my sustainability goal. I decided to completely stop buying coffee from franchise coffee shops all together. Not only will it make my wallet happier but it will also help fund my purchase of organic coffee to make at home.

The biggest step that I am taking to achieve my goal is to set my alarms a little earlier than normal so I will have time to make a cup of joe before school.

Unfortunately, with no will power there will be no success.

I think the biggest hurdles that I will have to get over are: breaking the routine of visiting the Dunkin’s near my house every morning, and the subtle cravings I get after class for my caramel iced latte.

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Michael Broadbent’s Efficient Dorm – Week 3

Mar 17 2014 • Posted by

Week 3.  Not much has changed.  I continue to endlessly march forward in my quest to live more efficiently.  But the march has become a slog – I’ve figured out all of the obvious issues.  I’ve even decided on a solution for the water situation (I’ve begun buying much larger containers of water and using more re-usable containers).  Once all creative solutions and free-thinking are through, all that’s left is repetition and work.  There’s no excitement to that!  What joy is there to be found in doing the same thing I did yesterday?  Is it really an accomplishment, continuing to do something I’m already doing?  Or am I simply setting my own standards too high – looking for constant improvement at a rate that is simply unrealistic?

Perhaps I should review what I’ve done from the beginning.  I’ve ensured that all my unused appliances and electronics are unplugged whenever possible.  I’ve begun taking shorter showers.  I’ve made sure to recycle anything that can be recycled.  Lastly, I’ve changed the way I acquire drinking water to reduce waste.  I drive less so as to conserve gas.  When I list everything I’ve done in a row like that, it doesn’t seem like a lot.  Read aloud, it sounds almost as if I’ve barely begun.  But there isn’t much that I do in my life.  I’m the kind of person who’s satisfied with little more than a computer and perhaps a book or two.  However, in any situation, there is always improvement to be made – fat to be cut.  There is more that I can do.  There has to be.  I just have to figure out what, why, and how.

Maybe I need to re-analyze things I take for granted.  What kind of potentially waste-creating things do I do that are so “normal” that I don’t even think about it?  Perhaps I… use too many napkins?  After all, disposable paper DOES end up as waste.  But what’s the alternative?  Using a washable cloth of some kind would create less paper-waste, sure, but the water and soap usage would just cancel out any efficiency gained.  Should I eat more food that doesn’t need to be cooked?  Stop using heat or air conditioning when I’m in my car?  Become a hermit in the woods, and live off the land?

I’m definitely over-thinking this, but hey, at least it makes for moderately interesting blogging.  My internal conflict and slow descent into madness will likely continue next week.  I’m going to have to start getting needlessly poetic to keep these things interesting!  STAY TUNED.

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Drinking Out of Straws

Mar 17 2014 • Posted by

It’s been a good two weeks since I checked in with my sustainability goal of creating less and less plastic waste. I’m certainty more conscious of my output, but I can’t say I’m as earth friendly of a person as I would hope to be.

I am guilty of using plastic straws at restaurants and takeout places! Every time I drink from a straw I imagine baby turtles, seals, and dolphins choking on these non-biodegradable pieces of plastic. Why exactly do we drink out of straws? From the time we were small children (and all through adulthood) restaurants provide us with the norm of drinking out of straws for “sanitary reasons.” I’m all for being sanitary and healthy when it comes to food, but I often stop and think- why do we need straws for drinking when the glasses we use have been washed and sterilized by a dishwasher?

If drinking directly out of clean glasses at restaurants seems sketchy because other people used them, then we  should be avoiding restaurants. If straws are needed to ensure cleanliness, then we would be eating off of only single-use items. I don’t think people want to i use paper plates and plastic utensils for fine dining experiences!

If people are okay with using forks and knives that have been washed, why is it socially expected to drink from a straw rather than right from the glass at restaurants? Why is it okay to drink from a wine glass without a straw, but not a soft-drink glass? Just imagine the amount of waste that would be saved if every restaurant stopped automatically serving their drinks with straws. If straws weren’t given, people would have to ask for them. And people may not notice or they may realize that yes, we can get on without straws.

Next time I give my drink order,  I’m going to remember to explicitly request no straw with my beverage. If enough people begin doing this, waitresses will automatically ask their customers if they would like to drink from a straw. That would be pretty neat.

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