I felt like we were in the depression era as we sat at the kitchen table finally rolling the pennies that we’d accumulated over the years. Wow! $89! (including some nickels and dimes.)
It was a glimpse into the retro-future, as we planned how to grow food upstairs on the roof, and rolled pennies after a meal of pea soup (with added tofu). What really tipped me into feeling we were in the depression all over again was making biscuits to go with the soup. Somehow my actions were resonant with the actions of women in the 1930s, finding ways to feed their families with basic ingredients. For us, today, this is only a pastime, but we do find ourselves tightening the belt just a little. And not from necessity but by choice, as we find ourselves naturally retrieving ways of life that had been wiped out by our electrical convenience-based society.
Is there any way I can hang clothes to dry outside, while living in a strata apartment?
Do I really need to use the dryer?
Visiting friends in Comox I saw they used the clothesline all the time. Not as a retro pastime but for real. Returning to the clothesline, with clothes pegs, and the bright scent of clothes dried in the sun feels good and sustainable to me. Now to find a way that won’t make neighbours feel we are slumming up their scene. How can clothes on a line in the city be freshly perceived as positive and forward-thinking? Is there such a thing as a trendy Gastown upscale designer clothesline? Over to you, Inform. (Now that I think of it, there must be wonderful European outdoor clothes drying gear somewhere.)
Here’s one UK product that looks useful, even if it’s not ultra-designed – a rain cover for a standard umbrella dryer (one of many such devices).
Spring has come here in Vancouver, finally, and the air is magically laden with the scent of the blossoms and the opening leaves. Tulips stand tall. But like everyone, I’ve noticed that we don’t have the same power to the scent of flowers that we once did. It was brought home to me when a friend showed me her sweet peas. Remarkably, they smelled as strong as those flowers used to smell when I was a little girl. I realized that I hadn’t actually smelled sweet peas for decades. Why? This article just came in to me today from Vakil Forest Shomer, and I felt I should share it here.
Published on Sunday, April 20, 2008 by The Independent/UK
Why Flowers Have Lost Their Scent
Pollution is dulling the scent of flowers and impeding some of the most basic processes of nature, disrupting insect life and imperiling food supplies, a new study suggests.
The potentially hugely significant research – funded by the blue-chip US National Science Foundation – has found that gases mainly formed from the emissions of car exhausts prevent flowers from attracting bees and other insects in order to pollinate them. And the scientists who have conducted the study fear that insects’
ability to repel enemies and attract mates may also be impeded.
The researchers – at the University of Virginia – say that pollution is dramatically cutting the distance travelled by the scent of flowers. Professor Jose Fuentes, who led the study, said: “Scent molecules produced by flowers in a less polluted environment could travel for roughly 1,000 to 1,200 metres. But today they may travel only 200 to 300 metres. This makes it increasingly difficult for bees and other insects to locate the flowers.”
The researchers – who worked on the scent given off by snapdragons – found that the molecules are volatile, and quickly bond with pollutants such as ozone and nitrate radicals, mainly formed from vehicle emissions. This chemically alters the molecules so that they no longer smell like flowers. A vicious cycle is therefore set up where insects struggle to get enough food and the plants do not get pollinated enough to proliferate.
Already bees – which pollinate most of the world’s crops – are in unprecedented decline in Britain and across much of the globe. At least a quarter of America’s 2.5 million honey bee colonies have been mysteriously wiped out by colony collapse disorder (CCD), where hives are found suddenly deserted.
The crisis has now spread to Europe. Politicians insist that CCD has not yet been found in Britain, but the insects have been declining here too, and the agriculture minister Lord Rooker has warned that “the honey bee population could be wiped out in 10 years”.
The researchers do not believe that they have found the cause of CCD, but say that pollution is making life more difficult for bees and other insects in many ways.”
© 2008 The Independent
Spring inspiration for all: check out Jason’s garden just under the Burrard Bridge.
Yesterday afternoon the power went out in our building, along with others across the street. At first it seemed like a Hydro issue, but it’s now narrowed down to – yes, you got it – just our building. I thought this was just an example of cosmic timesaving, because Earth Hour will be on March 29th, the day I’ll be involved in the Bridging Media event (more on this later), but I’ll be home by 8pm. Still, I’m banking plenty of earth hours right now.
Candlelight was lovely last night and this morning we had pure water to drink – no cooking on the electric stove, with the electric kettle, with the toaster oven, or the microwave. It was a little chilly. The Hydro guy told me that the food in the freezer could be okay for 24 hours. But what about after that? My phone is down, the dishes are in the dishwasher, our hot water heater is electric. I’m charging the macbook here at our local Blake’s while catching up. Totally electri-dependent.
What were the effects of this event on the Detox we just started yesterday morning? It’s all in the My Spring Detox blog.
If by chance you weren’t one of the 1.5 million who have already seen this terrific video, here’s a teaser:
You can see the whole video at their main site here.
And here’s succinct advice from their site:
Many people who have seen The Story of Stuff have asked what they can do to address the problems identified in the film.
Each of us can promote sustainability and justice at multiple levels: as an individual, as a teacher or parent, a community member, a national citizen, and as a global citizen. As Annie says in the film, “the good thing about such an all pervasive problem is that there are so many points of intervention.” That means that there are lots and lots of places to plug in, to get involved, and to make a difference. There is no single simple thing to do, because the set of problems we’re addressing just isn’t simple. But everyone can make a difference, but the bigger your action the bigger the difference you’ll make. Here are some ideas:
10 Little and Big Things You Can Do
- Power down! A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money. And, if you can switch to alternative energy by supporting a company that sells green energy to the grid or by installing solar panels on your home, bravo!
- Waste less. Per capita waste production in the U.S. just keeps growing. There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, school, workplace, church, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace….the list is endless! The more we visibly engage in re-use over wasting, the more we cultivate a new cultural norm, or actually, reclaim an old one!
- Talk to everyone about these issues. At school, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus…A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” You get the point. Talking about these issues raises awareness, builds community and can inspire others to action.
- Make Your Voice Heard. Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last two years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about Climate Change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. Letters to the editor are a great way to help newspaper readers make connections they might not make without your help. Also local papers are often willing to print book and film reviews, interviews and articles by community members. Let’s get the issues we care about in the news.
- DeTox your body, DeTox your home, and DeTox the Economy. Many of today’s consumer products – from children’s pajamas to lipstick – contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary. Research online (for example, http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/) before you buy to be sure you’re not inadvertently introducing toxics into your home and body. Then tell your friends about toxics in consumer products. Together, ask the businesses why they’re using toxic chemicals without any warning labels. And ask your elected officials why they are permitting this practice. The European Union has adopted strong policies that require toxics to be removed from many products. So, while our electronic gadgets and cosmetics have toxics in them, people in Europe can buy the same things toxics-free. Let’s demand the same thing here. Getting the toxics out of production at the source is the best way to ensure they don’t get into any home and body.
- Unplug (the TV and internet) and Plug In (the community). The average person in the U.S. watches T.V. over 4 hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community. On-line activism is a good start, but spending time in face-to-face civic or community activities strengthens the community and many studies show that a stronger community is a source of social and logistical support, greater security and happiness. A strong community is also critical to having a strong, active democracy.
- Park your car and walk…and when necessary MARCH! Car-centric land use policies and life styles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet. But sometimes we don’t have an option to leave the car home because of inadequate bike lanes or public transportation options. Then, we may need to march, to join with others to demand sustainable transportation options. Throughout U.S. history, peaceful non-violent marches have played a powerful role in raising awareness about issues, mobilizing people, and sending messages to decision makers.
- Change your lightbulbs…and then, change your paradigm. Changing lightbulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient lightbulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer. But changing lightbulbs is just tinkering at the margins of a fundamentally flawed system unless we also change our paradigm. A paradigm is a collection of assumptions, concepts, beliefs and values that together make up a community’s way of viewing reality. Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.
- Recycle your trash…and, recycle your elected officials. Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city-wide. Also, many products – for example, most electronics – are designed not to be recycled or contain toxics so recycling is hazardous. In these cases, we need to lobby government to prohibit toxics in consumer products and to enact Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, as is happening in Europe. EPR is a policy which holds producers responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, so that electronics company who use toxics in their products, have to take them back. That is a great incentive for them to get the toxics out!
- Buy Green, Buy Fair, Buy Local, Buy Used, and most importantly, Buy Less. Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our dollars support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights. Look beyond vague claims on packages like “all natural” to find hard facts. Is it organic? Is it free of super-toxic PVC plastic? When you can, buy local products from local stores, which keeps more of our hard earned money in the community. Buying used items keeps them out of the trash and avoids the upstream waste created during extraction and production. But, buying less may be the best option of all. Less pollution. Less Waste. Less time working to pay for the stuff. Sometimes, less really is more.
These tips taken from Another Way on the Story of Stuff site.