Heart-healthy & Earth-friendly look the same when it comes to diet

A friend on mine recently asked me for some advice on eating a low sodium diet because she was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. I realized as I typed up all my tips that a heart-healthy diet looks a whole lot like an Earth-friendly one. Just another reason to think about the foods we eat and to choose carefully in ways that will likely vary from the typical Western diet.

My husband’s father has high blood pressure, and my Dad did too, so because there is a genetic factor, I’ve been watching our salt intake since before I learned  that what I eat makes such a huge impact on my carbon footprint. Here’s what I do: Read more

Blog Action Day: Why what you eat makes an impact

Today is Blog Action Day and I’m proud to be participating with other bloggers around the world in raising awareness about the topic of climate change. With all the press the upcoming talks in Copenhagen have been getting, doing something tangible about climate change can seem overwhelming, or out of our hands as individuals. It’s not.

Regardless of what is decided on Washington (where cap-and-trade legislation is taking shape) or Copenhagen, there is something that most Americans do three or more times a day, and how they do it has a real impact on their carbon footprint. That’s right folks, eating. Read more

Confessions of a Dirty Girl

I am a dirty girl. This time of year, garden dirt finds a permanent home under my nails, and I’d much rather be outside with the kids than inside cleaning. It’s not that I don’t want a clean house, it’s just that I’d rather do anything (including reorganizing my file cabinet, pulling weeds, or reading endless Eric Carle books to my daughter) than clean my house. For years, I successfully managed my lack of housekeeping gumption by hiring someone else to do it for me. This summer, with Sun layoffs looming, I decided to try cleaning the house myself. I find that I spend close to twice as much time cleaning the house as I was paying the housekeeper and that, although the house is cleaner, I really hope we can rehire her very soon!

So when my pal over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess announced her second annual Ditch the Disposables Challenge for the months of September and October, I decided to join the fun for the second year running and give up something related to my new-found cleaning skills: My o-mop clothes and paper towels! Read more

Time to step on the scale!

This morning I stepped on the scale five times and each time I wrote down a different number on my white board. What, you might ask, was I doing? No, not weighing myself after each Krispy Kreme doughnut… Weighing my garbage and recycling.

Ever since reading about the lady who carried all of her trash around with her for two weeks to see how much she could reduce her waste, I had been tempted to start weighing our trash. Matt totally put the kabosh on the idea, feeling like we were doing enough for the environment without going to this extreme. But then we signed up for the Lyons Greenheart Institute initiative–a grant our town received to see if we could, as a community, reduce our carbon footprint by 25%–and one of the things you track is your trash and recycling. And I had no idea how much to put down. Read more

One of the Fifty Million…

This weekend, I attended a talk by Kip Nash, a Boulder man who has turned many of the front yards in his neighborhood into farm plots as part of the Boulder Community Roots project. If the endless gorgeous seed catalogs, warm weather, and the kohlrabi, sorrel, kale, garlic, onions, garlic chives, and strawberries sprouting in my garden didn’t do it already, spring garden fever set in with a vengeance after his inspiring talk.

At one point, he referenced Richard Heinberg–a peak oil guy– Read more

Update on our local-eating adventure

In mid-September, our family began what has turned out to be a fun and educational adventure in local eating. After months of canning, drying, and freezing every fruit and vegetable we could get our hands on, after many talks with other local folks committed to eating Colorado-grown food, after many, many trips to the Farmer’s Markets, we thought we were ready.

We quit buying bananas, veggie burgers, avocados, and most other packaged foods (I have ended up letting my children pick one non-local item on each grocery story run. Most often that’s Pirate Booty or Fig Newmans and I can live with that!). We continued to make our own Read more

A is for Affluence

When I first discovered APLS (Affluent People Living Sustainably), I was a bit surprised that there was so much discussion around the choice of the word affluent. Not only am I comfortable granting creative license for a good acronym (and who doesn’t love APLS and its tie-ins like “The Bushel Basket”???), but I recognize the fact that many Americans, my nuclear family included, are both fortunate and unusual because things like hunger, poverty, homelessness, disease, and mortal danger are things we read about in the news instead of actually having to fear or experience them.

So for me, affluence is an important part of the APLS equation. Not in a jet around the world with Paris Hilton sort of way, because we’re far from that. But having enough money to live comfortably, with access to ample food, clean water, shelter, clothing, education, and entertainment gives us something that most of the rest of the world does not have when it comes to sustainable living: choices.

A conventional cotton farmer in India, for example, does not have much choice about whether he or she is exposed to the toxic chemicals required to produce the crop (and I recently read that many of these farmers, unable to make a decent living due to the cost of the GM seed and chemicals, are turning to suicide. That’s some choice!). The women and children working in factories around the world to produce so many of the inexpensive goods we Americans consume in mass quantities don’t have a choice about the number of hours they work, the chemicals to which they are exposed, or the education and other opportunities they forgo to work for slave’s wages.

But we have a choice. We can choose to live more simply. We can choose to drive less, consume less, and lighten our burden on the Earth. We can choose organic foods because we live in a country where the choice is between organic, local, conventional, or fresh, frozen or canned instead of being between food or lodging, between food or medication, or between food or safety.

That is not to say that I believe everyone in America is affluent. I know that hunger and poverty are an issue in this country, in my state, and in my local community, which is what makes the amazing over-consumption many Americans participate in every day all the more tragic. It is also what makes the choice to live more simply and to give back to the community so crucial to our continued existence on this planet.

The cotton farmer in India doesn’t have a choice, but we do. By buying local, by donating some of the money we don’t spend on new cars or satellite television or designer clothing for our children to charities that help those in need, by voting with intention and knowledge rather than impulse clouded by spin, we choose to use our affluence to make small changes. And the aggregate of these small changes, like the proverbial snowball, might just create the big change that we need.

Join the Colorado Bushel Basket

I am so excited to announce that Colorado now has its own virtual chapter of APLS (Affluent People Living Sustainably) brought to you by Chez Artz and Kellie over at Greenhab.

Before you get all up in arms about the word “Affluent” keep in mind that we in the US, even those among us that are barely paying our bills live much more affluently than most of the rest of the world. So we’re not saying “Hey, look how green & posh I am, and I drive a $100,000 electric sports car.” Instead, we’re saying “Hey, Americans have one of the highest carbon footprints in the world, can’t we do something about that?” More on affluence in September’s APLS blog carnival, so watch this space.

If you live in Colorado and are interested in living more sustainably, sharing tips, and meeting like-minded folks, consider joining our Facebook page (just click the apple above) or check in from time to time at the APLS blog for more information…

What the photos didn’t tell you…or ‘high heels and hairy pits’

Ditch the DisposablesMy pal Crunchy Domestic Goddess is hosting a great challenge this fall: Ditch the Disposables. Although she mentions things like paper napkins, plastic water bottles, and toilet paper, I’ve opted to participate by trying one thing off of her list and one inspired by Crunchy Chicken’s post on sustainable hair removal.

First, I will do what I’ve been planning to do for oh, so long, and try out a Diva Cup. I mean, I’m so sick about the amount of cotton/paper/cardboard that goes straight in the landfill for a week out of each month and I’m just not brave enough to throw used tampons in the compost (although I suddenly find myself wondering whether that would repel the skunks that seem to be visiting the compost of late…Hmmm…). Regardless, I really like the idea of reducing my waste in this way, and if I get really brave enough, I could make my own high-nitrogen fertilizer (I know several of my readers are preparing to barf, and I’m sorry, but you already knew I was weird, didn’t you?).

Second, I pledge to do away with the plastic and packaging of my heretofore beloved Venus disposable razor. That’s right, although I was looking like one hot mama at the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash Thursday night, a close-up would have shown that a razor had not touched my legs or pits for nearly a week. Fuzzy as a peach, one might say!

Tonight I tried sugaring (think wax, but made with sugar and applied cool instead of hot) as an alternative to using a razor or petroleum-based waxing products and I have to say it was fairly painless, if a bit sticky. I won’t say that the underarms are as smooth as I’d like for tank-top weather, but I think with a little practice (and a little more hair growth–I’m only at about 11 days), this is a very do-able alternative to a disposable razor and will let me make my own stuff, reuse the cloth strips, and forgo the ridiculous amount of plastic non-recyclable packaging I encountered with the Venus.

Anyone else up for the challenge?

The Three Minute Update!

It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I blogged (5 days, seriously?!!?!), it’s time for me to go to bed, and I don’t even want to think about all the posts I need to stock-pile this week to keep you entertained while I’m on vacation next week!

So I’ll be quick and start tomorrow (which, due to the holiday, is Monday merely masquerading as Tuesday) with a clean bloggy slate.

I spent the evening Thursday venturing down to Denver for Obama’s speech. No, I didn’t get to attend the actual speech, but I did get to hang out at the Rocky Mountain Blogger’s Bash, which was the next best thing. Several wonderful ladies have already covered this (Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck, Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and A Mama’s Blog all have good coverage đŸ˜‰ ), so I won’t say more except that I really wish the lovely gentleman from My Left Nutmeg would have consented to give me his hat (even if it did come from a haberdashery), and, although I still HEART Obama and was teary through his speech, what was up with mentioning the ridiculous oxymoron of “clean coal.” Come on!

OK, so where have I been since (because I think I’m at the 2:59 mark)…Friday, I met a new friend and talked about chickens, lacto-fermentation, gardening, the local color here in Lyons, and lots of other fun stuff. Got home just in time to put the kids down for their naps before going to Ute Trail for their 50% off plant sale. I won’t share too many details other than the fact that I had to drive home on the shoulder of the road with my blinkers on and that Matt spent the rest of the weekend digging holes for the many plants I purchased.

That brings us to today. We planted more plants, took another trip to Ute Trail, planted AGAIN, did some food preservation, and now I seriously, seriously, need to go to bed. Whew!