Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Food from the sea

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


We completed our month of sharing resources, last week, by tackling textiles. When we moved to our new home, I thought it was a great opportunity to go through our closets and give away anything which wasn't being used. Donating them helped others and meant that we didn't have to move additional boxes. A win all around. This challenge, however, made me think about things like carpets. While living in an apartment, we noticed that each time a tenant moved out, the carpets were replaced. We asked the installers what happens to the old carpet and, unfortunately, learned that they were tossed out. Evidently, since most of the residents had pets, the carpets were extremely soiled. So, they were tossed. I realized that something as simple as keeping a carpet clean could mean the difference between reuse and waste. It's another example of how everything we do contributes to the whole.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Andie is great at repurposing textiles. In Create a Drawstring Laundry Bag, she teaches readers how to reuse pillow cases. Brilliant idea! That's just one of the many ideas you'll find in this series of posts. She also left this comment for us: "This is what I live for! My blog features a number of posts with ideas for repurposing textiles, and I'll be tweeting out links with our wonderful #CTWW to spread the word. My favorite thing to repurpose is old top sheets and jeans—but any good fabric is fodder for my creations. I do donate quality items that are outgrown or no longer to our taste to our local senior center thrift store, but anything that is not up to snuff gets cannibalized for future projects: buttons are removed and saved (string them together with thread to keep the set), trim (lace, ribbons) is carefully removed with a seam ripper, ditto for salvageable zippers. The fabric is cut into useable pieces (bulky seams are cutaway), folded and stored or cut into rags. I also transform some items for a better use as costumes—it's amazing what can be created—or similar, more useful clothing. I have a tutorial on my site that shows how to make a sleeveless t-shirt from one with sleeves. Since I sew, of course I repair everything from split seams to lost buttons. I ever repair torn dog plushes! Textiles NEVER end up in a landfill from my house, that's fro certain!"

Vicality encourages their readers to Keep textiles out of the landfill.

Welcome back to Charlotte. I hope you enjoyed your trip!! She wrote Greener Gardening Tools, an excellent article where she shares information on garden gadgets. Ever hear of a solar irrigation system? She also shared Conscious Shopping which suggests that organizing our closets is a good way to keep textiles out of landfills. Charlotte lives in Sweden and the SSNC (Swedish Society for Nature Conservation) hosts a yearly clothes swap day. How great is that!!

This edition of the Shopping Charity mentioned CTWW and included one of your articles. Hop over to see if it was your post!

Alicia accepted the challenge and said, "I am a big advocate of shopping at thrift stores and donating to them as well. There is one store that if there is a spot ,tear or stain they put them into bags and donate them to an organization that gives them to people in need of clothing. Extra blankets and shoes as well as towels and coats can be given to rescue shelters. They are always in need of these things and are so very much appreciated! I also use old tee shirts and make reusable shopping bags from them. They are very sturdy and can be folded to fit in your purse easily without taking up much room at all."

Fixing a garment is a great way to extend it's life. The folks at WorldChanging.me created a quest for fixing stuff, including garments. Check it out HERE.

What about mattresses and shoes. Clare took on these items and shared this: "My textiles get reused - towels into face cloths, tops into shopping bags, hats, scarves and more. That's a pretty horrific statistic, that just 15% of discarded textiles get recycled in the US! Of course Reduce and Reuse come first, but if you get to the Recycle stage, it can be useful to know that mattresses are chock full of great recycleable materials, and they're easy for you to recycle too - http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/5recyclingfacts/. And while you may not feel comfortable donating your old shoes, did you know that they may help a child go to school? It's a fascinating insight into schooling in less privileged countries - http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/recycleshoes/. Thanks Small for another great CTWW challenge - as always I'm reviewing how I can improve."

Lois is big on repurposing and if you haven't discovered her talent yet, be sure to head over to her blog ... she's very creative!! She shared this with us: "We are so quick to toss out anything not perfect. Nothing gets tossed out in my home and I often blog about the items I have repurposed from old textiles. My current projects I need to finish are updating my winter denim coat with denim I saved from the trash in areas that are worn from age, converting an adult's dress into a child's dress with purse, and my son just dropped off a pair of pajama pants that are too worn in areas to be of use to him. I'll cut it up and make something to wear for the children out of the usable pieces. Any fabric not good enough to be used for its intended purpose and not large enough to be made into something else of use is cut down to be used for wash cloths, dish cloths (haven't bought a dish cloth in years) or for rags when all else fails."

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@2kidsandacoupon @andreaptak @beatepdx
@biggreenpen @bluemountainbb @brokeblokeblogs
@collegegogreen @dehelen @ecoexpert1
@freshcleanersaz @geisheker @givelocal15
@givetreegifts @greenageworld @greenmelocally
@greenqueenofmod @gronavra @herbgir1972
@justanotherhat @kaitlingarder @kayelleallen
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @lbpaints
@mamasmoney @marjoriemcatee @mdgblogger
@moha_doha @momsmadhousex6 @nolafusion
@outdoorfammag @rckweddings @rulesofgreen
@shoppingcharity @spafloating @theworld4realz
@treesgroup @victordelgado40 @wary12
@worldchangingme

My Final Thoughts:

Can you think of a good reason why textiles couldn't be reused or recycled? I find it difficult to come up with even one. In most cases, textiles are usable. They might need some repair or cleaning, they might even need to be shredded and upcycled into something else. But they can be used. They are a preventable waste. The fact that they take up a huge percentage of landfill space leads me to believe that our society has become complacent and lazy. Why else would we toss perfectly good items into the trash bin? We can prevent this kind of waste and help others in the process. So let's do so!

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

March's theme is: Nutrition

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Food from the sea
A pristine ocean - sounds perfect, right? 
It may not, however, be what it seems!
This month we're addressing nutrition.

The ocean is a valuable source of food. Humans throughout the world enjoy seaweed, fish, shellfish, and even algae.

These low-fat foods are high in nutrients. For example, seaweed is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese. Fish and shellfish provide protein and a good amount of potassium.

Unfortunately, the ocean now contains huge amounts of plastic which have degraded into very small particles. These particles, and the harmful toxins they contain, have entered our food chain. Direct toxicity from plastics comes from lead, cadmium, and mercury.

Simply put, we are ingesting contaminated food.

Eliminating all plastic from our lives is probably impossible. But we can certainly eliminate some!

Here's your challenge ...


This week, dig deep and find ways to eliminate plastic from your life. While avoiding plastic shopping bags and bottled water are great methods to accomplish this (and I encourage you to adopt this practice), we're going to work a little harder this week and find new ways to avoid this toxic substance. Need a few ideas? Try these:
  • If you need something which comes in only plastic (computer monitors, cat litter boxes, etc.) consider used items via Freecycle, Craigslist, or a second hand store.
  • If you eat meat, bring your own container to the butcher department at the grocery store rather than buy it wrapped in plastic or butcher paper. Butcher paper, once coated with wax, is most commonly coated with polyethylene, a plastic.
  • When ordering a pizza for delivery or take-out, ask them not to use the plastic package saver (that little plastic gadget which is placed in the center of the box to keep the lid off of the pizza).
  • Do you really need a salad spinner? Avoid plastic by using a dish towel, cotton produce bag, or even a pillowcase to "spin" your lettuce. Get the kids involved and suggest they head outside to be human sprinklers ... spin, baby, spin!
  • Use stainless steel pet bowls instead of plastic.
  • Ever notice how restaurants automatically place plastic straws on the table with your drink? Ask the server not to leave them on the table and drink straight from the glass (the old-fashioned way).
  • Here's a tough one ... ice cream containers typically contain a plastic lining so, don't buy it. If you want ice cream, opt for a cone or bring your own container to a quality ice creamery.
  • Do you enjoy chewing gum? Here's a shocking fact ... it contains plastic. So, give it up!
  • Avoid liquid dish and laundry detergent, hand soap, and shampoo ... all of which come in plastic. Instead use powdered detergents which come in boxes, bar soap, and bar shampoos.
The idea this week is to find new ways to avoid plastic ... which keeps it out of the oceans ... which keeps it out of our food chain ... which ensures that we get all the nutrition and none of the toxins.

Are you ready to protect our food? I know that you are!

Want an easy way to keep up with our challenges?
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copying the code & pasting it into your site!

Change The World Wednesday on Reduce Footprints

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!









Friday, February 27, 2015

My Green Home - Cyndi's Paradise

Paradise:
- a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
- a place that is perfect for a particular activity or for a person who enjoys that activity
- a state of complete happiness

Of the three properties that we considered, only one felt truly right. It met all of our requirements and then some.

My Green Home - our property
Our Property
A beautiful, 2.5 acres faces south. There is a well, septic tank, and both Internet and cell phone accessibility. We have space for a large vegetable garden and there's even room for our very own fruit orchard.

While there is a liveable structure on the land, it is an older model mobile home which has seen better days. It isn't energy efficient and wouldn't be worth fixing up. So, we made the decision to build a new home. The mobile home will provide us a place to live until the house is complete. And once the house is built, we'll disassemble the mobile home, taking care to preserve all usable parts, and then recycle them into other things.

My Green Home - the construction site
The construction site
After checking with the planning/building department to learn exactly what we could and couldn't do on the property, we chose the spot for our home.

It was a priority to consider nature in all of our actions. We chose a construction site which was relatively free of trees. Even so, a few had to come down. Trees are fabulous at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. But here's the thing ... when they are cut, all of that stored CO2 is released.

Milling lumber on site
Milling lumber on site was the most cost effective
The trees which were taken down were milled on site. We constructed a solar drier to season the lumber and, once it's ready, will use the lumber, inside the house, for doors, shelves, cabinets, trim, and even office desks. Nothing will be wasted.

The next task was to design the home. I'm lucky ... my "other half", "Art", designs homes for a living. He pays special attention to things like how the air flows through a home, how the sun can help heat our environment during the winter, and using space efficiently.

Our 1600 square foot home will be passive solar with an open floor plan. A passive solar home uses the angle of the sun to heat the home during the winter and blocks it during the hot summer months.

Photovoltaic panels will be placed on the roof. They'll generate power which will be sold back to the grid. As batteries become more efficient, we'll be able to upgrade our system to be totally off the grid.

After careful consideration, we chose a controversial material for the construction of the home ... ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms). If you're not familiar with ICFs, they are basically Styrofoam forms which are filled with concrete.

We all know the nightmare of Styrofoam ... it never biodegrades. In a landfill that's a real problem but as a building material, it's a valuable quality. Concrete, while not the most environmental material, does have amazing insulating properties. Together with the forms, the R-Value makes this system one of the most efficient building methods around. And, it is not subject to pest or weather problems experienced with other types of construction.

We're now well underway with the shell of the house.

In future posts, I'll share more about the building process and my experiences as a property owner.




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Textiles

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


Last week we continued our "Sharing Resources" theme and focused on tools. I live in a great neighborhood! My neighbors are willing to share whatever they have. Still, this challenge was hard for me because I was raised under the "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" concept which suggests that one could, potentially, lose a friend if something borrowed wasn't returned in time or in perfect shape. In thinking about it, I realized that a tool bank is the perfect answer to that dilemma. Since no one would actually own the tools, there's really no borrowing or lending.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

I really liked Vicality's post this week. Not only did they suggest that people share tools, they took it a step further and asked people to share their services. Check out What’s in your toolbox? What can you share? for their creative ideas.

Alicia and her husband not only shared tools, but freed up valuable space in their garage. She says this: "Our son and daughter-in-law bought their first home 2 years ago. Alan decided to go through our tools in the garage and give them a lot of things they didn't have. It was a real blessing to them but it was also a blessing to us. We found like you said that some of these tools weren't being used. It freed up quite a bit of room in the garage and helped them fill theirs up with tools they could use. I think your idea of starting a Tool Bank is an awesome idea!"
By the way, Alicia has started a new blog which is associated with their site, Eco Natural Soap. I've been browsing the new blog and it's filled with wonderful information. So hop over and check it out. It's called Eco Natural Blog.

Christine dropped by and shared this: "The problem with sharing tools is that the user doesn't always respect the borrowed item as the owner would wish. The organiser at the local community allotment sometimes puts her head in her hands when she inspects her tool shed and sees what her users have done with things. You need to be able to trust the people you share with and this doesn't always work. I'm afraid that I have bought good gardening tools and expect to wear them out rather than share them. If they last me out they will go on freecycle or to people who are just starting out."

Lois accepted the challenge. Here are her comments: "So many people attach financial meaning to their tools and don't like sharing them. I grew up in a neighborhood that shared what they had and continue to share my tools. My sons, now adults, have their own tools but they didn't bother to purchase any tools they knew I owned because they could easily borrow mine and by buying tools I didn't have it increased the variety of tools I had access to."

Charlotte is away but says: "Hi Small Footprints, I will be away next week but have scheduled a post about this weeks challenge, Tools. I don´t know if it will work and I have had problems with losing tags while scheduling tweets. But I hope it won´t be any problems... It will be published on Tuesday 24th. I am disconnected and off all week. But I get in touch as soon as I am back ready for a new challenge :) " I tried to find the post, Charlotte, but didn't have any luck. When you return, please send me the link and we'll include it in the next challenge. Have a great vacation!!

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@2kidsandacoupon @beatepdx @biggreenpen
@bluemountainbb @collegegogreen @debsmikdav1
@dehelen @freshcleanersaz @givelocal15
@givetreegifts @greenageworld @greenqueenofmod
@gronavra @groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972
@iowaretweet @justanotherhat @kaitlingarder
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @lbpaints
@mdgblogger @mendy7 @momsmadhousex6
@rainyofthedark @rckweddings @rulesofgreen
@spafloating @treesgroup @victordelgado40
@wencdj @wimpyvegetarian @wizardofwords
@worldchangingme

My Final Thoughts:

This challenge showed me that the way we've been raised or have "always done it" doesn't always coincide with what's best for the planet. To live green we must re-evaluate everything and make choices based on the environment. It's hard to break habits or re-learn a particular practice ... but the earth depends on our ability to do so!

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

February's theme is: Sharing Resources

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Textiles
Approximately 13.1 million tons of
textiles are discarded each year
in North America
Did you know that only about 15 percent of discarded textiles are reclaimed for recycling each year? That means that the rest goes to a landfill. In fact, over 126 million cubic yards of landfill space is taken up by textiles.

Here's another interesting fact ... your tax dollars contribute to waste disposal. Yep, if you pay taxes, you are paying to get rid of usable stuff ... even if you, yourself, recycle and reuse textiles.

Want more? Polymers (a form of plastic), which are used by most clothing manufacturers, have shown up in our oceans. They are contributing to the pollution of our food chain.

Anything in a landfill is a concern. Textiles are a particular problem because of the dyes and chemicals which they contain.

Here's your challenge ...


This week, share clothing, footwear, curtains, carpets, bedspreads, etc. Do this via donating to a second hand store, hosting a clothing swap, gifting items to friends and family, shopping at a thrift store, etc. If you have items such as torn towels or stained carpets to dispose of, consider giving them to your local animal shelter. The idea is to keep textiles out of landfills and share this usable resource. One note ... if you donate textiles to second hand/thrift stores, or even to charities, find out what they do with items that aren't used. Choose organizations which recycle them into furniture padding, insulation, wiping rags, recycled fabrics and more.

OR ...

Do you sew, knit, or crochet? How about sharing your talent this week. Please share a tutorial on how to mend clothing. Or, perhaps, teach someone how to repair a torn couch or chair. Here's another idea ... offer to mend clothing for a friend or neighbor or alter items to extend their usable life (e.g., resize clothing for a child, add trim to a top to revive it, turn old drapes into a fun tent for kids, etc.).


OR ...

Examine all the textiles in your home. Take note of the materials and research if any chemicals were used in their manufacture. Investigate options for earth-friendly materials and share that information with others. And while you're at it, find out where the materials came from. For example, some textiles are earth-friendly but are sourced from other parts of the world making them, perhaps, not so earth friendly.


Are you up for sharing this week? I know that you are!

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!