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November 20, 2014
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Mixed Greens

Let the sun shine

Solar energy is booming across the country and around the world, because it is increasingly affordable, productive and reliable. Utilities in California and Colorado that only recently were considering building natural gas-powered generating plants have announced they will use solar instead, because it’s cheaper.  Read more

The season of hope

I want to share some early Christmas gifts in the form of hopeful news on the sustainability front.  Read more

Great expectations

The crisp autumn air conjures up the delicious expectancy that characterized the months of November and December in my childhood. I recall my parents cooking the ritual Thanksgiving dishes, unchanged from year to year by family decree. These pleasures were followed by a flurry of activities—the Christmas tree, the food, school pageants, fruitcake baking and, of course, shopping. The extravagant department store displays made shopping an occasion that far outweighed the significance of what we bought.  Read more

A disgraceful tale from the Land of Plenty

One in two American children will be on the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at some time in their lives; one in four goes to bed hungry every night. In 1980 there were 200 food banks in the U.S.; today there are 40,000. Fifty million Americans live in a state of “food insecurity”—undernourished and unsure where their next meal is coming from.  Read more

Trash Talk

I’ve been a little obsessed with garbage over the past few months. Oh, I am a dedicated composter and I recycle, avoid single-serve plastic bottles and reuse glass jars and bottles for food storage and pickling. I repair and repurpose things and try to make them last. But recently, I opened an informational door that brought it all into a more global perspective. Here’s what I learned from the 2012 report “Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging,” published by the non-profit As You Sow (www.asyousow.org).  Read more

Late bloomers and early adaptors

Years ago I came across some provocative comments by Kirk Vardenoe, the noted American art historian. I was struck by his observation that throughout the 19th century, Denmark and Sweden were considerably behind the curve in industrial development. Vardenoe’s insight was that this was actually an advantage, because the delay gave them time to observe, prepare and avoid some of the worst negative effects of industrialization.  Read more

Creating Community

Two new local projects illustrate the extraordinary dedication and creativity of my fellow citizens.  Read more

Home truths

Last month, climate scientists announced that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) had surpassed 400 parts per million, an alarming milestone since CO2 is earth’s most abundant heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG). A few weeks earlier, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication reported on American attitudes on the issue. It turns out that only about eight percent of Americans are genuine climate change skeptics.  Read more

The Bill Principle

When we bought our house, “sustainability” wasn’t part of our everyday vocabulary. We did know that a 100-year-old house was likely to bankrupt us with heating bills unless we made serious changes. Other than new wiring, no major renovations had been undertaken since the 1960s, a plus since the scary vintage state of the house meant that we could afford to buy it. But we had a lot of work to do if we were going to be both snug and solvent.  Read more

How does your garden grow?

Spring starts in early January at my house when my husband starts planning his Fedco seed order, reading aloud the enticing descriptions of leeks and lettuces from the catalog. By the time spring officially arrives, the seed trays on the back porch are full of tender shoots that will soon be transplanted to the 30-by-30-foot garden he has nurtured for the past 15 years.  Read more