Monthly Archives: April 2010

Earth Opposites

I happened to be home for Earth Day, since our Girly was still sick with a stomach bug. Overall she was in good spirits, so I couldn’t begrudge this minor bout of ill health. A big part of living in abundance is being grateful. Plus, I got to work in the garden for a little while.

After a long day of toddler chasing, I took a rare break. Oprah had an Earth Day special with an eye opening comparison of two families, one family was recycle-energy crazed and the other was careless about their eco-footprint. You need to watch the segment to really see the extremes, but it was a stark contrast. The shocker was that the wasteful family had an electricity bill of $400-600 per month ! The family from Portland spent an average of $33, our family spends $44 (so we have some room for improvement.) There were several key moments where you could see the families learning and changing, and the best was to hear from the kids. The Portland mom also did a great job of explaining why it matters and why she cares.

I saw several similarities between us and the Portland family. We also use the same shower timer, although we do not ration showers to two per week! I’m sure their water/sewer bill must be lower than ours. The Portland family was also much better about riding bikes as a family, that’s one area where I feel like I’ve been slacking a bit. We are great about taking the bus, but I haven’t quite gotten the kids geared up for bicycle trips yet (surfing Craigslist for a ride-along and baby seat if you have any leads…)

On a final note, I don’t want to sound “greener-than-thou,” but I have to say that while I find Oprah inspirational in many ways, I’ve been frustrated a few times by her previous lack of interest in environmental issues, especially climate change back in the Gore days. Knowing her influence on people, I’ve secretly hoped for years that she would see the “green” light. And even though I don’t watch with any regularity, I have seen progress in her mindset and awareness of issues. Oprah is a mainstream barometer, and after today’s show, I think more families are going to look to green solutions to save money and the environment.

Did you watch the show or check out the Web page?
How can you relate to the families?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

40 Earth Days!!!!

I was delighted to watch the new American Experience film, Earth Days. Earth Days shares the revolutionary story of how the environmental movement began, why we should celebrate, and how we can work together to solve today’s global dilemmas. It’s an instant classic that should be shared in classrooms for decades to come! 

In case you missed it on your local PBS station you can watch it online, see you really don’t need cable!  The film is as entertaining and inspiring as it is educational.

As cliche as it may sound, Earth Day does matter. Hundreds or maybe thousands are inspired each year to commit to protecting the Earth. I was inspired to “grow up to be an environmentalist” when I wrote a research paper in junior high on the history of Earth Day. It wasn’t necessarily easy to be a tree-hugger during the spotted owl recession in the Northwest. While disappointing, I appreciate the way the Earth Days film highlighted how the movement did loose ground during the polarizing Reagan years by pitting jobs against the environment and insisting that we need to reduce our standard of living to save energy. Europeans have clearly shown that it doesn’t have to be that way, and are a decade ahead as a result.

Forty Earth Days later being “green” is no longer a fad, but a way of life. Our society is finally making decisions to make “Every Day Earth Day” and moving beyond the basics of recycling. Each day we vote with our wallets, and can make the choice to invest in future generations. If we invest wisely, we’ll have something to celebrate in another 40 years.

At age 13 I also created an art poster with a vow: 

I Pledge Allegiance to the Earth 
To Cherish Every Living Thing
To Care for Earth and Sky and Air
With Peace and Freedom Everywhere 

Today is our day: 4 Years. Go. 

How will your family celebrate Earth Day? 
Here’s online petition to Congress to get the party started!

Sustainable Family Finances  The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Cable Costs

Want to save your family at least $500 a year? Cut your cable.

I have to admit that not having cable is pretty easy for me, considering I’ve never had it. With my back-to-the-land parents I was 7 when my family bought a used TV (ironically my parents do pay for satellite now!). Hubby grew up in a typical pop culture family, and his college football obsession has tempted him to buy cable before, but we’ve never succumbed.

It looks like more people are opting out of mindless channel surfing: 800,000 Americans cut their cable in the past 2 years! Living cable-free has perks, like with only five real channels we can see if something is on in about two minutes. 

Obviously this trend has more to do with the advent of online TV programming and Netflix.  We’ve been Netflix fans since our BigGuy was born, when we no longer had energy to walk to the video store. We haven’t gotten into watching much online, but I’ve heard from Mama friends that it can be a great way to limit so-called screen time.

Speaking of screen time, this week is the “Screen Free Challenge“. I was pretty blown away to learn that kids average 8 hours a day, that’s way more that ours get in a week! On a typical week they get to 2-3 hours, and while not always easy to resist whining, I’d rather have a fit before watching TV than after. Our BigGuy used to watch a bit more and he had awful meltdowns.

There’s a great essay of Barbara Kingsolver’s about the process of weaning her daughters from TV. Plus, there are so many more fun things to do than watch TV. Read some cost effective TV alternatives.

Does your family pay for cable? Are you ready to go screen free?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Healthy Child Healthy World

I wake up every day feeling blessed by my family, and I couldn’t imagine ever facing the impact of environmental threats in our home. While the video below is indeed a wake up call, I find it to be a vivid reminder of why I’m moved to act and why I care so much.

A Wake-Up Story from Healthy Child Healthy World on Vimeo .

For more information, check out  Collete’s story .

For more resources, buy the comprehensive resource:  Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home
Do environmental health concerns move you to action?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Get Growing

“In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Marget Atwood

My kiddos agree. Spring is such a glorious season, and my favorite part is getting out in the garden! I love when it’s finally warm enough to spend the majority of our family time outdoors.  It’s also exciting to teach them as the plants begin to grow with our  favorite kids’ garden books .

Growing your own food is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as the average produce has traveled 1500-2500 food miles to reach your plate. Plus, it really helps you eat what’s in season and growing organic food is a great way to connect with the environment. 

It also a very cost effective way to feed your family healthy food. As you can see from my harvest of tomatoes last year, a few productive plants can provide an abundant harvest. If you can harvest for just a few weeks you’ll easily reap a return on your investment. Although I’ve never actually tried to quantify my “garden investment,” and hope this season to track it better.

Including soil amendment, this past weekend I spent $65 to get my garden started: tomatoes, basil, eggplant, celery, onions, leeks, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, green beans, and dill. I had previously planted broccoli, cauliflower, shallots and garlic. I also have an herb garden with marjoram, oregano, curry, parsley, thyme, sage, peppermint, lemon-balm and lavender. We also have blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and apples.  The best advice that I’ve ever gotten is to plant what you love to eat!

You can make your garden even really budget friendly by starting from seed. Although I have to admit that I’m choosing mostly starts this season, since last year I ended up loosing almost all of my seedlings after getting sick. Until my kiddos get a little older and can truly help out with the seed process, I need to stick with the instant gratification of getting beautiful starts in the fresh Earth.

Gardening does have a steep learning curve, but don’t be intimidated. I learn more every year; last year my leeks didn’t produce much and I just realized that I didn’t plant them deep enough. My gardening “bible” is Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening The “companion” workbook is also very helpful, as it provides a handy place to plan your space, log your planting dates, and make garden dreams a reality  Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening Companion.

Are you planning a veggie garden for your family?
Have you been successful in trimming your grocery bill?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.