Category Archives: sustainable lifestyle

Oregon Country Fairness

The Oregon Country Fair is better experienced felt than described or explained. 

Every year since 1969, a tribe of creative dreamers have transformed the banks of the Long Tom River outside Eugene, Oregon into a hippie haven that cannot be rivaled. The Oregon Country Fair is a counter-culture utopia that models how “alternative” living can create sustainable communities. 

If you’ve ever been intrigued the 60s or wish you could relive them, the Oregon Country Fair could be for you. If you could think of nothing better to do than create magical moments under an forest canopy, the Oregon Country Fair is your kind of place. Plus there are foods from around the world, solely handcrafted goods, 18 entertainment stages, drum tower, and a marching-band circus – check the official Peach Pit.  Trekking to the Oregon Country Fair may be too far for your carbon footprint, but I would encourage you to dream up new ways of celebrating sustainability and creating your own new brand of “counter-culture.” 

As a hippie kid, my Twin Sis and I were 10 days old for our first fair experience, and we started on Staff as the first TEEN crew.  I was sometimes embarrassed to have hippie parents, aren’t all parents mortifying at 13?!, but I’m now proud of my  Green Mama and Green Dads . My father has been on the recycling crew for decades now, and it’s one of the only annual events with 45,000 people that recycles and composts virtually everything, plus they reduce with real silverware now!

I’ve taken an extended “maternity leave” since our Big Guy was born, so this will be my first full weekend camping at the fair. Last year Big Guy was lucky enough to spend the whole weekend with his Auntie and Grandma! I’m really looking forward to experiencing the fair through the eyes of my children and connecting with a wholey unique tribe of sustainable dreamers.

If you want to learn more about the history and adventures of the Fair Family, check out cover story articles for the Eugene Weekly.

Have you experienced the Oregon Country Fair?

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

Poop Composter

Next week marks our one year anniversary from adopting our Doggy, a five year old black lab. Like our Big Guy reminded me tonight, we have more than four “people” in our family now! 

As much as our Doggy has become a family member, we still haven’t figured out the best way to contain his double-daily-duties. Hubby is the scooper, but we needed a poop composter.

First I found one online, and was pretty much sold:   The  Doggy Dooley dog poop composter  is a small bin that you bury into the ground. You pop open the lid to put poop inside, which decomposes underground. There‚Äôs an enzyme product that you sprinkle into the bin to help with decomposition. It costs about $59.

Then I found the close to freebie option: directions for making your own doggy composter!

Next I found a quick video:

Hubby dug the hole over the weekend, and with any luck we’ll have a successful and more sustainable system for doggy waste.

Do you have a doggy composter?

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

Green News

My Hubby happens to be a news hound, and the Sunday paper is sacred in our household. He religiously culls the ads and shares the comics with our BigGuy. Sadly, anyones who reads the news knows that the atrocious gulf oil spew and need for climate legislation top the headlines.

We are like many “sustainable” families, and  opt to only get the Sunday news in paper form. The rest of the news we read online.

Here are my two favorite places to get green news:

  • Sightline Daily – I’ve received this daily digest in my inbox for almost a decade, and it’s a great quick way to keep up on environmental news from a regional perspective.
  • Grist – They provide a nationally focused environmental news digest, but with a satirical twist. All the news titles have clever/humorous (or really not so funny) titles.
While technically not news, I’m also a fan of several green news blog, like Green from the New York Times and the Huffington Post I find that the fact of the news is most interesting when captured in a cultural context.

Here’s my short personal commentary on recent news: My only hope is that in calamity there can be found opportunity and political will to finally pass national climate legislation. Fiscally conservative skeptics claim that climate policy will have steep economic costs. Yet, the EPA estimates that the climate bill will cost families than than a postage stamp The real question is whether we want to pay the tab today or pass the bill to the next generation at the expense of species, cultures and global stability. 

How do you prefer your news? 
How green do you like it?

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

Worthy Worms

We set about making our family’s first worm bin over the weekend. Thankfully, Hubby took initiative after being motivated by an article he’d read recently that included a quick and easy how-to guide:

Wiggle Room: Set up a bin and bedding to worm your way to healthier soil .

The project didn’t take much time at all, and the only real expenses were tubs and worms. Our garden will no doubt reap the benefits with the castings. Plus, the bins are located on our back porch, which will be much nicer than dashing through the back yard during the NW’s wet weather season (which doesn’t seem to want to leave us yet!)

The instructions were straightforward, and there was plenty of opportunity for kid-help.  I thought shredding newspaper was the most fun, and when I asked our BigGuy about his favorite he gave a huge smile: the worms! One of his pastimes happens to be garden worm hunting, so he will no doubt be in little boy heaven with his own worm pets. 

There’s one caveat though, we actually haven’t bought our worms yet. We figured that it would be best to actually get the bins set up so that our worms would have a home! I’ve been searching online, but haven’t quite decided which company to buy from. Do you have any you’d recommend?

On a related side note, we have composted for years, but I’ve always been really disappointed with the soil results. I researched and tried to problem solve, but we simply don’t have enough leaves to get rich abundant compost. From my initial research on worm bin composting, the maintenance is a lot less tricky.

Here are a few kid books about worms:

Wiggling Worms at Work (Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science)

Wiggly Worm: A We-Wiggle Book of Colors and Numbers

Do you have worm bins? 
Are you happy with your “return on investment”?

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

Blue Sky & Smart Energy

Each month we choose to put our money where our mouth is by opting in to our local power utilities’ renewal power option. The Blue Sky program helps purchase renewable power projects that would otherwise come from non-renewable sources, like coal. 

The program is tiered with support levels to chose from. It’s not going to bust your budget, my last bill added $4, but it does help support projects that wouldn’t be possible without such voluntary demand.

For us the grid doesn’t end with power, since our home is heating by natural gas. NW Natural has a newer  Smart Energy program, where I you can offset all of your usage by sponsoring a new biogas plant to turn cow patties into . When you sign up they have an estimator tool to be able to see how much it would add to your bill, ours will add about $7. It will actually probably be less, since we just completed our Clean Energy Works insulation project.

The Oregonian’s PDX Green blog just wrote about why it’s an easy and important step toward reducing our collective carbon footprint. I love that she managed to sign up with a pleading child in the background; I can relate. I’m not condoning putting your “green” needs before your child’s, but your children will thank you.

Do you participate in voluntary programs?

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