terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Pop Bottle Drip Irrigation – something nice to do with plastic bottles September 30, 2007

Filed under: garden, reuse — terra @ 8:14 am

irrigationNow that you’re not wasting money and water on bottled water, here’s a fun thing you can do with all those bottles. Make a Pop Bottle Drip Irrigation System for your plants!

Tools needed:

2 liter plastic bottle, with lid, washed
drill and drill bit
sharp knife
cutting surface

Drill 4-8 holes in the lid. Small holes for a slow drip. Not too small – you don’t want to get them blocked by debris. Cut the bottom of the bottle off, using the knife.

Dig a hole near the plants you want to water. Bury 1/3 – 1/2 of the bottle in the hole with the cap in the dirt (open side up).

Now, pour water in it, and presto – an irrigation system for your plants.

Even better – fill your bottle irrigation with rain barrel water!

- You Grow Girl 


Bottles are a waste of water September 29, 2007

Filed under: conserve, reduce, reuse — terra @ 8:00 am

It takes “more than 18 million barrels of oil and up to 130 billion gallons of fresh water a year to create” bottles for bottled water.

Repeat: 130 billion gallons of fresh water to create the bottles.

All that is before the “41 billion gallons of water [which] is then used to fill them – water that is often just tap water.” According to a study at the Oregon State University.

Please, please stop buying bottled water. It is really bad for your health, a waste of money, and a waste of water. Tap water in a reusable bottle is just fine. If you need it, use a filter like Brita or Pur.


A Mexican University goes solar September 28, 2007

Filed under: alternative, conserve, solar — terra @ 1:00 pm

The Metropolitan University of Mexico, in Mexico City, plans to build a solar photovoltaic system to provide electricity, and connect to the grid. It will double as a research tool to determine how effective solar power could be in Mexico.

Currently, renewable energy accounts for 3% of Mexico’s energy. The rest comes from gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric dams.

This is a great step in the right direction. If this program is successful, it would be great to see Mexico expand its usage of renewable energy.


Friday Recipe: Peanut Butter Noodles September 28, 2007

Filed under: food — terra @ 6:57 am

Peanut Butter Noodles

8 oz. pasta, any short fun shape
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 TBSP honey
1-2 TBSP teriyaki sauce
1/4 tsp ground fresh ginger

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

Combine the remaining ingredients with 1/2 cup warm water in a small mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. Combine with the pasta and toss until the sauce coats the pasta evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

-The Vegetarian 5- Ingredient Gourmet


Build your own electric car September 27, 2007

Filed under: alternative, electric car, energy — terra @ 11:30 am

An Alaskan teenager has converted his 1971 VW Super Beetle to an electric car. As part of shop class, Bart learned about electric cars, and decided to try it out with his VW Beetle. He is posting his progress on Austin EV. Here is everything you need to know to build your own electric car! You can actually use golf cart batteries, and the cost of conversion is generally around $4,000-6,000.

If you would rather buy one, here are the top ten electric cars you can buy now (kind of).

Electric cars cost about $.50 a day to drive. That’s less than $15 a month. Anyone pay $15 a month for gas? Also, maintenance is a breeze. All that’s required is to fill the batteries with water, and keep everything clean. No oil changes, no spark plugs, no heater core, no exhaust system, no catalytic converter… need I go on?

electricI’ve driven an electric car, the 1980 Renault Lectric Leopard – originally called LeCar (photo). It was honestly one of the most beautiful cars I have ever seen. I considered buying it, but it had a few quirks. The brakes on the car I drove were really tough. I’m not sure if that’s usual. They generally don’t have heat, because heat is generated by the combustion engine, which electric cars don’t have. There are a few ways to solve this – you could buy a heater that plugs into the cigarette lighter, or heat the interior before you drive. Anyway, it wasn’t a practical decision for me at this time, so I settled for a Hybrid. I believe in electric cars, and I love to see more people converting to electric. (Ideally, you would have a renewable source of energy for your home, and plug your car into that.)


What not to feed a dog September 26, 2007

Filed under: pets — terra @ 7:42 pm

Try not to let your furry friend munch on these goodies. They can cause major problems for dogs.

  • IMG_6351Alcohol (and yeast) – can cause a coma
  • Coffee – increased heart rate and seizures
  • Chocolate – dark or milk can cause vomiting and death
  • Macadamia nuts -temporary paralysis in the hind legs
  • Garlic – breaks down red blood cells causing anemia and kidney failure
  • Onions – damages hemoglobin. Small bits at a time have a dangerous cumulative effect.
  • Grapes (and raisins) – renal failure

I’m sure lots of dogs have had a little of at least one of these, but it’s best to avoid them now that we know.

-National Geographic


High Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Sugar September 26, 2007

Filed under: food, preservatives — terra @ 12:43 pm

Which is better, high fructose corn syrup or sugar? The Good Human provides a good breakdown of the difference.

Essentially, high fructose corn syrup (hfcs) is a manufactured product. Several corn syrups undergo a process to increase their fructose. It’s a lot less expensive than sugar, and lasts longer.

In soda, it has been found that by using HFCS instead of pure sugar it can make the soda 10 times richer in harmful carbonyl compounds. According to one study, carbonyl compounds are elevated in people with diabetes and are blamed for causing diabetic complications such as foot ulcers and eye and nerve damage.

Sugar is a natural product, derived from cane sugar. It is fresher, hence the shorter shelf life. It has not been altered to the extent of HFCS. Sugar is also processed differently by our bodies. It’s not necessarily better, because it stimulates the liver to release more fat into the bloodstream.

So what’s the answer? It would be best to avoid both hfcs and sugar whenever possible. I prefer a natural product, so I avoid HFCS as much as I can in favor of sugar.


Ohio Solar Tour September 26, 2007

Filed under: alternative, education, energy, local, solar — terra @ 7:37 am

Green Energy Ohio announced this year’s Ohio Solar Tour. On Oct. 5-7, you can tour homes and businesses that are taking advantage of solar energy. Learn first-hand why people have made the switch to green, renewable energy.

There are bus tours available, or you can go your own way. Pick the destinations you want to see. Whether it’s businesses who are maximizing profits by utilizing renewable energy, or homeowners who want the simplicity and money-saving benefits of solar power, you can enjoy them all. The event is FREE and open to the public.

NE Ohio’s solar tour will take you to some Cleveland Metro stations, etc. In the Akron area, you can see the Crown Point Ecology Center, 4 residences, and the Akron Zoo. Akron’s bus tour on Sunday, Oct 7 begins at 12:00 pm, and ends at 6:pm.

Make your reservations soon!


Geothermal update! September 25, 2007

Filed under: alternative, energy — terra @ 2:12 pm

The Glitnir Bank in Iceland is preparing to loan $1 billion to US companies to build geothermal plants in the US.

Iceland is “the only country in the world that runs on 99% renewable power, and 30% of that comes from geothermal (the rest from hydro-electric).”



Geothermal = Free Heat and A/C September 25, 2007

Filed under: alternative, energy — terra @ 7:57 am

Geothermal wells have the ability to provide heat and a/c naturally. One school in Massachusetts is tapping into geothermal, and they expect to save $17,000 a year. After 6 years, the investment will have paid for itself, and begin saving thousands from then on.

The geothermal system involves a series of three wells drilled 6 inches wide and 1,500 feet deep. At this depth, the earth’s energy warms the well water to a constant temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. The heated water is pumped out of the wells and into a heat exchanger. In the winter, the heat exchanger takes the heat out of the water, pressurizes the heat to raise its temperature even more, and uses it to warm the cold air in the building. In the summer, the heat exchanger absorbs the excess heat from the air, blows the newly cooled air back into the building, and discharges the unwanted heat back into the earth.

Massachusetts has other churches and schools opting for geothermal heat when it comes time to retrofit and replace old heating systems. Researchers at MIT have found that geothermal systems are more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective than wind and solar energy. This video should explain it all.

West Chester University in PA is also using geothermal energy, with plans to expand the program. Their Sustainability page has a nice, simple explanation of the process.

It just makes sense to make the extra investment now for long-term savings, and environmental benefits in the future. Other countries are using geothermal energy with great success. I hope to see more research into this potential.


Car Free Day September 24, 2007

Filed under: conserve, energy, reduce — terra @ 8:07 pm

We were able to be Car Free on Saturday, and it was a great experience. We rode about 1.5 miles to grab lunch at a bagel shop. Then, up Market St. to Highland Square. (I’ve been searching for the newest Epitome Magazine… a few more weeks, perhaps) At my favorite reuse store, Revival, I found a great used jacket for $14.50, so I bought it, stuffed it in the backpack, and rode downhill all the way home. The neighborhoods of West Akron / Highland Square have some of the most unique, beautiful homes I’ve ever seen. It was a great day.

It wasn’t too hard to ride bikes instead of driving the car. Maybe I’ll get a nice bike next year, to encourage me to ride more. I bought mine at a yard sale for $10. It’s been a great new “first bike” – rusted parts, can’t switch gears, and crooked handlebars. But, now that I have experienced the potential of bike-riding as transportation, I just might have to get a good one, and a helmet.


CRS goes Carbon Neutral September 24, 2007

Filed under: conserve, energy, environment, social consciousness — terra @ 7:04 am

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) promotes social justice around the world. One of their projects is CRS Fair Trade, which seeks fair wages for workers around the world. The “CRS Fair Trade network guarantees fair wages to disadvantaged artisans, farmers and workers.” Understandably, CRS Fair Trade sends a lot of mail to educate people, send catalogs, brochures, posters, etc. All that mail creates a large carbon footprint in transportation pollution.

From now on, all CRS Fair Trade will offset that carbon usage by supporting Carbon Fund’s “renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation” projects.

Carbon offsetting is a nice way to reduce your impact on the planet. But of course, there are pros and cons. Cons – people have their guilt relieved and then don’t worry about their usage – they don’t reduce because they figure their offset will compensate for them. Pros – alternative energy has an investment base. Trees are planted, energy is researched, etc. It’s an investment that consumers could evaluate for themselves to determine if they can reduce their footprint by using less energy, or if they would like to partner with a carbon offset company like Carbon Fund.

CRS will continue to search for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. For now, partnering with Carbon Fund is a great way to turn their usage into energy investment and reforestation.


Steam-Solar Power September 22, 2007

Filed under: energy, environment, solar — terra @ 12:00 pm

Australia uses a system of mirror fields to capture the sun’s rays and direct it to water, which generates steam, which creates power. California is also using a similar system, and may soon be used to power Los Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

One physicist theorizes that solar power can be generated, stored, and distributed throughout the United States. This would essentially replace oil and natural gas as our sources of power. Even electric cars, plugged into the grid, could be powered with solar-thermal electricity. And he says he can do it for $.10 per megawatt hour. Not bad, considering the cost of electricity will continue to rise under the current system of non-renewable resources, and solar-thermal has no harmful effects on the environment. Thermal storage is less expensive than electricity storage.

by combining a system that would meet the needs of California and Texas, solar-thermal plants could supply 96 percent of the national electricity demand. “We have the ability to transition to a zero-carbon electricity future without moving the electricity price around” says John O’Donnel of Ausra.

A solar-thermal system like this would also work well with supplemental energy sources, such as wind power.

“If its storage system works and proves cost-effective, Ausra might just help usher in a solar revolution.” – Scientific American


Friday Recipe: Bulgur & Bean Pilaf September 21, 2007

Filed under: food — terra @ 1:53 pm

Bulgur & Bean Pilaf

1 med onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup water
2 med tomatoes, chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
dash ground red pepper
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese (or soy cheese)

1. Saute onion, garlic, green pepper. Stir occasionally until vegetables are crisply tender. Add bulgur, continue cooking, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add water, tomatoes, beans, salt and red pepper.
2. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until bulgur is soft and chewy. Immediately sprinkle with cheese. Cover, remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Bulgur is cracked wheat, and it has the consistency of oatmeal. So, if you love oatmeal, you will love bulgur. This is one of my favorite meals.

-Land O’Lakes recipe book from grocery store line