terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Friday Recipe: Rotini with Cheesy Zucchini (on Sunday) January 13, 2008

Filed under: food — terra @ 10:29 am

Rotini with Cheesy Zucchini


7 ounces rotini pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 1/2 cups small zucchini, sliced
salt and black pepper to taste
2/3 cup ricotta/soy cheese, crumbled (I always substitute cottage cheese instead of ricotta, as a healthy alternative)
1 handful basil, chopped

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water with a little salt and oil.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and very gently fry the garlic until soft (don’t let it brown).

3. Add the zucchini and gently stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Season and set aside.

4. Drain the pasta and mix with the zucchini. Add the cheese, check the seasoning, garnish with basil, and serve immediately.

Calories: 714

I haven’t tried this yet – it’s on my shopping list for today. I hope you enjoy!

-The Daily Green


They don’t make ‘em like they used to January 11, 2008

Filed under: cars, energy — terra @ 7:00 am

honda_crx.03The 1988 Honda Civic CRX got 57 mpg! That’s better than any car on the road today, hybrids included. And it didn’t take any special research or new technology. It was just efficient. Plain and simple.

The ‘88 Civic had optional air conditioning, but a/c doesn’t account for a 30+ mpg loss of efficiency. By my estimations (through watching my gas mileage average), you lose less than 5 mpg by running the a/c. So why the change? Because Americans want more, more, more. (but they don’t want to pay more at the pump)

Honda says that a small car like the CRX wouldn’t stand up to today’s crash testing. However, the Smart car gets a 4 star crash test rating because of its more durable design. Check out this video of a smart crash. And a video of an ‘07 Civic. Neither look fun, but you can see that the Smart’s frame stays in shape. Small cars, with thoughtful design, can be safe.


Friday Recipe: Postponed January 11, 2008

Filed under: food — terra @ 6:01 am

Sorry, I didn’t write a recipe today. Maybe I’ll do one this weekend.


ReCELLcle Phones January 10, 2008

Filed under: recycle — terra @ 7:00 am

(My husband did me a huge favor and wrote this post.)

It’s estimated that there an astronomical 500 million unused cell phones stranded throughout the United States. I feel somewhat sorry for these many cell phones, especially the ones that find themselves toxically dissolving in landfills, where they emit harmful lead into the atmosphere and ground.

So, what to do? Simple. Really simple. RECYCLE your cell phones.

Sites such as Recellular provide a clear selection of options regarding cell phone recycling. Cell phones can be used to raise money for schools or charities. Donating your cell phone is quite simple and FREE! Recellular will ship you the necessary box and will pay for postage. All you have to do is find a way to the Post Office.

NPR most recently aired a story explaining the dangers of cell phone waste and the ease in which to recycle the phones. As stated in the story, the pieces that make up a cell phone are 100% recyclable—the screens, key pads and internal organs. What an efficient product – completely recyclable after use! The EPA has launched a campaign to make consumers more aware of this opportunity.


Bioneers: Van Jones January 8, 2008

Filed under: bioneers, environment, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Speaker Van Jones was by far the inspiration of the convention. Sorry I haven’t summarized his speech for you. I hope these ideas inspire you. Look up Van Jones on Blackle to find video of some of his thoughts and speeches.

Van Jones co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which is committed to lowering the over-arrest of young minorities with programs like “Books not Bars” and “Green for All.” Jones has discovered that…

if the U.S. accelerated the transition to a cleaner economy, millions of jobs in green construction and alternative energy could be created.

Jones issues a moral challenge to the green movement. As we move from the margin to the center, who will we bring with us? He wants the “green tide” to lift all boats. There are plenty of jobs available in the renewable energy industry, and those jobs can’t be outsourced. We need people to create and install solar panels, build solar-thermal plants, create community gardens. The possibilities are endless.

“When we bring together the best of the business community and the best of the tech community and the best of the racial-justice community, we’ll get the coalition we always wanted.” Even better, he adds, “we’ll get the country we always wanted.” -Time

The Fourth Quadrant

Jones has created a green matrix, which suggests that there are 4 ways to discuss energy and economy. The gray conversation is all about the problems. Rich people care about polar bears, rain forests, etc. Poor people couldn’t care less if you came to talk to them about the sad shape the planet is in when their kid has asthma and they need to put food on the table. The green conversation is about solutions – renewable energy, jobs. His example of the quadrant is below. The green solution for the rich is solar panels, Prius’, etc. The green solution for the poor is community gardens, the People’s Grocery, and green jobs.


Who is right? Everyone, says Jones. We all have concerns and solutions, but the challenge is to include everyone in our green solution. Places like the People’s Grocery in Oakland deliver the benefits of a green economy to everyone. People have good, healthy food, jobs, and the environment benefits as well. Green jobs will stimulate the economy, elevate the poor, and help the planet.

Sustainable South Bronx / Green Jobs

Green collar jobs have been created in the South Bronx, for example, to teach a young person to install solar panels, or weatherize a building, etc. We can’t outsource those jobs. If we can get young people into the green economy, they can be managers in a few years. They can invest in their community. They can teach others. They can create positive change for the future.

“In a green economy, you don’t count what you spend – you count what you save.” – Van Jones’ Congressional testimony. We have the opportunity to save young lives, the soul of the US.

My favorite statement by Van Jones about polar bears: “We don’t have the right to push them to extinction.”


The importance of furnace maintenance January 5, 2008

Filed under: cleaning, local, reduce — terra @ 11:52 am

Our house was 53 degrees this morning! We keep it at 61 and use our fireplace to warm up when we’re home, so 53 was pretty frigid, even for us. The furnace went out some time last night. I don’t think it’s related to the furnace filter not being replaced for a while, but it just reminded us that we have not been keeping up on that simple task. (actually, we just bought one, but it was the wrong size, so our intentions were good)

Replacing your furnace filter makes your furnace more efficient, saving energy and money on heating bills. We’re off for a new filter today, and the furnace guy will be coming soon. Fortunately, I recently read that there are permanent furnace filters available. These electrostatic filters simply need to be washed monthly, but they save the hassle of spending $15 on a new filter every month, as recommended. Permanent filters will pay for themselves in less than 4 months, saving you money and reducing the need to produce so many filters. (This place has electrostatic permanent filters starting at $25)

Throwaway filters only remove about 10 percent to 40 percent of pollutants from the air, while electrostatic models—which also happen to be permanent and easy to wash—siphon off about 88 percent of the nastiness, including bacteria, mold, viruses, and pollen.

Home maintenance saves energy by keeping appliances more efficient, which saves money and keeps our homes warmer. Have you changed your filter lately?


Friday Recipe: Chili Mac January 4, 2008

Filed under: food — terra @ 7:00 am

Chili Mac can be made by combining a box of mac ‘n cheese with a can of chili, both prepared according to directions. Here’s a better way – homemade Chili Mac with fresh ingredients!

chopped onion
chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (don’t use these if you don’t like hot stuff)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 lb firm tofu, drained and crumbled (or Boca fake ground meat)
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
7 oz wagon wheel (or any fun shape) pasta
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1. Saute onion, green pepper, and garlic in an oiled dutch oven pot until tender. Add spices and saute 1 minute more, stirring. Stir in tomatoes adn tofu. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered 15 minutes. (Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.) Add kidney beans and cook 10 more mins, or until it’s thoroughly heated.

2. Serve by putting some pasta in each bowl and topping it with chili. Top with cheese while it’s hot.

291 calories
4.3g fat
16g protein
48g carbs
5mg cholesterol (or use soy cheese for 0 cholesterol)
sorry, no fiber listed

-Cooking Light Vegetarian Cookbook


Why we must reduce our consumption January 3, 2008

Filed under: education, reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

trashI’ve been reading a lot lately about this idea of floating continents of garbage, but have yet to see a picture. I like to see evidence before I post something. Well, here it is . . . a picture of floating continents of garbage, based on this “trash vortex” study. It’s made up of plastic and all kinds of other evidence of human impact on the planet. Some of the garbage is sinking to the ocean floor and harming marine wildlife.

vortexLet’s think about this each time we buy a 6 pack of yogurt instead of the big container, or bottled water, or plastic baggies. The list goes on. Think reusable. What is the end destination of the products we buy? Disposable isn’t really disposable. It all ends up somewhere.


Have you changed your lightbulbs? January 2, 2008

Filed under: energy — terra @ 12:00 pm

lightsIncandescent light bulbs are about to become a thing of the past. By 2014, incandescent bulbs will not be sold in the US. Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) and LED bulbs have been proven much more efficient and cost-effective.

CFLs are currently more popular because of the low cost. The current drawback is that they’re slightly more expensive than incandescent bulbs, and take 1 second to warm up. (If they take longer, you may want to contact an electrician because a longer delay is abnormal.) CFLs are now available in a wide variety of sizes, so start looking for them in your favorite hardware store.

LEDs are more expensive, but have been adopted for car headlights. They produce a clearer light, and are often included in rechargeable flashlights because they’re so efficient.

Congress estimates that, in the 15 years following the phase-out, consumers will save roughly $40 billion, and America will need 14 fewer coal fired power plants. -EcoGeek

Who doesn’t want to save money?


Best of… and Things to Come January 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 7:00 am

Planet Green presents the Best of 2007 posts. #1: Live with Less.

EcoGeek presents the 7 technologies that will save the Earth in 2008. My favorite: the Aptera. The list includes a lot of products that reduce our energy consumption, but doesn’t sacrifice our lifestyle. Saving energy and living comfortably are not mutually exclusive. We can do both!


Cliche New Year’s Post January 1, 2008

Filed under: gifts, social consciousness — terra @ 4:13 pm

I don’t like lists or resolutions, but it’s fun to reflect on what we’ve learned and look for new goals. I like to do this throughout the year, but New Year’s Day is as good as any, so here are a few lists and resolutions or something. These are some off-the-top of my head ideas, in no particular order. I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out, so please add your ideas in the comments.

5 Best Things for the Environment
1. Reusable bags, bottles, etc
2. Bikes
3. Locally grown food
4. Know and reduce energy consumption
5. Reduce your water use

5 Worst Things for the Environment
1. Cars
2. Meat
3. Plastic – bottles, bags, everything
4. Sprawl/bad land development
5. Apathy/ignorance/invented needs like “disposable” everything

Best Christmas Gifts
1. Long Way Down
2. Wind-up L.E.D. headlights (thanks mom)
3. Knitting needles
4. Flashing dog collar

My Goals
1. Take shorter showers
2. No cookies
3. Pay cash, not credit card

I think education is our best tool to save energy (and money).

I’m not thrilled with the “green” label because now companies can slap the word “green” on anything and people will buy it. How about eco-responsibility? Something like that.

Now I’ll get back to the purpose of this blog – sharing things that other people are doing to save energy, money, resources and reduce our impact on the planet. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I’ve been off work and it’s been so nice to not work on the computer for a few days.