terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Video Friday: Thoughts from within May 30, 2008

Filed under: conserve, energy, environment, food, reduce, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

In case you missed it earlier…

(click the picture to start the video)



Farmers Markets Coming Soon! May 29, 2008

Filed under: reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

It’s almost Farmers Market season, and I’m ready for it! I can’t wait to scoot down to Lock 3 to pick up some fresh, local peppers for dinner, and some juicy tomatoes (while I wait for mine to ripen).

The Akron Beacon Journal has a great write-up of Farmers Markets in the 5-county area. The first one opens in Peninsula on May 31.

Here are some benefits of local food (from an earlier post):

Local food is so important to our health and the health of the planet. If you buy from a farmer, you can ask him/her how your food was grown. Many small farms grow organic food, but they don’t go through the process of becoming certified organic. The FDA’s rules are less and less strict about what can be put in food and still label it organic, so it’s nice to talk to the person who grows the food to find out how they grew it.

Local food also travels fewer miles, making it fresher, and generating less pollution.

Don’t miss Ohio’s great local food! And, as the Beacon suggests, hide some in the freezer, as food prices will continue to rise.

A note about organic food:
A lot of articles are floating the web about what is the best food to buy organic, and which ones you don’t really need to bother with. They suggest the more porous fruits should be organic, and stuff with a good skin or shell don’t necessarily have any benefit to being organic. While that’s true for your health’s sake, here’s my opinion… the people who pick our fruits and vegetables are exposed to the pesticides in much greater numbers that we are by eating just one piece of fruit or vegetable. So, when deciding which foods to buy organic, remember the health of the workers. Organic, pesticide-free food is healthier for you, and for the workers. The best bet… buy local food.


Test Drives May 27, 2008

Filed under: cars — terra @ 7:00 am

I’d prefer to talk about what other people are doing to reduce their impact on the planet, but I think lots of people are interested in the fuel efficient cars. So, here’s my review of a few cars.
After careful consideration of our Car Math, my husband and I decided that it’s time to replace the Suzuki. It’s been a great car, and I recommend it to someone who needs to haul stuff. However, it’s unnecessarily big for us, and frankly it uses too much gas. Saturday afternoon, we headed up to the Bedford Automile to drive the Smart ForTwo, and the Toyota Yaris. (The Honda Fit is just outside our price range, but another great alternative.) Committed to not driving an automatic, we set out. First stop… Smart.

smartThe Smart ForTwo was fun to drive. It has a “manual automatic” transmission, which means you can drive the same car as an automatic, or as a clutchless manual. The manual option consists of pushing the gear shifter up for higher gears and down to lower the gear. (not instinctive for a traditional manual driver, for whom 2nd is down) Two models also have paddles on the steering wheel for “shifting.” As I mentioned, you can also drive it as an automatic. The compactness is very practical for city driving. Most cars only have 1 passenger, so again, the Smart makes a lot of sense. It’s also very roomy. Some test drives show a 6 ft man fitting comfortably in the car – even moving the seat forward. The bad thing is that you feel every bump, which I’m used to on the scooter, so no big deal. My husband really liked it. But, I like the traditional clutch-manual transmission. Plus, for the same amount of money, the Yaris is only 4 mpg less efficient, and still seats 5. So… on to the Yaris.

The Toyota Yaris was great. It handles nicely, and the engine is quiet. The best thing is that it’s really big and roomy inside. I doubt I’ll ever put someone in the back seat, but if I did, there’s plenty of space. It has compartments and cup holders to spare! You could fit everything in there. The weird thing is the instrument panel is in the middle of the dash “in line with the rearview mirror,” as the sales person reminded me. Still, it’s not intuitive. I would say that it makes you really pay attention to how the car feels to determine when you should shift. So far, the Yaris is the winner. Just for fun, we drove the Scion xD.

The Scion xD was so awesome! The clutch was smooth and so fun to drive. Unfortunately, it was also just out of our price range, and too big for me. It can also have a lot of customizations. If you’re looking for a fun stick shift with good gas mileage, drive the xD.

My vote is for the Yaris. It’s a fun little car! It’s actually not that little. Why doesn’t anyone make a little car anymore? It’s short – nose to bumper – but it’s taller than the Civic. Check out FuelEconomy.gov to see gas mileage and EPA ratings.


All the Way Home May 24, 2008

Filed under: local — terra @ 7:00 am

All the Way Home: Raising a Family in a Falling Down House comes out on Tuesday, My 27. This must-read by David Giffels is about his family’s restored Tudor home. David writes about the process of starting a family in Akron, and finding their dream home – a falling down house on Portage Path – and rebuilding it. Don’t miss it!

bookI love the way David salvaged so many materials for their home. The Giffels’ see beauty in other people’s discarded bricks, railroad ties, and other building materials, and turn them into treasures. Reuse to the max!

Here is an early press schedule:

Tuesday, May 27: Release date for All the Way Home, on sale wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, May 28: Live appearance on the CBS ‘Early Show,’ time TBD.

Saturday, May 31: Feature story and book excerpt in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Monday, June 2: Feature in the June issue of Northern Ohio LIVE

Monday, June 2: Live interview on WCPN 90.3 FM ‘Sound of Ideas,’ 9-9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, June 3: Live interview on WAKR 1590 AM, with Ray Horner and Bob Ethington, 8 to 9 a.m.

Wednesday, June 4: ‘Official’ book launch at Akron-Summit County Library, Main downtown branch, in the auditorium with talk, reading, Q&A and book signing. Books will be available for sale. Begins at 7 p.m.


Video Friday: George Carlin’s Story of Stuff May 23, 2008

Filed under: reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

I love the Story of Stuff. George Carlin presents basically the same point… we need less stuff!

Beware – Carlin isn’t shy with words.


Make your own biodiesel, and convert your car! May 22, 2008

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

Disclaimer: this post is for people who don’t want to buy gas anymore.

Visit Instructables.com for detailed how-to’s on converting your diesel car to biodiesel. Diesel cars are more efficient than conventional gas to begin with. Unfortunately, they’re rare and hard to find. Check cars.com and craigslist.org for a listing of cars in your area. The good news is that VW will begin selling diesel Jettas and Rabbits (or Golfs) in the US soon. So, find yourself a diesel car, and check out these fantastic how-to’s.

Convert your car to biodiesel. Yes, a small conversion is necessary. Vegetable oil will harden in the cold, so you can add elements to run the car on diesel until it warms up and then switch to the vegetable oil, or warm the veggie oil tank so it stays in liquid form.

Make your own biodiesel processor. A small amount of processing is necessary – simply to remove food particles from the used vegetable oil. For the time and energy used, it’s well worth it.

Finally, how to make your own biodiesel. Easy as pie. No more gas!!

If you do any of these things, please keep us posted. It just makes so much sense to reuse vegetable oil and run your car with it. Diesel engines were invented to run on vegetable oil.


Neighbors Day Akron May 21, 2008

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

This Saturday is the 2nd annual Neighbors Day Akron. The purpose of the day is to get to know your neighbors. People used to know their neighbors like family. That’s less common in recent years.

The theme is “Living Together Better.”

Neighbors Day can help create a more closely knit community that can mean a healthier environment for children to live and learn, while lowering crime rates.

Residents are encouraged to plan a neighborhood event, or just talk to a neighbor you don’t know. So, take that extra step this Saturday and get to know a neighbor.

Speaking of neighbors and Akron… David Giffels’ book All the Way Home comes out in a week. Don’t miss the book that GQ calls “the book people should be talking about this summer.”


Wal-Mart goes Fair Trade (coffee) May 20, 2008

Filed under: social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

In its quest to improve its image and gain new customers, Wal-Mart has ventuered into organic food, energy saving appliances, and now, Fair Trade. That’s right, Wal-Mart is selling Fair Trade goods. They have decided to pay people a fair wage for the products they produce and supply to the mega-store. Wal-Mart is starting with Fair Trade coffee, but if it sells well, maybe they’ll move into other fair trade goods, like clothes, food, paper products, you name it. Maybe they’ll learn that it’s nice to pay people a living wage for the work they do, and pay everyone fairly! Fair Trade products are often no more expensive than their non-Fair Trade counterparts. The difference is that the people who made your stuff have a chance to improve their lives and communities.

Fair Trade goods are not only made with the producer in mind, but the environment as well. You can be sure that your fair trade coffee wasn’t first drenched with pesticides, and your clothes will be made from organic materials. This is also better for the workers, since a lot of the stuff we buy are produced in countries with fewer worker protection standards in place than in the U.S.

While this is nice, David Nassar of the Organic Consumers Associations suggests “If Wal-Mart wants to ensure that producers of coffee are paid a living wage, it should show the same concern for people who produce the 139,000 other products that they sell at the store.” And, Beth Maxwell of American Rights at Work points out that “consumers who want to respect workers’ rights around the world have helped create a demand for fair-trade products, but Wal-Mart should know that the same consumers also care about how companies treat their workers in the U.S. as well.” Wal-Mart is aggressively pursuing the 5 goals set by H. Lee Scott, but a lot of consumers are still demanding more.

Wal-Mart’s pursuit of Fair Trade is great, but more is required before Wal-Mart becomes a responsible member of society.


Voice Yourself May 19, 2008

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

Woody Harrelson has been inspired to start a site called Voice Yourself, aimed at encouraging people to learn more about getting off the grid, growing and eating organic food, and taking our planet back. Why?

Our mission at Voice Yourself is to connect you with others, to share information about alternatives biodiesel, sustainable clothing companies (i.e. hemp, organic cotton and bamboo) and to get clean and natural cleansers into your hands and homes this is only the beginning.

Woody was also inspired by Ted Danson (together, they’re Sam and Woody from possibly the best tv show ever – Cheers). Ted Danson does a lot of work for American Oceans Campaign, educating people about the atrocities of drift-netting, ocean trolling, and all the pollutants that are dumped into the ocean.

When you have little extra time on your hands, check out Voice Yourself, and learn more about some easy and fun ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Please don’t miss Woody’s Thoughts from Within. Even if you’re not a big fan of poetry, it’s truly moving.


Video Friday: Rooftop Wind Turbines May 16, 2008

Filed under: alternative, energy, wind — terra @ 7:00 am

wind turbine

These are so awesome! Rooftop wind turbines would make clean energy affordable for homeowners. The production grant from the government wasn’t that much money. I can’t wait to see this get moving!

Click the picture to start the rooftop wind turbine video. Check out GreenEnergyTV for other great technology videos.


Bike to work day May 14, 2008

Filed under: alternative, cars, local, reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

Thursday is Bike to Work Day, so get on those 2-wheelers and get pedaling.

Actually, it’s Bike to Work Week, so any day will be great!


Recycle your Shoes May 13, 2008

Filed under: recycle, reuse, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

I know Crocs aren’t the cutest things, but they are so comfortable.

When your crocs are worn out, you can recycle them through Soles United. Your Crocs will be melted down and made into new shoes which get sent to places around the world where people can’t afford shoes.

Nike also has a shoe recycling program called “Let Me Play: Reuse-A-Shoe.” Worn out shoes – any brand! – are processed and made into playing fields, courts, tracks, and playgrounds.

Since the birth of Reuse-A-Shoe, we’ve recycled more than 20 million pairs of athletic shoes and created more than 250 sport surfaces; giving thousands of young people access to new playgrounds and athletic facilities around the world.


Car math May 12, 2008

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

Here’s a math problem. I’ve been thinking about how efficiently my vehicles get me to work. Here we go…

My husband and I have a Honda Civic Hybrid, a Suzuki Grand Vitara, and a Genuine Buddy scooter. Gas will cost $4 soon, so we’ll just say $4.00 is the price of gas. This is how far we can go on one gallon of gas:

Civic – 42 miles
Suzuki – 16 miles
Buddy – 98 miles

My daily commute is 8 miles, so I can drive to work this many days for $4.00:

Civic – about 5
Suzuki – 2
Buddy – 12

Essentially, I can drive to work 2 days in the Suzuki for $4, or I can fill up the Buddy for $4 and drive to work 12 times. (My husband takes the Civic now, since I take the Buddy.)

I drive to work about 20 times per month, which costs $40 in the Suzuki, and about $8 in the Buddy.

A monthly bus pass costs $50 – for endless miles around Akron!

What’s your families’ car math?


Video Friday: Garbage Island part 3 May 9, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education, environment, water — terra @ 7:00 am

This one has some good dialogue.


Check out the Garbage Island, and the other quality shows on VBS.