terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

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.

plastic

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

 

Mother’s Day and Mother Earth May 8, 2008

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

If you get mom some flowers for Mother’s Day, look for Fair Trade Certified flowers, or flowers that are sustainably grown.

Buying Fair Trade and sustainably grown flowers ensures that all of Mother Earth’s creatures are treated well. Most flower workers are women (or children) and buying Fair Trade certified means that the workers are paid a living wage, and their working environment is healthy and safe.

VeriFlora sells certified sustainably grown flowers. You’re likely to find VeriFlora at your local grocery store. Make the right choice for your mom, and the workers who picked her flowers.

Visit FairTradeCertifiedFlowers to learn about the workers who pick the flowers, the farmers who grow them, and where to buy.

 

May Miscellaneous May 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 7:00 am

A bunch of thoughts from my head…

My favorite blog, Planet Green, changed its layout and I don’t really like it. Plus, the first few posts I read on there were “brought to you by Wal-Mart.” While I can see that Wal-Mart is coming around, I still don’t want my environmental news and conservation suggestions brought to me by a multinational corporation.

My cats go crazy when we play audio on the laptop. It makes me wonder if there’s something going on in the background that I can’t hear. Is it harmful? Or, do they like it? Does anyone else have this problem?

The busiest post on this blog is “Build your own electric car.” “Electric car,” or some form of it, is the search term that brings the most people here. I hope this blog is helpful, or at least guides you toward some help in converting your car, if that’s what you’re looking for. It also tells me that a lot of people want an electric car. The big automakers are busy creating fuel cells, or hydrogen cars, or natural gas cars, or gas-electric hybrids. Consumers want simplicity. We want to plug our car in to the wall (which hopefully will soon have electricity generated by solar or wind power). It’s pretty simple. The other technologies that they’re concentrating on will require a new fueling infrastructure. Keep It Simple Stupid.

My mind is on Burma lately, for a few reasons. I know many people from Burma, and they are so happy and sweet. Their country is being ravaged by bad government, and now a cyclone. I also learned that Chevron is not exactly helpful in the situation. If we need another reason to get off oil, it’s to protect the human rights of the people who process oil, and who live near the pipelines. Oil is dirty. For us, it’s great because we pull up to the gas station and it just comes out. There’s a human story in the background that cannot be ignored.

WordPress, where this blog is hosted, added a new feature that I like. The bottom of each post will have 3 or 4 links to other blogs with posts of a similar topic. If you want more information, or a different perspective, you can follow those links.

I’ll have some more relevant discussions soon.

 

World Fair Trade Day May 10 May 5, 2008

Filed under: local, social consciousness — terra @ 12:00 pm

World Fair Trade Day is May 10, and NE Ohio is celebrating! A World Fair Trade Fashion Show is being held in Independence from 5-8. The event is sponsored by the InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF), and by Catholic Schools for Peace and Justice.

Expect a fantastic fashion show, speakers, poetry slam, food, energetic tables, and loads of information on how you can buy fair trade products.

Saturday, May 10 5-8pm
Independence Civic Center
6363 Selig Drive

In Akron, you can find Fair Trade goodies at the Market Path, Brueggers Bagels (coffee), Hattie’s Cafe (near UA).

 

Scooters for all May 3, 2008

Filed under: cars — terra @ 7:00 am

I must confess, I bought something new. I’ve been pretty good about “buy nothing new,” but when I saw this thing last year, I knew I had to have it. It’s a Genuine Buddy 125cc scooter. Looks kind of like a Vespa, at 1/2 the price. It gets about 100 mpg, and it just makes so much sense. I got my Buddy at Pride of Cleveland Scooters. (the one pictured isn’t mine) They now have two stores for more convenience.

blue buddyWhen you think about the price of gas, and the concept of a 4-wheeled car, it just doesn’t add up. We’re paying for gas to move a 1,000 (or 2,000) pound car, to move a 100-200 pound person. The gas we pay for doesn’t move us, it moves 1,500 lbs (approx). That process is so inefficient. And, most of the time, the 5-person car is occupied by 1 person, who drives less than 20 miles a day to work and home. This is one area where technology innovation has not kept up with lifestyle.

Enter… the scooter. It’s a 1 person car, driven by one person. It weighs about 200 lbs, and carries my 120 lb person to work at back, 8 miles a day. That makes sense. The gas I buy moves 350 lbs.

Plus, it’s fun to drive. I can smell the flowers, and see everything. The wind freaks me out a little, but other than that, I can’t wait to get back on the scooter! It’s a quicker ride to work, and I can always find a parking space. The benefits are endless.

I looked for electric, or diesel scooters, but couldn’t find anything practical. (to survive Akron traffic, you have to go at least 45mph) After buying the gas scooter, I’ve seen a few electric conversions that people are doing themselves. This guy built his from forklift parts. What ingenuity!

The best is an electric bicycle! You can pedal sometimes, and when you’re tired, or it’s too hilly, the electric motor kicks in to get you through it. I love that idea! (it looks pricey, but some bike enthusiasts pay more than that for just the frame)

Overall, the good news is that there are options! We can have a 1 person car, or a 5 person car, or an electric car, or a scooter or an electric bike. Whatever suits our lifestyle and our needs. We just need to invest a little research and find one that fits.

 

Friday Video: Awareness Test May 2, 2008

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

Take 30 seconds and do the test in this video. You’ll see why later…

I hope everyone passes this test! I didn’t.

 

Hypermiling May 1, 2008

Filed under: cars, conserve — terra @ 11:00 am

Get the best gas mileage you can by hypermiling. Hypermiling was created a few years ago, and it’s a driving style that attempts to reduce wasted energy and make your car as efficient as possible. Wayne Gerdes coined the term hypermiling, and he has achieved 84 mpg from a Ford Ranger, and 180 mpg from a Honda Insight.

Here are a few less-intense hypermiler things you can do:

  • Drive as if you don’t have brakes. Most people accelerate until they reach a light, and then step on the brakes. All that energy is wasted. Instead, glide from point to point, using as little acceleration as possible, but not annoying other drivers.
  • Keep your car tuned up. Inflate your tires, use the lowest weight oil, and change your air filter.
  • Drive the speed limit, or below. Cars are more efficient at around 50-55 mph.
  • Don’t idle for more than 10 seconds. Idling is pure waste.

If you’re ready to go all the way to hypermiler status, check out this forum (about 1/2 way down the page) on cleanmpg.com. It includes tips like “Potential Parking” – parking at the highest point of the parking lot so you can coast downhill when you leave. Another tip is to drive to the side and behind of a semi-trailer, so you reduce your wind drag. Forbes Autos points out 10 tips to save gas.

While research and development is being done on renewable energy for our vehicles, some people are going to great lengths to reduce their fuel consumption. I find the easiest techniques to be the ones I highlighted above – no idle, go the speed limit, don’t brake so much.