Green 2.0: Unusual Pleasures

27 09 2010


Rain drops on a pyracantha leaf

Image via Wikipedia


I am in the midst of swirling changes. On days like today, when my nerves feel wracked by many questions, I look for the unusual pleasures to be found, indoors and out.

Today, that pleasure is the slow, soaking rain. It was badly needed here in the Mid-Atlantic after a terribly hot and dry summer. But the unusual part is my particular pleasure in it, not for its utility but for the reassurance its steady dripping brings. While my world feels chaotic, the rain is predictable. It’s also soothing that the sky and the earth meet in a peaceful water-world; every problem has a solution, and every road will end with a peace such as this.

What is your unusual pleasure?

Green 2.0: The Little Things

23 09 2010

Quick – what’s your simplest guilty pleasure? When I say simplest, I’m trying to cut out the usual answers – celebrity gossip, reality TV, bubble baths (all of which I totally understand) – and get to the joys we take in the bounty of the earth.

I just enjoyed one of mine. After putting honey in my tea, I like to use the warm spoon to eat a dollop of it. During that blissful moment in which the honey lingers on my tongue, I often think about how the flavor differs depending on where the bees made it. This encourages me to find local honey, because in addition to supporting local farms, I want to know what local honey tastes like – what here tastes like.

You can use your simplest pleasures to awaken appreciation for your natural surroundings. Like the beach? Think about why – your answer will probably lead you to gratitude for the sound of rhythmic waves, the invigorating, briny smell and warm sand on your feet. Like having your evening tea or beer on the porch? You may not realize it yet, but you likely enjoy the reliable approach of evening, with its soothing sunset colors, insect sounds and cool breezes.

The experts increasingly find that gratitude extends our lives and reduces that silent killer: stress and unhappiness. Even if you haven’t been drawn to nature in your recent memory, all is not lost.  Picture the first warm, sunny morning of spring, snow melting everywhere and birds singing. Is that you, smiling?

Studies Show: Dirt Really Doesn’t Hurt

28 01 2009

A New York Times article demonstrates what the best moms already know: playing in dirt, making mud pies, and getting a little filthy are healthy habits for developing children. Ongoing studies of the hygiene hypothesis–that our clean-obsessed culture is related to the rise in certain diseases–suggest that coming in contact with the microbes and even worms in soil and other natural environments (like pets) is essential to developing a hearty immune system and warding off autoimmune diseases and allergies down the line.

With the alarming rise in illnesses caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as what led to the death of a Brazilian model recently, I think we need no further reasons to drop the anti-bacterial soaps, dishwashing liquids, and hand sanitizers. In the article, Dr. Mary Ruebush, author of “Why Dirt is Good,” advises alcohol-based sanitizers, which are widely available. She adds, however, that the best thing to do is to wash less!

“The typical human probably harbors some 90 trillion microbes,” she wrote. “The very fact that you have so many microbes of so many different kinds is what keeps you healthy most of the time.”

Potential Pet Problems

17 01 2009

I may be embarking on a highly controversial topic here, but have you considered the most eco-friendly ways to approach pet ownership? In our consumer culture, we are often suprised to find that certain problems even exist as a result of common behaviors. Take your pet’s poop, for instance; I never thought that having too many pets could contribute to landfill and water contamination issues–until I read this article by Sheryl Eisenberg of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She explores the delicate issue of poop disposal for dogs and cats. The bottom line? Trash disposal is best, but if you leave the waste on the ground, it’s best to keep it to your own yard–and to keep the pet population to a minimum.

BPA Update

20 11 2008

New information is out on BPA and its potential dangers. Read the linked blog post and decide for yourself. Also in the post: a good alternative to hard plastic bottles (although it’s not a new idea).

Chemical-minimal personal care products

5 11 2008, a group blog for the frugal, has a great summary of some healthier toiletry options that are still mainstream brands and therefore easier to find in the stores and in the coupon books. Stocking stuffer and sale season is upon us!

Going the extra mile: two web resources

28 10 2008

In contrast to those things that veterans of the environmental movement consider essential actions of the green life, there are new issues arising all the time, and each one tests our determination to be eco-friendly. Today I have two ideas for those wanting a new challenge.

I have to admit, there are few environmental concerns more disturbing to me than increasing levels of pharmaceuticals in our lakes and rivers. I know I defer to them so often that I should have stake in the company, but Ideal Bite has a wonderful article and set of links for those wanting to dispose of their used prescriptions in a responsible way. I’m inspired to ask at my pharmacy if they have a recycling program.

Another issue requiring extra effort, depending on where you shop anyway, is that of virgin hardwoods being used for many tissue paper products on the mass market. I admit to being a Kleenex user; I guess I have to up the ante after reading the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Bird Friendly Shopper’s Guide to common paper goods that are and aren’t friendly to forests. Check for your brands–and their greener alternatives–if you dare!

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