Grey water

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Here is an interesting post from a tiny house blog on grey water use.

Greywater Systems

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Biomimicry

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A few weeks ago I was completely fascinated by scientists putting UV threads in window panes in order to prevent birds from crashing into window panes and dying. They’d noticed that birds don’t “see” glass but are able to avoid spiderwebs when flying quickly through a forest. Spiderwebs have, you guessed it, ultraviolet light that birds can see, and know to avoid. So I’ve been talking about these ideas and biomimicry with Cormac, because it’s cool.

This afternoon on NPR we heard a story about hagfish; the slime they create to fight off sharks and other sea creatures has threads in it that are strong, like silk. The hope is that the thread can be used to replaces fibers like spandex, which are created from oil, a non-renewable resource. Hagfish threads are made from proteins which can be created in a lab rather than directly from the hagfish, creatures that are difficult to raise in captivity. ”

“Proteins are a renewable resource because we can get organisms to make them,” says Douglas Fudge the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Here’s a link to the NPR story: http://soundcloud.com/theworld/hagfish-slime-could-provide

And a cool video of hagfish being attacked by sharks! Biomimicry is cool for kids.

Ingredients Film

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Ingredients

Watch this film!

This film made by my brother, Brian Kimmel, is about the local food movement all over the world. It highlights farmers, chefs, families, authors, developers and more ,who are starting to challenge industrial farming methods.
Watching this film makes you hungry. Hungry to start your own garden, Hungry to buy from markets and hungry to eat locally grown food. Please share this information.

A Green Holiday in Florida

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Relaxing by the pool in Lantana

The day after Christmas, I flew 5,000 miles from Anchorage to Fort Lauderdale with our two little boys, ages 3 and 7. Rather than hit the theme parks, we stayed with my grandfather at his condominium complex in Lantana and were joined there by my parents, who flew down from NYC. The trip was the main gift this year from the Santas in our house and the grandparent Santas. Although Florida isn’t high on my list of most attractive states to visit I can’t say a single disparaging thing about the weather, our company on the trip, or the wild refuges we got to visit.
After so much time in Alaska it is a shock to my system to see how developed communities are other places. As Florida is reclaiming its wetlands and attempting to rid itself of invasive plants and animals, more money is being spent on educating people on the special history of their land.
I will write a few posts on Loxahatchee, Green Cay,

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Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math | Politics News | Rolling Stone

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Global warming’s terrifying new math: To keep the world below 2 degrees Celsius warming – the last possible safe threshold – we can only burn 565 more gigatons of carbon. The fossil fuel industry has 5 times that on the books, ready to burn.

That means we’re at a reckoning. It’s either the planet, or the industry’s bottom line that goes.

Read the article here:

via Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

Plastic Produce or Bakery Box = Mini Greenhouse

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I have several of these right now and it has been cooold up here this summer so I think I will put them to use in the morning. I’m also going to put the row cover back on some of the squash in the big garden.
I’ll use the produce boxes on some late-planted cucumbers and weigh them down with a few river rocks. Right now many of the plants have stunted growth due to the cold temperatures and wind so let’s hope this does the trick.

Trash Backwards Blog

by Rebecca Rockefeller

Ever come across one of those clear plastic boxes used to package fresh greens and bakery goods at your local grocery store? As part of my family’s shift to no-new-plastic zero waste living, we’ve found other ways to get our greens and grains. These plastic boxes are not currently recyclable here, and even if they were, their downcycling would likely require the input of virgin plastic feedstock.

But we’re always ready to snag a few of these boxes from our neighbors’ trash cans. We wash them out, add a few ventilation holes or slits if desired, and pop them over tender seedlings. Each one becomes a mini greenhouse/cold frame for the plants it covers, offering heat and a bit of protection from slugs, birds, rambunctious dogs, and other threats to baby plants. When our plants outgrow them, we stack the empty boxes on our garden bench and…

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Wild edibles part 2

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On Wednesday night Laura and I attended a wild edibles walk and dinner hosted by Alaska Community Action on Toxins (ACAT) at the Kincaid Park chalet. Attendees were commemorating the birthday and life of Rachel Carson, the scientist and author of Silent Spring. It was an excellent event, only $25 to attend, because it was informative, interesting, and fun. Two groups were led on short tours (with only a little frisbee dodging) for common delicious and medicinal plants. Many would take some processing or more extensive knowledge to be able to use in more than one way, but I’m excited to teach my kids more about the watermelon shoots, Devil’s Club buds, dandelion leaves, and nettles. Even with the Earthship experience being reasonable high-tech it had a way of reminding me of all the knowledge about nature that I’ve lost, that most people have lost or have never had. This walk helped me get a little of that lost knowledge back again.

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Alder – nitrogen fixer – increase salmon – leaves for making tattoo with dirt – anti cancer properties – flowers have some food value (though I thought they tasted like bitter dirt)

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Yarrow – smells lemony – flowers effective for numbing – leaves staunch blood – dandelion family –

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Cottonwood – balm of Gilead – salve

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Nettle – stings so wear gloves – steam for salad (steaming will soften the prickly stingers so you can eat it safely) – seeds have protein – stalks for cords

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Devil’s Club – young buds with no prickles – raw or sauté – cut new growth of stems for teas

Being able to eat Devil’s Club (and it tastes GOOD) was the most surprising thing to me. I will definitely harvest it again. The young leaves had a really mild flavor and would be great in a green salad or with eggs.

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Wild roses – rose hips – need processing – “fruit” leather – vitamin C

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Horsetail has silica – above pictures are examples of what horsetail looks like in two different seasons – the first picture is this year’s new growth and the second is what remains from last fall.

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High bush cranberry – seeds high in vitamins

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Fiddlehead ferns – good dipped in batter and fried. Harvest when they’ve unfurled a little and most of the brownish scales have fallen off.

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Our food! Pasta with nettles (awesome – the nettles have a flavor sort of like spinach or chard) and salad (there are some dandelion leaves in there).

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Organic carrot cake for dessert.

I didn’t get pictures of everything mentioned – here are my notes on the other plants:
Dandelion – young leaves for eating – sauté or salad – roots for tea – yellow petals add to pancakes or batter, fry, and eat

Elderberry flowers – flowers in pancakes – seeds in berries are toxic

Plantain – soy sauce and egg batter

Tiny fireweed – pull off leaves and eat raw – like asparagus.

TOXIC!!! Bane berry with glossy red or white berry – highly toxic

Environmental Health Resources

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I have spent the past few months reading books, digging through websites, and watching documentaries. Below is a list of my favorite resources. My next step is to start sharing what I have learned as well as sharing the ups and downs of my journey towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Our Impact on the Health of the Environment

Stuff Happens with Bill Nye: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/stuff-happens/

McKibben, Bill. (2010). Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Toxins in the Environment & Their Impact on Human Health

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/

The Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/

 Toxins in Your Home & Their Impact on Human Health

Baker, Nena. (2008). Body Toxic: How the Hazardous Chemistry of Everyday Things Threatens Our Health and Well-Being. New York, NY: North Point Press.

The Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/

Lourie, B., and Smith, R. (2009). Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint

ZRecs Guide to safer children’s products: http://www.zrecsguide.com/

 The Health of Our Food

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

Food, Inc., the movie: http://www.takepart.com/foodinc

McKibben, Bill. (2010). Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

O’Brien, Robyn. (2009). The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply–And What Every Family Can Do To Protect Itself. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

Pollan, M. (2009). In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing.

What’s On My Food? A searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable: http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/index.jsp

Green Cleaning and Body Care

Briggs, R. (2009). Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable, Nesting Skills. Portland, OR: Microcosm Publishing.

Siegel-Maier, K. (2008). The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Gardening & Growing Your Own Food  (These are books I’ve found helpful as a novice gardener)

Madigan, C. (2009). The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre! North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing

Buckingham, A., Whittingham, Jo. (2008). Grow Vegetables: Gardens, Yards, Balconies, Roof Terraces. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

 The Story of Stuff Project

Leonard, Annie. (2010). The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health–And How We Can Make It Better. New York, NY: Free Press.

Story of Stuff Videos: http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/

  • The Story of Stuff
  • The Story of Cosmetics
  • The Story of Bottled Water
  • The Story of Broke
  • The Story of Electronics
  • The Story of Citizens United vs. FEC
  • The Story of Cap and Trade

Please feel free to post your own favorite resources!