Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Hiatus...

For any of you still following out there, you may have noticed there haven't been many blog posts this summer. I've noticed as well - and while I haven't been blogging, I have been thinking about it a lot! And all that thinking finally led me to a decision to take a break for a while.

I love what I've learned while writing this blog and so appreciate each and every one of you that followed Our Kids Earth and shared your questions and thoughts. It's been a great discussion and has challenged me to grow in my thinking and my actions. I am trying to focus more on my freelance writing and work on finishing a young adult novel I've been writing. Maybe I'll be back here again one day, but for now, I'll just say - go out and enjoy our great planet!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Open Your Eyes. Open Your Heart. Open Your Mind.

I just saw this video from TedxSF and I thought it was a great reminder for all of us to keep our heart, mind, and eyes open to the world around us. The video is 10 minutes, but has some great photography, and inspiring thoughts from both a young girl and a wise, old man. Enjoy!

If you haven't checked out TED talks or heard of the conference, you should check it out. TED originally stood for Technology, Entertainment, and Design and was about bringing these different people together. Today it has evolved into something much bigger, but with a simple mission: to spread ideas.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Summer Leaf!

Yeah! My all-electric Nissan Leaf finally arrived!Eleven months after I made my reservation, I finally have my 100% electric car! I've been driving it for 2 days and here's what I've learned so far:

  • The gadgets are insanely cool, according to my children. 90 day free trial of XM satellite. GPS. Bluetooth. Rear-view backup camera.

  • Guys love it. My sons' swim coach wanted to sit in it, the parking attendant at the Mariners game was excited to see his first one, and my dad wanted to check under the hood.

  • It is virtually silent. I freaked someone out when I backed out next to someone in a parking lot and she didn't know it was on.

  • It seriously encourages good driving habits. Driving over 60 seems to be bad for battery life. There is this little "build a tree" video game-like console that shows you how efficiently you are driving. Very motivating since you know you only have 100 miles maximum that you can drive until you have to charge.

  • It's very fun to drive! After driving an SUV all these years, I'm happy to be back in something closer in size to my first Volkswagen.

    • I'm excited to be one of the early adopters of this technology and thrilled to have avoided the gas station all week (although I'll still go occasionally since I need a bigger car for longer trips and anything that involves more than 3 children).

      Everyone keeps asking about the car so here are the basics. I can drive up to 100 miles on a single charge, but so far it seems more like 80. It depends on conditions including the outside temperature, elevation, air-conditioning, speed, etc. I have a charging station in my garage which will do a full charge in 8 hours. The Leaf can also be charged in a regular 110 outlet for 16 hours, and one day soon there will be Level III chargers on the I-5 and Highway 2 corridors that will allow for 26 minute complete charges.

      I was initially excited to hear that Stevens Pass had a charging station, but now that I have driven the car, I don't think the car can actually make it that far (~70 miles) with that much elevation (~4000 feet). We'll hold out for some interim charging stations before we venture over the mountains.

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      Wednesday, June 8, 2011

      Packing an Earth-Friendly Summer Lunch

      I recently published an article in Parentmap magazine about packing an Earth-friendly lunch. Read below for the beginning and click through for the rest of the article. Happy Summer!

      Summer’s coming, but packing lunches may still be part of your routine, as camps, picnics and family outings begin to fill the calendar. When the Seattle sun finally makes its appearance, the kids will be romping around the outdoors, and you can help protect that environment by packing an Earth-friendly lunchbox.

      One of the biggest challenges — especially in parks, on beaches and at campsites — is feasting without leaving a trail of waste. Corporate America entices children with assortments of meat, cheese and crackers served in compartmentalized plasticware, but daily doses of these snacks will leave a pile of garbage taller than your child.

      Click here to read the rest of the article.

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      Monday, June 6, 2011

      Moving to Glass

      I blogged several weeks ago about the chemicals in plastic food containers and have found some replacements for my own plasticware. Here are my new favorites: Kinetic Go Green Glasslock. They are durable, stackable, washable, and microwaveable. I don't believe they are oven-safe, although there are other brands that are.

      I bought mine at Sur La Table in Seattle where you can get a set of 3 for around $25 right now.

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Stemming the Tide at the Gas Pump

      Have you started driving less yet? They say the pain point for Americans at the pump seems to be in the $3.50 - $4.00 range. I don't know about your state, but it's been a while since I've seen prices even close to $3.50. For me, this was definitely pain:
      And, given that I'm only getting 18mpg (on a really good day), that $66 tab will only carry me 300 miles. You can't help but think about using less gas with prices like these. Here are some of what I am doing or contemplating to conserve gas:

      • Carpool (I think I've mastered this one. There was actually a point last year when I was in 3 carpools in one day - one for my kids' school, one for my kids' sports, and one for my own school. Crazy!)

      • Take a bus or train (For some reason, I only seem to do this in foreign cities. Definitely something to work on...)

      • Ride my bike or walk (another area ripe for improvement opportunities!)

      • Change cars! (My electric Nissan Leaf is scheduled for delivery in 2 weeks!! Here's a picture of my newly installed charging station.)

      What about you? What are you doing? Do you think you'll revert back to old habits when the cost of gas goes down again? Feel free to share in the Comments section!

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      Trashing Our Earth's Beaches

      A trip to the beach is supposed to be filled with natural wonders--seashells to collect, rocks to skip, crabs to chase. But what about all the plastic that shows up on beaches? The bottlecaps, plastic bags, and bits and pieces of red, blue, and green too bright too possibly be part of nature. We tell ourselves we aren't the litterbugss, but is it possible our actions are indirectly polluting the beaches?

      A friend of mine recently told me of her recent trip to Mexico and how appalled she was at the litter on the beach. She asked the locals where it came from and their response was: "cruise ships." I followed up on the issue for her because I was fairly certain it was illegal for cruise ships to dump their garbage in open water. I took an Alaskan cruise a while back and blogged about Norwegian Cruise Line's environmental policies. While I don't think these massive floating cities can claim to be green, I was surprised with how hard they worked to properly dispose of garbage.

      It turns out that Caribbean dumping is illegal, but the law won't take effect until all the countries agree to report their garbage handling capacity. Unfortunately, many countries don't have sufficient ability to process the garbage created by thousands of tourists docking for a few hours each day, so to protect the tourism industry, they haven't reported. If they don't report, the law can't go into effect, and the cruise ships are free to dump away.

      The plastics can strangle or choke sea creatures, work their way into our food supply, and litter the beaches. If you happen to be on a cruise in the near future, ask the tough questions. Where is the litter going? And keep asking the questions in your own neighborhood too. What about your own local beach? How clean is it? Where does that garbage come from?

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