Easy and fun things to help the environment

Humorous Reflections on Fun Incremental Change.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wish you were there

Well, Biggles and I spent the day yesterday (Sunday) at a fundraiser for shelter animals sponsored by Shelter Me, Photography. 
Biggles, is the perfect ambassador for an event of this type because he was, in fact, a rescue from a shelter. My friend Robbie and I MC'd the event.  It was blazing hot.  I mean Tarzan hot.  Africa hot.  Or just Denver on August 28th hot.  We have been breaking temperature records all month.  You really have to give props to all of the volunteers who showed up and worked in that kind of crazy heat.
The physical space, was provided by Aspen Arbor Animal Hospital.  In addition to the hospital facility, there is a Whole Pets, which offers natural food, supplements, and all kinds of products for your dog or cat or what ever type of animal you love. 
At that same location there is also a unique facility, CRCG, which stands for Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Group.  It is as the name implies, a rehabilitation center for your four-legged best friend.  A lot of the rehab is water-based, with all types of different rehab pools.  They also boast a public dog swimming pool, which is set up for dock dogs practice. 
A fun time was had by all.  Personally I would've liked to have seen a lot more people there, but on a hot day like that, I can certainly understand why people might want to stay inside.  As far as I'm concerned, this is just an another reason why people should get out there and rescue shelter dogs.  The heat effects poor doggies too.  Most dogs, especially shelter dogs, don't have the wherewithal to cool themselves off.  So it is incumbent upon good, kind, compassionate human beings to adopt them and do something about this heat.  I know that I'm pretty shameless when it comes to generating excuses for you to go out and adopt a homeless pet.  If this particular heat argument worked, great!  If not, adopt a pet, anyway.  I hate to sound like a broken record (does anyone even remember broken records?), but, adopt a pet, adopt a pet, adopt a pet, adopt a pet…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

To a Tee.

I'm not exactly what you might call a Fashion Plate.  You probably won't be seeing me on the cover of Gentleman's Quarterly or Vogue anytime real soon.  And while I probably would never go as far as to say that clothes make the man, I do think that clothes can make a difference.
Now, an awful lot of what I do is, I try to get the message out.  My message is, "Smarten Up!  Start doing things that won't kill you or the planet."  And I'll try to get my message out any way I can. 
A lot of celebrities have their own clothing lines.  Look at Puffy Combs, he has the Sean John line of clothing.  There's also Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Hollister, Nike, Under Armour and thousands of others.  Why did these designers put their names all over their clothing?  Because it works! 
For every South Pole sweatshirt that you see, half a dozen people are going to go out and buy one, because they saw the same sweatshirt you did.  It's really a very effective marketing tool.  The problem is, it's a marketing tool that just continues to put money into the pockets of people that already have far too much money as it is.  No offense, but if you're going to use your clothes to promote an idea, let's promote a good idea.  I have lots of clothing that has environmental messages on it.  The shirt I'm wearing right this second, says “Renewable Energy is Homeland Security.”  I have another that simply reads, “Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper,” a title that I'm happy to wear proudly.  Another says, “Every Day is Earth Day."  One of my local thrift stores, ARC, printed up T-shirts with the globe on the front and the message "If You Love The Planet, Buy Second First."  And on the back they have the three-arrowed recycling triangle, their name and Earth Day 2010.
I'm not saying that these shirts will change the world, but they will ignite a tiny bit of awareness in the people that see them, and that's really the first step.
When you go to farmers markets or environmental festivals or sustainability fairs, buy some cool T-shirts and wear them.  I love my message T-shirts and I wear them often.  My message to you?
"If you love the planet, Represent!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ZPG bees.

Okay, here's my confession.  Well, it's not really my confession, but my parents’.  My parents, like most Irish Catholic parents, or any kind of American Christian parents, had a large family.  In my family.  There were seven kids.  And that was only one set of twins.  In the grand scheme of things.  Having kids, or at least having a lot of kids, is one of the worst ecological disasters, you can inflict on our planet.  And inflict we did.  I was the first in 1955.  I can say with a certain amount of pride, even though it wasn't up to me, or my parents, we didn't use any disposable diapers.  The primary reason is they didn't exist yet.  Back in those days, you used cloth diapers, and usually contracted a diaper service.  Ours was “Tidy-Didy Diaper Service”, and the driver who came to our house to pick up the diapers and deliver the clean ones, actually wore a Pith-Helmet.  No kidding!  A Pith helmet.  How funny is that?

So, at least for the first five of us born between 1955 in 1961, we didn't use any disposable diapers, a huge ecological problem.  The other thing about children is they tend to become the same type of consumers their parents were.  If the parents are huge meat eaters, the kids probably will be too.  If the parents needed new clothes every week, guess what?  If the parents drive huge cars, the kids probably will too.  If the family had a huge Kentucky bluegrass lawn, that tradition will probably be carried on over and over and over.  The best thing you can do for the planet is to reduce, reuse, recycle. 
Reduce the number of kids you have.  Please!
Reuse.  Okay, I know this is using the word little out of context, but there are plenty of children around the world who are already born, and need a home with loving parents.  Adopt! 
This is sort of Recycle also, granted, not in the traditional sense.

I have to say, that our family, my siblings and I, have worked to try to balance out the population growth caused by my parents.  My wife and I both decided we wouldn't have any children.  My sister has two daughters, both adopted.  My next brother, no children.  The next two, the twins, have five children between them.  And finally, no children from my last two brothers, either.  A net gain of new people on this planet, minus two.  Not bad for an Irish Catholic family, huh?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

That’s a fine “How’d Ya Do?”

In some ways I think people have made a mistake by referring to “green living”, or “sustainable living.” It kinda sounds “Elitist.”  I believe it should be referred to as smart living or intelligent living, cause that’s what it really is.  It really does demonstrate how a lot of older cultures who actually coexisted with nature were actually smarter than good old Western man.  Aboriginal peoples have had 200 different words for snow or 20 different words for wind.  We, on the other hand, have over 400 names for specialty alcoholic shots. I'm just saying, maybe our priorities are off a little
As far as I'm concerned, the first step in coexisting with your environment, is getting to know your environment.  I have found that a great way to get to know your neighborhood and your community is by walking your dog.  At least that's the way Biggles and I do it.  Besides, it's a great way to get exercise, too.  We usually walk between two and 6 miles.
Every morning he and I will take a different route and walk throughout our neighboring residential and business areas.  If you pay attention and are aware of your surroundings, you will see all kinds of cool things.  Gardens with plants you had never even considered before, which are thriving.  Yards with xeriscaping or just plain unusual plantings can be seen everywhere.  In addition to getting all kinds of new landscaping and sustainable planting ideas, you also have the opportunity to enjoy all of the local beauty.  Take the time to look at the natural beauty of flowers, or a fruit tree.  This morning, Biggles and I took the time to appreciate the beauty of a weeping birch, a gorgeous water feature, and a bikini barista.
I'm just saying, get to know your neighborhood and your neighbors.  You can't really get to work until you know what you've got to work with.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sack up!

There are so many simple little things that you can do which will make a difference in the world on a daily basis.  We have all been made aware of the evils of plastic shopping bags.  They are ubiquitous, which means something really bad, I think. 
To be honest, these stupid things are everywhere.  In some cities, they seem to be ornaments for the trees.  I'm sure you've seen these, wind-inflated balloons caught in trees all over the place.  Most people are aware that we shouldn’t use these plastic bags, and they usually have some reusable bags that they can take with them on shopping trips.  Good for them.  The real challenge comes when you make shopping trips that you hadn't planned for in advance.  That's why I keep nylon shopping bags with me at all times.  I use is a Chico bag.  You've seen them (I’ve gotten most of mine as gifts at conferences), in the little tiny stuff sack with the little tiny carabiner.  I suppose for women this is actually pretty convenient, keep one or two in your purse or hooked onto the outside of your purse.  But for men, not so much.  What I do is remove the carabiner, turn the bag inside out and fold it up into a small, flat rectangle that will fit easily into your back pocket with your wallet.  I actually have two of these in my back pocket.  This way, I am never without a shopping bag, even during impromptu shopping trips.  Simple yet elegant. 
By the way, that's the name of my new CD, which drops next week.
Now, Papa’s got a brand new bag.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wake up!

Do you set your alarm to get you up in the morning?  Once the alarm goes off, do you wake up?  I mean do you really wake up?  It's been my experience that there are many people who go through life basically asleep.  How many times have you gotten to work and realized you don't remember anything about getting ready, or anything about driving to work, you're just there.  Unfortunately, it's this kind of sleepwalking that has gotten us into the fix that we find ourselves in today. 
Try slowing down a little.  As the sayings go, “Stop and smell the roses,” “Wake up and smell the coffee.” Smell was intentionally used in these sayings because smell is our oldest and most primitive sense (you’ll know this if you’ve ever been stuck on an elevator with an athelete).  I think that's just one way of saying, become aware of yourself and your life and your surroundings.  You'll be surprised when you start noticing things that are part of your world and your life.  Enjoy beauty wherever you encounter it, whether it's man-made or natural.  The dangerous thing about triggering your own awareness and self-awareness; is that sometimes it's hard to turn it off.  But I don't think that's a bad thing.  If you feel yourself becoming too aware of your surroundings, you can always get on your cellphone and tune the rest of the world out, just like everybody else does.
I, for tired of living with a bunch of zombies.  No offense to zombies (although, I think I could probably out-run them).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Read my lips, "No new Texans!"

Let me get this straight. Global warming is a hoax? This is coming from the genius that had everyone in Texas PRAY for rain to solve the drought. How's that drought working out Hair Perry?
If science becomes outlawed in this country and prayer is going to be the solution to all ills, even man-made ones, not even god is gonna help us. If you need proof, he didn't make it rain after all.

I remember when people in this country wanted their leaders to be smarter than they were, and this was when people, in general, were smarter than they are today. These days we have stupid people who want the president to be a guy you can have a beer with, shoot some stop signs with, and beat at country-western trivia once in a while. Not a good formula for international success. Or national success. Or local success. Come on, please, we're still getting over all the damage the last idiot from Texas caused. 


Monday, August 15, 2011


I know, it seems counter-intuitive, but using a dishwasher actually saves energy and therefore, money. Especially if you fill that bad boy up. Newer models use only about five gallons of water, and if you get an eco-friendly soap, that's a whole lot less energy and water than I use in my tiny little place (with no dishwasher). I like to think that I'm pretty careful when washing my dishes, but, first of all, my sink is only so big, and it won't store many dishes, so rather than doing the dishes every 2 or 3 days, I'm forced to wash them every day.
Secondly, the only control of heat I have is the water boiling furnace/tank thing, which is set on "Flay".
So, I wash. if the skin doesn't completely come off my hands, I can stack washed plates in the second sink. Then, I turn on the icy-Colorado-mountain-stream-cold water to rise. It's difficult to turn the water off and on, off and on, so I usually let it run while rinsing. Conserve as I might, I doubt I can keep my comsumption down to 5 gallons.
So get a good Energy-Star dishwasher. Here's one case where technology has out-paced your humble narrator.
Party on, Garth!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


This is really sad.
I just listened to my wife on the phone, talking to a friend who is a UK citizen that lives in Canada. She was trying to explain to her friend how our healthcare system works. It was the most frustrating and stupid conversation, with her friend continually saying, "Really? That's stupid. Can't you just go to any doctor whenever you need to?" "You pay HOW much?" "Oh, my god, that's barbaric!"

At least if you can afford it, we get a much higher quality of healthcare.<snark>
Baby Steps...

E P, Eh?

It seems that ALL of the Republican candidates think that the EVIL EPA is one of the main things bringing down our country. This is the agency that tries to assure you don't have mercury, motor oil or detergent in your drinking water. These are things that I, with my limited scientific knowledge, support. Plus, I like the taste of non-motor oil water.

As I understand it, this is also the agency that stops corporations from dumping all of their bi-products into rivers and streams and the ocean and your driveway. Another thing that I support. I don't want animal carcasses or pig-sh*t or mining slag or asbestos in my local swimmin' hole. It tends to then get into your and your loved-one's local holes. Not a good thing, in my mind.
This is also the agency tasked with making sure that these same, or perhaps different, corporations don't release all kinds of toxic smokes and gases into the air.
By all accounts, these enforcement activities by the EPA have saved millions of lives over the last 30 years. I suppose an argument can be made that, because of this Life-Saving effort has forced the GOP to create even more jobs. Plus, there's no way of telling if the people that were saved were gay, or poor or Mexican.

Corporations can police themselves, they say. Sure they can! (I'm looking at you BP!!)
If they want to eliminate the EPA (who I don't think go far enough, can you say fracking fluid?), I say that any politician who opposes environmental regulation, volunteers their children into a program where groups of GOP offspring must drink the water and breathe the air and eat the food around these facilities. As they say, they're safe, so there shouldn't be any objection. All these kids can be home-schooled while on their jobs as "Canaries" and they can learn how Jesus invented the Hummer.
What's the worst that could happen? Stopping the GOP gene-pool?
Baby Steps...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do-do that voodoo.

Here's something we covered on "the Hip and Yucky Show", humanure, or composting ca-ca. I'll admit that it's a little hard-core for most city-folk, but it would save Billions of gallons of water and produce lots of compost. The Loveable Loo has been around for, like, 30 years. I'm an environmentalist and I'm immature (goes without saying, since I'm a guy) so, of course I love the song.  We'll all be singing it soon.
Number 2 with a bullet!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Water you gonna do?

Whether you've practiced it or not, most Westerners are aware that we are running low on water and really should be conserving it.  There are a lot of ways to conserve water, for example, my wife and I actually shower together every single day.  There are lots of products, which will restrict  the flow of water in your home.  I recommend using some of them. One of the biggest offenders in residential home is the toilet.  Standards for the amount of water per flush toilets have gone up recently, but how many of us have a new toilets?  Every time you flush, you are using anywhere from 1 to 5 gallons of water.  This is fresh water.  Water that we drink.  Just to get rid of your waste.  Doesn't seem right, does it?  I've always thought that one of the smartest things you could put into a home, would be a urinal, because the number one cause of flushing is number one.  I finally feel vindicated.  Now when I go in the shower, I'm an environmentalist, not a pig. 
Not only are we flushing away valuable water, were also flushing away nutrients which are present in male urine.  I'll address this more in a different post, but male urine is now being added to so many compost heaps, because of its nutritional value primarily in nitrogen.
The most wasteful residential use is watering lawns.  Americans have become very enamored of their Kentucky bluegrass lawns.  Acres and acres of the green grass.  And this grass is thirsty.  This is also a huge drain on our water supply in the commercial world, keeping golf courses green.  Recently, a grade school child saved a city that he lived in millions of dollars, just by suggesting they turn down the pressure on water fountains and bathroom sinks in public parks.
Water will be the next scarce resource that human beings are going to fight over.  How are you going to help?

No if's, or and's, and please, no butts.

A major pollutant that nobody really ever thinks about is cigarettes.  Well, not cigarettes really, although they are bad enough, but cigarette butts are a Real problem.
And not even cigarette butts, but cigarette filters.
First of all, filters are pretty stupid when you think about it.  Filters supposedly protected us from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.  This is about as effective as putting a silencer on a gun to play Russian roulette.  So we've got these filters, brown or white, made out of God knows what material, but I will tell you, this material takes approximately 5000 years to break down, and smokers toss them away without a thought.

Smokers toss away 4.5 trillion cigarette butts per year.  These are major pollutants everywhere, but are incredibly noticeable on public beaches.  You can literally not go 10 inches in any direction without encountering a cigarette butt.  These also become a major danger to marine life.  They are the perfect size to be swallowed by most great life, who will either be choked or poisoned by these pieces of flotsam.

Do yourself and the planet a big huge favor.  Stop smoking.  If not now, when?  If not, you, who?  Yoo-Hoo!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It works if you work it.

Remember back in Kindergarten when they told you to share?  Seems in some cases, it works!
I think that in the cases where it doesn't work, it's because of our conditioning into the "Me, Me, ME!' attitude that seems to permeate a lot of society. (I know, it's a contradiction in terms: "Me, Me, ME!" and "Society". The two don't work together.)
I think one of our greatest strengths is our ability to create a community. I know, we've gotten away from that in the last couple of generations, but, I for one, am striving to regain this cornerstone of human existence.
I'll be exploring more collaborative consumption and capitalism down the road. Until then, get to know your neighbors, they may save your life someday.
BTW, the "Me, Me, ME!" people (read: Teabaggers) can kiss our COLLECTIVE *ss.


Food for thought

It's kind of a new  frontier. Everyone should know about food. Where it comes from (not the store, oddly enough), and where you can get it, and how you can make it yourself. We've been poisoning ourselves for generations by putting in preservatives, additives and other types of crap that was never intended to be in food. I believe that many of our modern-day ills, like alzheimers, autism and allergies, are self-imposed and could possibly be cured, or at least minimized, by improving our diets. At the very least, it tastes better!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tar Sands. Really?

Because of our reliance, or should I say, “addiction” to oil, there is a new plan to extract all of the oil from the Tar Sands up in Canada.
To quote the Humongous, from The Road Warrior, "What a puny plan."
Sure, I suppose we could get oil out of those tar sands and pipe it down to the US so we could burn it as fuel.  Why not?
I remember in the 80s when someone spilled a powdered substance onto the floor of a public restroom, they would wipe it up with a damp fingertip, and rub it on their gums.  Isn't that kind of what we're doing?
Getting oil from tar sands is sort of like a heroin addict who can't find any heroin anywhere else, rendering the bodies of his dead heroin buddies for the content of herion in their bodies.  Sure, I guess it would work, but wouldn't it be better to address your addiction to heroin?

Green drinks anyone?

We did a show on "The Hip and Yucky Show" about local breweries and distilleries and wineries. Now they've really upped their game.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Like I said.


Sharon Sharalikke

Here's something that you'll hear me talk about a lot: One of the greatest recyclers in the world is.... Goodwill Industries. And they started out just wanting to do the right thing. As it turns out they are doing the right thing in so many ways.
We as”westerners” are obsessed with things; stuff. With very few exceptions, the stuff we get is only used for a short period of time (if at all). When we're done with it, why not donate it and let someone else who doesn't really need it, have it for a while? A lot of older (first and second world) cultures exist by bartering and collaborating. Why shouldn't we?
In addition to “Thrift Stores” (long known to value hunters and hipsters as THE place to buy clothes), there are other resources worth looking into as well
You only use your baby clothes for a VERY short period of time. Why not share them with others? There are groups on the internet that will connect people with gently used baby items. http://www.wearandshare.net/
If you're gonna have kids bring them up right, and share their stuff, that's all I'm sayin'.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Flip Side of The “Lap of Luxury”

Come on. Really?
I was at the King Soopers the other day and there wasn't one brand of recycled toilet paper. Not one. Most of the stores at least stock Seventh Generation, but on this day, at this time, nothing.
There is NO conceivable reason that toilet paper needs to be made from virgin pulp. Especially considering Americans use 7 Billion rolls per year!
Considering where we are going to use it and where it's going to go afterwards, Post-Consumer recycled paper should be more than adequate. I'm pretty sure my backside isn't impressed by a “scented” paper, but my nose may be farther from my target than some other people.
Tell the manager of your grocery that you not only want recycled paper, but that you want choices. Get your friends to do the same. Call it a “movement”.
Lets wipe this problem out and flush it away.