Friday, February 19, 2010

Some good news

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day: about 60 degrees and sunny, witn clear blue skies. And we got our latest utility bill: our heating costs are down about 70% compared to this time last year.

I needed some good news, since my frustration with Washington state has reached its peak recently.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The importance of community

This is the first of many quotes I will be sharing from No Impact Man:

From p. 130:
I sometimes wonder if our lack of social connection and community is at the root of our environmental problems. I wonder, at least in my case, if that lack has meant that I don't feel responsible or accountable to anything beyond myself. Without real community, where is the visceral sense of connection to something larger, to something to which I owe my care? Maybe one reason I felt like I couldn't make a difference when the project started was because I wasn't firmly connected to anything to which I could make a difference.

I can relate. Part of my malaise at living in Tacoma is due to not feeling like I am a part of the community, the way I did in Boston. And part of that is due to the difficulty of getting around, of being close to neighbors and community programs, something that I was much more easily able to do in walkable and public transportation friendly Boston. Beavan devotes some time to writing about how so many of our towns and cities and neighborhoods are not structured in ways that facilitate community. The immediate result is that in many places, you have to drive just about anywhere, which of course has a negative environmental impact. But a secondary consequence is that due to this lack of community, we try to fill our lives with more stuff, rather than being filled by the difference we are making in the world.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life is very busy... I haven't been able to post much. I want to write about all the things I learned from reading No Impact Man, but there is so much that will take a while, so I'll leave it for another day.

In the meantime, I started a new book, Green Barbarians by Ellen Sandbeck, and boy, is she making me think. One thing (among several) that she has made me want to change is using Trader Joe's TeaTree Tingle conditioner to wash my hair, because, as she writes:

"Tea tree oil... has been found to be a potent antimicrobial and antifungal... Using tea tree oil in everyday products such as shampoo, toothpaste and skin lotions is probaby overkill. Perhaps tea tree oil should be saved for special occasions such as tick, lice, flea and fungal infestations..."

Instead, she recommends the following hair wash, which she uses because, like me, she has thick, dry, very curly hair:

Add 2 T. olive oil and 1 T. vodka to an 8-oz squeeze bottle, and add enough water to fill the bottle. Shake well and apply to wash your hair.

She also recommends steeping a sprig of a pleasant-smelling herb in the vodka bottle for a week so the vodka will make your hair smell good. I think I will also add a squirt of castile soap to the mix, because I like a little lather when I wash.

Like me, Sandman also rinses with a vinegar/water mixture and gives a reason why this works so well to soothe the scalp and prevent dandruff: our skin is naturally acidic, and washing removes some of the natural acid. Using vinegar helps return your scalp to its natural acidity. (The same is true of washing my face with a mix of powdered milk and water, due to the lactic acid).

Once my current bottle of Tea Tree Tingle is used up, I'll try the olive oil/vodka wash and report on the results.