Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Check Out VIV Magazine

My book is featured in VIV Magazine's March/April issue. It's a no-waste, digital, sharp-looking magazine for women.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Watch Terra's TV Segment on WGN Chicago!

Or -- here's a link.

What you need to know about compostable food packaging

In my book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green, I educate on the need of compostable / biodegradable food packaging -- such as when you do carry-out at a restaurant or when you personally want to use disposable dinnerware at home or in the park. But what many people don't understand about the available compostable / biodegradable dinnerware is that nearly all of it requires composting in a high-heat composting facility. This means I can't just put it in my backyard compost. It would mean I would have to take it to a municipal composting facility, or my city would have to provide a curb-side composting pick up for materials that can be composted. This is an added inconvenience.

The Biodegradable Products Institute is one of the best sources for understanding compostability and biodegradability of packaging and plastics. They are starting to move on certifying compostable / biodegradable food packaging. Such products would have this logo:

According to BPI, the logo identifies "plastic and paper products, which disintegrate and biodegrade completely and safely when composted in a municipal or commercial facility, like kraft paper, yard trimmings and food scraps."

How can you find your local municipal composting facility?

  • You can call your local recycling center or sanitation department to find your recommended municipal composting facility.
  • You can go to http://www.findacomposter.com/
  • You can write your local officials (mayor, city council, sanitation department manager, recycling center manager) to ask for curbside composting pickup

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Terra's Going Green at Disney's Family.com

I've written several articles at Disney's Family.com about going green -- here's the link.

Ever Tried Arctic Char? A Salmon Substitute

Seafood Watch recently noted that Arctic Char could be a farmed salmon substitute and considers Arctic Char a best choice.

Says the Seafood Watch newsletter ----

Dory Ford, executive chef at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Portola café and restaurant uses Arctic char on his seasonally changing menu to replace wild salmon when they're not available. "It's meaty like a large trout with salmon overtones of flavor and texture. You can grill and bake it like a salmon," Dory explains.

"Our waiters know people will like it so they're comfortable recommending it. It takes pressure off farmed salmon. Ever since Seafood Watch highlighted it at Cooking for Solutions it's become more available year round and the price is consistent," says Dory.

More about Arctic Char can be found on Wikipedia.

How to get your child into nature

See my posting at Green Hour, the blog for the National Wildlife Federation, for ideas on how to get your children into nature.

Organic Gardening at the White House

This is a reprint from the Beyond Pesticides blog about the White House's new organic garden -- love it! Also, see below how you can reap savings from growing some of your own food.


(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2009) With the beginning of Spring, students from Washington, D.C.’s Bancroft Elementary School have joined First Lady Michelle Obama on the White House’s South Lawn to start an 1,100-square foot kitchen garden that will provide food for family meals, formal dinners and local D.C. soup kitchens. Over the coming months, the students, whose school has had a garden since 2001, along with the Obama family and the White House grounds crew, will help with the organic garden from planting to harvesting. Many hope that this move is more than symbolic, that it will transcend to better agricultural and pesticide-reform policies, invigorate homeowners to convert some of their own lawns to an organic garden, and educate the consumers on the importance of eating healthy locally-grown organic food.

The garden will contain 55 different vegetables, as well as berries, herbs and two beehives. According to the New York Times, the White House has spent $200 for organic seeds, mulch and dirt for the raised garden plot beds that will be “fertilized with White House compost, crab meal from the Chesapeake Bay, lime and green sand. Ladybugs and praying mantises will help control harmful bugs.”

“I’m thrilled for the Obama family and for all who will be inspired by their example to grow gardens of their own this year,” said Roger Doiron, founder of the nonprofit Kitchen Gardeners International who ran the campaign, Eat the View, which coordinated a 100,000 signature-petition asking the Obamas to replant a Victory Garden at the White House.

While the Obamas’ garden might be new, the idea of an edible landscape at the White House is not. Throughout its history, the White House has been home to food gardens of different shapes and sizes and even to a lawn-mowing herd of sheep in 1918. The appeal of the White House garden project, Mr. Doiron asserts, is that it serves as a bridge between the country’s past and its future. “The last time food was grown on the White House lawn was in 1943, when the country was at war, the economy was struggling and people were looking to the First Family for leadership. It made sense before and it makes sense again as we try to live within our own means and those of the planet.”

Over the course of the past month, the Eat the View campaign has touted the economic benefits of home gardens as part of its pitch to White House staff members. As proof, Mr. Doiron and his wife spent nine months weighing and recording each vegetable they pulled from their 1,600-square-foot garden outside Portland, Maine. After counting the final winter leaves of salad, they found that they had saved about $2,150 by growing produce for their family of five instead of buying it.

Mr. Dioron isn’t the only one that has been spearheading the push for a White House organic garden. Alice Waters, chef of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, has been advocating for such a garden since the 1990’s and continues to campaign for her Edible Schoolyard and School Lunch Initiative. Daniel Bowman Simon and Casey Gustowarow started The White House Organic Farm Project, also a petition-based initiative that uses two school buses fused together with an organic edible garden on the roof to travel around the country in an effort to educate others.

Organic agriculture embodies an ecological approach to farming that does not rely on or permit toxic, synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Instead of using these harmful products and practices, organic agriculture utilizes techniques such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting to produce healthy soil, prevent pest and disease problems, and grow healthy food and fiber.

Former White House executive chef Walter Scheib told the Washington Post, “This garden is a tremendous idea, one that is both timely and in some ways overdue. There has always been a small garden at the White House, but this commitment by Mrs. Obama to local and freshly grown produce is a progressive move forward that will raise the profile and awareness of local and sustainable food both at the White House and nationally to an unprecedented level.”

Groups around the country are happy to see the new, organic direction the White House is taking, but hopes that President Obama takes it further. Kitchen Gardeners International plans to expand the Eat the View campaign to other high-profile pieces of land, such as sprawling lawns around governors’ residences, schoolyards, and vacant urban lots.

Beyond Pesticides would like to see all federal lands managed organically and federal buildings using defined Integrated Pest Management. Beyond Pesticides supports organic agriculture as effecting good land stewardship and a reduction in hazardous chemical exposures for workers on the farm. The pesticide reform movement, citing pesticide problems associated with chemical agriculture, from groundwater contamination and runoff to drift, views organic as the solution to a serious public health and environmental threat.

Learn more about organics on Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Food program page and at the Bridge to an Organic Future conference, April 3-4 in Carrboro (Chapel Hill area), NC.

Encourage the Obama Administration to promote organic agriculture, which slows global climate change and support rural economic development. Read the recommendations sent to Mr. Obama’s transition team by grassroots organizations. Contact the Obama administration.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where in the World is Terra? -- Traveling for her book, Travelogue 5

St. Louis is home of burgers, steaks, and lots of seafood – then there’s some Italian food (can you say pasta?) and pizza (all trying to be the original). Those are pretty much the choices. Who would have guessed that in the middle of all of that I found Alaskan Halibut!? I did. In a little bar restaurant just off the arch called Max & Erma’s.

They’ve really done a beautiful job of revitalizing the area around the St. Louis arch to include an expansive park that attracts wildlife. It is peaceful. Lots of birds and squirrels frequent the park and the nearby pond along the banks of Mississippi.

Travelogue 1
Travelogue 2
Travelogue 3
Travelogue 4
Where Terra will be next

Monday, March 23, 2009

Associated Press Reporting EPA Declares Public Health Danger

A major tipping point. The Associated Press is reporting that the EPA is going to issue a report that global warming is now a threat to our public health and welfare. Just about the only thing left to pull out the stops on full-out, major greenhouse gas regulation at every level -- livestock, transportation emissions, factory emissions, fossil fuel production, deforestation, fertilizers (hello organic!!). See more about greenhouse gases here.

Where in the World is Terra? -- Traveling for her book, Travelogue 4

American Airlines had an interesting article about guerrilla gardening. They chronicled the history of who some may consider as the original guerrilla gardener, Richard Reynolds. He has a website -- http://www.guerrillagardening.org/. Basically, guerrilla gardening is where people plant gardens in urban areas where there wasn't any plant or tree growth using their own funds. Illegal? Well, definitely guerrilla. Often done at night.

I had a layover in Cleveland on my way to Hartford. No recycling bins. Bummer.

Hartford airport -- recycling bins. Yes! Rocking chairs lining windows -- definitely unique. New Englandish.

I was on the Fox station Monday, March 23, for their early morning news program. They were very excited to have me and had been reading my book. One of the folks at the station, I won't say who, said he/she had mercury poisoning from eating a regular diet of seafood and was now on more of a vegetarian diet. Any seafood this person ate was carefully picked and limited to reduce any further mercury poisoning issues. I talked about Seafood Watch being available on your mobile phone now and how that could be another easy resource to selecting safer fish. This person couldn't understand why unsafe and eco-challenged fish were being sold in the first place, since so many people don't know that they should choose more wisely. I said it would probably take regulation for the mass population to "get it," and that regulation would probably come after we've gone beyond the current ocean crisis into an even deeper habitat crisis that perhaps we cannot resurrect. It is completely frustrating. I just wish every restaurant in American would sell only sustainable fish dishes -- that would be one of my dreams.

In today's USA Today, there's an article "Consumers could foil plans for conservation" about how consumers seem to be buying and installing more energy-efficient lights, appliances, and electronics but then using them more -- which means they don't save any electricity. Hmmm. The idea of being more indulgent with your energy use just because your gadgets and machines don't use as much juice to begin with. One idea I had, when I read the article, is that we all have more energy-grabbing things in our homes -- everything is going digital. So that alone will crank up the meter. Going more green will always be a combination of changing behaviors and changing what we buy. It's like the low-fat cookies -- they're lower fat so you eat more? Certainly if we buy into renewable energy and can pay for it, one might not feel so bad about using energy. But no matter what, it is always better to conserve -- whether it's for your pocketbook, the planet, and/or just because it's better behavior overall that is part of an overall do-what's-right lifestyle.

Finally in the same paper today there was also an article about how the U.S. space station is having to dodge space junk. If we can't take care of our planet, what makes us think we can take care of space? The final frontier.

Next ... St. Louis.

Travelogue 1
Travelogue 2

Where in the World is Terra? -- Traveling for her book, Travelogue 3

I wanted to mention a few more things about my Miami trip last week. Joe Carter, one of the anchor's on "Today in South Florida," says he and his girlfriend are die-hard recyclers. I say die-hard because they don't have a recycling bin at their apartment complex, so they have to save all of it at home, package it up, and drive it to a recycling bin. Talk about dedication!

That makes me wonder how many more apartment complexes or condo communities don't have a recycling bin on the property for their residents. I'm counting my blessings that I live in such a progressive city. The only thing lacking in where I live is curbside compost pickup, though in some communities in San Francisco they have that as the way of the future. However, even if there was curbside compost pickup, I'd still do my backyard composting because it saves my municipality money, probably would save me on pickup charges, and I get to use the completed compost to enrich my landscape and fruit tree -- yes, I have just one fruit tree right now. I want to redo my backyard landscape and either add another citrus tree or have a very small garden -- we bought this home in late 2008, so it will be an ongoing project.

One thing that really was alarming in the Miami airport was this trend of wrapping luggage in plastic. In several airports on my book tour I've seen luggage in the baggage areas wrapped in yards of plastic and thought maybe the luggage had broke and so that was the way people's bags were being held together. But no! This is something people opt into as a security and damage-prevention measure and pay for it. The plastic is heavy duty (most likely PVC plastic) and shrink wrapped onto the luggage in many layers using a machine that winds the plastic around the luggage for about $6.00.

We don't need to use anymore plastic, especially the disposable kind while traveling which is probably rarely recycled. Ugh! If someone wants to protect their belongings, then spend the same amount of money on an FAA lock that lasts flight after flight. Or if you're just concerned about the suitcase opening up, then spend $10.00 for a reusable "belt" that wraps around your suitcase and also makes the luggage easier for you to identify. I suppose if you're traveling to a country which is known for stealing out of people's luggage, then perhaps you have no other way to protect your belongings. But, the majority of the time, we are not in that situation.

I flew back into Phoenix for the weekend because my sister was having her second reception from her wedding the week prior. Since I flew in from the East, the flight path runs along the Salt River (Rio Salado). The Salt River has undergone a revitalization, of sorts, over the years -- allowing for marshes where birds and other animals can come and get water, rest, and breed.
In my book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home, I talk about how we need to revitalize, restore, and rebuild natural places in and around our urban areas -- especially for the birds. Every year, a consortium of wildlife and bird watch organizations put out a State of the Birds report. The 2009 report outlines the "troubling declines of bird populations during the past 40 years—a warning signal of the failing health of our ecosystems."

One of my cousins at the wedding reception was gungho about my book and was eager to tell me that she has been sewing up cloth napkins for her family to use. You go green girl!

Next stop ... Hartford.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where in the World is Terra? -- Traveling for her book, Travelogue 2

This is the second installment in my series of travel blogs as I tour the U.S. for the release of my new book The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green.

March 19-20 I was in Miami. On the way there from Tampa I passed over wild areas that looked pretty dry. As I mentioned earlier, Florida has been in a drought situation. The different water agencies in Florida are trying to get residents and businesses to conserve water -- not only because of the drought but also as better water management overall. I found out later that day that the area had been getting some needed rain over the past week, but it wasn't enough. Here's hoping that changes for the better.

I flew into the Ft. Lauderdale airport -- recycling bins at every turn. Great!

My segment on South Florida Today at NBC in Miami was a blast! We talked about my book, and many low-cost ways to go green.

I read on Twitter today that March 24 is the 20-year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Speaking of Twitter, I'm now Twittering under the name of terrawellington at Twitter. It offers a more personal glimpse into happenings and thoughts with me. A different feel than my blog.

At the Miami airport, I got smart and called up the Seafood Watch guide with my cell phone -- again ending up with creole salad and chicken. I forgoed the Mahi Mahi, Dolphin, and Shrimp. All no-no's. Why is it so hard for restaurants to offer sustainable choices? I can only imagine it is because they don't understand that their seafood choices are fishing all the fish out of the ocean. If they knew the ramifications of their offerings, I have to believe they would care more?

My hotel was the Hilton Garden Inn in Miramar -- under a mile away from my my stop at the NBC station. Compact fluorescent lighting throughout the room. A handy microwave and refrigerator meant I could run to the next door grocery store and reduce the energy it would take to prepare my food -- I probably didn't reduce waste, though. No recycling bin the room -- all I want is to find a hotel that will put a recycling bin in my room! Need to talk to Hilton hotels about that.

Read Travelogue #1

Where Terra will be next

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where in the World is Terra? -- Traveling for her book, Travelogue 1

While traveling around the country on behalf of my new book The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving The Earth Begins At Home, I've thought I would chronicle what I see -- mostly environmentally speaking.

Here's the first in a series of blog entries about my travels ...

I first went to Phoenix on March 17 -- the day my book went on sale. I loved how the Phoenix airport was recycling paper, plastic, and newspapers. Excellent.

A couple of days later I was in Tampa, Florida. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. For a big hotel chain, I was pleasantly surprised about some things and disappointed about others. The restaurant downstairs, Avanzare, had lovely sky windows that during the daytime to offer beautiful, free light. But their menu left something to be desired. I expected a lot of seafood offerings, considering I was along the coast, but nothing struck me as sustainable. I whipped out my Seafood Watch card and realized I only had the West Coast version, but still it helped me to review the menu and make a choice. Salmon and shrimp were offered -- but nothing stated where it came from. I could have asked but instead looked on. Grouper and Yellowtail Tuna were also listed -- but I didn't have Grouper on my West Coast Seafood Watch card so I wasn't sure about it. (Later, online, I found out that Grouper is a fish to avoid and limit consumption on due to mercury and contaminant concerns.) Yellowfin caught longline was to avoid and Yellowfin caught via troll/pole was a good alternative -- but I didn't see Yellowtail on my card. In the end, I went with cheese ravioli and a house salad -- both delicious, no guilt, no questions.

Later, I found out that I could have used my BlackBerry and gone to http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ to access the mobile versions of all Seafood Watch cards. I also found out that Yellowfin and Yellowtail are two different types of tuna, both were in the avoid and good alternative categories -- none were in the best choices.

Back to my room, I noticed that every light bulb was energy efficient -- the desk light had an auto off, which bugged me. It kept turning off and wouldn't turn back on properly. They don't wash the linens during your stay unless you ask -- smart. A climate control, newer thermostat was in the bedroom -- which worked great and could be adjusted by me. But no recycling bins in the bedrooms -- I know it would have been cutting edge to see them there, but what a wasted opportunity. I had to hand carry some of my recycled waste downstairs with all my luggage and ask for it to be put in a receptacle.

In the Tampa airport, I needed to grab lunch before heading down to Miami, so I headed to Chili's. Upon first glance, I saw that everyone had a straw. So when the server asked what I wanted to drink, I said "Lemonade, no straw." Easy enough. The menu was burger haven. I don't mind a burger every once and a while. But today that wasn't want I wanted. Maybe when I head to St. Louis next week -- I wonder if they have great burgers there? I will probably want some beef then. But for now I chose a Guiltless Black Bean Burger -- basically a meatless burger with either veggies or fries on the side. Eating less beef is something I talk about in my new book. Eating a diet richer in plants than in meat not only benefits your health but also the planet. And livestock produce about 1/5th of the world's greenhouse gases -- so cutting down on meat, especially beef, is the right choice. Anyway, the bean burger was overgrilled, but otherwise it was tasty.

Before I left Tampa, I wanted to check out what were their local environmental news stories. Of interest, the drought since 2006 has them searching for clean drinking water. They've been using a desalination plant to extract water from the ocean, but that plant has been on overload. There are many areas in the U.S. that have experienced either too much or too little water in the past four years. All scientific evidence points toward major fluctuations in weather patterns to be the norm in the future and causing these wet and dry problems if we do not drastically alter greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally news was about a school that is offering more vegetarian options -- again, getting away from so much meat at school. More schools and students outside of this school in the surrounding area were quoted as wishing their school did this too.

Finally, there was a story about the state of Florida rescuing a baby manatee from a canal whose mother was no where to be found. It's always great to read about people who care for wildlife.

Onto Miami ...

Upcoming Tour Schedule -- check to see if Terra will be in your city

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Terra's New Book, See Terra in Your Area - Eco Mom's Guide

My new book The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home (St. Martin's Press) is being released on March 17 and will be available wherever books are sold.

The guide teaches you everything you need to know to go green -- BUT it does it in an easy, budget-friendly way so that you don't feel overwhelmed.

With this book release I will be traveling throughout the U.S. and be on live TV stations talking about easy ways for your family to go green.

Here are some of the cities (check back for updates!) --

  • March 17, Phoenix, ABC's "Sonoran Living"
  • March 20, Miami, WTVJ-NBC's "Today in South Florida", 11 AM show
  • March 23, "Daytime" a syndicated show airing on over 100 TV stations across the U.S.
  • March 23, Hartford, CT - WTIC-FOX61, 8 AM show
  • March 24, St. Louis, KSDK-NBC's "Show Me St. Louis", 3 PM show -- "Mommy Minute"
  • March 26, Chicago, WGN, Noon news
  • April 1, "The Daily Buzz" a syndicated show airing on 148 TV stations across the U.S.
  • April 10, Sacramento, KCRA, morning news
  • April 13, San Francisco, ABC's "View From the Bay"
  • April 22, San Diego
  • April 22, Nashville, TN -- "Tennessee Mornings"
  • April 24, Martha Stewart Radio show