Monday, October 31, 2011

New Blog Location

One thing certain about life is change ... and recently, social media.  So, for now I am discontinuing this traditional blog post and now posting in three places:

  1. my main website www.terrawellington.com -- this has articles, tips, what's new, and generally keeps you up to date with me.
  2. my Facebook page -- this has become more of a blog post place for me
  3. on Twitter - @terrawellington -- running, quick thoughts and news items.  An easy way to connect.

Hope to talk to you soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Seasonal Eating with a Pumpkin Dip

Seasonal eating brings new tastes into the home. And one of the healthiest fall food choices is the pumpkin. Many of us just buy pumpkins to carve, but they are actually very healthy and tasty too.
Pumpkins have lots of fiber, which helps to keep your appetite in check. They are also full of vitamins and minerals, particularly beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium.
Here's a fun pumpkin dip recipe to try. Kids love dips, so it's an additional way to get them eating veggies. Add your favorite whole grain crackers, and you're ready to go.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Save Seeds for Health, Safety and Thrift

Why Seed Save?

Learn about the benefits of seed saving, how-to's, and how it can help your family go green and save money with my article on ThriftyandGreen.com.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Recycled Textbook Tips -- Saving Money with Back to School

If you have a college student entering school this fall and are looking to cut costs, consider recycled textbooks as a way to save money and do good by the planet.

Be the Early Bird

Remember when you went to college? The “early bird caught the worm” in the race for used books on the shelf. Today, being early is still the modus operandi if you want a deal. But, the difference is you have more used options available to you than just the one bookstore shelf.
Read on for my tips at ThriftyandGreen.com ...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Make Summertime Cravings Work For You

Have you found yourself craving cool-temperature meals and water-laden foods, like fruits?  These are the signs of a summer appetite.  Luckily, many of these choices are healthier for you and probably include more fruits and veggies.

Eating more fruits and vegetables should be a year-round goal.  So why not make summertime a jumpstart into healthier habits for you?

Here are some tips and ideas --

  • Pick seasonal fruits and vegetables that you crave and build a meal around them.  For example, you start with sliced strawberries and nectarines, along with cooked squash, and then you tack on rice with organic edamame and a slice of whole grain bread.  Get thinking fruits and veggies first.
  • Use online recipe sites to think of new and better ways to use vegetables.  While fruits are often exciting and tasty all by themselves, many times veggies need a boost.  Try new ways of presenting them to your palette that will leave you wanting more -- either as a side dish or part of the main entree.  Some favorite sites to peruse -- epicurious.com and allrecipes.com
  • Visit your local farmer's market.  Most communities have a local farmer's market once a week during the summer months.  If you haven't visited yours yet, try it -- visit localharvest.org for schedules.  Fruits and veggies tend to be really fresh and tasty, leaving a sense memory in your brain that healthy food tastes great too.  
  • Get creative with salads.  There are so many ways to make salads beyond lettuce and tomato.  Other fruits can replace the tomato, making for exciting new tastes -- like strawberries, nectarines, plums, and peaches.  Add avocados, onion slices, cucumbers, corn kernals, zucchini, snap peas, cooked beets.  Try new combinations.  And, all-fruit salads are wonderfully easy to make.
  • Layer veggies in sandwiches.  Who wants to come home and cook up a warm meal on a warm day?  Sandwiches are a delightful alternative, especially when you can layer in thin-sliced vegetables to add variety.  Try cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, radishes, mushrooms, avocados, and spinach. 
  • Make fruit drinks.  Instead of purchasing flavored drinks, make your own.  It's a bit old fashioned but easy.  Fill a blender with water, leaving enough space for some cut-up fruit and a bit of sugar.  Liquify.  And you've got a natural fruit drink.  The more fruit you add, the more smoothy-like it becomes.  Try strawberries, melons, peaches, raspberries -- basically any fruit.  
  • Have fun with homemade popsicles.  Pour the same make-your-own fruit drink (above) into a basic popsicle mold.  Freeze.  And you've got a cool treat.  Kids love doing this, especially when they get to experiment with flavors. 


 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World Oceans Day - June 8

Video from my friends at Earth-Touch.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cameron Diaz talks food

Check out dozens of short videos on food and sustainability at www.nourishlife.org!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today's Science Lesson! Ocean Dead Zones, Kid Friendly Eco

The Nitrogen Cascade from Erin Siegel on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Type in Your Favorite Seafood to See How Sustainable It Is

Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day 2011 -- April 22 -- Find a Local Event



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eco Fashion Trends Forecast Future Wearables



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

GUEST POST: Want to Buy Green? These Big Green Purse Principles Will Help!



Celebrate Earth Day!  A big thanks to my eco friend Diane MacEachern, www.biggreenpurse.com, author, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.  She has written up a helpful post on looking for green standards.


When should you spend your money to protect the planet – and when should you keep it in your purse?

Given the thousands of green products being introduced these days, and the vague marketing claims being used to sell them, you don’t want to blow your budget just to keep up with the newest “eco,” “herbal,” or “biodegradable” fad – especially if the claim turns out to be more greenwashing than green.

On the other hand, genuinely earth-friendly products do help minimize your environmental impact. Every organic cotton T-shirt you buy, for instance, helps reduce the use of toxic agricultural chemicals, protecting the air and water. Moreover, the same tee waves like a bright green flag in front of conventional cotton producers, reminding them that your money is filling their organic competitors’ coffers.

Using your spending power to favor companies whose goods protect the climate, eliminate toxins, keep the air and water clean, and safeguard forests and other natural places creates a powerful incentive for their rivals to do likewise. The challenge is in knowing how to avoid the “greenwash” so you can promote more green. A few clear principles will help you identify an ecobargain from a rip-off, while getting manufacturers to transition as quickly as possible to the most earth-friendly practices available.

The Big Green Purse Shopping Principles
1) Buy less.
2) Read the label.
3) Support sustainable standards.
4) Look for third-party verification.
5) Choose fewer ingredients.
6) Pick less packaging.
7) Buy local.


  • Buy less. This should be a “no brainer.” Consumerism – buying what we don’t need, over and over again – drives unnecessary manufacturing that fuels climate change, pollutes the air and water, and destroys the places in Nature we love. Remember “reduce, reuse, recycle”? It still makes sense.
  • Read the label. We read food labels to avoid trans fats, sugar, salt and carbohydrates. We can read product labels to avoid greenwashing words like “natural” and “planet friendly” that aren’t backed up by standards or third-party verification (see below). When it comes to cleansers and other household goods, avoid products labeled “caution,” “warning,” “danger,” and “poison,” all of which indicate the item is hazardous to you and the environment.
  • Support sustainable standards. An increasing number of companies are proving they’re green by manufacturing according to sustainable standards that govern the product’s “life cycle,” beginning with the raw materials and ending with its disposal or re-use. The SMART standard, for example, covers flooring, lighting, building materials, and other consumer products.
  • Look for third-party verification. In the absence of universal sustainable standards, if a company says its product is good for the earth, your first question should be, “Who else says so?” Reliable eco claims are backed up by an independent institution or nonprofit organization that has investigated the manufacturer’s claim so you don’t have to. Look for labels from groups like Forest Stewardship Council, Energy Star and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Organic.
  • Choose fewer ingredients. A long list of ingredients often indicates the presence of questionable chemicals that may be harmful to you or the environment. This is especially true for personal care products, food, and cleansers. Simplify what you buy.
  • Pick less packaging. Regardless of the marketing claims a product makes, you can have an immediate impact by buying goods that come wrapped as simply as possible. For starters, buy in bulk, choose concentrates, and pick products in containers you can easily recycle (hint: glass and cans are more easily recycled than plastic). Carting home your packages in your own bags helps reduce packaging, too.
  • Buy local. Avoid the higher energy costs involved in transporting goods long distances. Supporting local farmers and businesses also increases the likelihood that U.S. environmental and health laws and regulations will be followed.
Bottom Line: Ignore boasts that a product is eco-chic, earth-safe, or planet-neutral. Stick to the principles above to ensure that your Big Green Purse has the kind of big green impact that will make a difference where you shop and where you live.

Diane MacEachern is the author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World. Sign up for free green living tips at BigGreenPurse.com.

  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Live Video Feed of Bald Eagle Babies

This is a live streaming feed of bald eagle parents watching over their new babies in Decorah, Iowa. Fascinating video!

If you'd like to learn more, the National Wildlife Federation has up-to-date information here.

(Note: if you're watching this at night, you can still see the nest because the camera turns to infrared.)



Webcam chat at Ustream

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

IDEAS FOR MOMS -- PBS Show that introduces your little ones to nature and the outdoors

"Wild Animal Baby Explorers" -- Check your local PBS station for airing details.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kids and Nature: Novel Idea

Guess this is one way you could teach your kids about nature ...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to Do About High Gas Prices

I filled up my car this morning -- $20 more for a full tank since the end of 2010. Considering that we are likely going to see over $4.00/gallon this summer for gasoline, I suspect that the per gallon price won't return to last year's levels even after summer. Higher priced gasoline is here to stay -- partly because of markets and partly because oil production has peaked.

For the future, there are mainly three paths we can take in reducing sticker shock at the pump: higher fuel efficiency, electric, and biofuels (fuels made from plants). It is important to know what each brings to the table and how it affects your pocketbook and the environment because politicians and government agencies are making decisions on where to give tax breaks and incentives based upon public comment, government reports, and lobbyists.

Increasing fuel efficiency of our vehicles through new technologies and, in many cases, downsizing our vehicle size is doable today. This also includes improving fuel efficiency for heavy trucks. Many of the newest consumer vehicles available, some not even hybrid, have significantly increased their fuel efficiency. If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can go to www.fueleconomy.gov and compare fuel efficiency quite easily. Fuel efficiency, along with safety and durability, should be your main concerns for a new car to protect your family and your budget.

Electric: the automobile industry has taken electric plug-in vehicles by storm, and you will see more and more of these all-electric or hybrid electric plug-ins available for 2012-13 along with smart grid applications and more prolific plug-in charging stations. At www.fueleconomy.gov you can see how the government is breaking down fuel economy for these electric vehicles, based on new electric-fuel formulas. If you can afford the higher price, perhaps through the help of rebates, I highly recommend electric options.

On the biofuel side, what is probably the most confirming evidence of peaked oil is a new, draft report from the Environmental Protection Agency that looks to determine which of all the biofuels would be less harmful to the environment and most efficacious for public consumption (considering greenhouse gases, transportation, fuel efficiency, technologies, etc.) as alternatives to oil. A majority of non-diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. are now E85 (high ethanol fuel) compatible -- also called flex-fuel vehicles -- and can use these biofuels. A list is found here.  Of course, diesel used biofuel as well.

The preliminary biofuels results in this EPA report were by in large not positive. Most of the biofuels have massive amounts of environmental hazards and impacts. Only perennial grass as cellulosic ethanol is listed as the most positive of all choices, yet this type of biofuel (along with algae-based fuel) is probably the farthest from being realized. As this report moves to final draft, we will likely see the corn industry and its industrial suppliers of pesticides and fertilizers ramp up efforts to protect their businesses and their expected corn ethanol boom -- no matter the environmental impact -- lots of PR spin expected. But corn, and other types of biofuels, have substantially negative environmental impact on water pollution, water used, air pollution, soil contamination, and loss of biodiversity.

While biofuels have the potential to reduce our dependence on oil, they cannot be the end-all, be-all of our dependence on oil.  Instead, by combining sustainable electric, higher fuel efficiency, and the least environmentally impactful biofuel technologies we can free ourselves from oil price spikes and reduce greenhouse gases -- and the best part of this three-prong approach is that it is quick to bring to market, while drilling for more hard-to-find oil is not.

For more on clean energy and curbing volatile gas prices, see this NRDC report here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Take a closer look at your utility bill - EV's are a comin'

If you are in the market to buy a new automobile, the Detroit Auto Show really showed the tipping point in what you might consider.

For the last couple of years I have been talking about electric and hybrid vehicles, but beyond the Prius there wasn't a whole lot to choose from.  This is all changing rapidly with the emergence of electric vehicle hybrid plug-ins and electric-only autos from nearly every automobile manufacturer starting with the 2011 and 2012 models.  This change in focus begs the question of how much will you save and how that will be reflected on your utility bill.

This question was recently raised in an LA Times blog posting about how utilities that still have tiered pricing would potentially not save you money if you purchased an electric plug-in vehicle.  This is because tiered pricing means the electricity gets continually more expensive the more you use.  And, you'd be using a lot more by plugging in your vehicle to recharge.

My city still has tiered pricing, so I e-mailed my utility to find out what are its plans.  Come to find out that if I purchase a plug-in vehicle then I can let my utility know and they will automatically change my electricity pricing to time of use.  This means that certain times of the day the electricity will be more or less expensive, with the least expensive usually being in the evening and at night -- which is when I would recharge my vehicle.  Only then, with time of use pricing, does my plug-in become cost efficient.  Makes me wonder why they just don't switch everyone right now instead of me jumping through hoops, but that's another story.

You can see an example from this Chevrolet Volt EPA sticker of how knowing how much you are being charged per kWh (killowatt hour) on your utility bill is really going to matter.   Most of us just try to keep our electric bill down, but knowing what and how you are charged is going to be increasingly a consumer issue.  I see this bringing about a sea change in how consumers view utility companies -- right now there is a bit of choice in who you get your gasoline from, but once you start using electricity for fuel and if there is only one choice for the provider you might start to question more who is controlling your pocketbook and how they do it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 - Year of the Permaculture

If there were one "green" word that will find its place among the masses this year, I suspect it will be permaculture.  This isn't about probiotic yogurt or a revival of hair permanents, rather permaculture is all about everyday living and growing food in a way in which both are more harmonious with nature.

We see evidence of this in the U.S. with the surge in home gardening, farmer's markets, an emphasis on local and regional food production, and the innovative emergence of growing diverse groups of foods together for a more sustainable farm.  Permaculture is probably the answer to saving the bees, along with organic, because then you don't need so many chemicals to keep a farm afloat -- and, most research points to an increase in yield and productivity with permaculture.

Permaculture also allows us to consider a more diverse range of foods, which benefits us all and hearkens back to non-GMO times when people knew that working with nature instead of against it was your time-tested plan for success.

Here's a great example from Vietnam that illustrates permaculture --