Friday, January 30, 2009


Sorry to not post! I'm just super busy with a new job and having to develop a completely new routine and schedule that fits into my reduced free time. Further, my daughter has learned to climb the furniture without understanding how gravity works and thus, requires much more supervision than usual (even so, we still ended up with a fat, bloody lip!).

Normal posting will resume soon!

For now this is the text of what I want to include with the light bulb giveaway.


In your hand is a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) that could green the world. CFLs use less energy saving homeowners money and reducing carbon emissions. Why does this matter to you?

Well, who doesn’t want to save money? More money in our pockets is a good thing!

As for carbon emissions, Scientists believe that carbon emissions are causing all sorts of climate problems.From melting the polar ice caps, to hot summers and warmer winters (meaning more snow for Parma!), carbon emissions are changing the planet and not in a good way. Fortunately, there are some easy things you and I can do to fight climate change.

This light bulb is one of those easy things. If we all used CFLs, it would the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars (and their emissions) off the road. Plus, it would save enough energy to light 2.5 million homes. Saving energy is good because it means we use less oil and coal as well as reduce their emissions into the environment.

So please use this light bulb. Better yet, swap out all the light bulbs in your house for CFLs and buy just one extra to pass on to someone else along with this card.

Visit to tell us what you did with your light bulb and to learn more about how Parma is going green.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Anyone remember this blast from the past? I happened to stumble upon it on You Tube.

Also, there's a 'green' schoolhouse rock DVD called Earth coming out in March.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The other day, a parent polluted the ocean as a means of breaking their child's bad habit. I'm purposely being vague as I don't want to villify anyone, but I think their situation illustrates an important issue; what we do matters and, unlike previous generations, we will be around when our actions bear their ruinous fruit.

Unless something changes, by 2048 the fish populations of the ocean will collapse by 90%. On top of that, there is currently a marked decline in the population of phytoplankton. In case, unlike me, you aren't a wannabe marine biologist, phytoplankton is the base of the ocean's food pyramid. They are the alpha and omega of the ocean's food chain, without them the entire oceanic ecosystem will suffer. Between these two facts, you basically have an extinction level event in the oceans in our lifetime.

Yes, our lifetime. Lucky us, we're the generation that gets to see the outcome of decades of economic and industrial--not to mention our own individual-- choices. We no longer live on a planet that will absorb the consequences of our actions until we are long gone. The piper will come for payment before we are in our dotage. For parents, this is especially difficult because, not only do we know the problematic future our children face, we are going to have to answer their 'whys' about the situation.

I want to be able to look my daughter in the eye and honestly say I did everything possible to keep the oceans from dying, that I did my part to make her future bright. So reading that another parent made a different choice, well, it made me wince. I had to take deep breaths. I had to remind myself that, in the grand scheme of world pollution, what they did wasn't really a big deal.

But I wonder what they will tell their children in 2048.

It is so easy to let inertia take over. To put off the trip to Home Depot or Target or some other store to pick up the inexpensive items that save energy and conserve water. We can always turn down the thermostat tomorrow or the next day or next year. Next thing you know, you've done nothing and your children or your grandchildren or the neighbor's kids are looking up to you and asking you 'Why?'

What will you tell them?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Happy 2009! A new year has begun and I have resolved to continue the greening of my daily life. I'm actually on two different New Year resolution diets at the moment. The first many of you are probably familiar with, it's the usual holiday weight loss diet (if you see me at the Parmatown Y, come and say Hi!). However, my other diet is the one that's really important. I call it my 'Oil Diet.' I want to reduce my oil and energy use as well as reusing and recycling when I can.

Below are some of the changes I've made along with some tips so you can start your own Oil Diet.

1. Shop local. Support local and small businesses whenever possible. Parmatown is a better shopping choice compared to buying online or visiting other area malls. I know if I'd been shopping at the bookstores in Parmatown vs. ordering from that the Barnes & Noble bookstore might not be closing. (Yes, that's right, the B&N at Parmatown is closing its doors as of January 17th.) (And yes to the first, I could singlehandedly sustain a bookstore. Yes to the second, I am not perfect either. I have lots of room for improvement in my Oil Diet.)

2. Buy second-hand items. Not only does this save money and put money into the local community, it reduces waste and saves energy.

3.Eat locally grown food and in season produce. In our area this is easier said than done. There are CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Cleveland area, but most have waiting lists. At the very least, if you can't eat locally grown food, sign up for the CSA waiting lists and mark your calendar for the farmer's market at the Stearn's homestead in Parma. The market usually starts in July.

As for in season produce, those berries shipping in from Chile are rarely as good as they look. (I know because I've bought them and been disappointed.) Instead, look for citrus fruits grown in the US along with pears and apples.

4.Walk or bike instead of driving. This is a daunting task especially in winter, but it can be done. Just the other day, we took the baby and dogs on a walk to our local Rite Aid. I ran in with the baby to pick up a few essentials while my husband waited outside with the dogs. Being January, it was cold, but we had a good time regardless and stayed warm with extra layers under our coats.

5. Plan errands and activities to reduce the amount of gas used. I often park between Kohl's and Target and walk from store to store.  Sometimes I even walk to Pet Smart. Little efficiencies like that count.

6.Turn down the thermostat this winter. I'm a huge freeze baby, but, even so, just adding a sweater or shawl has been enough to keep me warm. I haven't bumped the heat up once since turning it down as part of my Oil Diet.
For a gradual change, decrease by 1 degree every 1-2 weeks and get in the habit of adding another layer of clothing before giving in to temptation to turn the heat up. Just 2 degrees down in the winter (and up in the summer) saves as much as 2000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. I just wish losing body fat was so simple!
7. Swap out old lightbulbs for energy friendly compact flourescent (CFL) ones. CFLS use 60% less energy than a regular bulb and save you money as well as 300 pounds of CO2 a year. In addition, if we all used CFL bulbs, we would conserve enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes and eliminates the equivalent emissions from 800,000 cars. Imagine, one little light bulb can be like taking almost a million cars off the road. Amazing!

8. Now that we've changed our light bulbs, the plan is to help someone else swap out their light bulbs. I'm putting together an information card to go with the light bulbs explaining all the benefits of CFLs. I'll do a post on the card I put together so you can copy it and  give out some light bulbs of your own.
9. Stop drinking bottled water. The plastic not only leaches nasty chemicals like BPA into the water, but the plastic itself is made out of oil. Instead, put a filter on the faucet and use a reusable bottle like the ones available from The bottles are available in several different designs. We use them and get tons of compliments about how pretty they are.

10.Grow some food this Spring. Raspberries are very easy to plant and cultivate. Strawberries are basically weeds with fruit; they will grow almost anywhere. (I am a champion plant killer myself and I even managed to grow several quarts of delectable strawberries.) Or plant a full garden. Size doesn't matter, big or small, just plant something you can eat this Spring.
Winter is the perfect time to find nurseries, seeds, and decide what you want to plant. This time of year, dedicated gardeners thumb through their seed catalogs and dream. Why not join them? I am!

Lastly, (and technically number eleven, but I'm trying to pretend that I only have ten tips) tell people about your Oil Diet and direct them to this blog. Share what worked for you, and, in a positive, non-judgmental way, encourage them to do the same.  

If this list seems overwhelming, take a deep breath and pick one thing to start with. You don't have to be a paragon of green perfection from day one. It's not about perfection, it's about change.


I just read The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins. You can read the most important, community action focused parts here and here. (Actually, if you spend enough time on the website pretty much 90% of the book is out there for free, but I have to say I like having it all bound into one ready resource.)

Yesterday I read the Handbook in its entirety and out of 200+ pages of information, the fact I can't escape is the global warming issue:

"If we break through the 1C barrier as now seems inevitable, we'll see a Mount Kilimanjaro completely bereft of ice, the almost complete collapse of the Great Barrier Reef, and a number of island nations submerged by rising sea levels. A 2C rise would cause dreadful heat waves and increased drought around the world.

The reality is that the carbon dioxide already released will continue to push up the temperature for years to come (a phenomenon known as thermal inertia) by at least 0.6C, meaning that we are already committed to a 1.4C rise whatever we choose to do now. The warming we are experiencing now is the result of greenhouse gasses emitted in the 1970s."

Just in case you think 1 or 2C is no big deal, 1C is roughly 33F and 2C is roughly 35F. Think of winters in Parma where the coldest temperature is 50F. My daughter is currently one year old and, at the rate of climate change today combined with the lack of a comprehensive plan to arrest it, she will see a 50F winter in her lifetime.

I don't know about you, but 50F for an average winter temperature sounds kind of nice. Especially as we experience a bitter cold front. Unfortunately, global warming does not mean we will all be drinking pina coladas under Ohio's first palm trees. No matter how much we might like palm trees, this kind of temperature increase is not benign. Our growing season will completely change and nature will be in a crisis of confusion as plants bloom before pollinators migrate.

Sadly, this is already happening.

For instance, the famous writer Henry Thoreau was also a devout naturalist and kept meticulous records on blooming dates for over 600 species of plants. His records are now being used to track how global climate change is impacting the life cycle of plants.

"[Scientists]Primack and Miller-Rushing compared three years of their results with those of Thoreau, focusing on the 43 plant species with the most complete records. They learned that some common plants, such as highbush blueberry and a species of sorrel, were flowering at least three weeks earlier than in Thoreaus's time. On average, they found spring flowers in Concord were blooming a full seven days earlier than in the 1850s--and their statistics clearly showed a close relationship between flowering times and rising winter and spring temperatures."

"Observations from Thoreau and other naturalists reveal that plants are reacting to temperature changes more dramatically than short-distance migratory birds, suggesting that climate change could divide plants from their pollinators. Spring's acceleration is far from orderly."

(Quoted from Smithsonian Magazine October 2007 issue)

So what can we in Parma do in the face of such overwhelming change? Well, it's helpful to keep in mind that big change is really made up of small changes. The old adage 'a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step' comes to mind. This blog is a small change, one tiny step toward a bigger change. If we take enough small steps, then the big ones will happen on their own.

More specifically, we can garden, we can learn about our local ecosystem and ways to support it in times of crisis. We can identify what plant and animal life is the most adaptable and foster that adaptation or limit it if necessary.

I am not powerless. You are not powerless. Together we can do much