I am pleased that this year, Jason and I got our act together to time our trip better around the Hanalei Farmers Market.
The bulk of our food came from there (we rent a condo and cook in for 90% of our meals). When not at the farmers market, we did our best to buy local produce at the regular market "Foodland" in Princeville.
Our one big dilemma this year was eggs. In past years we have been able to buy a huge 24-egg cardboard flat of local eggs at Foodland. This year, the only local eggs were, sadly, packaged in styrofoam. The compostable/recyclable cardboard egg cartons were all stamped "mainland". While I appreciated this honesty, it caused a dilemma as there were no eggs to be had at the farmers' market.
Jason argued that he'd rather buy the local in the styrofoam then something that had been shipped 3000 miles. As he is the designated breakfast chef on our trips, I yielded to him. Neither of us like to have to make choices like that.
We agreed that next year, should we return, that we will be more proactive in seeking out a roadside egg stand or back yard seller.
Picking Up Litter
I found myself inspired by Bea Johnson's New Year's Post about new year's "resolutions" that should make you want to do them and lift your spirit. She herself decided to clean up a local beach and have her volunteerism match who she is, what she says and what she does.
When I lived in the mountains of Colorado, I was always bringing back crap people tossed mindlessly from their cars in the canyon where I lived. Each daily two mile walk up the road from my cabin yielded a lot of that trash.
And while I *do* tend to pick up bits of litter here and there in Seattle (and I do dumpster dive), something about being on Kauai made me realize that I've not been so altruistic as of late.
On the island, being surrounded by such lush stunning tropical beauty and then having it smeared with some nasty beer bottle or gunk spurred me to action. I did three roadside walks and came back with a bunch of junk which I deposited in the appropriate receptacles. And Bea was right about the spiritual uplift of doing such: I felt incredibly much more connected and felt blessed to be able to give back to the island.
All in all, the island of Kauai is actually really clean along most of its roadsides, due to a large and healthy Adopt A Highway program. Nearly every stretch of
Highways 50 and 56 are quite well tended. But it does seem that, once you head west out of Hanalei Town, that no one has formally adopted that section of the last eight miles of the highway so I did what I could.
Goals For Greener Travel Next Year
I am really pleased about how much more proactive Jason and I have been getting about trying to lessen our impact on our annual vacation. Yes, yes, yes: we KNOW that the best thing to do would be not to go at all, as flying is so polluting. But they haven't invented large scale solar commercial planes yet, although there is progress in solar flight with the Solar Impulse!
But as I have argued in past posts, while I try to limit my flying, I refuse to stay home all the time. It does nothing for one's education, opening of the mind, or spiritual growth to stay cooped up in your house and never see or encounter something outside your norm. What I try to do is to fly less, but with more purpose: staying longer and taking back something in my head.
The spiritual uplift I get from the beauty of the Islands fuels me all year. I learn what other communities are doing. I try to be low impact outside the flying. We rent a beat-up condo and cook in, we do NOT stay at wasteful, five star resorts. We don't buy a lot of stuff and what we DO buy is from local artists, local food, etc. We hike, swim, bike, snorkel. These are experiences.
We learn about organizations like the Surfrider Foundation. I bring reusable coffee cups. I refused to eat several places where the food came on plastic plates. I shared what I do with this blog and also my pack-out-the-trash project. Yes - I got some weird looks and comments. But I also had several people thank me and one person said "Wow - this is the ripple effect in motion: you have given me some new ideas!"
As for next year, I am not only going to be more proactive about local eggs, but I have saved all the Foodland Market's bulk bin plastic containers that are pre-tare weighted and will re-use them more at that store next year.
I will remember my stainless steel water bottle. I will also do my darnest to rent a hybrid car (we did have a fairly good MPG in the Ford Focus, but could do much better) Believe it or not, it isn't as easy to rent a hybrid as one might think on Kauai - small island and what hybrids there are go fast.
May the Spirit of Aloha Be With You
Mahalo - Deb
5400 Air Miles= 2106 pounds CO2
9.4 gallons of gas (my half) = 178 pounds CO
Terra Pass Offsets Purchased by Deb to cover this trip:
3000 pounds for $17.35
My sweetie & I have just returned from our annual ten-day Kauai sojourn. We have brought back tans (or freckles, in my case), experiences (hiking, snorkeling, dancing), ... and trash.
Yep! I packed back a bag of trash for my 2015 One Mason Jar Every Two Months Challenge.
Inspired, once again, by Bea Johnson and others who have done similar, this year, in addition to making our usual and diligent use of the resort's recycling bins, I decided to pack back any non-recyclable and non-compostable trash. (I did not require Jason to do the same as his trash is his problem to deal with.)
I also brought back items that were not recyclable on the Island of Kauai, but that I know to be recyclable either in Seattle or through outlets I use - namely Terra Cycle and the Aveda Bottle Cap Program. I also brought back a few items I can directly re-use myself :-) It all fit into a macadamia nut bag.
What Did I Bring Back?
I also brought back a couple of things, besides the spoon that I found on the side of the road: a Micky Mouse key chain dongle and a metal beer cap.
What Did I Learn?
THAT ALL THE DANG UNDERLINED ITEMS IN RED IN THE ABOVE LIST COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF I HAD BEEN BETTER AT USING THE FIRST "R" as in "Refuse" (Then Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Rot and only in that order.)
But I also learned that I am awake and at least trying to off-set the impact of my vacation. (Yes - I flew. See carbon footprint in next post.) If I can't take a solar plane yet, at least I can try and "leave as little trace as circumstances allow".
Next Up: Green Hawai'ian Vacation Part Two: Buying Local and Picking Up Roadside Trash
Welcome to something that I think is even better than reusable cloth bags: the humble milk crate! This is what I bring to the grocery store.
I like it better than reusable cloth bags for many reasons:
1. It doubles as a shopping basket (the small kind).
2. It has structure: the items within are held firmly in place.
3. This structure also makes it so I don't need to use separate bags to contain the fruits and veggies - I put them directly in: heavy ones on the bottom; lighter ones on top.
4. It holds milk cartons and other square items much more securely.
5. The crate doesn't roll around in my car and topple half the contents out like lumpy bags of any sort tend to do.
6. Easy to wash: just hose it off every so often either outside or in the shower.
7. Doubles as a table or chair on picnics.
8. Holds ice packs nicely for short trips (though not as efficient as an ice chest).
9. You can easily see the contents - I find it quicker to unload the items once I am home.
Since starting to use a crate instead of the reusable bags, I don't forget it, I don't lose it (I love the small, stuff-able Chico reusable bags, but they seem to vanish along with the single socks - go figure).
As to what is actually in my crate today?
-cardboard carton of local northwest eggs (hidden on the bottom)
-locally grown turnips and rutabagas
-local milk in a returnable bottle
-avocados (alas, not local:-( )
-tomatoes (from a British Columbia Hot House - so sorta local)
-a compostable box of fixings from the bulk salad bar, enough to make four lunches worth (also hidden on the bottom)
I could improve this "zero- waste" effort by bringing a large Mason jar to fill from the bulk salad bar (I often bring smaller ones but today I was lazy).
As to WHY the bulk salad bar? I load up on things like sunflower seeds, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles, olives, artichoke hearts, peas, chickpeas, and chicken and ham pieces.
All of these items, if purchased in the aisles separately, would be packaged in plastic that I would have to dispose of.
So them's my apples fer the day! (munch!) Now, if I could just persuade the tomato guys they really don't need to put those stupid stickers on the fruit...
We've come to my favorite time of the year- the end- where I sit down and tally all the data I keep about how much carbon I am (or am not) spewing into the air. After all, that is the whole point of this blog! So drum-roll, please...
Deb Seymour's overall carbon output for 2014 is 6694 pounds (or 6.6 tons)
THIS IS THE SECOND LOWEST SCORE SINCE 2010!
(Click on chart to enlarge)
A "Silver-Medal" YEar!
Well, well, well!
It would seem that dumping my ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) Car and driving 90% electric has made a huge dent, in spite of flying to London and Hawaii this year!
As you can see in the chart below, my overall carbon dip (the black line) parallels the steep decline in gasoline usage (the blue line). However, the fact that the green line (flying) even exists is what keeps the black line positioned high.
About That Flying
The purists among you will hammer me for flying at all. And I agree with you: flying (pardon my language) effs-up my carbon output- it is HUGELY carbon intensive and pollutes like a <insert favorite naughty word here>.
But until we can figure out a better way to cross oceans- greener ways- I am kind of stuck. I refuse to stay in the USA all the time- and it is not like I go overseas all the time, either. In fact, my last trip to Europe was in 2007, and before that, China 1983. Both in 2007 and 1983 I "flew long and stayed long"
"Fly long,stay long" means getting as much value for your carbon spewing as possible by making your trip worthwhile- which to me is staying long enough to really practice the language, experience the culture and LEARN SOMETHING that makes me a better person and makes the world a better place.
England in particular this year involved meeting with other electric car advocates, doing some green car journalist and driving electric cars on the other side of the road. Including a TESLA! (See Blog Archives 2014- "UK Electric Highway" and "Driving on the Left...and I'll take a TESLA with That!")
I don't want to not travel. I DO try and do it with a purpose beyond silly tourism.
I REALLY WANT solar planes or, better yet, ship options that do NOT involve luxury cruises, which are even more wasteful and carbon intensive.
I am ALSO stuck being an only child who MUST occasionally show up in person to tend to my elderly & disabled mother- there is only so much I can oversee long-distance (See last chart on this post for more about that)
I ALSO REALLY WANT HIGH SPEED ELECTRIC RAIL IN THE USA, GDLDANGIT! That is one thing that Europe has that we don't and when you start experiencing the ease of that type of travel- in England, Germany, France, Denmark...you fall in love with it. (Note the addition of a train on the chart this year!)
But back to the GOOD STUFF from 2014:
Alas, my natural gas usage was up this year and I am not sure why, except general laziness. Also, I have yet to cut a cat door in the door leading from the kitchen to their area in the basement, thus that door has been cracked open all year, letting basement drafts into the main floor where we live. That changes on FRI the day after tomorrow! Got the tools, got the kitty door! (For those new to this blog who are curious as to what I did to drastically reduce my natural gas usage between 2009 and 2010. please visit Blog Archives 2010 "Smashing Gas Flat" :-)
Alas, garbage output is a bit up too DESPITE only producing one 2 Quart mason jar a month personally: cat poop. If it weren't for the furry little fuzzballs whose poop must be scooped and disposed of properly, I only would have made seven and a half gallons of my own trash between May-December. Grrr. I welcome suggestions on ways to safely compost cat poop in my yard (if that is even legal)... or maybe I will keep two separate counts...one for me, one for the cats. Heh!
One month of trash...and during the holiday season to boot! This level of trash making- or non-trash making- has been on-going since May. Watch out Bea Johnson...I'll get down to one jar a year eventually! If I only didn't have cats... (I love my cats and they ain't going nowhere, in case anyone wants to know!)
Water usage remained on the lower side for 2014, despite it being the nastiest, driest, hottest Seattle summer since I moved here in 2014. 2010 was bad because my drip hoses sprung a leak that I didn't know about. What do I do?Take quick showers with the water OFF while I soap, use rain barrel watering for houseplants and garden, efficient dishwasher and front-load washing machine, "if it's yellow, let it mellow" , etc.
Lastly, About That Flying...And Mom...
Flying used to be very occasional until 2009 when my father in California became extremely ill in and died. Since then, as an only child, I have had make frequent and often last-minute flights between Seattle and California, to aid my mother, whose health is really bad as well. 2012 was a particular difficult year, both emotionally and logistically re Mom. I only WISH I could say those 2012 flights were all vacations but they weren't.
Electricity in the City Seattle, WA is produced 94% by renewable energy: hydro-electric, wind and solar. In addition, I am a part of the Seattle Community Solar project and my home is partially powered by solar that way as well!
However, I DO share my yearly kWh count... just not until I get my final bill, which doesn't arrive until mid January each year. See you then!
HAPPY NEW YEAR
DEB GOES GREEN!
HOW DEB DOES THE MATH:
(I forget where I got this formula I will update post when I find it again)
Short haul <727.45 miles 0.64 lbs/mile
Med haul <2575 miles 0.44 lbs/mile
Long haul >2575 miles 0.39lbs/mile
1 gallon of gasoline = 19.4 pounds of C02
1 therm= 11.7 pounds of C0
1 kWh in Seattle= 0 pounds of CO2
Merry Christmas from Deb Goes Green! The cats and I are spending a lovely day on the couch enjoying a good book and not consuming or making trash.
Peace on Earth begins at home...or so we think! -Deb (& Peaches & Morpheus)
New York State banned fracking today and I am fracking excited!
READ WHOLE ARTICLE HERE
Yay! The PDF versions of the blogs from the old Deb Goes Green Word Press Version are all up and accessible from the Word Press Archives page! Or get them right here:
Blog Archives 2008-2010
Blog Archives 2011
Blog Archives 2012
Blog Archives 2013
Blog Archives 2014 (last entry October 16)
I hope to have an index of past blog post titles up soon.
But for now, enjoy! I know I am glad to have these posts archived in a more anti-deletion-friendly way!
Welcome to the new Deb Goes Green blog site! My name is Deb Seymour and I am your blog host and author. I am so pleased you are here!
Why Is It New?
I have been writing a blog about my personal attempts at greener living since October, 2008. Sadly, in a post-Thanksgiving-food-coma computer file cleaning frenzy, I deleted all over 120 posts in the old Word Press site. (I thought I was deleting an outdated music data base- what a turkey I am!)
For Those Of You Who Haven't Been Here Before:
I strongly believe that we can live lightly on the earth without having to renounce all trappings of modern society. To that end, I began this blog in 2008 to chronicle my successes and failures in modeling that belief.
Happily I have been mostly successful in establishing the five R's (refuse, reduce, repair, recycle, rot) in my life while still having hot water, decent clothes,eating well and driving a car. There have been set backs as well and I tried to be honest about those, too.
My readers over the past six years have been from all walks of life and from all over the world. I have learned as much by reading their comments as I have by my own fumbling steps towards being net-zero.
What Is Next?
Pardon the "woo-woo", but sometimes the universe sends you signs that something needs to change. I suspect my accidental deletion of the old files was one of them: a sign to consolidate the best of what I can retrieve from the Google caches and old backups and present it all in a clearer, cleaner form.
A downsizing and de-cluttering of sorts.
Meanwhile, as I work to retrieve or re-write the best of what was lost (and write new material), please poke around this new site what I have so far and feel free to comment (usual niceties apply: rude or name-calling posts will be removed.)
Peace be with you,