Monday, December 29, 2008

When Good Compost Goes Bad

I've been having issues with my compost, lately. Like, mostly that I have been completely ignoring it. I wish I had a picture of the compost container that I kept in my kitchen but refused to dump; it sat sealed on the counter next to the sink, becoming a scientific experiment in anaerobic decomposition of food scraps. Finally, the old man put it out in the carport, where it was conveniently forgotten for another two months (I think by that time it had been sitting on the counter for about two months).

In the meanwhile, while swearing to never open that container and just let it go, I was given another compost container at the Sustainability Fest at the Hwy 441 farmer's market a couple of months ago. It's pretty awesome -- it's a small, black bucket with lid and handy handle for skipping with it to the compost bin (see photo). And I vowed to make good on my commitment to composting by emptying this one out more often. And I've been fairly good about that.

In fact, I just dumped BOTH containers in the compost bin mere moments ago. What?! you gasp, BOTH containers? Yes. And the four-month sealed container was as awful and disgusting as I had imagined, and more so. But I did it -- the stink from the container was too strange to describe -- I think maybe the smell of soil from the Graveyard of the Damned would be an apt comparison. And really old, smelly socks.

Man, I hope I didn't kill the compost with that crud. Also spoke with Sharon the other night who is an awesome composter (she keeps her compost bin in the freezer) and said I should be wetting my compost down more. I think I understood this intuitively but kind of hoped the measly rainfall we've had would compensate. So, after I'm over the revulsion of emptying out The Forgotten Compost Container I'll go back outside and wet it down some.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bob Fuller's Roadside Memorials

Microbial Battery: Are dead people the new bamboo?

My friend, Bren, the hostess with the mostess of her blog Gee-ville Deals, sent me an early Christmas present with a link to a blog post about the possibilities of using the dead as food to power electronics. After doing some minor follow up on the internets it became clear that this is performance art, but with scientific fact mixed-in.

An interview with one of the Afterlife project researchers, James Auger, on We Make Money Not Art, is a great display of all of his projects and I encourage people to read it. My favorites are Augmented Animals and the Audio Tooth Implant, apparently much-talked on the web. I seem to remember an episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" that had the same dilemma of Major Healey having a tooth that picked up radio signals. The Afterlife Project is defined as thus:

Afterlife, an aid for the grieving process in a technologically mediated culture. It used to be featured on our website but after we came clean about the tooth implant we didn't want people to think that this project was of the same nature. We're collaborating with scientists and attempting to offer the service for real. Basically creating a microbial battery from the energy of a loved one that may then be used to power a range of electronic products.

This has Adbusters written all over it, but it was enticing enough for me to do some further digging on microbial batteries, and these are apparently already in use. Bestview blogspot blog has a summary of research done at UMass on a microbial battery that generates electricity from organic matter using bacterium called Rhodoferax ferrireducens. These "iron breathers" were placed in an enclosed container with a sugar solution and graphite and deposited protons which turned into current on the exposed end of the electrode. Funded by the Defense Department (of course), the applications include use as a way to generate electricity for low-power antennaes in areas where electricity might not be readily available. I like how Dr. Best, the author of Bestview, makes the distinction between the microbial battery and ethanol, stating, "instead of using organic matter to make a fuel, the battery...converts organic matter directly into electricity." This seems to take a step or two out of the costly and resource conuming process currently used to make ethanol.

The next hit on good old Google was a How Stuff Works article on the "Beer battery." Foster's brewery in Australia installed technology to use microbial batteries to generate a small amount of electricity and clean waste water. In the US, the New Belgium brewery in Colorado has been using this technology in addition to other green technologies in its brewing:
While the brewery uses wind power for most of its power needs (about 85 percent), the methane gas from the waste-water clean-up kicks in the remaining 15 percent.

And the HSW article says the brewery saves 3k on its monthly energy bills. Fascinating stuff.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Update on Graduation Alert

Got electronic proofs of my grad photos -- here I am shaking hands with Bernie, looking all dopey and starry-eyed.  Bernie's all looking dazed at having to shake 500+ graduate hands.  We should have rushed the stage at the end with a cooler of Purell to dump on his head.  

I'm done!  Woo!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Graduation Alert

If you follow the blog regularly, you're aware that I've been finishing up my bachelor's degree in English (haha, I know this blog is probably an editor's nightmare, but that's how I roll, see?).  Commencement is this Saturday and, by gum, I'll be there with family in tow (DG included).  I'm hoping I can get a bunch of new bags Bedazzled and ready to go for DG to hang up, but I'm not counting on it, unless I can get DJ (not to be confused with DG) to help me in this task.  So, this coming Saturday may or may not be bagless.  That is all. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Copenhagenize Blog

Sorry, I had to highlight this fabulous blog, Copenhagenize: Life in the World's Cycling Capital.  If you care about promoting cycling as a way to decrease carbon emissions, please show Copenhagenize some link love in your own blog.

The most recent post highlights a series of posters on, that re-envisions what the poster artists of the first Great Depression (read the Copenhagenize blog post for more info), would do today.  Clicking on the ReadyMade link will allow you to download all five posters -- they're totally hot!

Okay, for real, I'm getting back to work...

Poster, Simplicity is the Key to Successful Living, by Nick Dewar.

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 12.13.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

It was dang cold at the farmer's market this morning and didn't have any bags -- I had washed some the night before but did not have the chance to Bedazzle the labels on, so we made do with the ones we had. I also noticed that the remodeled laundry bag DG talks about in her dispatch from last week, was gone today! Bought some oranges from the lovely Erika-of-the-sweet-and-tasty-citrus who is back at the market with her dad and "reporting for duty" as Need-a-Bag? Project Associate for the duration of the season. Welcome back, Erika! I was about to get scurvy from lack of citrus.

Poor Jared, the intrepid farmer's market manager, had to take the bags down two weeks in a row because I forgot to tell him Need-a-Bag? Project Associate, Stace, had resigned from her seasonal post -- I also forgot to come by myself to remove the bags...! Darn. We need to knit him a hat, or something equally as fabulous for his taking on duties that were not his responsibility.

About Stace: She did an amazing job picking up the bag putting-awaying duties while Erika was taking a break between growing seasons. Stace is now taking a much-needed break as she and her husband, T-dawg, prepare for the onslaught of the Christmas holidays. And the bags that she and her mom collected for the project will be hanging on the fence next week for sure! Thank you so much, Stace, for all your efforts!

Speaking of thanking people and knitting them fabulous hats (the latter which, unfortunately, will probably not occur in this lifetime), I would like to take a moment to tentatively announce the Need-a-Bag Project's First Anniversary Celebration is almost a go! I say "tentatively" because we still need to hear back from one of our associates about their availability. Two months later than our actual anniversary but it will still be a fun evening of pizza, cake, and surprises!!! The manager of The Original Pizza Palace has kindly offered the back room for the affair--thank you, and sorry you guys are having such chaos, looking at the linked Sun article.

Got the pic of former owner of OPP, Jim Larsen, in front of the original Original Pizza Palace, from the Gainesville Magazine article, "Remembrances of Restaurants Past." Photo by Aaron Daye.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 11.29.08: Dispatch from the farmar's

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

While I was recovering from turning in a thesis draft in the wee hours of Saturday morning, DG shouldered the Need-a-Bag? project responsibilities and provided this dispatch from the 441 Farmer's Market:

Farmar 11.29.08

The market was deeeaaaad today. Farmer John had some greens that looked excellento, and the shrimp guy was there, and the tomatoes people. I got some tomatoes to make sauce with, and some kumquats and some pecans (pecans are excellent at the moment—now is the time to invest in pecans for your family's needs). Other than those few vendors and the standards—the Flour Pot, etc., the place was denuded. And customers? Don't make me laugh: there were no such. We put out 12 new bags and I retired the tired old black vinyl atrocity that has been hanging on the fence since spring. Goodbye, old soldier. And a sorryass little burlap affair that has been there, I think, since day one. Sorry, blueboy: your hour has arrived.

All the new bags have BeDaZzLeD labels. It's like Prince designed them. It's like the Farmar is Xanadu. Everyone should be required to wear oldstyle rollerskates and hotpants to shop there.

There was a laundry bag that I remodled to be even less useful by cutting off its mesh top and fashioning it into some useless handles and bedazzling them to the ripstop body. Useless as it is, it's been bedazzled so hard, I don't see how anyone can resist it. I put it in the far back area so that only the most discerning customers will see it. The T-totes are holding their own. In that they remain stolidly on the fence, unmolested. They are above the fray. T-totes. Above it. What will we find after the nuclear winter? Nothing but T-totes and cockroaches.

Last post on Black Friday (I promise)

Wanted to thank Tim and Lisa Reitz and Me-Me King who commented on the Black Friday posts -- your refusal to participate in this senseless "tradition" is inspiring!

I was talking to DG about this subject last night, and remarking on a comment I had read on the internets.  In referring to the tragic death of the Wal-Mart employee, the poster made the observation, something to the effect of "it's not like they were rushing into the store to get food to feed their families, they were rushing in to buy stuff."  And that's what makes these yearly death tallies on Black Friday so sad; we really only have two basic needs in our lives--food and shelter--and when we find ourselves going ape s**t over marked-down toys and TV sets this is a major problem.  

The old man was even saying that these things should be regulated somehow and, if the old man says something should be regulated, you KNOW it's got to be some bad ju-ju.  

I was just finishing up the next to final paper in one of my religion classes, and this comment by Bill McKibben, from Hope, Human and Wild, really helps in thinking about our motives for craziness like Black Friday:
We may rationally accept that continuing to use the world's resources at our current rate--that living our amazingly high life--is unsustainable.  We may, in our rational brains, believe that our car culture, our air-conditioned life, our mall fantasies, are sapping our planet.  But in our hearts we fear that any real change would plunge us into a world of poverty, disease, ignorance--that it's either our life in all its detail or a grim, short, narrow life (123).
You can tell I'm still in paper mode because I reference my sources, haha.  

I want to believe that 90% of the folks standing in line to rampage through Beast Buy on Black Friday know that the electronics and toys they buy are a wasteful use of energy and resources, but there is the overriding fear of not having them that causes the freak out.  That's what I want to believe, anyway.  

Oh, oh, and one more quote from Hope, Human and Wild while I'm at it--this is a quote from Mayor Lerner of the Brazilian city of Curitiba:
The job, it's a job of balancing needs and potentials.  If you only work on the big issues, you're far from the people.  If you only work on the daily needs, you don't do anything fundamental.  You have to understand you are responsible for the hope of people, their hope for change.
Sounds like someone else we know, huh?

Friday, November 28, 2008

More on Black Friday

After I posted about how humorous I found people who waited in line all night for bargains at the big box stores, the old man told me that a man--a temporary Wal-Mart employee--was trampled to death by crowds trying to get into the Valley Stream, NY store.  People literally knocked the doors down as employees (the dead man included) were attempting to open them for incoming shoppers.  Police couldn't even get to the man to help him for several minutes.  There was also a shooting at a Toys "R" Us store in California.  Here is a link to a CNN article on the two incidents.

This apparently happens every year.  Is it the responsibility of people to not go to these things or, if they do go, to behave well -- or is it the responsibility of the big box stores to just not have these crazy sales right after Thanksgiving?  I don't know.

Happy Black Friday! MOJO Article Comment: O Say Can You Buy?

This is the second anniversary post about Black Friday. Am I going shopping today, instead of adhering to Buy Nothing Day? Pshaw! Just came back from shopping for weekend supplies from my friendly neighborhood Publix. And after the old man and DJ go to the museum they are Christmas shopping. So, our household has not embraced Buy Nothing Day this year. But, we always like to wring as much humor value out of the idea that people would wait in front of Beast Buy at 4:00 am in the morning to get a deal on a new plasma TV. You wait in line all night for Beatles tickets, not a TV.

Here is a snippet from today's NY Times article by Michael M. Grynbaum:
Nikki Nicely, 19, wanted a television — a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen, to be exact, on sale for $798, marked down from $1,000, and available for a limited time in the wee hours of Friday morning at the Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio.
So, at 4:40 a.m., when a fellow shopper tried to pry away the box she had been guarding for an hour, Ms. Nicely did not play nice. She jumped onto the man’s back and began to pound his shoulders, screaming, “That’s my TV! That’s my TV!”
A police officer and security guard intervened but not before Ms. Nicely took an elbow in the face. Still, when the dust settled, she had her hand on the box. “That’s right,” she cried as the man walked away. “This here is my TV!”

ROAR! Nikki wasn't being Nicely, she was being Nastly. And she kicked ass, too. Why do these things always happen at Wal-Mart?

So, anyway, I was reading the online Mother Jones articles -- I posted last week sometime about an article on different sources of carbon emissions and the ways to reduce them.  And there was this new one called "O Say Can You Buy?" about how the writer spent a week trying to buy nothing but American-made products. Talk about futile exercises to prove a point. Yes, yes, we're lame because we don't manufacture and produce as much of our own stuff as we used to.

But you would think that the author would have spent a little time prior to her week of buying only American-made products planning for the thing, instead of launching herself into Nordstrom's looking for a bra manufactured in the US.  Nordstrom's?  Really?  

The comments were pretty illuminating, like the poster who blamed this on unions raising their wages so much that it forces American companies to use other countries for their production.  I wish this noise about how unions are ruining American manufacturing would die down soon -- American unions are about the only thing keeping middle class Americans in the narrow margins of this shrinking tax-bracket.  Yes, you pay more for union-made products, but you are also supporting fellow Americans.  

I liked the comment by Kathleen Pelley who buys food from her local co-op and knits her own clothes.  This stuff takes planning and it also takes time -- not everyone can knit and not everyone has the time to knit, but seeking out those who do and paying them a decent price for a sweater or pair of socks would be a start.  

The author also forgot about the concept of buying used clothing, which is about the next best thing to buying American.  Buying bras this way might be tricky, and buying underwear used is just yucky, but there are other ways around that, such as making your own undies out of used T-shirts, for instance (gratuitous plug).

The article was funny and sad, on the whole, mostly because it could have highlighted alternatives more and she could have taken longer than a week to explore these avenues.  As a gonzo piece it was fine; I guess I'm just saying that buying "American" is a concept that takes lots of planning and not relying on normal modes of consumerism.

Okay, that's it, I'm tapped.  Back to the thesis.

Got the pic from Funkyunk -- Busta is getting his plasma TV, yo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

EarthFirst! Website: A Review

I was tooling around for a photo of Al Gore to do a post on his recent initiative to get us using renewable energy in 10 years, the RepowerAmerica site, and ran across the EarthFirst! website/blog.  I am familiar with this group from a class called Radical Environmentalism that I took for my religion minor.  

Just as a note, this site is not to be mistaken with EarthFirst! the dot org site, which is way less tech but still delivers green power goodness, like hooking up with the tree sits in your neighborhood. 

Anyway, I was trying to get this picture of Gore (which I ended up using in the Need-a-Bag Update for 11.22.08 -- oh yeah, I probably should have referenced that...oh well) and then ended up on the EarthFirst! dot com site and was completely entranced.  And then became enraged.  They've been "Snarking up Green Since 1883" and I've only be snarking it up since 2006!  Dammit!  I'm supposed to be the fun-loving site that makes fun of the greeniverse!  And they are obviously so much better at it, doing it since 1883 and all (and who knew that Al Gore invented the internet in 1883??!).

So, I'm looking at their site, with entries such as (the latest)  "Turtles Alter Nesting Date Due to Rising Temperatures."  A funny picture of Ann Coulter with devil's horns and a goatee -- tee-hee!  AWWWW!  WTF!  A picture of boiling skin from antibiotic resistance...!  It looks like ribbons of brain coming out of someone's arm!!! GAHHH!  

Oh yeah.  They're EarthFirst! after all. This is their domain -- showing you the shocking crap we should all be aware of but are only marginally aware of because we watch Good Morning America.  Don't be lulled by pictures of cute turtles and funny photoshopped pictures of Ann Coulter, I say.  These guys are in it to win it. 

Do I agree with EarthFirst! and their philosophy?  No.  Have I ever thought about taking out a new housing development being built on sensitive lands?  And I challenge anyone with at least an inkling of green awareness to say otherwise.  We've all thought these thoughts, anyone who cares about the world they live in.  The crossroads come when you act on those thoughts in ways that are violent.  This separates EarthFirst! from the collective of humans who don't like what's going on in the world but endeavor to make it better in peaceful ways.  

I like the EarthFirst! dot com site and will continue to read it -- I do not agree, however, with their past or their philosophy and if that makes me a greeny wimp girl, then so be it.  

Got the EarthFirst! fist from EarthFirst! the dot org.

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 11.22.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Thought I'd get the jump on letting three weeks go by before updating on the project -- so, Nyeh! Nyeh! procrastination sprite!

Today was pretty frikkin' cold at the farmer's market -- the old man told me after I had gotten back from my first foray that the g-ville sun website said it was 27-degrees. There were, of course, not that many farmers and people there, but there was tons of lettuce and other delicious produce there. I got me an eggplant and some green beans. At the Sustainability Fair at the farmer's market a few Saturdays ago -- which I helped out at, and if I had a dang camera that worked I would have some decent photos to show you -- the lady who runs Hogtown Homegrown was grilling up some totally bitchin' stuffed eggplant and THAT I have got to try. When I asked the fam what they wanted their eggplant stuffed with, they resounding cry was for meat -- is the cold that bad that we have to have so much protein? Forget that noise -- I'm making some of that pesto/sundried tomato/mozzarella mess that lady was stuffing the eggplant with. And maybe an almond crust, I dunno.

We have a bunch of new bags to throw into the mix but did we bring them? No! Of course not, because I ran out of the printable fabric and the last three labels I had got thrown into some pile somewhere in the many pile-boluses in the house and I couldn't find them five minutes before leaving the house this morning. Oh well. But we'll have more fabulous baggage next weekend if I can get it together enough to go to Le JoAnn's to buy some more labelage. Until then, market denizens will have to choose from a fine selection of t-totes.

And today I went back to the farmer's market at Need-a-Bag? Project closing time, to help intrepid Need-a-Bag? Project Associate bag-putter-awayer, Stace, get the bags safely stashed in the Farmer's Market shed. We here at the Need-a-Bag? Project like to make sure our fellow associates are taken care of -- so Stace bought me a chai-latte afterwards and made sure I was comfortable in a nice, sunny nook of the coffee house. That's how we roll!

A big shout-out to Stace's mom, by the way, for getting us a bunch of new bags and to Stace, who snagged a couple of sweet bags left "for free" at her workplace!

I cannot thank Stace enough for braving the cold tundra of I-441 each Saturday morning while Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Erika gets the much needed rest she deserves before descending on the farmer's market in December with fine and tasty citrus. You rock, Stace!!!

Also, when putting away bags this morning, two more bags just suddenly showed up! I looked around for Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Jean, but hopefully she was somewhere where did these come from??? Oh joy! Oh rapture! I do so love the sweet surprise of finding new bags that someone has taken the time to donate to the project. These are those cool, European-style string market bags, and one was from the Environmental Defense Fund. Bedazzling labels on these guys is going to be a challenge, but who cares??!

Monday, November 17, 2008

MOJO article: Are Shorter Showers Beside the Point?

Mother Jones' e-magazine just came out with an interesting table and short article, "Are Shorter Showers Beside the Point?" When you look at the table it's about everything you'd expect -- the things individuals do make no impact, while the things industry does makes all the difference. The biggest reduction in CO2? Reducing it 13.2% by using half the amount of energy produced from coal and replacing it with wind turbines.

The article, written by Steve Aquino and Gary Moskowitz, states that "we could trim the nation's ghg footprint by almost 30 percent over the next 25 years by getting business to invest in efficient cars, appliances, and buildings as well as cleaner energy, with incentives including tax credits, subsidies, offsets, and fewer 'regulatory hurdles.'"

But that's the problem. We need to use less of these appliances, build less, and regulate more. tax credits are fine for industries that need to have made these changes to cleaner, more efficient methods of production, but subsidies? I'm tired of mollycoddling industry who have their corporate heads so far up their asses they can't think beyond making a ton of money at the expense of the environment.

The problem with GM is a case and point: they were so worried about shareholder investments and the huge markup they were getting on gas-guzzling SUV's that they forgot that the time to start making more fuel-efficient cars was 10 years ago. Now the U.S. is bailing them out and not because we want to, but because millions of jobs are at stake if the U.S. auto industry goes under.

Okay, going back to my thesis, now...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 10.19.08 and Blog Round-up #2

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

It has been three weeks since I've updated on the Need-a-Bag? Project, and that's because there really hasn't been much to report. Also, I've been running over-time with school projects -- this is the final push, folks, and I have got to graduate this semester. I'm afraid to think what will happen to this blog when I go to graduate school...!

Anyway, all it seems I have time for these days is reading and commenting on other people's blogs (reading and commenting take a lot less time than coming up with original content). So, here's where I've been dwelling when not swirling with papers and projects:

Yecats Gniwe -- the ever intrepid Need-a-Bag? Project Associate bag putter-awayer, Stace, reports on a Saturday in the hinterlands beyond the Gainesville reality limits in "Saturday of Serenity and Strangeness."

Nom, nom, nom! -- you'll see why a woman and her homemade mayonnaise cannot be parted when you read "another mayo triumph." Obama sun symbolism alert!

Gee-ville Deals -- Bren has another fabulous day fattening her family's larder in these depressed economic times in "Olive you, Publix." A shrewd commenter notes that "olive you" sounds like the bark of a dog attempting to say "I love you," as evidenced in the many America's Funniest Home Videos we have as videographic proof. Bren agrees and...well, great minds think alike!

SAME HAT! SAME HAT! -- the blog's proprietor is issuing #1 of Electric Ant zine -- I think it has something to do with manga and the people who are obsessed with it. I have no idea what they're talking about, but I'm getting my copy!

That's it for now -- if you have news of note (eco or the exact opposite) in your blog, drop me a line at

The new ridealong set up with trailer for hauling groceries. There's a new Schwinn in the house...-- hey, get out of the way, son, you're blocking the view!

Friday, October 31, 2008

More underwear

Sorry the exposure's so bad!

One Less Car Underwear--Limited Edition!

Um, and this picture is full-size so y'all can click on it to get your undies super-sized, if you dare! Boo! Haha! Happy Halloween!

Orange and BLUUUUUE!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ways to make coffee: Paper, cloth, or pure gold

I was tooling around on one of my favorite new blogs to read, Nom, nom, nom! and she was giving her take on how she makes coffee. I can relate because I use a death-dealing, bisphenol-A plastic Melita maker, as well. She combines paper filters with one of those gold filters (which she claims you can find at a garage sale but I have never, ever seen one). It's an ingenious method of putting the paper filter in the Melita maker, then puting the gold filter on top of that and then puting the coffee in the gold filter. That way she can get rid of the coffee grounds without damaging the paper filter and can reuse the paper filter because, let's face it, the gold filters by themselves suuuuuck...

A few months ago (when I was foot-loose and fancy-free; that has sadly ended) I posted about making a Melita-style filter using fancy cheese cloth and some old bias tape I had lying around. Boy, I wish I had more time to sew stuff, because I'd make that Nom, nom, nom! person a filter.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Need-a-Bag? project update 10.18.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

It was a little busier today at the farmer's market. It is a nice thing to see. Because DG and the old man went to the FOL book sale at early o' clock, DJ was enlisted to help with Need-a-Bag? this morning. He was a great help! When we had gotten to the bottom of the bin he noticed there were all these plastic bags and was like, "if you're trying to discourage people from using plastic bags, why do you have this pile of plastic bags." Good point, son, now let's change the subject!

We also got a bag back! And we also got another bag! And, it was not even Jean who donated it! I think this is the beginning of stage two -- people are realizing that we will do this every weekend and are not hoarding bags. Hooray!

Stace said that when she and her husband went to collect bags later that morning there were 7 left on the fence. We probably had close to 20 out there, so business is picking up.

This weekend also marked the first usage of the new fabric labels. I was unable to get the paper backing off so sewed the whole thing on a couple of cloth bags before leaving for the market. It takes way more time to tack the label on the bag with a few stitches at each corner than slapping on a paper label, but I think it will be worth it in the long run because it will wear better and last longer than the paper labels after repeated washings.

The fact remains, though, that sewing the labels onto each bag will be more labor-intensive, something that Need-a-Bag? Project Associates do not need to be messing with. That is why I propose a concerted effort to find a Bedazzler at a garage sale or thrift shop for attaching the labels. They'll be securely attached and they'll be all shiny and pretty.

Top Photo: The Need-a-Bag? Project's first corporate sponsorship. They thought they were being all smart by taking the "?" off, and they didn't put the web address for the AE blog like I asked, either! Feh.

Got the photo of the Bedazzler from

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Update on Charlie's Soap

Well I was wrong about rinsing out the washtub with vinegar. You use a double scoop (two tablespoons) of the soap with some old rags and run the machine through the entire cycle. I had a bunch of rags that I was going to wash, anyway, so right on.

First, the 5-gallon bucket is dang heavy and, unfortunately for me, the old man had already gone to bed. Bend the knees, that's my advice.

Anyway, my first impressions are good -- they give you a tablespoon scoop taped to the top of the bucket -- the bucket is type 2 plastic so entirely recyclable.

Update: I've used Charlie's soap for 3 loads and it is working very nicely. It essentially works like the petroleum-based detergents I've been using up until now, so at least it's not under-performing. The laundry also smells fresh, like it's been line-dried. I'm so going to miss that sharp, weird, synthetic flower smell but I have to get beyond that.

Here's a link to the babysashanmom blog that has lots of good information and links -- mostly pertaining to washing diapers with Charlie's soap, but all of the information is directly relative to other clothing.

Charlie's Soap has arrived

Hi, sorry to Dan who posted a comment about what my impressions are of the Charlie's Soap. Well, Dan, I was lazy, as usual after making a declaration such as, "I'm buying a buttload of Charlie's Soap everyone!" Of course, I've just received it in the mail this past Friday. I will tell you this about Charlie's Soap, their customer service is tops and it was free shipping for orders over 25-dollars in the U.S.

Promise! Will try Charlie's Soap immediately! In fact, I have a load of laundry sitting right next to me. I think I have to rinse the washer tub with vinegar to get all of the scum off from those nasty, un-eco-friendly detergents, so will commence to do that now. I promise! Here I go...wait, oh, a new email just came in...

The Overflowing Box of Veggies: My CSA gives me more food than I can that bad?

Just a short post to point readers to this article on about one writer's experience with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that is probably across the board relevant to many CSA participants around the country. Jacob Leibenluft, a.k.a. The Green Lantern, gives the main talking points about CSA's everyone should be aware of, such as that CSA's help decrease carbon emmissions simply because they are distributed through local farmers, thus decreasing the use of petroleum to cart them to and fro; also, CSA's are the best way to know how the food you are eating is being grown through an actual communication with the farmer; local farmers are more accountable to folks than some faceless agro-corp somewhere in the Himalayas. And, of course, CSA's are the best way for a community to support their local farmer; a CSA share enables your family to have the best foods to eat in your area, and you keep a small business farmer doing what he or she loves best. Such a deal.

Anyway, here is a post from about a year ago on where to find a farmer's market near you, and also on the Japanese phenomenon, Chisan Chisou. Also, here's a post about foodsheds.

If you want some direct info about where to find a CSA near you, go here.

Swiped the photo from the Slate article

Monday, October 13, 2008

Update on using cloth handkerchiefs

Waiting for class to start and I'm feeling sleepy and still a little sick from a cold our family went through last week. So, I've been using lots and lots of hankies for the copious amounts of snot I've been dealing with. Before this turning point I was using the hankies for the odd nose-blowing, but more for little personal housekeeping issues; a couple of spilled drops of coffee on my desk when I'm in class; a quick napkin when I'm eating. Now, however, I'm using up the flannel wipes-turned-hankies almost as fast as I can wash them. Luckily, I ran across a sizable largesse of handkerchiefs at a garage sale this past weekend (along with some bitchin' White Castle mugs [they're square!] and sunglasses that make me look like Lee Majors). Also finally cut up a skirt that I was planning on making a tote bag out of but really it's more of a handkerchief, or handkerchiefs, as the case may be.

Got the pic from The Daily Ping...raise your hand if you remember Dynamite...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Need-a-Bag? project update 10.11.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

It was very misty at the farmer's market Saturday morning, and it looked like another weekend of low turnout. However, I've been noticing more of a variety of items for sale. I got some squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Starting today I'm going to try a new technique, preparing food on Sunday for some of the week, so we're not relying on frozen pizzas and take-out for most of it.

The market is melting, after all, and I'm going to have to live by my wits more. Maybe I should take the advice of my friend, Bren, and start using coupons and savings clubs to make ends meet. It's hard for me to spend that much mental energy on that form of money saving, but I might have to try!

Anyway, with the squash and zucchini I'm going to make no-noodle lasagna as per my friend's new dietary regimen that I'm trying for three months, to cut simple carbs and sugars from my life. Giving up bagels and M&M's is going to be hard, I'm afraid.

Anyway, we didn't put out new bags but we still had some from weeks ago. They're starting to get smaller in number so after the farmer's market we went to a few yard sales and started buying more of them up. DG even got some super deals.

Start looking for our new labels, as well. We've developed a new spiel to put on our labels, which will now be made from printable, sew-in fabric. Here's what the blurb now says:

The Need-a-Bag? Project provides free, clean, reusable shopping bags to Farmers Market shoppers. Please take as many bags as you need. Whenever they start to pile up at home, bring them by and toss them in our drop box so that we can wash and re-circulate them.

For more information and updates on the project, please go to:

Thank you for supporting Need-a-Bag? and enjoy your shopping day!

Short, sweet, and to the point -- bring the bags back at some point, why don't you?! I apologize for getting testy and realize it is our fault for not making that point in the beginning; maybe now we can start phase two of the project, encouraging people to perpetuate the project's mission by allowing the bags to circulate and by beginning projects at their own farmers markets.

Like, we need someone for the Wednesday downtown market and if anyone wants to monitor and organize the project at that market we would help in any way we could, short of actually doing the work of being there every Wednesday. That's your job, soon-to-be-named Need-a-Bag? Project Pioneer!

"Men want to be him; women just want to touch him" -- quote and pic from Gator Envy

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen Bike Mechanic Tourism Campaign

I had a lovely comment from Zakkaliciousness (this word is as much fun to type as it is to say out loud!) of Copenhagenize who reminded me that, as I implore all the bike mechanics from Hogtown to move to Copenhagen, I'm potentially inflicting this lovely, historic city with snotty, arrogant young men. Well, rest assured, Zakkaliciousness, it was never my intention to suggest that. Really, I think once a lot of these guys crossed the border to Denmark they would straighten up immediately, especially when people started warbling at them in Danish. They would get all wobbly-kneed like Americans get when talking to people with a British accent. I suspect it would be much the same in Copenhagen. Also, I would encourage every one of them to watch this:

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Calling all Hogtown Bike Mechanics, Move to Copenhagen

Will somebody please tell me what's up with the bike mechanics in this town?! Please? I've had yet another annoying encounter with one at the least-annoying of the bike shops here. I think it has to do with being ridiculously young, male, and being really, really into bikes. There's a certain culture that I just don't understand and maybe this is my first "senior moment" that I've been warned about. No, wait, that's when you forget that your glasses are on top of your head and stuff. Never mind.

So, it's just me, right? There's just something I find grating in this type of urban professional and I'm the only one, right? My friend, Hil, never has these problems. But she's different because her dad used to build bicycles in Indiana, Breaking Away Land. So all the mechanics think she's cool. Pah.

So, anyway, all the snotty, arrogant bike mechanics in town should all move to Copenhagen, since there's apparently a dearth of them in that town.

Update: I've chilled out about bike mechanics after an evening's contemplation. I like to rant first and think later, because that's just how I roll. Also, I had the opportunity to talk with bicycle guru, Frog, who compared the bike culture in Hogtown to the record store culture in Hogtown. It was like religious epiphany (much like many of my conversations with Frog) and it suddenly all crystallized for me! The same hipper-than-thou mentality is at work. Thank goodness it's just that and something I'm not grasping about popular culture. Whew.

Got the cool poster pic from Copenhagenize [the planet]: Life in the World's Cycling Capital

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 10.04.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Because, as usual, I haven't updated in 2 weeks because there was not much love happening at the farmer's market last week. This week, however, I noticed more items. Perhaps the produce famine is beginning to abate. This made me think that perhaps DG and I should get back on our game, so we did the whole shebang -- put out signs, put out all of the bags we had (including the 2 bags we brought), drop box, etc. It looked like the Need-a-Bag? project Saturdays of old. I hope Stace had more fun today, as official Need-a-Bag project associate and putter-awayer, putting away a whole ton of stuff instead of the paltry couple of bags left on the fence by the end of the market day. Yay! More work!

Also, DG sent out an email to her work associates, after someone sent an eco tip about remembering to bring your reusable bags to the market -- also, it was saying that you didn't have to buy the bags they have at the supermarket, now, you could use bags you already have. That's a major leap in conciousness in our consumer-driven culture.

So, here's the letter DG sent:

Dear concerned colleagues*:

Is this:

I’ve been trying to do this but I can never remember to bring the blasted bags!

a familiar source of shopping stress? If so, please take heart: there is an organization dedicating to eradicating URBIS (unused reusable bag irritation syndrome). It’s called Need-a-Bag? and it can help you!

If you have a bunch of those re-usable bags piling up unused in a closet somewhere and causing annoyance or guilt feelings, please bring them to the farmers’ market on Saturday any time from 8:30 AM to 11 AM, and drop them in the Need-a-Bag? dropbox. We will launder them and put them in circulation.

Furthermore, if you happen to forget your re-usable shopping bags when you shop at the Saturday morning farmers’ market, you need not go home with plastic bags because Need-a-Bag? is supplying clean, donated or thrifted, re-usable shopping bags free to all interested farmers’ market shoppers.

Consider spreading the relief to more venues by starting a Need-a-Bag? franchise of your own! (The Wednesday downtown farmers’ market? The plantation* market? The* supermarket?) Contact information and the latest installment of the story of the project so far are here: (Click the “Need-a-Bag?” link at the bottom for the full saga.)

Yours for guilt-free shopping,


*changed names

I like how she made up a new acronym, URBIS (Unused Reusable Bag Irritation Syndrome) to aptly describe that feeling of "d'oh!" when you get to the market and realize you've forgotten your bags. It rivals my own, "eco-fatigue," to describe how saving the earth can be a pain in the butt sometimes, and make you sleepy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Need-a-Bag? project update 09.20.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

We've gotten a bit better this week, in the midst of a produce famine at that farmer's market. We actually got there a little bit before the opening bell, with just enough time to put out the paltry 3 bags we had with us. We had so many left over bags that I didn't bother to put them all out. I feel like we are beginning our stockpile for the late season rush. The weather was beautiful, the musicians were making lovely music, and all was well with the world, actually, except for the paucity of produce.

Last week (and my apologies for getting around to just now to report on it) we put out 4 bags, but Need-a-Bag's intrepid put-er-away-er, Stace, reports that there were 7 bags left out when she came by to put things away. So, some lovely person gave the project 3 bags while we weren't looking, especially given that we were about 10 minutes late after the opening bell! Thank you anonymous (but probably Jean :)) person who gave the project some lovely new bags! I'm still thinking about that Tower of London bag and hoping that it found a good home!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Local Milk from Kurtz and Sons

DG and I were shopping at our local, local food supermarket after Need-a-Bag yesterday, and I remembered that DJ, my son, needed milk. As I was carrying away a half-gallon of Organic Valley 2%, DG ran back to the dairy case and gave me a half-gallon of local milk from Kurtz and Sons Dairy in Lake City. Of course, I wanted to be local so I put the Organic Valley back -- it is so automatic to buy that brand of milk that I didn't even see the local options. It's neat-- it's got cream pooled at the top. When we were checking out I said, "hey, I could make butter from cream at the top," to which DG replied, "sure, you just get yourself about 8 of those and you can make a stick of butter, maybe." I wonder if I could freeze the cream clumps and then, when I have enough saved, I can make it into butter by shaking it up in a mason jar.

When I got home with the milk I started having second thoughts. First of all, the milk is full fat unless you take the cream out -- I just wasn't sure how DJ would cotton to this after drinking 2% most of his young life.

The test came this afternoon, when I made DJ a turkey sandwich and he wanted some chocolate milk to go along with it. When I started pouring the milk the cream starting glopping into the cup, so I ended up using a strainer and putting the cream back into the jug. DJ did not have anything to say about the milk at all, and drank it all.

At about $4.25 for a half-gallon, it's maybe a little more expensive than any of the non-local organic brands at Publix. I'm willing to pay that little extra for grass-fed cow's milk that comes from a dairy about 70 miles from where I live.

Here's a link to Slow Food Tallahassee that has a blog post about Kurtz and Sons Dairy that explains the stuff better than I can.

Need-a-Bag? Project update 09.6.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

We were very late getting to the market and when we arrived it had already opened. We brought the shopping bags I had purchased from Publix and Target and the two Etsy bags designed by Eng by Nik. She has started sending us her bag seconds and we waited until I could photograph them to put them on the fence. One got snatched up pretty quickly -- they're lovely, big bags just perfect for reusing because they are sturdy. I hope it found a good home and whoever got it enjoys the hand-written card by Nik explaining its imperfections and the pen with her business info on it. It's stuff like that that causes me to want to buy more single-producer items, because craftspeople like Nik care about their products and how they are received.

As you can see from the above photo, the lady who usually sells plants and shrubs was not present today, as many of the regulars were missing because of low turn-out. The one thing I have found, though, from this lack of customers, is that the people who do remain are less busy and more accessible to talk to. The fellow DG bought her chantrell mushrooms from, for instance, was able to stand around for a couple of minutes and tell us about how hard it is for him to find them and how happy he gets when he does, saying, "you can hear me yelling and jumping up and down in the woods when I come across them."

We also ran into Jean who was waiting to help some people get set up and she agreed to be our keynote speaker at the Need-a-Bag? Project first anniversay banquet. She is a wonderful conversationalist so I know it will be an excellent 5-10 minute discussion on the topic of her choice! As we talked with her two of the regular farmers came up and told Jean that they didn't have anything to sell because the recent deluge from Fay had submerged their crops. When Jean expressed sympathy that they would have to start over, the woman said, "well, that's what you do when you're a farmer, you're always starting over."

Including the Eng by Nik bags, we put out 7 bags. We didn't even bother putting out the signs, or the drop box. I've sent out an email to the Need-a-Bag? Project Associates, hoping to rally them into helping to construct Totey the Tote Bag before Halloween. I've been crazy busy as has everyone who has stated their wish to see this part of the project come to fruition -- I hope we can pull it off!

Friday, September 05, 2008

ReJAVAnate Reusable Bags

The guy at this business sent me a link to this business. As some may know, I am not fond of cold call emails promoting "green" products, but this time I felt I could make an exception. ReJAVAnate reusable bags recycles the burlap bags that coffee is shipped in and, in partnership with members of the ARC, creates durable, reusable tote bags. One 15"x15" tote costs $7.00, which is relatively inexpensive when you consider they are handmade. They are also re-purposed, which makes them especially sustainable.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

UF #7 Sierra Club Cool School Ranking

The Sierra Club, even though they still keep sending me renewal notices in the mail and email even after I've already renewed with them (this is the second year this has gone on and it's very boring) -- even though they have their problems, they still take the time to honor the universities that try to make an environmental impact by leaving less of a footprint. They just released the Top 10 Cool Schools, schools that apparently "get it." And, lo and behold, UF, my hallowed soon-to-be alma mater, is #7! Woo-hoo! We're #7! We're #7! They also have loser schools and stuff about green-collar jobs.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bring Your Bags

On the reverse side, it says:
Here's a great way to remember to bring our reusable bags into Publix every time you shop. Just place this cling inside your car's windshield (on the edge so it won't interfere with visibility) and it will remind you.
What I want to know is how a 1x2-inch window cling is going to cause a blind spot, and how will it remind me to bring my bags, after I get into the car and am rolling down my street? You think I'm going to turn around? Ha!

Here's what happened: DG and I did our weekly weigh-in for this weight loss challenge we signed up for, and then ran a bunch of errands. At Publix (my stop, because DG would not be caught in a Publix, much less be caught buying anything in one), DG saw that I was buying a Publix reusable bag for my purchases and we got into a debate that went something like this:
DG: (alarmed) Why are you buying that?
ME: (somewhat sheepish) This is my new strategy for giving totes to the Need-a-Bag? Project. You know, I told you that, you were fine with that...
DG: Not if you're just buying them when you don't need to.
ME: What? I need them...I have purchases...
DG: I could easily carry your frozen pizza and 12-pack of seltzer!

And on an on, down the express check-out line, until we reached the cashier. She was alert to DG's distress and offered me one of these stickers, so I would no longer forget my bags.

I'm thinking more and more that my new approach is wrong-headed, and I should just budget time to go thrifting. I'm so time-management oriented these days, with two classes and senior thesis hours, so maybe I'll do that tomorrow, and forget this stupid idea...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Slow Food Article in WSJ, Wendell Berry, and Growing Things

It's the first day of September, Labor Day, and the quasi-official last day of summer. Wahhh! It hasn't hit me until now -- Summerisover!!!

Dang. Anyway, Stace sent back positive reports of her first outing as Need-a-Bag? project putter-away-er and also sent this link to a Wall Street Journal article on the first Slow Food Movement Festival, held in San Francisco. The thing I liked about the article was that it featured a speech given by Wendell Berry, who I very much admire for his steadfast principles to sustainable ecology, crunchy outside and delicious, curmudgeonly center.

The only experience DG and I have had so far with the Slow Food Movement as it stands in the Gainesville area was when we totally skanked the Gainesville Slow Food table at the quarterly festival at the farmer's market, which also marked the introduction of the Need-a-Bag? Project almost one year ago. Ah, memories...

In honor of Labor Day, the Slow Food Movement, and Wendell Berry, I (finally) planted the loofah vines I got from Farmer John's table at Ward's. I need to work in some lighter soil but threw a couple of handfuls of compost (purchased, unfortunately) to get them started. We'll probably get some rain bands from Gustav (unfortunately, others are getting more rain than us). David from across the street said they'll take over the yard -- If they do, I welcome the intrusion in a spot that's not seeing much cultivation action; I'm just hoping they make it past my rough housing with them to get them into their appointed spots by the bamboo-pole teepee I made for them.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.30.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

You might have noticed that there was no update for the Need-a-Bag? Project on 08.23.08, last Saturday. You might think I'm being a lazy blogger, and you would be right any other weekend. This particular weekend, however, the farmer's market was closed because of Tropical Storm Fay. Fay rolled through our part of the state and sent many scurrying for cover, including farmer's market sellers and buyers. They closed the market as a last-minute decision and it was a good one; unfortunately no one got any love from us, as a result. Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Stace also didn't get to do her first weekend of putting-away-ing, but I'm sure she was busy making sure her husband and cats were on higher ground.

So this weekend we were back, but I'm here to ask the musical question, What's the Point? There was almost no one selling, and what they were selling was stuff like okra, which I know with a 99.999% certainty that any okra would rot in my crisper. DG is about living on ditch weeds and eggs at this point, but she was there.

And, I forgot to mention how many totes we put out today, because I cannot remember. Dang, I hate when I forget to count them. Some of them were in DG's car and then I had my two, stupid Publix totes to sling on the fence. I think it was something like six, not counting mine. We also kept back the Eng by Nik designer totes because I could not properly photograph them as I did not have my camera.

We got a lovely surprise, though, from our Need-a-Bag Guardian Angel Jean, who brought us a fabulous tote with the Tower of London on it, it was so awesome. And she told us that a friend of hers who runs estate sales is going to give us all the tote bags she comes across! What a great thing!

And Jean, without the fabulous friends and sunny disposition, is also just light-years ahead of us in getting the totes for cheap. When DG and I started hunting thrift stores and garage sales for tote bags, we agreed we wouldn't spend more than one dollar on any single tote bag, and we have largely stuck to our guns on that point. Jean, however, gets them, like, five for a dollar, and whoever she buys them from probably throws in a Tiffany lamp or something. That's how saavy she is.

So, a big Need-a-Bag? Project THANK YOU to Jean for helping us. Looking forward to honoring you properly at the First Annual Need-a-Bag? Project Banquet, coming to a pizza shed near you in October.

I, on the other hand, have begun what I consider an unsavory practice and I wish I could stop but right now it's the only way I'm contributing any tote bags to the project. I've been buying the tote bags many grocery and chain stores are selling for 1 dollar instead of using plastic, bringing my own bags, or just putting them in the car from the cart. Target, for instance, has these kind of cute wallet-sized totes that unfold into a good-sized tote bag. I bought two of those today and then got two more bags at Publix during our midday shopping trip. The ones at Publix are these huge totes that have flat bottoms and they are a lot easier to pack than the old canvas ones they used to sell. The one pictured to the left is what they look like.

Anyway, I've been buying these and giving them to the project immediately afterwards. So, while technically they are only 1-dollar they are not used, except if you count them being used once by me to tote bananas and white bread to home. DG doesn't seem bothered by it but I'm feeling a little uneasy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Update on Weaning from Deodorants

I realized I was being very quiet on this subject and so decided to give an update. My efforts to fully wean from using commercial deodorants have been spotty, and at one point during this muggy summer I pretty much fell off the wagon and started using my favorite, Old Spice. I smelled so good. I had to stop, though, because it's a slippery slope. My body is finally acclimated to not relying on deodorants and I'm not that stinky. At least, that is what I've been told. I'm still very neurotic about my B.O., which brings me to the conclusion that people who are not that secure about themselves should not be trying to wean themselves from deodorants.

Anyway, before I fell back off the wagon into Old Spice usage once again, I decided to try the baking soda/corn starch mixture Tracy of the (sadly) now defunct blog, The Glom Shelter, suggested when I started on this journey. She also adds essential oils to hers, so I added a few drops of my favorite Paloma Picasso dupe from SaveonScents and mixed it around. I think I've come up with something I can live with, actually, because I smell really good even if I'm sweating like a donkey.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Charlie's Soap

I've been blogging recently about laundry detergent, and how I've come to the conclusion that I am not going to find one that is environmentally-friendly and as cheap as the store-bought cheap brands. And, I'm pretty much right.

Recently, I got a comment on a post I did about a year ago about Arm & Hammer Essentials, and I used the comment in a post that talked about optical brighteners. Apparently, even something that, on first blush, looked ec0-friendly and cheap, contains petroleum products in the form of optical brighteners which are derived from benzene. Benzene is bad for people and bad for our water ecosystems.

Anyway, contained in the comments for that post, my friend Brenda gives the link to Charlie's Soap. Bren used to own her own cloth diaper business, and was (and still is) slavishly dedicated to providing information that matters to people, whether it be about the best way to cloth diaper your child, or the cheapest way to feed your family. By the way, be sure to catch her blog, Gainesville Deals -- it is chock-full o'ways to feed your family for less and is probably applicable even to people outside of our food-feeding range.

So, again, anyway, Charlie's Soap was one of those little-known products that Brenda happened upon in her searches for the best soap to use to wash cloth diapers. It is biodegradable -- here is a pullout from their research page, under the "Biodegradable" heading:
To qualify as biodegradable, a substance must be 80% degraded in 28 days. Charlie's Soap degraded over 97% in soil in 28 days and is certified safe for use in small lakes and streams.

Here's another factoid from their Products page:
Our Laundry Powder is a revolutionary approach to laundry care. It does not cover up stains and odors with scents and brighteners - it really cleans. It is made with a unique blend of biodegradable coconut-based detergents and high-grade, completely soluble, Green River washing soda.

The fact that it is certified for use in small lakes and streams makes me think that this is okay stuff. I trust Brenda's judgement because she used this stuff with her kids' diapers. I'm going order the big, 5-gallon bucket of the dry powder, because it comes out to about 11-cents per load. A 2.5 quart bottle of Arm&Hammer Essentials with 41 loads for about $5.50 is 13-cents per load, so it's a little cheaper and the shipping is free for orders over $20 through the Charlie's Soap website.

If anyone in my area is interested in co-op'ing this with me, you can dig into my 5-gallon bucket for 11-cents per load and I'll throw in an old Oxy-clean bucket! Email me at and let me know -- I'll email you when it comes in!

Monday, August 18, 2008

All Aboard for Plastic Island

Aboard the luxurious Kon Tiki II Electric Boogaloo.

Thanks to Stace for providing this lovely brochure photo

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.16.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

There were two reasons we restrained ourselves from putting out all of the bags yesterday; one, it was starting to rain, and the other reason is that we are in between bag put-er awayers. More to the point, our friend and Need-a-Bag? project associate, Erika-of-the-pretty-caladiums, is now Erika-I'm-Getting-Out-Of-Dodge-Until-December. She and her dad decided a couple of weeks ago that because things are getting soooo slow at the farmer's market (to paraphrase Erika, "we saw the tumbleweeds rolling through and decided it was time") to close up shop until their crops start coming in for December.

All that said, we couldn't let the market manager shoulder the responsibility of putting away the bags, so we asked Need-a-Bag? project associate-and-pinch-hitter, Stace, to take over until December and she graciously accepted the challenge! Thank you, Stace, for supporting the team! Rah! Rah!

There was also another reason for not putting out all the bags, besides inclement weather and lack of put-er awayer, one that is very exciting to report. Nik of Eng by Nik has become a Guardian Angel Need-a-Bag? project supporter, and is now sending us her tote bag seconds to put out at the farmer's market -- for free!!! Thank you so much Nik, this has been a real boon for the Need-a-Bag? project!

Next week, farmer's market customers, the real hard core customers like DG who come even if the only thing available to buy are ditch weeds, will have the pleasure of choosing from two Eng by Nik designer tote bags. Each tote has a postcard with a personal note from the designer describing the imperfection and includes care instructions and a complimentary Eng by Nik fine arts pen!

Check out Nik's Etsy shop here!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.09.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Oh, so anyway, I completely forgot to post about our N-A-B movements last weekend. The end. No, wait, I've got more. We put out 19 bags and, while we made a quick garage sale venture before going to the gym, we discovered who our secret benefactor was these past few weeks. It was none other than the farmer's market own Jeanne, and she has been getting them way cheaper than us, because she is way smarter. Thank you, Jeanne, for supporting this project! I've got more news about another important benefactor, but I will leave that until the next update, which will be about today's visit to the farmer's market.

It is getting to be a bit of a ghost town at the farmer's market, after almost 2 months of it being crazy busy. The third row of tables has pretty much disappeared. I think this will be a good time to start stockpiling bags for the autumn.

One last thing -- DG and I got together the week before last to make a whole stack of t-totes to hang on the fence (hence the large number of bags for this week's total). There was one strange, dress-like thing that was too long to be made into a t-tote, so we cut off the bottom, and from that I totally free-styled a tote bag. It's pretty cruddy, but I did it in about 5 minutes and with reinforced handle stitches it will carry a few sweet potatoes, believe me!

The photos from top to bottom: A typical bagline at the farmer's market each Saturday morning; close up of t-totes (from left to right); strange dress-like shift/t-tote, free style tote done by yours truly, spaghetti strap t-tote.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Edible Plant Project

The Edible Plant Project is a new organization in Gainesville to help promote "edible landscaping and local food abundance in North Central Florida."

I'm ready to raze my camellias for some fig trees, now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hankie-Pankie -- Not Just for Presidential Candidates Anymore!

Just a quick post about this hankie holder I made awhile back. My original intention was to use it with cloth handkerchiefs. It's cloth on the outside with a plastic liner. I made the holder and then used it with paper tissues instead! I'd take tissues from the box and fold them up. I didn't have the wherewithal to make any hankies for it.

Then, the other day I had an epiphany. I already had the hankies, they were DJ's old diaper wipes when I did cloth diapers for about 5 minutes when he was a baby. These are really nice, organic flannel squares, serged all around. They're really sturdy, and are the perfect size. As you can see in the photo, I have them rolled up on one side and as I use them, I place them in the other compartment, and then from there I just dump the whole thing into the wash.

How am I doing with them? The results are mixed right now. Not being the season where I'm sniffling constantly, and I'm still reaching for toilet paper or napkins when I need to use a hankie. It's a habit I have to break, and I think as the winter comes and I start needing to use handkerchiefs, the true test of whether I can successfully switch from paper hankies to cloth will occur.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

More on Trash Vortex/Garbage Gyre/Great Pacific Garbage Patch

During a recent trip to the gym, DG and I discussed my recent post about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP, but known affectionately by readers of the AE as the Garbage Gyre), and we decided that what was needed was to band together a couple of thousand volunteers, a couple of thousand kayaks made from recycled plastic, and some big 0l' sugar mommy/daddy with the capital to ship us all over to the drop spot with 10 or so garbage barges that we can use to clean up the dang thing. I really think that's the only way this is going to happen, since no country wants to claim ownership of this monstrosity, yet every nation has probably contributed to it.

I'm not a big fan of, because they contribute to the whole notion of saving the environment through buying more junk you don't really need, because it's "green" junk. But, having said that, they have a couple of really great pieces about the GPX2. The first is something they did in February titled "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Out of Sight, Out of Mind," that describes what it is very succinctly. One commenter even links to a Flickr photo of the GPX2 which is mind-blowing in size. Then, in April of this year, they did another article about the gyre, " Sails Out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," and had links to the videos. There are 12 episodes in all, and I encourage everyone to watch at least the first episode of "Garbage Island."

Photo is of correspondent Thomas Morton with the catch of the day -- plastic garbage-- via