Archive for February, 2009

God & Green

In observance of Lent, I thought I should post about Catholicism.

green-cross1I think this cross from songevangelist probably has another meaning, too

While I think Father Robert Busa’s recent survey comparing confession topic across gender is a waste of time on many levels (One – it attempts to use confessions told to a priest to extrapolate ways men and women actually sin differently in their real lives, which is a leap too great – don’t you think people lie or edit out what they’ll tell a priest? Two – it attempts to affirm the stereotype that there is an inherently “male” way of being and a “female” way of being, totally unhelpful. Three – confession is supposed to be confidential! Not only does this break the rule of priest/patient confidentiality, but there is no way to check up on this survey’s actual data.), the BBC article on Catholic sins does bring up a very interesting point:

The Apostolic Penitentiary, a secretive department of the Vatican that decides penance given to sinners, updated its list of sins in 2008, including such modern-day vices as:

genetic modification
environmental pollution
social injustice
causing poverty
financial greed

Really? Environmental pollution? I’m impressed!

Sigh. So backwards in so many ways, so forward in so many others….

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The Green Economy – Green is in the Air

Exciting things are in the air:

The New York Observer’s redesigned website is launched tonight. Check out their green section, written by Steve Cohen, Executive Director of Columbia’s Earth Institute.

Ecolab, headquartered a few blocks from my office, is presenting in Miami this week at a Water Footprint Summit, MinnPost reports. Thank God SOMEONE in Minnesota is thinking about water conservation. Even if we do have 10,000 lakes… we still have to expend all the energy to treat water for distribution, and to clean up when that water is sewage afterwards.

A NASA satellite designed to monitor carbon dioxide emissions has failed to detach – meaning we are out $278 billion and disappointed not to have this neat-o way of watching CO2 from space. Instead, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory crashed into the ocean just off Antarctica.

Plastic bag bans and fees have been approved by several cities, but no states. Read more from the NYTimes.

PG&E’s going solar – way solar. So’s Israel. Meanwhile, ITC Holdings Corporation wants to build a giant high voltage power line across Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota to carry wind power eastwards, and our one Senator Amy Klobuchar calls Minnesota the “Saudi Arabia of wind.”

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammad al-Najimi of the Saudi Islamic Jurisprudence Academy spoke out against biofuels because the prophet Mohammad prohibited buying, selling, and transporting alcohol – including ethanol. While I have a great respect for Islamic jurisprudence worldwide, this does seem a bit suspicious to me.

In other breaking news, my garbage disposal is broken. This is awful and has disrupted my life significantly, which, I suppose, tells you a little something about the volume of the concerns in my life (small). But it does bring up an important point – kitchen sink disposals encourage environmentally unfriendly behavior. Regi passed along this article from TreeHugger on in-sink garbage disposals that does a good job of explaining why – just imagine what has to happen at the waste water treatment plant!

Obama gave his State of the Union Address that’s Not the State of the Union Address to Congress tonight. My favorite quote: “We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.” This is the same pragmatism that makes me an environmentalist – we have to be thoughtful about what we’re doing, and think long-term. Maybe we sacrifice a little bit now to benefit later. To find out more about Obama’s specific provisions for the environment, check out the full text of the House Stimulus Bill passed on February 12 – especially Division C on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies.

In events news, Powershift 09 is this weekend in D.C. – advocating for federal action against climate change – and Earth Hour 2009 is happening on March 28th.

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Vegetarian Bacon: Take 2

As part of my never-ending quest to find a vegetarian bacon substitute, I thought I’d try out some of this Smart Bacon brand. While Morningstar Farms brand is largely egg white (boo), Smart Bacon includes soy and wheat gluten – I think we’re doing better already. (As a side note, I still have to try out Max Sparber’s vegetarian bacon salt recommendation – amazing!)

vegetarian smart bacon

So this morning, I tried the imitation bacon out in a setting that would be non-threatening to it – you know, low pressure – and included it as part of an egg and cheese sandwich. It’s hard to make eggs and cheese taste bad. I thought with this extension of good will, Smart Bacon would do its best to be delicious for me.

vegetarian egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich

Actually, it was pretty decent! Reminiscent of the taste and texture of Canadian bacon, Smart Bacon got the job done, adding crispy texture and a vaguely cured flavor to the egg and cheese sandwich.

I give it a B.

(P.S. Don’t look too closely at the picture because you’ll see very un-green cut flowers. Shh. 🙂 )

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Mailing List

One benefit of moving a lot is that bulk mail rarely follows you.

However! Occasionally a wily organization will track me down. For instance: a nonprofit I flirted with volunteering for in Santa Rosa, California recently asked me to attend a fundraiser – a thousand miles from where I currently live in Minnesota.

unwanted direct mail

unwanted direct mail

Not only is this annoying, but it wastes paper and postage. To maximize my life efficiency, in both resources and time, I found an e-mail address online and sent the following letter:

Dear [Organization]:

Please remove me from your mailing list. I have moved to Minnesota, and as to support your organization I want to save you the paper and postage it takes to mail me materials that I will not use.

I recently received your [fundraiser name] invitation at:

[address]

Please remove my address. Thanks very much!

I realize how difficult it is for organizations, especially now, to find ways to make money. I see it as my job to tell organizations how I want them to market to me – and how I don’t want them to market to me. I want to send a strong message that direct mail is not an effective strategy for me.

End rant. In other news, Ed Kohler at The Deets has done a great job chronicling issues, trials, and tribulations of citizens opting out of receiving copies of Yellow Pages. And/or pestering YP until they do something about it.

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LEDs at The Cheeky Monkey, Veggie Canadian Bacon, and More

They’ve opened up a deli/coffee shop/wine bar/hangout next door, and I couldn’t be happier (well, I could, if I made myself a hole through the fence to shortcut the half block I need to walk there). It’s called the Cheeky Monkey, and it opened on Wednesday. We may or may not have been several times in the past 24 hours: Caleb 3, me 2. One reason I glow so much? The track lighting here is LEDs! (Read more from City Pages, Chowhound, EdibleCities, and HotDishing).

To follow up on last week’s veggie bacon post, I wanted to link to Sithlet’s post to the Twin Cities Live Journal Community about Yves veggie Canadian Bacon. Apparently it’s better than the Morningstar Bacon. It’d be hard not to be. In other news, Kevin Bacon has a new prank TV show called, yes, BACON’D.

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Welcome to the New Easier Being Green!

Welcome to the new home of Easier Being Green!

During the last few days, I’ve been at the Clean Energy Resource Teams Conference in St. Cloud, Minn. I ran into a few fellow college alumni who work for Kidwind, a group that creates lesson plans and trains teachers to teach about wind.

From the website:
Michael Arquin began the Kidwind Project when he was a 6th grade science teacher in California. Unhappy with the high price and poor quality of commercial products available for teaching wind energy science, he set out to develop his own.

Just a quick post to say hello, and welcome to the new site!

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Second Runway

Before I forget – tomorrow night, all you Twin Cityites should go to Second Runway at Goodwill/Easter Seals (553 Fairview Ave N in St. Paul). Designers re-create items purchased at local Goodwill stores.

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