Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tipping Point

OK, so this video is more on the alarmist side than I usually like, but I do think it's worth watching for 2 reasons: many people have never even heard of the tipping point, and there are too many people in this world (and especially here in the US!) that still think climate change is no big deal. Luckily there are lots of scientists out there that think we still have time to clean up our act and make sure the earth is a worthwhile place for our future children and grandchildren to live in. Watch the video and then you can decide whether to share it or not...

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.">Tipping Point  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shaping the Next Generation

As Earth Day fast approaches, I keep thinking about how, as a mother, I can instill in my 2 yr old son why the day is special. But I also want him to know that in our daily life we need to show respect to the earth and our bodies just as we would show another person. Ideas that come to mind usually involve some sort of "plant a tree" idea, but when I got this email, it made me really start to can I get MY children to think like this at age 20? or even before? Read on and click on the link to watch the short but effective You Tube video.

This is a video  that was submitted in a contest by a 20 year old.

The contest was Titled "u @ 50", by the AARP

This video won second place. When they showed it , everyone in the
Room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause.

So simple and  yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Earth Day Plans...

Earth Day is next week on April you have any special plans yet? I am waiting to see what the weather holds on the actual day, but this weekend and next we plan to take part in some of the many activities going on in and around the city. There have been numerous lists published lately, both on-line and in-print (Ideal Bite, Chicago Wilderness, the Reader, the Tribune, etc.) so there's no shortage of places to find Earth Day-related ideas, but I thought I'd compile some of the FREE events (other than Green Fest, which charges an entry fee) for you here too!  I am going to try to be at one or both of the events on the 25th, as well as the Green Fest in May. Today when I was at Green Maker (a great eco-friendly home improvement store) they had flyers for 2 for 1 entry to Green Fest.  Pretty cool! 

Happy Earth Day, Everyone!

April 18th Weekend:

Grant Park Earth Day Celebration
April 18-19, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Volunteers can help mulch the trees and bushes of Grant Park’s Hutchinson Field (Balbo and Columbus), sprucing up the centerpiece of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago just in time for centennial celebrations.  

Chicago Parks Earth Day Park Cleanups

It's too late to register if you didn't already, but you can still stick some gardening gloves in your back pocket and head over to one of the many registered parks to lend a hand. Click here to see if a park near you is listed and needs some help!

When: Sat., April 18, 9 a.m. 
Phone: 312-857-2757 
Volunteers can mulch, plant seedlings, and clean up debris and trash. Sign up at Friends of the Parks’ Web site (  

Hazardous Waste Drop Off
When: Sat., April 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 
Phone: 312-744-7606
Spring cleaners can dispose of toxic, corrosive, and flammable waste, including household chemicals, lead- and oil-based paint, gas cans (trade for an eco-friendly one), gas-powered lawn mowers (trade for a $100 rebate on a push or electric mower), computers, cell phones, and old medications. Latex paint and working TVs will not be accepted. You can also pick up a free CFL bulb and buy a discounted compost bin ($35) or rain barrel ($45).
  • 333 W. 35th

    • 312-674-1000

    Irish Earth Day Festival

    When: Sat., April 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
    This festival, the first of its kind at the Irish American Heritage Center, will showcase businesses and nonprofits promoting sustainability; there’ll also be activities for kids and live music.

    APRIL 20th:

    Green Roof Open House
    When: Mon., April 20, 5-7 p.m. 
    Phone: 312-263-9129

    8 W. Monroe

    • (312) 263-9129The Metropolis Condominium Association hosts a free open house to show off their recently installed green roof, which uses vegetation to absorb and filter water runoff. Association members will be on hand to answer questions, and light refreshments will be served. The invited guest list includes, rather ambitiously, the mayor and governor.


      The Nature Conservancy: Spring Outside! Nature Walk 

      7:30 a.m., Lurie Garden, Millenium Park, Chicago

      Experience a nature walk downtown before you start the work day! Register for this special opportunity to join Jo Seagren, a member of The Nature Conservancy and an amateur naturalist, as she guides a group through Millennium Park on a bird and plant appreciation walk. Meet in front of Cloud Gate ("The Bean"). Registration is required; please RSVP to 312-580-2357.

      April 25th Weekend

      Gardening Small Urban Spaces 
      When: Sat April 25th, 1 - 3pm
      Phone: 312.746.9642
      Shedd Aquarium horticulture manager Christine Nye gives a presentation on maximizing the productivity of small patches of land, covering square foot gardening and ornamental displays.
      • Chicago Center for Green Technology

        • 445 N. Sacramento
        • 312-746-9642  

        • Green and Growing Urban Gardening Fair
        • When: Sat April 25th, 10am - 3pm
        • Phone: 773.251.7515
        • Tips and tricks for getting a garden started in the city, plus free food and pole bean seed packets. Demonstrations cover square foot gardening, composting, and rot pots.

        Garfield Park Conservatory
        300 N. Central Park

Chicago Green Fest

Sat., May 16, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun., May 17, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
phone 312-595-5184

This comprehensive festival plans to showcase hundreds of local and national green businesses amid a range of activities and an exhaustive list of over 150 speakers. Activities will include workshops, films, yoga classes, and children's programs; organic beer and wine will be available. Scheduled speakers include local ex-radical Bill Ayers, columnist Jim Hightower, and controversial conceptual artist Damali Ayo. $15, $10 students, bike riders, and union members

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Earth Hour 2009: Before and Afters

Did you participate in Earth Hour last month? I hope so! The response was overwhelming around the world and hopefully the effort will help lawmakers and politicians see that saving energy, clean fuel sources, etc. are important issues to their constituents.

Make sure to check out these cool before and after shots of major cities during Earth Hour 2009!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring is for Changes

I was in Florida visiting with family last week and the sunny weather has really put me in a "Spring-y" mood. Now even though the Chicago weather still seems a little chilly and a lot cloudy, I am looking forward to working on my new balcony garden, going for walks around the 'hood and dying Easter eggs!

Well, we normally buy brown free-range or organic eggs, and I really don't feel l
ike going out to buy special eggs just to dye, but can you really dye brown eggs? Won't they be ugly? Apparently, no! I found this great site that gives you recipes for dying brown eggs pretty shades of red, blue and an orange-yellow, and the best part is that you can make the dyes while making dinner instead of buying yet another pack or Paas. (not that Paas is expensive or inconvenient, since you can get it pretty much anywhere, but I am just happy not to have to toss or recycle MORE packaging. We have enough of that around here already!) Here is another web page that has instructions for using onion skins to dye the eggs! I love that idea since it basically makes use of something I would otherwise just toss. And here is one more site that has good ideas for natural dyes that would probably work really well on white eggs.
I think my son is going to like dying eggs for the first time this year, and maybe he will start to associate this Easter tradition with the start of Spring, just like I do! Maybe as he gets older, he'll think it's cool that we can use food to dye eggs. If you have older children, the
y might even be able to think of more ideas and you could work on the dying as more of a science project than an art project!

As the season changes, many people clean out part of their lives that are often neglected...refrigerators, baseboards, under the beds, etc. Why not focus some energy on your bathroom and vanity cabinets? There might be tons of scary chemicals there that you regularly put right on your and your family's skin...which is, after all, your largest organ.
There are several organizations who are working hard right now on our behalf to win a battle with cosmetics and baby care companies over transparency and ridding their potions of harmful ingredients (which they somehow seem able to do when selling their products overseas...hmm). Hopefully this will help take some of the burden off of us as consumers, because shouldn't we just be able to assume everything that's for sale is safe to use? But until then, here's a good place to start:

This is a link to a great site called the Good Guide where you can see how what you buy/eat is rated when things like Health Performance, General Nutrition, Additives/Preservatives, Artificial Colors of Concern & Certifications are taken into consideration. They also rate products/companies based on Environmental Performance, Toxic Waste production/handling, Global Warming, Energy & Water Management as well as social aspects like Social Performance, Philanthropy, Labor & Human Rights, etc. They don't have all the brands or products that I use yet, but they do have a fairly comprehensive listing and encourage your to contact them with other products you use. So check it out for yourself and see where the companies that you are giving your money to rank in the areas that matter to you...and hopefully all of the categories matter to you!