Earth Day 2021 April 22

March 2nd, 2021

Each day is earth day, but on April 22, it’s time to take a few extra minutes to consider what more you can do.

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is “Restore Our Earth.” Learn more at

Brooklyn Botanic in spring. Image by Peggy Rowland.

Here are five ways you can do more this Earth Day.

One: Increase your knowledge. Take a clean energy quiz.

Two: Participate in the Great Global Cleanup with a group, on our own, or even while jogging, running or walking. It’s called plogging!

Three: Reduce plastic waste by refilling your own reusable water bottle.

Four: Include pollinator-friendly plants in your garden or balcony pots.

Five: Write to your representative. Find your representative and tell this person how you feel about climate change. Ask for action.

Have fun this Earth Day 2021!

How Staying at Home to Avoid Spread of Coronavirus Changes Things for the Better

March 26th, 2020

Covid-19 is some horrible stuff. People are dying, or becoming extremely ill. Doctors and nurses are in trouble without the supplies and support they deserve and need. There’s a major disruption of daily life, employment and the economy, but there are some things about self-isolating, or obeying safer-at-home orders from your local mayor that are good.

Eek. Yeah, some things about this pandemic are good.

First, some of us are getting back to better conservation of resources. It’s nearly impossible to find paper towels (and toilet paper) in the stores. For me, it’s been impossible lately. That means I really think twice about what I’m using paper towels to do. I’m making more sustainable choices that will hopefully continue after this disruption is just a memory of 2020.

Second, it’s helping us be more flexible. I’m guilty of sticking with what I know I like, and even going to multiple stores to get those items. But, I’m learning that it’s not that big of a deal to not have my favorite foods, as a long as I have food! I don’t have to be as picky as I was. Healthy, yes, but not picky. I’m finding I can make my shopping routing much more simple than it was before.

Third, we’re driving less. I didn’t have to commute, but my husband did. Now he’s working from home, saving gas, helping to lower pollution, and having more time to enjoy simple things. Maybe some companies will be more flexible in the future about allowing employees to work from home.

Fourth, more time with pets! Yeah, people’s cats are making appearances on video conferences, but that’s great. Everyone is getting to know each other in a whole different way. And dogs, the walks they’re getting! Which brings me to….

Fifth, neighbors are exploring their neighborhoods more. We all take so much care to pick neighborhoods we like when we move, but so few of us actually spend time walking, running, biking, drawing on the sidewalk after we move. Since I’ve been working from home for years, I’ve always enjoyed walks in the middle of the day. Previously, I would just see the same few people out, or no one at all. Now, the streets of my neighborhood are teeming with people enjoying nature.

Sixth, more time with family (those you live with). If you don’t have to drive to work, you get more family time, and earlier dinner! I know that some families are separated right now, avoiding visiting each other, and many people are feeling isolated without social contact. Keep in mind: Social distancing won’t last forever!

Seventh, more hand washing. I’m a germaphobe anyway. I like it when people wash their hands. Let’s keep it up. But here’s hoping I can one day again find hand sanitizer in the store.

And finally, good grief, I finally updated this blog. Stay safe and healthy. And try to keep those good habits after this is over!

Can you recycle disposable coffee cups?

May 29th, 2018

If you’ve been tossing disposable coffee cups into your recycling, you might be an aspirational recycler. A disposable coffee cup can ruin, or contaminate, a big batch of recycling. This is a case of reuse (taking your own cup) proving better than recycling.

Thanks to The New York Times article, “6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong,” I learned the term “aspirational recycler.” And I learned that the lining inside disposable coffee cups (which keeps them from leaking) makes them difficult and expensive to recycle. Of course, plastic lids and plastic coffee cups, like you might receive for an iced coffee, may still be recyclable.

To avoid becoming an accidental aspirational recycler, check with your local facility for information on what you can recycle. Cause hopeful assumptions do more harm than good. Happy recycling.

image via MorgueFile

Help End Plastic Pollution on Earth Day 2018 and Beyond

March 25th, 2018

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, but the lessons of Earth Day last 365 days a year, as long as you’re open to that! This year, Earth Day Network is focusing on ending plastic pollution.

Plastic is everywhere. Since plastic was invented in the 1950s, we’ve produced 9.1 billion U.S. tons, and 91 percent of plastic isn’t recycled. By the year 2050, there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish! Right now, there’s more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in our Milky Way. (Sources via Earth Day Network)

Besides its invasive nature, why is plastic the enemy? Plastic items are clogging waterways and injuring or killing wildlife. Plastic pollution is also endangering human health in complex ways we’ve only begun to understand.

I’m not trying to depress you. We can change all this. Consider your own plastic pollution footprint. One of the most important things you can do to lower your footprint is refuse plastic. If there is no other option, recycle the plastic you have.

Learn more about ending plastic pollution with the Earth Day Network Toolkit.

The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape

April 20th, 2017

Photographer Diane Tuft traveled to places few human eyes ever see. By plane, boat and helicopter, she explored Norway’s mountain glaciers, the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice and Greenland’s icebergs and ice sheet.

book-cover-arctic-meltIt’s important, hard work! As we’re all living life in our neighborhoods, sipping coffee or walking the dog, we don’t really think about all that melting ice in the planet’s northernmost regions.

But we should. The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape allows you to sit back all warm and comfortable in your favorite chair with a cat on your lap while you explore vast glaciers and frigid seas.

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book.) It’s a big book – 10×13 and 176 pages. I felt like a kid with it in my lap. But it’s not a hernia art history book.


The book can grace your coffee table, and insert itself into many conversations. After all, how many photography books out there feature dramatic icebergs?

No, you won’t find any cute animals in this book, but that’s good. It gives you more brain power to quietly contemplate the austere beauty of ice and snow and meltwater.

Plus, do you like a good haiku? Tuft, who photographed melting ice for you relentlessly during the summers of 2015 and 2016, has also composed haikus to help readers better understand her impressions of the regions she photographed.


Is there a lesson among all these photographs? Yep. And it’s that we can’t ignore those things we can’t see. Plus, now you see them….

From the Foreword by Joe Rome, Ph.D., “It is vital to tell this story because the most important ice on the planet is far away from where most people live so they can not see what is happening to it firsthand. It is important because it is not too late to save most of that ice and because failing to do so would destroy civilization as we have come to know it.”


While that sounds ominous, it’s also hopeful.

Keep shouting out that you believe in action against climate change.

More information about the book:

The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape by Diane Tuft with Foreword by Joe Rome, Ph.D., will be published by Assouline in April 2017.

ISBN is 9781614285861.

All photography in this post is from The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape.

Feature: Tides, The Science and Spirit of The Ocean

January 27th, 2017

Those wondrous and sometimes frightening tides. Why do they act so? It’s time to take a little mystery away from them, but love them all the same.

What’s the book, and where can you get it?

Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White will be released from Trinity University Press on February 21, 2017. It’s to be available at bookstores everywhere, if there are still actual physical bookstores in your area, that is! If not, visit the usual suspects online. I received an advance copy of this book at no charge, but I’m only writing this feature because this is a worthwhile book.

Who is the author?

Jonathan White is an active marine conservationist, a sailor, plus a surfer! His has also written Talking on the Water: Conversations about Nature and Creativity. This guy has really spent a lot of time studying tides, but he’s also a good writer, not a boring science guy. No offense to science guys on this planet. We need you more than ever. March on.

A little alert for literary nerds: The foreword is written by Peter Matthiessen, co-founder of The Paris Review.

Why read it?

Tides takes you to the Arctic, China, France, Chile, Scotland, Panama and Italy. On your journeys you’ll learn about tides, yes, but some parts of the book cover a very important topic, one that’s being ignored by many right now – climate change, specifically how the threat of sea level rise is changing the culture in Venice and Panama. Yet, in Chile and Scotland, you’ll learn about a rising alternative energy source: tidal power! It’s not all wind and solar these days.

Go on, flip the switch on your tidal knowledge. You won’t get lost. There are maps and everything.

Plastic Straws Are the Enemy?

September 22nd, 2016

There’s a lot of iced coffee being served. And have you ever seen anyone take their own reusable straw to a coffee shop?

It typically doesn’t happen unless said person is also taking along a reusable coffee cup. And I don’t see that often either.

Image by Horia Varlan flickr

Image by Horia Varlan flickr

Is it a big deal? According to a new post at treehugger, How to banish plastic straws from your life forever, yeah, it is.

Did you know that we use 500 million plastic straws daily? That’s just in America. Read more about the numbers at the National Park Service.

Image by Dann Toliver

Image by Dann Toliver

There’s no recycling number on plastic straws either. Most people don’t recycle them. And I have to admit that I still haven’t checked with my local recycling center to see if they’re accepted.

What’s the answer? Check out the treehugger plastic straws resource to learn more about alternatives (reusable straws or even pasta straws), and catch up on the growing movement against plastic straws.

Perhaps giving up the plastic straw will be a New Year’s Resolution. Hmm?

Make Greener Decisions to Honor Earth Day 2016

April 21st, 2016

Earth Day, April 22, is a time to stop and think. To mark Earth Day, you don’t have to go to any official event, though you can! But what’s really important is that you consider how your decisions affect the earth.

I’ve listed some ideas to help you make more earth-friendly decisions in 2016 and beyond. There’s a bonus fun cat picture if you make it to the end of this post.


Eat fruit instead of packaged snacks.

Apples, bananas, etc. They taste better than you remember! I know it’s tempting to reach for those convenient plastic-wrapped snack bars that likely have chocolate in them. But think about your health. Think about all that packaging. Eat fruit as a side dish, as part of breakfast, or as a afternoon snack.

Image converted using ifftoany

Repair when you can. 

So, sometimes it makes sense to buy a newer, more energy-efficient appliance or car. But, often we rush to buy a whole thing when repairing the old is actually a better choice. And when you see an estate-sale find that needs some love, don’t be afraid to have it fixed. If you don’t have the skills, others do.

Here’s one example: Your recliner is looking so gross. The underlying frame is fine. It still reclines, but the fabric is worn and the padding has shifted in all the wrong places. Do you toss it?

If you’ve invested in a good quality piece of furniture, repair is usually an option. Just get on yelp or call your local fabric store and ask for a recommendation for an upholstery repair person. They do keep such lists…

When you repair, you’re helping a local small business and also saving yourself money. Think about other things you can repair: clothing, shoes, decorative pillows, stuffed animals, window treatments, and lots of other google-worthy things.

When you buy, think into the future. 

eifflel-tower-rainLike, go deep into the future. Will this item fit into your lifestyle in a year? Does buying it prevent you from achieving any long-term goals? Just as you read ingredient labels for food, think carefully about each thing you accumulate, especially if downsizing is anywhere in your future.

Here’s an example. Your dream (long-term goal) is to travel the world for a year. Think carefully about every single item you buy. Is that belonging worth placing in self-storage? Is there another way to solve your problem? Will purchasing it take too many funds away from your savings for travel? Is it something you can borrow or rent instead?

Traveling the world for a year may sound like an extreme example, but the goal is to be honest with yourself. Don’t allow stuff to get in the way of your dreams! Buy only the things you really need, and save your cash for what matters in life. That’s earth-friendly and people-friendly advice.

Recycle. Why aren’t you recycling? Give me a really good reason. I’m waiting. Here’s a cat in a basket image to look at while you try to come up with a good reason not to recycle. He got in there on his own. Don’t worry.

Once you form the recycling habit, it’s so hard to break. That’s good, because that means it’s easy! If you’re not already recycling, start and you’ll be amazed at how your level of trash declines. So, recycling saves you money on trash bags.

Plus, if you have kids, they will admire you for recycling, and for teaching them to recycle.

Have a great Earth Day 2016. Think about it!

Your Disposable Cake Dome Isn’t So Useless

January 31st, 2016

I’m a baker, but I know not everyone is. Those plastic cake domes are a thing. Cakes get sold from grocery stores. I get it. But is there something more to the modest plastic cake container?

Perhaps! All cleaned up, could it be used for storage or packaging? One vendor at my local antique mall thought so. Check it out.


I spied this plastic cake dome reuse in September, but it took me this long to share. Forgive.

Why I love this.

What really caught my eye most about this? The wooden Christmas ornaments. Oh, nostalgia. My favorite childhood Christmas ornament was a wooden snowman driving a stagecoach covered in red gingham fabric with a wreath on the side.

Leave the pesky sticker on already.

Here’s another view of this plastic cake container reuse idea. You can see the Kroger sticker still on there! No need to pretend it’s not a cake dome.


Disposable cake dome, thy name is handy!

The vendor was offering this whole cake dome of charming vintage wooden Christmas ornaments for something like $20. I didn’t bite. My two adorable cats make Christmas trees too difficult a task to muster. Bet they would like that bird too.

How should you reuse a plastic cake container?

Whatever you’re nostalgic about and can’t find a proper container to house, think about your humble plastic cake dome. Or, maybe save those domes for an antiques dealer, if you know one. Or.. glue a handle on the top and use the lid to cover food for picnics.

Do you have other reuse ideas for the sweet, the meek plastic cake dome?

Would Automatic Voter Registration Be Greener?

August 20th, 2015

The upcoming election year hovers above us like smog. Maybe that is bleak-think, but apparently many people don’t like elections much. Just look at low voter turnout rates.

I’m excited that I no longer have cable and will be spared the never-ending negativity/sense of doom encased in most political commercials.

Image by flickr.biofriendly

Image by flickr.biofriendly

Right now, around a quarter of Americans eligible to vote haven’t bothered registering. But one might ask: If voting is a right, then why do you have to register?

In fact, many politicians have been asking that question. Well, at least democrats have been asking it. So, now I’m asking you these questions:

  1. Would automatic registration increase voter turnout? Take a wild guess.
  2. Have you ever wanted to vote in the past, but couldn’t because you didn’t register?
  3. Would everyone be mailed voter registration cards, or would an ID suffice, saving paper and money?
  4. Would automatic registration encourage voters who are concerned with the environment to show up to vote?
  5. If automatic registration became the law all across the U.S., would anyone really want to opt-out of that process? (If so, please explain why!)

Don’t leave me hanging. I really want to know the answers to these questions.