My 5: Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder, Healthy Child Healthy World

March 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Nancy Chuda, Co-Founder of Healthy Child Healthy World, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

NANCY CHUDA:
Less consumption. Learn to recycle, reduce, and reuse the things that we have in our homes. Reduce greenhouse gases by selecting energy-efficient appliances and devices and technology.

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Healthy Child Healthy World — A Story of Heartbreak and Hope

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“When a parent loses a child, there really are no words. There are no words to describe this grief, and there are no words to mend the broken heart that remains forever after. But my husband and I chose to try to make a difference,” said Nancy Chuda, referring to the death of their only child, Colette. “We said, let us take the remains of what would have been her life and, in her memory, establish something that would give benefit to countless millions. It fueled our passion. It was our pain that carried us through — from pain to passion — in building the network.”

I spoke with Nancy Chuda about Healthy Child Healthy World, the organization she and her husband, Jim, founded nearly twenty years ago in honor and memory of their daughter. This is her story.

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How to Build a Quick and Easy Vegetable Trellis

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It’s spring in Iowa, and the smell of the moist, black soil calls out to the gardener in all of us. Ever since the first hint of bulbs peeking through the dirt, I’ve been itching to get started planting an organic garden. On Friday, the temperature was 60 degrees Fahrenheit. By Saturday, it was 35 degrees and dropping. The Weather Channel showed a big snowstorm coming in a few hours. I decided I’d better hurry.

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Lights Out for Earth Hour!

March 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Climate Change, Environment, Events, Front Page

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It feels a little like waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Earth Hour will finally arrive tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. local time. What will you be doing for that hour? Why not join the estimated one billion people in 1000 cities “going dark” for Earth Hour? Don’t be left in the light.

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Fairchild Challenge Prepares Youth to Protect the Planet

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Today’s adults will not solve every environmental challenge we face in the world. We will make progress, certainly, but the solutions to most of the major problems that plague us will not come in our lifetimes. The future of our species — and with it, the future of all life on Earth — hinges on the actions of our children and their children.

We cannot sit back idly and expect generations yet to come to take up the banner of environmentalism and sustainability. We must begin by educating — and inspiring — our youth to enlightenment and action. One program that has been successfully motivating youth to learn about the environment is the Fairchild Challenge.

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Organic Gardening in Your Own Backyard

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Spring in Iowa feels like stepping out of the Ice Age into some of the most appreciated warm weather on the planet. After enduring 20 snow and ice storms from November to March (and more still possible all the way to early May), a person’s patience begins to thin. Mine does, anyway. But a few days of warmer weather, say in the 50s and 60s, changes my whole outlook….

I am ready for spring. I am ready for the rain to wash all those chilly memories away. I am ready for the plants in my garden to return. I am ready to see green buds pushing up through the dead leaves. I long for the feel of dirt under my fingernails. If you live in a cool climate, I’ll bet you’re ready, too.

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My 5: Hector Hernández

March 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Green Living, My 5, Texas

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Hector Hernandez of the Texas AgriLife Extension Center, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

HECTOR HERNÁNDEZ:

* Recycle whatever you can in your community: glass, paper, plastic, etc.

* Be more mindful of water usage. Right now, we’re in a drought situation in Texas, so we’re careful when we water the garden plots and make sure we don’t over water….

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Green Living on Wheels – Take a Spin at a Bike Library

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Joe’s post last week about riding a bicycle reminded me that I’m a bike-riding wannabe. I look with envy at friends, who ride with ease down our city streets, then cruise 50 miles down country roads in a single day. I’m awed by people my age — and older — who train for and ride in RAGBRAI (Register and Gazette Bike Ride Across Iowa), the annual bike trek across our state. While a trans-Iowa ride is not on my list of things to do before I die, I hear it’s a lot of fun. But that’s not what I dream of.
All I want is to cruise downtown to the library, ride to my local coffee shop, or zip over to a friend’s house like I did when I was a kid. (My office is a 20 step commute from my bedroom, so biking to work is out.) So what’s stopping me? I don’t have a bike.

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The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth

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For far too long, critics of environmentalism have resorted to a now-familiar false dichotomy pitting humankind against Nature. Human beings are a species apart, they say, detached from the ecosphere but still able (indeed, morally obligated) to reap its benefits. This fallacy is backed up by a related either/or argument, in which any environmental regulation is equated with obstructing the progress and well being of the human race. According to this philosophy, the protection of the proverbial spotted owl threatens the welfare of humanity.

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The Green Commute — Bike to Work

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It’s a beautiful spring day. What shall I do to save the planet from self–destruction today? My superhero suit is at the cleaners, so maybe I’ll just ride my bike to work. Hey, let’s bike together!

What do you mean, “Why bike?” I can answer that: It saves gas, reduces my carbon footprint, and doesn’t pollute. It builds muscle and controls weight. (Hey, check out these glutes—you can’t get those sitting in a bucket seat.) It’s even good for my heart. What’s not to like?

Oh, I see. You’re one of those people who has to find something to complain about. Have at it. Nothing you can say will phase me. You’re not talking to just anyone, you know; I’m the Green Commuter!

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Beverage Container Laws Expanding in Several States

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When bottled water first appeared on product shelves, I initially thought it was a waste of money. I held off for a long time. Eventually, like many of you, I saw the relatively small investment as a fair exchange for the convenience of portability. It was an attractive lure. I bit. And I bought. And bought. And bought.

Now that I’m deeply steeped in environmental issues, I have come to understand the disaster of bottled water. Aside from questions about the quality of the water and the safety of the plastic bottles themselves — significant issues, for sure — there’s the problem of waste. Millions of plastic water bottles get tossed in our waterways, lie smashed on our roads, litter our green spaces, or end up in our landfills. In the best-case scenario, they get recycled into other products.

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Swishing – A New Green Craze for Frugal Fashionistas

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“That’s so cute! Where did you get that?”

We’ve all said it to our friends, admiring a blouse, a skirt, a purse, or a pair of shoes. And they’ve said it to us. But we all get tired of our own clothes after a while. Instead of running out to the store to pick up a new item for yourself, consider swishing — swapping before shopping — as an environmentally friendly way to get those super-adorable clothes your friends own. Swishing is easy to do, and a fun way to enhance your wardrobe without spending a dime.

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Porked Off! A Critical Look at Iowa’s Water Quality

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For 25 years, I’ve lived two blocks from the Iowa River. I used to water ski on, swim in, and fish from it. I don’t anymore. Twenty years ago, I felt safe including my children in these activities. We felt safe swimming in the river and eating bass, bullhead, catfish, and walleye from its waters. I had hoped I would be able to share the same experiences with my grandchildren someday.

Nowadays, you shouldn’t just drop in a line and catch your dinner. You should check with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) before you eat the fish. The agency does federally mandated testing for pesticides at least once a year. They do periodic testing for mercury and PCBs, too. Their latest warnings are posted on their Fish Consumption Advisories page. You’ll find warnings like this one:

“The Cedar River from the Highway 218 bridge at Floyd (Floyd Co.) to the Iowa/Minnesota state line (39 mile stretch): Eat only 1 meal/week of smallmouth bass, walleye, and northern pike due to elevated levels of mercury.”

Sound healthy to you?

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Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is — 1% for the Planet

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There’s something new on our website today. Take a look at the top-right part of our page. See that rich, dark-blue square? It’s not an ad, it’s a declaration. Wherever you see the 1% for the Planet Member logo, you know that 1% of that business’s annual sales will be donated to an environmental nonprofit. At Blue Planet Green Energy (DBA, Blue Planet Green Living), we do more than just talk about sustaining the earth. We actively work for it. That’s why we’ve joined 1% for the Planet, too….

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My 5: Elias Simpson, Contributing Writer

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Events, Front Page, Iowa

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BPGL asked contributing writer Elias Simpson, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

Here’s how Simpson responded:

1. Eat local (or eat vegan). From a strictly environmental standpoint, eating local is the most sustainable practice. You support people in your community who (probably) know, love, and conserve their land. You can even visit to see the wheat that makes your bread, or the cows (if you choose to pass on the vegan option) that make your steak…

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Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Announces Free Workshops

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Are you a farmer who’s been thinking about going organic, but you’re just not sure if it’s for you? Then check out these workshop offerings from Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES). We heard about MOSES from our friends at the Barr Mansion, and just learned about the following events. (Sorry about the late notice on Friday’s workshop, but there’s plenty of time to get registered for the April event.) Find out more details at the MOSES field days/training page of their website.

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My 5: Earle Canfield, Founder, ANSWER

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under ANSWER, Blog, Front Page, Michigan, My 5, Nepal, Volunteers

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Earle Canfield, founder of the NGO ANSWER, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

EARLE CANFIELD:

* Total disarmament. Dismantle all war industries and limit armies to simply police forces-this is one of the most wasteful use of our time, money and effort….

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ANSWER – Ending Caste in Nepal with Education and Jobs

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Conscientious donors around the world give money to NGOs with the full expectation that their contributions will work toward the benefit of the intended recipients. But, as Earle Canfield, explains in today’s post, the reality is often quite different, with too many NGOs working ultimately for their own sustainability and not delivering “real help.”

Canfield’s NGO, American-Nepali Student & Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER), is different. “Instead of fostering dependency,” Canfield says, “we empower students.” ANSWER gives “just enough help” to impoverished low-caste families by paying for one child’s private school education. The families, in turn, pay for a small part of their children’s school needs. By requiring a personal investment, ANSWER motivates families to continue the child’s participation through college, whereupon the graduate secures a good-paying job. Education not only breaks the cycle of poverty for the families, it also empowers low-caste students to become part of the new middle class that will overturn the caste system in their lifetime.

This is Part 2 of a two-part interview with ANSWER’s founder, Earle Canfield.

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ANSWER — A Sustainable Future for Low-Caste Children

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“We could see the end of the caste system in Nepal in our lifetime,” said Earle Canfield, addressing an attentive audience in Iowa City this past Sunday. Canfield had come to talk about an NGO he started in Nepal eight years before. American-Nepali Student & Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER) “places low-caste Nepalese children whose families cannot afford to pay for an education in private, high-caste schools,” according to Canfield.

Several members of the audience are ANSWER sponsors, committing to pay $5 a week to support a child’s education. Unlike many nonprofits that provide assistance to children in developing countries, ANSWER puts every single penny of a sponsor’s donation to work directly helping that person’s sponsored child. Joe and I were moved to hear Canfield speak about the work ANSWER is doing to help Nepal’s forgotten children, the impoverished, low-caste untouchables, earn their high school and college diplomas, then go on to jobs that will help them become productive members of Nepal’s emerging middle class.

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Green Living Begins with a Barr Mansion Organic Wedding

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As consumers opt for more earth-friendly choices at home, many are also requesting organic foods at restaurants. But to date, only one venue we know of provides brides and grooms with a fully organic wedding — and all in a setting as gorgeous as any fairytale. Located just outside Austin, Texas, the Barr Mansion is the only certified organic special events facility in the nation. We spoke with Melanie McAfee, co-owner of the Barr Mansion, along with her husband, Mark.

We asked Melanie about the process of going fully organic and what this means to their staff and their clients. But going organic isn’t the owners’ only consideration: They’re striving to buy locally — or at least in the US — and reduce their carbon footprint, all while offering wedding memories to last a lifetime.

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