My 5: Elias Simpson, Contributing Writer

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

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked contributing writer Elias Simpson the following question:

What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?


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.

2. Ride a bike. It doesn’t need to be your bike, so long as it fits. You’ll get exercise, eliminate the need for a car (which takes a lot of resources — imagine if there were a park in place of every gas station), and eliminate transportation pollution, the number three source of greenhouse gases (first is supposedly methane from animals, see “1”; second, construction, see “3”).

3. Share a bed. I don’t mean a one night stand, rather, sharing a bed can be a sign that you share everything else — a kitchen, toilet, a broom, rugs, a bike — and that reduces consumptive demands by half.

4. Vote for hemp. I don’t mean marijuana, although that would help balance everyone’s budget (everyone’s except the drug lords’). Hemp was grown during World War Two, but has since been outlawed. It is a versatile, renewable crop that can be used for clothes, paper, and food. Aligning your political views to reverse legislation that bans hemp in favor of destructive agribusiness could make a positive impact on the environment.

5. Garden. This was also popular during World War Two. It’s funny how the current economic depression is bringing back the best in us (the U.S.). Your fruits and vegetables are freshest when picked by the hands that feed on them. It’s the most sustainable way to cultivate, and it can be profoundly rewarding and satisfying.

Elias Simpson

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

My 5: Earle Canfield, Founder, ANSWER

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

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

Earle Canfield, founder of American-Nepali Student and Women's Educational Relief

Earle Canfield, founder of American-Nepali Student and Women


  • Total disarmament. Dismantle all war industries and limit armies to simply police forces. This is one of the most wasteful uses of our time, money, and effort.
  • Global education about the importance of observing the natural cycles.
  • Reforestation and strict laws and zoning to maintain the forests.
  • Conversion to renewable and carbon-free energy generation (until nuclear wastes are neither recyclable nor non-war related; e.g., breeder reactors are not acceptable alternatives for the latter reason).
    • As a corollary, this can best be achieved on a home-by-home construct: fuel cells and windmills in every yard or on every roof.
    • As a second corollary, this includes energy of all forms of transportation.
  • Learning mutual respect through our common humanity and “spiritual” connection… That’s the hardest.

Earle Canfield, Founder

American-Nepali Student & Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER)

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Posts:

Part I: ANSWER – A Sustainable Future for Low-Caste Children

Part 2: ANSWER – Ending Caste in Nepal with Education and Jobs

Uniting for a Greener and Safer World

There’s celebration afoot, as our nation prepares to swear in its first African American president. But tomorrow, after the last balloon has floated away, the real work will begin for our young leader. We must not expect him to do it alone.

"Be the change that you seek in the world." — Gandhi. Photo: Julia Wasson

The future 44th President stumping in Iowa. Photo: Julia Wasson

President Obama will face challenges as great, arguably greater, than any president in any era before. He inherits an economic disaster second only to the Great Depression. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing as business after business closes its doors. The economic hole we’re in threatens to collapse and bury us under massive debt and unprecedented bailouts.

Our very planet is in peril. We wonder, when we’re brave enough to contemplate the question, Will our children’s children find the world as hospitable a home as it was for us? Or will homo sapiens itself find a place on the endangered species list? The decisions our new president makes in the next four — or eight — years will not only affect the economic and political survival of the world’s nations, but will also help determine the fate of every inhabitant on this planet. He must proceed with caution, then act decisively and with determination. And we must give him our support.

But if he forgets for a time that no other issue — not mind-numbing economic crisis, not the tensions and fighting in the Middle East, not even his beloved children — is as critically important as the sustainability of our planet, then we must remind him and hold him accountable.

It is well past time to put an end to environmental rape. We, the American people, must consider whether our cherished “pursuit of happiness” truly requires huge, gas-sucking vehicles to drive to the neighborhood store; giant televisions blaring in empty rooms; closets stuffed with so many pairs of shoes that we will never wear them out; and playrooms filled with so many toys that even toddlers have more possessions than an average family in a developing nation. As Dr. Jeff Murray said in his My 5, “No one should have two of anything until everyone has one.”

Let’s consider our neighbors as well as ourselves. It’s a small planet we share. And when we cry, “Not in my backyard!” let’s remember that someone else’s backyard is as sacred as our own. In too many cases, we’ve pushed our worst polluters onto someone else’s soil. Companies that declare themselves “green” in this country too often turn the waters black and poison the air on the other side of the planet. We must not let environmental sins go unrecognized, let alone unpunished.

President Obama has proposed a new, green-collar workforce, trained in environmentally responsible jobs and building a system of renewable energy that can free us from clinging to foreign oil. Let’s not stop there. As the economy improves, let’s do all we can to improve energy efficiency and retrofit our own businesses and homes with alternative sources of power.

Today, when our 44th president takes the oath of office, let’s take oaths of our own. If you haven’t yet written your My 5, do it now. Ask yourself, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” What are you willing to do? Really? Make your commitment now, and hold yourself accountable. Then start today. It’s up to each of us to support our president as he tries to make the planet sustainable for humankind. Whether your party was red or blue or another hue entirely, let’s all come together as one green nation.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama’s theme was “Change.” When he is sworn in this morning, let’s remember another great leader, Gandhi, who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Obama’s mantra throughout the campaign was, “Yes, we can.” And now, as a united American people, I urge us all to say, “Yes, we can — and we will.”

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

My 5: Effie Brunson, Rays of Hope

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5, Texas

Blue Planet Green Living asked social activist Effie Brunson, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” Following is her response.

Effie Brunson, Development Director and Founder, Rays of Hope


I’ll give these in reverse order, with the least important first:

5. Plan your trips; drive less.

4. Buy intelligently; be an informed consumer.

3. Start an initiative where you work. Start a recycling program if you don’t already have one, organize a work day once a year to volunteer at a Habitat house, or propose to management the idea of a four-day work week or four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. Start a conversation about efficiency and resource use.

2. Retrofit your home to be more energy efficient.

1. Arm yourself with information and don’t be afraid to speak up.

Effie Brunson

Development Director and Founder, Rays of Hope

Austin, Texas, USA

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Post:

Renewable Energy, a Tool for Social Equity

Five Things We Can Do to Save the Planet

The Great, Green Hope

November 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page

Interesting, isn’t it, the way we follow trends? Sometimes it seems like we’re mindless sheep, herded easily by advertisers and the media. Buy this, wear this, watch this, drink this, eat this, hear this, read this, say this, and be this. Is that what is happening to us now? Is the Green Movement just another trendy phase we’re going through?

Madison Avenue says, " Buy this, wear this, watch this..."

Madison Avenue says,"Buy this, wear this, watch this..."

My first response, a couple of years ago, was a resounding, “Yes.” Don’t get me wrong; I have always been trying to save the planet. I was recycling before it was popular. My first real job 33 years ago was to divert equipment from the landfill for a large university. Now they call it, “landfill avoidance.” My mother had always called it, “Waste not, want not.”

So, about a year ago, when I started hearing the word green used in every other sentence on radio and TV, and in newspapers and magazines — “Green this, green that” — I was skeptical. I began to feel the old pressures of the herd mentality. My first reaction was to resist the temptation. I told myself, Give it a few months; it’ll pass.

At that time, I had just retired and was consulting with industries, helping them sell excess equipment and overstocked parts. I was showing them how to establish markets for their metal scrap, cardboard, and plastics; and teaching them ways to recycle paper in their offices and food in their kitchens. Gas prices were climbing like crazy. Factory management began asking me for information on alternative energy sources and ways to reduce utility expenditures. Industry was finally beginning to understand that saving the planet could also save money.

Then the economy crashed. Boy, that was a kick in the teeth. Wall Street became a roller coaster ride for the insane. Madison Avenue grew eerily quiet. Buying anything but necessities became an expendable luxury. The need to be fashionable became the need to survive. For many of us, getting any job replaced getting the right job. Feeding our faces was suddenly more important than feeding our egos.

Mother Earth is teaching us our colors. Photo: Joe Hennager

Mother Earth is teaching us our colors. Photo: Joe Hennager

That was when I noticed something strange. Even though the economy was bleeding red, the green thing persisted. The word green wasn’t coming from the media any more; it was coming from the people. I wouldn’t have noticed it, but I was up to my neck in research; digging through scientific journals; studying the latest technologies in solar energy, wind power, waste heat recovery, and geothermal generators; listening to utility company CEOs; talking to inventors and physicists — people at the top and bottom of this huge, green hierarchy.

Google the word "green," and you find nearly one billion sites. Photo: Joe Hennager

Google the word "green," and you'll find nearly one billion sites. Photo: Joe Hennager

I saw for the first time the depth and breadth of what this word has become. Want to see what I’m talking about? Google the word green. Yes, right now, type in those five letters. As of 8:00 A.M. (CST), November 24, 2008, were about 877,000,000 green sites to choose from. By 8:00 PM, there were about 892,000,000. That’s not a movement; that’s a phenomenon.

Most of the sites you’ll find are green businesses. Many are small start-ups, hopeful moms and pops who have an idea that maybe, just maybe, they can save the world a little bit at a time and make a buck for their effort. (Ain’t capitalism grand?)

The number of ecopreneurs is growing. In fact, according to The New York Times, the number of eco-businesses will double in the next two years. Green businesses have the potential to generate more than $1 trillion in world revenue in the next year alone.

For too long, we’ve seen the need for profit consume our planet, piece by piece. Industries hired Madison Avenue to convince us that it was okay to scar the surface of our planet, poison our soil, air and water, and make us sick with toxic chemicals. The industries paid us a salary so we could buy their mind-numbing products. And we did. Damn, we’re just as much to blame as they are.

Now, with the fall of the stock market, our precious dollars are dwindling fast. It’s possible that the only thing that will save us is the Great Green Hope (play the Superman theme) and the two million green collar jobs it will create.

Imagine that this whole green thing is not Madison Avenue hype. Imagine that we are not being driven like sheep into another financial rip-off. Maybe we are all connected by some deeply ingrained, genetic signal that has triggered certain cells inside our brains to click on. Maybe, for the first time we are able to hear some subsonic message coming from Earth herself. Or, if you find that too far to stretch your imagination, maybe we’re all just damn sick and tired of putting profits before planet.

The U.S. is a nation of 306 million people in a world of 6.7 billion — 5% of the population consuming 26% of the world’s energy. Right now, every one of us can live more sustainably. Eventually we can overcome our addiction to oil, coal, and nuclear energy. That is what Mother Earth is telling us.

Listen to your planet. Photo: Belinda Geiger

Listen to your planet. Photo: Belinda Geiger

If we don’t do something as a species, we will go the way of the Western Black Rhinoceros, the Red Colobus Monkey, and the Blue Pike. These are colors we will never see again.

This is not a religious prophecy. This is not some political party platform. Green is no longer just a color. It is the connection between every living thing on this planet.

Picture a blue ball in space that is 25,000 miles in circumference. Visualize it spinning at 1,000 miles per hour and moving through space at 67,000 miles per hour. Now consider that it has been doing this for 4.5 billion years, and it has done so in relative silence, until now.

Open your ears. Listen to your planet. Open your eyes. Mother Earth is teaching us our colors, and today, the color is Life.

Joe Hennager

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)