The Rugged Individual vs Fossil Fuels

Natural Gas Meter

Living in the American Southwest, many of us see ourselves as rugged individuals. Movies, books, songs, etc. have celebrated the image of the independent westerner blazing his/her own trail. But, bitterly cold weather has popped the illusion of independence for a great many New Mexicans. Very few of us realized that a power-outage in Texas could trigger natural gas outages for thousands of people across New Mexico.

Baby Steps to Zero Carbon

Baby Steps

There is a big gap between my carbon footprint today and the carbon neutral future I want. Not only is that gap large, our family CO2 emissions just increased with our new child! How can I call myself a climate hawk when my carbon footprint just grew? I'm a pragmatist and temporary setbacks are often a part of making forward progress.

Fussy Babies & Fussy Recipes

Fussy Recipe

I’m afraid my love affair with Cook’s Illustrated might be coming to an end. Unfortunately, fussy babies and fussy recipes do not mix.

I’m home with the little one and I’m looking for food that will sustain us during this winter’s bitter cold and can be made with either a child in arms or during nap-time. Surely, chili completely fits the bill--hearty, warming, freezes well, can perk along on the stove. That’s how I usually think of chili but not so at Cook’s Illustrated.

The Downside of Takeout

Trash Can, full of disposable packaging

Ours is usually a 'half-full trash bin' sort of family. Some of our neighbors roll out an overflowing trash bin each week while our bin usually holds one small bag. Our full recycling bins and compost account for some reduction in our trash output. I try to avoid excess packaging and waste, but we definitely aren't a zero-waste family. Our trash bag filled quickly this week when we ordered takeout food that was packaged in unrecyclable styrofoam clamshells.

Darn!

Darning wool socks

The more I learn about conservation and frugality, the more I re-discover what my grandparents knew. In this case it's darning. I vastly prefer the warmth and comfort of wool socks, glove liners and sweaters to cotton and most synthetics. Those same wool garments (especially socks) consistently wear out in the same places. Instead of throwing out mostly-good wool socks I've started darning (mending) them and extending their useful life.

Eco Resolutions and Results

Times Square New Year's Eve Ball

Like many folks, I made a New Year's Resolution last January. "That's my plan for 2010, make one dozen changes to burn less fossil fuel and eat more locally." According to Psychology Today, "setting specific goals, sharing our resolutions with others, and focusing on the benefits of achieving the resolution" are simple strategies towards sticking to resolutions. I hoped my goal was ambitious yet achievable and I shared it with EcoDaddyo readers. Now let's see how well I kept my resolutions.

2010 Resolution Results

Everything Old is New Again

New Canyon Road Hydropower Turbine installation

Asking one simple question can lead, eventually, to big changes. In 2007 Dale Lyons, a Water Resources Coordinator for the City of Santa Fe Water Department, looked at the decommissioned Canyon Road Hydropower Plant and asked if a hydro-power plant was still feasible in Santa Fe. Dale made a few basic calculations that were promising enough to warrant a full engineering study. That study started a process which has culminated in a brand new hydro-power plant inspired by the original power plant in the Santa Fe Canyon Road Hydro Park.

Who Can Put a Price on a Forest?

Tree captures carbon and kite

Actually, the Forest Service did just that (and not in the logging sense either). The USFS recently completed a nationwide study of urban trees and the economic and environmental benefits they provide. The Forest Service study calculated urban tree canopy cover, annual carbon sequestration, air pollution removal and their value for each state and many cities in the United States.

Hatches, Battened

Storm Warning flag

There's nothing like the threat of winter and an onrushing storm to motivate me to finish a slew of projects. Summer seemed to stretch on forever and our fall was mild until recently. But we've woken to a few dustings of snow lately so I overcame my inertia to finish a few more projects. I've replaced and re-weatherstripped the back door and covered a gaping hole in the wall behind a bathroom vanity. Wow, why did those projects take me so long to finish?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Meal

It is Thanksgiving evening and the kitchen is tidied, the leftovers put away, and only a few dishes to face tomorrow. Now that's a good holiday.

What made it a better holiday was a lovely home-cooked meal as one of our blessings. Here's what we are thankful for: loving family, good work, a warm, cozy house, and good things coming our way. But possibly just as important, here's what we had for dinner:

- Cacahuates y Pepitas Enchilados - because it's fun to say and a delicious snack.

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