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We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!

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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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NW Blogger Meetup – UPDATE

NW Blogger Meetup


The date is getting near! We’re working on finding a location. In the meantime, here’s what we know so far…


Date:

Sunday, September 7th

Time:

Afternoon (TBD based on location)

Location:

A Seattle Park (TBD)

Details:

An afternoon potluck full of local goodies. BYO reusable utensils, children frolicking on play equipment or in the sand, plus much laughter and good times!


Interested? Let us know!!


If you haven’t yet done so, please comment below or send me an email letting me know you’re interested, so we can get a good head count. (And when the comment form asks for an email address, be sure to use an email address that works, so I can email you the final details. Your email will remain private, no worries.)


Yeehaw – let’s party!


Spread The Word


Please spread the word on your own blogs – the more the merrier! Just make sure everyone makes their way here, so we can see how many people are truly interested.

 

Deep Economy Winner!!

Deep Economy by Bill McKibben


Thank you all for the lovely things you said about me and the blog, and for letting me know what you like reading most here. If you haven’t yet let me know, there is still time – mosey on over to the reader poll here - and I’ll leave it open for a week or so. Now…


Drumroll….



I did say it was going to be a hat… where’s a hat when you need it? They’re all over at the allotment!


Ready?



Ta Da! You are the new proud owner of one of my favorite books!


Ah, Stephanie was the one who’d asked if it would be ok to give it away on BookMooch or PaperBackSwap. (Once you’ve read a giveaway book, I encourage you to to pass it on.) The answer is of yes, of course. As long as no money changes hands, and someone new reads the book – works for me!


So, send me your address, and I’ll send it away to you! Congratulations!


THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Growing Food Year-Round

One of the beauties of The Growing Challenge is that we are able to see what’s growing all around the world. This month it has been snowing in parts of Australia, at the same time temperatures reached 100F in the southwestern United States. And soon, our roles will switch. In a few months, we in the US and Europe will be looking longingly at Australia’s summer gardens….


But don’t despair – I have seen an awful lot of winter gardens still going in Australia. So I say it’s time for the rest of us to begin preparing for our own winter gardens!


Kate's Winter Greens


Winter Gardening Inspiration


It’s snowing at the Tin House (below), but Lisa’s wombok seems to be taking the cold ok. Also, funny enough her asparagus made a surprisingly early appearance!  Lisa is also growing spinach, carrots, lettuce, rocket, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, garlic, and onions.


Lisa's Wombok


Belinda is eating 1-2 meals straight from the garden each week. She’s harvesting broccoli and mini cauliflower, and awaiting brussels sprouts, broad beans (which just flowered), spinach, and a whole bunch of seedlings. Did I mention that it has been snowing there, too?


Belinda's Beautiful Cabbage

Belinda’s Beautiful Cabbage


Leanne is sick of her wet weather, but her broad beans are flowering beautifully, and her garlic and spinach have sprouted and are soon to be transplanted.


Leanne's Broad Beans

Leanne’s Broad Beans


Kate examines her square square foot gardening.  Check out the square foot below:  peas, coriander and leeks.  She’s also growing broad beans, chicory, fennel, broccoli, oregano, mizuna, kale, silver beets, lettuces, bok choy, garlic, and more.


Kate's Square Foot

Kate’s Square Foot

 

Julie is harvesting lemons.  She has also planted a bunch of new seeds in her growing rack.


Julie\'s Lemons

Julie’s Lemons

 

Naturewitch’s peach trees are flowering and magpies serenading, while she harvests potatoes for potato salad, along with herbs, baby beets, carrots, and lettuce.  She is also planting potatoes and has some great instructions for a no dig method.  And she shows off a beautiful olive tree given her by The Crone, plus her snow peas, broccoli, nasturtiums, jonquil, oats, and rhubarb.


Naturewitch's Broccoli

Naturewitch’s Broccoli


Kate F finds inspiration with a visit to a local permaculture farm and farmstand. Her photos are a good reminder that if the market is selling produce, chances are good that you can grow it at home!


At the Ceres Market

At the Market


If that is still not enough inspiration, Hannah is growing basil and lettuce under cloches, has beautiful peas and broad beans growing, and made this the other night:  a scrumptious quiche dinner made from food within 100 feet of the kitchen!


Hannah's Dinner

Hannah’s Dinner


Some Other Inspiration:



I know there are lots of you gardeners who are gardening year-round – please share your tricks, what grows well and how you make it grow, plus any links to posts on the subject!


The Growing Challenge


There are currently 160 people who are a part of this challenge. Please join us any time! Just head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all about.


Are You Planting a Four-Season Garden?


For those of us who are gardening year-round, what are you growing? What are your favorite books that delve into fall and winter gardening? And for those who aren’t gardening year-round, what keeps you from doing so? Also, have you posted about gardening this week? Then give us a link to your post!


Will Americans Ever Bicycle Like The Rest Of The World?

After reading a post at Earth First, I thought I’d seek out and share some bicycle inspiration. The following photos were taken at train stations around the world:


Sweden

Malmo, Sweden


Amsterdam

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan


Belgium

Leuven, Belgium


Niigata, Japan

Niigata, Japan


Too Cold?


Scandanavia

Scandanavia


So… What are we waiting for?!


A couple of weeks ago I wrote Is Your Neighborhood Bikeable? to see if we couldn’t get ourselves out of this biker’s block. There are some resources there to peruse. And there were also some amazing comments. I’m going to reproduce one from LHT Rider here, because I think it’s very useful.


If You Have Biker’s Block.

by LHT Rider


It is a sad commentary on the culture we live in that so many of us are afraid to exercise our right to use the public roads in a non-polluting manner. Believe me, I know how you feel. I went from not riding my bicycle for many, many years and have since become a 4-season rider in the northern midwest. Here are some things that have helped me make the transition.


1. Set small, achievable, progressive challenges for yourself. Baby steps are important. See for yourself what you’re truly capable of and question your assumptions. If you are willing to test your preconceived notions, you might be surprised at the results.


2. Allow yourself to do what you need to in order to feel more comfortable. For example if the road immediately adjacent to your house is too scary, allow yourself to ride on the sidewalk for a short distance until you can get somewhere safer. This is legal in many communities. Just remember to: be nice – yield to pedestrians, be careful crossing driveways especially if you do not have a clear line of sight, and do not under any circumstances shoot out into intersections from the sidewalk as car drivers do not expect you to be there.


2. Get a mirror & learn how to use it. It’s much less scary if you know what’s coming up behind you. While some people have no problem just turning around to see what’s behind them while still maintaining a razor sharp straight line, a mirror allows you to check things out more quickly and without the risk of weaving (into traffic, the curb, a pothole etc.)


3. Plan your route. On a bicycle you would almost never take the exact same route as you would in a car (because that’s where all the cars are!). Your city may have a map of official bicycle routes (maybe even online!). This can be extremely helpful and make for a much more pleasant ride.


4. Educate yourself. Read up on how to ride in traffic or refresh your memory on the rules of the road. Learn how to use your gears. A bicycle should give you a mechanical advantage over walking. It doesn’t have to be hard (or racing fast). In addition, as Heather @ SGF says, think about what you’re afraid of happening & figure out what you would do if it actually happened. There’s lots of good advice out there on everything from gear to how to change a tire. (By the way, riding a bicycle really does not require spandex or lycra).


5. Be sure your bicycle fits you. (This is getting easier, but can be difficult for many women.) Also make sure it works properly. There may be adjustments or changes in equipment that can make your ride much more comfortable and enjoyable. I have only recently come to appreciate what an amazing difference tires can make in the of your ride. Think about getting a basket or pannier so that your bicycle can haul more than just you!


6. Demand cycling (and pedestrian) improvements and safety in your community. The only way it will get easier/better for cyclists is if we stand up and say that this is something we care about and should be a priority for where we live.


Berlin


Maybe Your Neighborhood Isn’t Bikeable Yet.


For many of us, I think it all has to begin with #6 above. Some of our neighborhoods just aren’t bikeable. Some aren’t even walkable. So while you are growing your own food and greening your indoors, please think about how we can make our communities more bikeable and walkable.


And when you come up with an idea, act on it. When you see an opportunity to do something about it, act on it. That opportunity could be big or small – a community meeting, someone who might listen via email or phone, a local election, even just a chat with a neighbor to start. And if someone else organizes a great, safe bicycling event, make sure you turn out in droves with friends and family.


Make these free and green transportation options possible in your neighborhood!


Need More Inspiration?


Ciclovia in Bogota is inspiring – 2 million people ride 70 miles of car-free streets, take exercise and dance classes, walk and join together every week. New York just shut down Park Avenue for bicycles. Portland closed streets for its “Sunday Parkways”, and has a website to help you get around the city car-free. It’s happening around the world.


In Seattle, Bicycle Sunday has been going on for as long as I can remember: all day traffic is closed to cars and trucks along the Lake Washington Waterfront. Now it has turned into Saturdays as well, and more are in the works! There’s even a Pro Walk Pro Bike Conference here in September. It’s not all we need, but it’s a start – it raises awareness, it allows people to exercise for free, and it gives us hope for more. The Liveable Streets Network has more inspiring stories and ideas.


Let’s work on it!


How Do We Build Our Communities?

My Community


This weekend I am madly rushing toward a deadline on Monday. And Monday I am going out with Matt for our second anniversary! So bear with me through these next couple of days – the posts may be a bit light. In the meantime, though, I want to ask you your thoughts about something….


Community Building. This is something that I believe is very important as we face a volatile economy, agricultural and environmental issues, climate change, peak energy, and a whole host of other issues facing us today and in the future. I believe we must work to make our communities more resilient, more adaptable, and more sustainable. But how do we do it??!! That’s the real question, isn’t it?


Below is what I’ve written from the Building Communities page here – some of you may have already read it, others may not have. I just realized I’d missed Kate’s great comment there, so I guess this is a page I’ve been putting on the backburner a bit myself. But it’s time to revisit it. What I’ve written needs to be expanded (I’m embarrassed by it)! So read what little I have written, if you will, and then let me know what your thoughts are. Maybe together we can make some sense of this next stage. Thank you.


Building Community


The idea of community building is a growing interest of mine. I believe many of us sustainability bloggers are beginning to write and read about this. I suppose the reason for that is very simple. Once you become aware of your impact on the planet’s health, your health, and your children’s futures, you take steps to create a sustainable lifestyle for yourself and your family. And after a year or a few of doing this, of learning ways of living simply, frugally, and sustainably, you begin to realize that you’re happier. And healthier. And you feel good.


And then the realization hits. You’re pretty nearly alone, others around you are not living this same lifestyle. And wait, if others aren’t doing it, how is the planet going to be saved? How are we going to fight climate change, and save that finite amount of oil left on the planet, and live in communities that can adapt to changing economies and weather patterns and … and … and … sigh.


Maybe what we’re doing is not enough. It’s good, but we have to shout out to others to come along with us. We have help them also feel happier and healthier plus save the planet, our children, and our communities in the process. We can’t do it alone!


How do we do that?


I think we start by living locally, and becoming an active part of our communities. And we can work on our family and friends, carefully raising their awareness about issues we care about, showing them how we live our lives and how happy we are.


The blog world here is a great community. We all push one another to do more, go further, learn and grow. And we share resources and even meet with one another in the real world, too. So we learn here, we are pushed here, and then we go out into our neighborhoods and do what we write about!


Each person we affect will affect others, so it multiplies. Slowly but surely, we will change the world. It’s an over-used quote, but one I’m very fond of:


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead


Resources.


Here are a few links to get you started thinking about these ideas.


A Film to Watch.


And a couple of books I’ve read, with more on the way from my local library.


As I said, clearly that is not enough! So how do we build our communities to make them more sustainable and resilient? How do we convince others that we need to change our lifestyles, to redefine normal? And what areas should we work on first? Please also feel free to share anything you’ve read that the rest of us should read.

GREEN YOUR INSIDES: The #1 Cheapest & Most Versatile Product For Your Home

I'm Green Inside


Vinegar


Did you guess it?


The Many Uses of Vinegar


With all of these uses below, there will be a faint scent of vinegar. Remember when I wrote about Redefining Normal? This is normal! The vinegar scent will go away quickly, pretty much as soon as the vinegar dries. And it is a lot better than the smell of artificial chemicals and fragrances that just aren’t good for you to be breathing. If you truly hate the smell (it’s not that bad!), try adding a few drops of lemon juice to your vinegar solutions.


1. Washing Windows and Mirrors. I have a small spray bottle, bought in a drug store, that I fill at about 1 part vinegar to three parts water. Just good old-fashioned white vinegar you can buy in any store, or make yourself. With that, I spray windows and mirrors with the vinegar solution, and wipe with a soft, clean towel. Others use newsprint and swear by it – that has just never worked for me, but give it a go if you have newspapers lying around.


2. Washing Kitchen and Bathroom Surfaces. When cleaning my bathroom or kitchen, I use Bon Ami and a rag to really wash the surfaces. Then I spray all surfaces with that same spray bottle of 1:3 (vinegar:water), and wipe with a rag. The vinegar gives a shine to the surfaces, gets rid of soap scum, and also kills most germs and molds.


According to a Heinz spokesperson in this article, repeated studies have shown that their vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of viruses. Quite frankly, we are as a society far too focused on antibacterial everything – we need a few of them around for our children’s immune systems to develop fully, for our immune systems to adapt, and to ensure that we’re not creating monster super-viruses.


If you cook with meat and want to be extra safe, you can always wash cutting board surfaces with hydrogen peroxide to kill the other 1% of bacteria (I do not clean with chlorine bleach as I think it is awful stuff – more on that later).


3. Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Pour 1/2 cup straight vinegar into the bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, and scrub clean. You can do this with hydrogen peroxide as well.


4. Mopping Unwaxed Floors. Add 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon hot water. This makes them shine nicely, too. On some wood floors, the vinegar will actually strip the wax. Ours are so old and have so many layers of wax on them, that it works great.


5. Dusting. I don’t use this mixture on wood (I use a pure oil instead). But I do use it on other hard surfaces. The same way I use it in the kitchen: spray with the 1:3 solution, and wipe with a rag. Alternatively, spray on the rag and then wipe the surface clean.


6. Cleaning the coffee machine, coffee and tea pot, coffee filter, and tea strainer. If your coffee machine is not making as good of coffee as it used to, chances are that there is a buildup of minerals, coffee oils, and other residue. Fill your coffee pot or espresso reservoir up to the full level, with 1 part vinegar to two parts water, and run that through the machine. If you haven’t done this in a while, you may want to repeat the process. Then run just pure water through the machine to clear it out. And you can soak coffee and tea pots, coffee filters, and tea strainers in the same solution to remove residue and stains.


7. Cleaning the refrigerator. That same 1:3 solution works perfectly. I usually make a fresh batch with warm water, as that seems to work better inside the cold refrigerator.


8. Unclogging Drains. If water hasn’t yet backed up, pour 1 cup of baking soda down, followed by 3 cups boiling water. Repeat if the drain doesn’t clear. If the drain still doesn’t clear, follow with 1 cup of vinegar. This makes it bubble, fizz and usually that does the trick! If this does not work, we usually buy enzymes from the local health food store.


9. Cleaning the Iron. I have only done this once, because I so rarely use my iron (I spray clothing with a fine water mist to get wrinkles out), but this does work! When an iron needs to be cleaned, you’ll see white or murky residue inside the water reservoir. Fill the reservoir with 1 part vinegar to two parts water, and then run the iron on steam mode until it’s out of water (you can do this in the air or onto a rag). If the residue isn’t gone, you may need to repeat the process. Then run straight water through and do the same thing.


10. Fabric Softener. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse water. Note: Most natural fibers do not cling very much, so don’t worry about fabric softeners at all if your load is all cotton. And make sure you don’t over-dry. Or better yet, line dry your clothing and you don’t have to worry about it!


11. Alternative to color-safe bleach. Yes, you can have two-in-one power! Vinegar doubles as a color-safe bleach and fabric softener: let the washer fill up before putting clothing in, and adding 1/2 cup vinegar to the water. If you’re also looking for a fabric softener, you probably won’t have to add more vinegar during the rinse cycle (above), but try both ways and see what works.


12. Vinegar Hair Rinse. I have gone through phases where I’ve used a vinegar solution for a hair conditioning rinse – you’ll find several bloggers doing it. Use a 1:4 ratio of vinegar to warm water, and pour it into your hair. You can mix it in any water bottle you have around the house – it’s just vinegar, so no need to worry about damaging the bottle. It does soften your hair. I will admit I’ve gotten out of the habit, but I encourage you to try it and see what you think! You can also steep a bag of herbal tea in the warm water, to add a bit of fragrance.


13. Denture Cleaner. Obviously I haven’t had to try this yet, but I’ve read that you can soak them overnight in pure vinegar, and rinse in the morning.


14. Kill Weeds. Yes, it’s true! My mom taught me this. Pour vinegar full strength onto weeds in sidewalk cracks, and along the edges of the yard, and presto – they die! She’s been doing it for years. Gardening aficionados, do you know what it’s doing? It’s neutralizing the nitrogen, so it’s essentially starving the weeds.


15. Ant Deterrent. It’s not perfect, but it will help. Clean the surfaces with a 1:3 vinegar solution. Then make your own – or purchase – a natural cleaning solution that contains orange oil and spray it on the ant paths. Leave for at least a few days, until the ants find another place to go. Then clean it up with the vinegar solution. This has worked for me all over the country: north, south, east, and west.


16. Increase soil acidity. If you’ve tested your soil and found it to be not quite acidic enough, you can add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water when watering acid-loving plants, or when preparing the soil to be planted. (I’d wait a few days before planting seeds or fragile seedlings, but hardier plants will be fine.


17. Cat urine. Yes, this is where we really discovered the magic of vinegar. If a cat pees on something that you can throw in the washing machine: wash it in hot water with a cup of vinegar (if it’s really bad, it doesn’t hurt to put a more vinegar in). If a cat pees on furniture (eg, sofa, bed, plush chair): first blot up as much pee as you can with a towel. Then you want to really douse the area with vinegar, full strength, making sure that it gets deep into the cushions as far as the cat urine had. After several minutes, dab the area with a towel (or two), to get up as much vinegar as you can. And then cover the area with a doubled-up towel, and top with a couple of heavy books to help get up the rest of the liquid. Leave that for several hours.


This works because the main ingredient in urine is ammonia (like the nitrogen discussed above, when killing weeds). Ammonia is a base, so vinegar, an acid, neutralizes it.


Note: We have used this method on a couple of furniture items that we really cared about, and it did not stain them. But do use with caution. At the same time, generally the cat pee has a greater chance of staining than the vinegar (so at that point, what do you have to loose).


18. Cleaning Gold Jewelry and Tarnished Brass. Ok, I haven’t done it (because when I wear jewelry it’s generally silver), but I know many people that swear by it. Submerge jewelry in apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes. Then remove the jewelry and dry with a towel. For tarnished brass, simply pour a bit of vinegar on a rag and rub off the tarnish. For super sticky tarnish you may need to soak it a bit in the vinegar.


19. Pickling and Canning. This topic is for another post, but of course in addition to all of the above uses, vinegar is incredibly useful for preserving food!


20. There Are Many More. If you have another use for vinegar, please share it with us in the comments!!


Save Money, Time, and Anguish!


Ok so, with this list, you can now stop buying a whole lot of other products that you don’t need and save a ton of money! Also, there is no need to worry about trying to find natural products in the grocery store, because now you can make them with vinegar and water (and sometimes one other ingredient).


Update: Anyone wanting to make their own vinegar, check out Rhonda Jean’s great instructions (with more here) – it’s surprisingly easy.


What Is The Green Your Insides Challenge?


To start greening your own home.


First, start paying attention to what you put on your body, in your body, and around your body. Right now.


And then over the next few months, put it all into practice: take solid steps to green your indoor environment.


If you don’t know where to start, follow my articles as I talk about what we’ve done over the next several weeks!


I'm Green Inside


To add the button to your blog, right-click on the image and save it to your desktop. Then upload it to your blog as you would any other image, with a link to:


http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?page_id=184


Once you’ve uploaded the image, check to make sure the link works and the image loads correctly. Feel free to email me if you have any problems and I’ll see if I can help. And for those of you who don’t have blogs (which is about 80% of the readership here, no worries), I’m working on some alternatives for you, to remind you about the challenge!


What Are You Struggling To Learn?


I received emails and comments from some of you were anxious for me to begin writing tips I’ve learned. What areas would you like me to make sure I cover? What matters to you most? What are you finding the least amount of information about? Oh, and don’t forget to take the poll!


Deep Economy Giveaway + Reader Poll

Deep Economy by Bill McKibben


You know, there is just not enough time in the day! I wanted to post a video today. I know a lot of you are waiting patiently for videos! But alas, it just isn’t going to happen. So… next week. I am telling you right now: Next Thursday, you will see a video here. That’s my promise to you.


Today I’m sitting down to write about how to Green Your Insides, and it should be up later this evening. I know some of you have been waiting anxiously for that as well! (There really isn’t enough time in the day, boy oh boy.)


In the meantime…


Book Giveaway!


I have read and cherished Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy. I think it speaks to a lot of what we discuss here. It sets up the basic problems we face, and – something extremely important to me – it offers tangible solutions. I’m not very good at book reviews, but there are several at The Blogging Bookworm. Essentially, while this book was not perfect, I truly enjoyed it and felt inspired by it. It’s one of my favorite books, and I’d like to pass it on to you.


Two conditions: 1. That you respond to the polls below, and then leave a comment below. 2. That after you’re finished reading the book, you consider passing it on to someone else. It doesn’t have to be on your blog, you don’t even have to have a blog. You can give it to a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, a family member, or a lover. That’s it!


The winner will be drawn from a hat next Wednesday at noon.


Reader Poll!


Please let me know what you’d like to see here at One Green Generation – your likes, dislikes, wishes, hopes, and ideas to make it better and more enjoyable. I’d really, really like to know what you all think!


And if you don’t want the book, please do chime in and just let me know in the comments that you aren’t interested in the book.


You can choose more than one answer for the first two polls.





Note: Changed polling services due to several emails saying people weren’t able to see the polls. Transferred all data to the new polls. Sorry all!


Don’t forget to comment! Please let me know what you like here, what you could do without, what you wish you saw here, and anything else you can think of that might help make this site better. Thank you.