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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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Great Reading

Recipes: Savory Winter Squash Casserole & More Squash Ideas!

Savory Winter Squash Casserole


This isn’t your 1950s casserole, that’s for sure! Right in line with the “throw it all in a pot and boil” is the “throw it all in the pot and bake”! We love this recipe because it uses a lot of squash, it’s super easy to make, it tastes wonderful, and it makes enough for leftovers.


Continue reading Recipes: Savory Winter Squash Casserole & More Squash Ideas!

Feeds, Tweets, And More FYI

Mini Me


As we continue the FABULOUS discussion about how to reduce plastics, I just wanted to give a few links and answer a few questions I’ve received…


Subscribe via Email, Browser Homepage, or Feed Reader


1. Feeds


First off, I want to make sure your feeds are working. I’ve transferred from Feedburner to the new Google Feedburner, and the stats are not working properly. It currently reads as if we’ve instantly dropped more than 150 readers (yowza), but I believe it just hasn’t fully updated yet. Our page hits have grown substantially lately so I’m pretty confident that this is the case. But please let me know if you’re having issues!!


Follow me on Twitter!


2. I’m all a-Twitter!


I’ve finally done it: I have a Twitter account. So, if you Tweet, follow me at greengeneration. More online community building!



3. Facebook


Connect with us on Facebook, too! You know, because we’re cool and it’s a simple way to invite your friends to come join us.


If you ever want to refer back to our Facebook, Twitter, Technorati, Feedburner accounts the links are always in the right sidebar over there. =>


And hey, thanks again for all your support, inspiration, and expertise. It’s exciting to see new voices in the comments, and reassuring to see tenured responses from those who’ve been here since the beginning. Onward we travel, together.


Ok, back to the conversation!


How Do You Reduce Your Plastic Usage?

A few facts about plastic bags by Topsy at Waygood on Flickr

 

Thank you all for your great comments the other day. I appreciate your honesty very much, and it was interesting to read your answers. I was thinking it’s time to tackle some of those difficult things to change. Let’s help one another find ways to change our habits!!


When I asked you, “On The Path Toward Sustainability, What Is The Most Difficult Thing To Change?”


The top answer was: to stop using plastics. Are you surprised?


Here are plastics specifically listed:


  • tupperware
  • plastic shopping bags
  • produce bags
  • Ziploc freezer bags
  • dog poop bags
  • kitty litter bags
  • yogurt containers
  • packing lunches
  • containers for sending others home with leftovers
  • garden supplies
  • food packaging


And here are some specific issues related to the subject:


  • Getting the family to use reusable bags
  • Buying packaged food vs. bulk
  • Remembering to bring reusable shopping bags


So Let’s Tackle This. How Do We Stop Using Plastic?


First of all, let me know if you need a little extra incentive, and I’ll compile some information, pictures, facts, figures… Say, a “Scared Straight” program for plastics? Let me know – that does work for some people. For now, let’s go to the straight solutions….


Here Are Some Solutions:


  1. Throwback at Trapper Creek suggests freezing food in canning jars.
  2. Rob suggests taking a poop scoop with you when you walk the dog, and just scoop the poop and empty it in the garbage; or use a Doggy Dooley (I used one of these once and loved it – it works well).
  3. On remembering to bring plastic bags, debra suggests putting the bags back in the car as soon as you’re done unpacking them.
  4. I suggest reusing plastic bags for as long as you can.
  5. I also suggest finding a good set of long-lasting, reusable, microwavable, bakeable, freezable glass containers whenever possible. With enough sizes, you shouldn’t need ziplocs. If you don’t microwave, you can find metal containers as well.
  6. And lastly, make your own shopping bags. It’s easy!


What Else Do You Do To Reduce Plastic Use?


Help your fellow comrades along this path!!


We’ll address several other topics in the coming days – stay tuned for more…


How Do We Choose Between Budget and Environment? Here Are 25 Ways To Do Both!

Change is brewing. Yesterday was a very powerful day for many of us, as we listened to the first African-American president, full of dreams for a better world mixed with the reality of what is at hand. I am thankful that a new hope has spread across the world. I am hopeful that we will unite together and bring our world into a new, mindful era. I have written more about these thoughts here.


The future holds many promises.  But at home, the reality of our economic situation is beginning to set in for most folks. Here in the United States, we’re feeling the effects of the global recession every day. I’ve heard many people use the word Depression who wouldn’t have dreamed of using that word only a few months ago. It is grim. It is getting worse. And it will get worse still before it gets better.


Unfortunately, this poses quite a dichotomy. The Recession makes it difficult to get by, to save, to spend any more than we have to spend.  Yet the pressure of climate change and the ethics we’ve taught ourselves says we must buy what is good for the environment and our communities.


Often doing our best to leave a lower impact means paying a little more, doesn’t it? How do we stay true to our values while simply getting by during an economic crisis?  


So I made a list of the different things we do at home to save money and save the earth.  Some of these may be old news for you – in that case think of this as a reminder! – but hopefully each of us will find some gems in this list. Please do share other ideas that come to mind! 


25 Sustainability Changes That Save Money


Please visit the rest of this post I’ve written at the Simple | Green | Frugal Co-op.  I think you’ll enjoy it, and I’d love your input!!


A New Day Rises. It’s Time To Unite.

A New Day Rises


One Green Generation is a place without politics, a place to convene across the political landscape – because we must do so. The world won’t survive and thrive if we don’t come together.


At the same time I must speak my truth here, and so I will tell you that today is a special day in my heart. Today much of the world celebrates with hope. Today barriers were officially removed. Today a new voice enters the world when the world needs change so badly. Today brings tears to my eyes as I see people of all ages – who are excited, invigorated, and truly hopeful.


Barak Obama will not save the world, but there is hope deep within me that he will help us come together with compassion and sensible solutions. I have a bit more faith in humanity as I hear these words today:


That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.


Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.


…Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met….


Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.


Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.


Whatever political ideology you have within you, I hope that we can all come together to do the work we need to do to remake the world. Re-energize! It’s time to get serious about making our world a safe and sustainable place for every generation – by building sustainable communities for our children, by preserving our planet with ever more mindful lifestyles.


There is but one life we lead. Let’s each of us make an impact. Throughout the world people are invigorated today. Let’s use this momentum to create real change in our own lives, our communities, and our planet.


As I sit here writing, I raise my mug of tea to you, to us: let’s do it now!!


Vamonos Ahorita. Let’s Do It Right Now.


Today I am going to go work on an urban gardening plan for my community – to reduce our food miles, to provide fresh and inexpensive food during an economic crisis, and to teach new people how to nurture life. And I am going to inspire you all to make changes in your own communities (!!).


What Will You Do Today?


You can leave a note here saying what you’ll do, or you can keep it with you in your heart. But either way, please start the ball rolling – let’s do something today to make a difference. It’s time.


Seedsavers Unite! Come One, Come All!

The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed


Hello everyone! Welcome to our first Growing Challenge post since we began the new challenge! So far there are 46 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed. They are:


  1. Jules, The Garden of Plenty, Melbourne, Australia – zone 9-10
  2. Jena, Married To The Farm, Caro, Michigan – zone 5
  3. Amanda, You Reap What You Sow, South Central Pennsylvania – zone 6-7
  4. Jen, Toward Arcadia, Michigan – zone 5-6
  5. Deb G, Bee Creative, Pacific Northwest – zone 7
  6. Greeen Sheeep, Wisconsin – zone 4
  7. Kory, Kicking And Screaming, Central New York – zone 5
  8. Abbie, Farmer’s Daughter, Connecticut – zone 6-7
  9. Margaret, Margaret’s Ramblings, Nottingham, England – zone 8
  10. SusanB, Southern New Jersey – zone 6b-7
  11. Karin, Fleecenik Farm, Central Maine – zone 4
  12. Kelsie, Hobbit’s Feat, Kentucky – zone 7
  13. Monica, Northern Ohio – zone 5-6
  14. Jen, Aaron-N-Jen: Living Life Simply, Iowa – zone 5
  15. Di, Path To Greendom, Southern California – zone 10
  16. TomB, My Simple Home Garden, Central Massachusetts – zone 5b
  17. Judy, My Freezer Is Full, East Central Iowa – zone 5a
  18. Julie, Towards Sustainability, Newcastle, NSW, Australia – zone 9-10
  19. Dina, Hip Chick Chronicles, Portland, Oregon – zone 8-9
  20. Alana, (Alana, where are you growing?)
  21. Milkweed, Milkweed Diaries, Swannanoa Valley, North Carolina – zone 6-7
  22. Melanie J, Ember’s Lighthouse, Jacksonville, Florida – zone 9a
  23. Risa B, Stony Run Farm, Western Oregon – zone 8
  24. Maureen, Fotos By Meg, Central Valley, California – zone 9
  25. Amy Crump, Crump Family Blog, Chapel Hill, North Carolina – zone 8
  26. Rob, Rob’s World, Burien, Washington – zone 8
  27. The Rachface, This Evolutionary Life, Virginia – zone 8
  28. Janice, Going Off Da Grid Janice, California – zone 8-9
  29. Green Bean, Green Phone Booth, Bay Area, California – zone 9
  30. Daphne, Daphne’s Dandelions, Winchester, Massachusetts – zone 6
  31. Briel, (Briel, where are you growing?)
  32. Jimmy Cracked-Corn – zone 5
  33. Lisa, Domestic Accident, Southern Coastal Maine – zone 5-6
  34. Hannah, The Purloined Letter, Takoma Park, Maryland – zone 7
  35. Suzan, Scrub Oak, Rocky Mountain southern foothills (6,700 feet) – zone 4
  36. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener, (CVG, where are you gardening?)
  37. Onemotherslove, What’s He Up To Now?, North Central Texas – zone 8
  38. Red Icculus, Red-Icculus.comzone 5
  39. Jocele, Knitting On Call, Idaho – zone 6-7
  40. Matt, Florida – zone 9
  41. Sara, Mama Craft, Canada – zone 3a
  42. Tyra, Tyra’s Garden & The Greenhouse In Tyra’s Garden, Vaxholm, Sweden – zone 6
  43. Inadvertentfarmer, The Inadvertent Farmer, Western Washington – zone 8
  44. Lauren, (Lauren, where are you gardening?)
  45. Melody, Merrie Melody, (Melody, where are you gardening?)
  46. Melinda, One Green Generation, Seattle, Washington – zone 8


I’ve added everyone’s name, blog, location, and hardiness zone. Please check your info to make sure I have it right. Let’s all visit, support, and learn from one another!


The topic for discussion today is:


What Do You Already Know? And What Information Do You Need?


In other words, can you offer any advice to those who have never done this before? And if you’ve never done this before, what can we tell you to make it easier?


Please feel free to chime in whether or not you are officially taking part in the challenge. Those who are new to all of this may find good information here. And those seasoned seedsavers may be able to help some of us new to the challenge.


And The Growing Challenge participants, please feel free to check in here as well.


Leave links to your gardening posts, too, if you like. Chat away!


We Can’t Do This Alone

Our One Planet


I have to tell you something. First of all, I just plain loved the conversation we’ve been having about the things we are having a tough time surmounting on our path toward sustainability. Loved it. Thank you thank you thank you all for being open and honest. And I would say that maybe for some of us, admitting it was half the problem? Am I right??! So I hope that it helped. It sure helped me get a few things out in the open so that I can be held accountable. I’m going to work on those things I listed. The cat litter is the toughest, but I’m not giving up!!


There were certainly some patterns in those comments, so I plan to address some of what came up in great detail, to see if we can’t help one another find ways to tackle our next steps. And that brings me to the topic at hand…


We Can’t Do This Alone


I began writing about my journey because I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others, to make it a little easier for them – for you. I’ve found that writing has actually helped me immeasurably as well. I’ve learned as much from you all as you learned from me, if not much more.


When Matt and I were in Geyserville, one of the things we realized is how important community is in our lives, and in living a sustainable life. We need one another. We can’t do everything ourselves.


Alan wrote the other day:


For me the biggest challenge is getting past the idea that I can do it all myself. Sustainability has to be a community effort. There are things I can do that others in my community can’t and things that they can do that I can’t. Building that network is Key.


This is the conclusion that Matt and I came to as well: sustainability is not the same as self-sufficiency. Truly, we don’t have to be completely self-sufficient – we don’t have to do everything – we just have to do our part in society. Making our community stronger makes our family more resilient and adaptable. We can be more sustainable when we all work together.


But there are even greater benefits. We work on building our communities – both online and at large – not just because we need our communities to be strong so that we can adapt to a changing world. But also, so that we can bring new people into a level of awareness that leads to a sustainable existence.


The whole world needs to live sustainably in order to preserve our planet. Not just me, not just you, not just our families and friends, but everyone we know, and everyone they know, and so on… across the entire planet.


Relevant Sustainability


A year ago I didn’t own Baggalinis, two years ago I showered every day, three years ago I wasn’t eating seasonally or locally, four years ago I had lived in a city for 10 years without once riding public transportation, five years ago I was working on films with hundreds of lights where each one of those lights used more electricity than my entire apartment does now. Six years ago, I dyed my hair with horrible chemicals (and five years ago, and four years ago, and three years ago, and two even).


Every year I make great strides. Every year I learn more. Just a year and a half ago I grew fruits and vegetables from seeds for the first time, and now I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve done it – too many to count.


Almost all of us were sustainability babies once. Some of us still are. And most of the people around us are.


But guess what? We can’t do this alone. We need them. We need the people who aren’t living sustainably to start doing so.


And so we have to bring them in. Nicely, respectfully – remembering that we were there once, too. That every change is relative. Just as babies grow and learn differently, so do adults. Some people arrive here early in life, others come much later. Some are faster at change, and some are slower.


We are all at different levels here. And we are all at different levels in the world at large. What we must do – must, must, must – is to put aside our judgments. Embrace what we can in others, and bring them into our worlds. Teach them, inspire them, and respectfully change their thinking.


It requires patience. It requires working hard at it. It requires putting our egos aside.


But our planet is in peril. Our world is in peril. There is a lot that we must change as soon as we can – sooner, really. So we must do this now.


Discuss vs. Lecture, Show vs. Tell


There is a saying in the film world: “show don’t tell.” We don’t want to be told what to do. We want to be inspired, moved, and shown the merit of changing our ways. We must believe in the change ourselves or it will not happen.


Shame doesn’t work. Intolerance doesn’t work. Lecturing doesn’t work. Proven time and time again, these don’t work. What works are human stories, human emotions, human love and respect and inspiration.


There have been a few comments and emails here lately about posts discussing ideas that are “too easy.” I would challenge each of you to rethink this notion every time it comes to mind. Because what is too easy to you may be incredibly difficult for someone else, and vice versa. I may have a great deal of gardening experience (I can’t remember when I didn’t grow something, though it wasn’t always edible). But I am new – green – when it comes to baking and sewing, things that come natural to many of you.


What I love about this community is its diversity. And the strength of this community is that we all have the same central goals: to lower our impact on the planet, to make changes we want and need to make, to live a simple, healthy, green, frugal, and sustainable life.


Let’s use that to our advantage. The world is headed in the wrong direction, and we need to get it going in the right direction. So I will ask each of you to offer your support and expertise, so that others can use it to move to their next level of change.


Nobody is perfect, nobody knows everything. But together, we are almost completely perfect and we know a whole heck of a lot.


So let’s change the world one person at a time. Both online and in our neighborhoods. Together.


Our One Planet