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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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I’m Walking More Than I Thought!

10,000 Steps Challenge


I have finally measured my steps to work with a pedometer.  And… who knew?  Looks like I have been walking more steps than I thought:  during my 2.5 mile round-trip daily walks to work, I’ve been walking about 8,000 steps each day!  And that doesn’t include walking around at work and at home, taking Ellis for a walk, or anything else I do.


So, those of you who are walking with me, if you are on the shorter side and take pretty small steps,  your current translation from miles to steps might not be right.  Matt can walk the same distance, but take only about 1/2-2/3 as many steps.  And for the cardiovascular workout, the most important thing is the steps.  If you’re using the Google maps link (thanks, Sadge!), you may not have to walk as far as we originally thought.


I do feel better, because I was having a difficult time adding more to my routine.  So I will continue to do my walks, maybe take the long way home from work, and be happy with my exercise for now.  I’ll wear the pedometer around all day this week just to make sure I’m at 10,000, but I’m pretty confident I’ll get there easily.


A couple of you have asked about what “counts”.  If you feel like gardening, playing sports, or other forms of exercise are getting you to a healthy body and keeping you from polluting the environment, then I have zero problem with it!  The goal of this is to get us to use our own free and environmentally sound form of transportation:  our own two feet.


Here Is Who Has Joined Me On This Challenge:



Please feel free to join anytime – sign up here. Did I miss anyone?


How Are You Doing With Your Walks?


Even if you’re not officially joining the challenge, feel free to write about your walking.  Do you enjoy it?


Twenty Uses For Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)


A while back I wrote about the many ways I use vinegar in our home.  And I’ve been saying over and over again that you only need vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and soap for the majority of your cleaning.  Well, several people have asked me what I use baking soda for – it’s high time I gave baking soda it’s due!


1.  Shampoo Replacement.  The number one article here at One Green Generation is A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo.  I explain it all in detail there, and I wrote a follow-up about it here as well.  Try it!


2.  Deodorant.  Another very popular post here is How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe).  I encourage you to try that as well – so simple!


3.  Air Freshener & Deodorizer. Brilliantly easy, all you need to do is open up a box of baking soda, or dump a pile of it into a bowl, and leave it in an offensively smelling area – your fridge, your closet, your pet area, you car, wherever!  (Change it out every 3-6 months.)


4.  Carpet and Garment Deodorizer. Just sprinkle a bit over the offensive area and let it sit.  A little while later, you can vacuum or shake it out.


5.  Counter, sink, and tub Cleaner. Just like using Bon Ami or some other powdered cleaner, sprinkle it onto the surface and rub with a wet cloth.  Be careful on delicate surfaces – test it out first to make sure it won’t scratch, though it’s more delicate than most powdered cleaners.  To shine the surface afterward, you can spray a bit of vinegar and wipe clean.


6.  Jewelry and Silverware Cleaner.  You can use a paste of a baking soda mixed with a bit of water (3:1 or so), or if that doesn’t work well enough you can try replacing the water with hydrogen peroxide.


7.  Coffee, Tea, Rust, and Hard Water Stain Remover.  Scrub with the same 3:1 (baking soda: water) paste, and it should do the trick!


8.  Pot and Pan Cleaner.  Sprinkle some baking soda onto your rag or sponge, and clean your pots – it will take off many stains.


9.  Drain Unclogger. 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.


10.  Cat Litter Extender. If your cat is persnickety about clean litter, in addition to cleaning the litter daily, you can shake a light layer of baking soda onto the litter and mix it up. 


11.  Garlic Smell Eliminator. Cutting boards and other surfaces can be cleaned with a thick paste of vinegar and baking soda. Apply this paste and let it sit for 10-15 minutes – it will both clean and deodorize.


12.  Bath Softener. If you want to feel extra soft and silky, dissolve 2 cups of baking soda in your bath water.  This works well if you have itchy skin from bites or hives also.


13.  Exfoliator.  I use the same mixture for my hair (above) as a light exfoliator on my face every couple of weeks.  It’s quite rejuvenating.


14.  Homemade Toothpaste.  You can make your own toothpaste by using two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of peroxide.  I don’t do this regularly, but I have done it in a pinch.


15.  Denture or Retainer Soak. You can soak these overnight in a glass with water and baking soda.  It will leave them clean and deodorized.


16.  Fill small holes in Drywall. Yes, I have rented many homes and sometimes you find yourself without spackle.  Ah, just mix a bit of white toothpaste with some baking soda and fill the holes!  Let it dry completely before you paint or anything – but you might find you don’t need to paint! 


17.  Fire Extinguisher. Great for a grease fire in the kitchen, a car fire, or another small fire.  Just sprinkle it over the fire until the fire goes out.  Keep it in your kitchen for sure!


18.  Shoe Deodorizer. Sprinkle a small amount in your shoe, or put some in an old sock and tie the sock – then stuff it in your shoe overnight.


19.  Ant, Roach, and Flea Deterrent.  If you have ants or roaches, sprinkle baking soda in the areas where they are coming in the house.  If you have fleas on the lawn, sprinkle baking soda around the areas where you and your pets walk by.  This helps.  I’ve written other tips for organic ant control here.  You can try it with snails and rabbits, too!


20.  Cook with it. Lots of yummy things.  Like pancakes!

 

Please Pick Up Where I Left Off!

 

What else do you use baking soda for?

 

Questions For My Grandfather? Ask Away!

Me and My Grandfather


Today I’m going to be spending the day with my father and grandfather.  One of my grandfather’s wishes before he dies is to visit all of the places he has lived and worked over his 98 years.  Today we’re going to visit his old Seattle homes together.


Last time I wrote about my grandfather, several people were interested in asking him questions and wanting to know more from someone who has lived a century.  So…


Ask Grandpa Joe!


What would you like to know?  If you had someone who was 98 in your life, what would you want to ask him?  Let me know now!


To give you some context, he is incredibly smart, has traveled the world, he still has a great head for business (he had several careers, including starting up a regional banking system), and he has an incredible green thumb.  I’ve written about him quite a bit here – you can learn more about him by perusing those articles.


I will check my emails today (I have to monitor my work emails), so I’ll receive your questions and ask them.  Don’t worry about bothering us on our special day.  Believe me, he will be touched and happily overwhelmed with your kindness and curiosity.

 

UPDATE:  Since there weren’t many questions until late in the day, I decided to hold off until there were more to ask.  So keep asking! I will be seeing my grandfather soon for lunch, and will ask them all at once.

 

The Growing Challenge: Tell Us All About Your Garden!!

The Growing Challenge The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition:  From Seed To Seed

 

Welcome – there are 158 participants signed up for The Growing Challenge: From Seed To Seed, and 202 participants in The Original Growing Challenge.  You can join either challenge at any time – fun stuff!

 

Ok, well now that we’ve aired out our feelings about green…. (sheepishly looks away)… let’s um, talk about our gardens!  And how green and beautiful they are in the fall (or spring) rains.  

 

How is your garden faring?  Have you saved seeds yet?  Are you finding the resources you need to learn how to do what you need to do next?  In other words, are you learning to save your seeds, learning when to harvest, learning how to plant fall and winter crops, and so on?

 

I will tell you I’m scared.  Scared to save those amaranth seeds.  The stalks are much taller than I am, and they’re falling over due to the weight of the millions of seeds on each one… and I’m actually petrified.  They’re so pretty, and yet I have this feeling saving them will be difficult!  I’m sure it’s irrational.

 

Tomorrow night we have a p-patch banquet, so I’ll ask around.  And if I don’t find out… hmmm, if only there were a thing with lots of different information where you could just type in what you want to know and it will give you ideas… Oh, yeah…  so not doing that (ie not looking it up on the computer) does that mean I’m lazy?  Gasp!  Ok, off to find the answer…. 

 

Check In

 

So in the meantime, do let us all know how your garden is doing, what you’re learning, and all that fun stuff!

 

What is Green?

Green

 

I realized walking to work the other morning that it’s incredible we haven’t discussed this yet.  Here we are convening at One Green Generation, and we haven’t defined green, or even debated green.


Well I think it’s high time we do just that!


When I hear the word “green” I often think about products – cereal boxes, a Prius, organic wine.  There’s a term green washing that many of us have heard.  Essentially, companies want to get in on the green bandwagon and will sport a new green marketing campaign in order to gain that competitive edge – despite their not really being green or sustainable.


I live in the Emerald City of the Evergreen State – the green here is trees, parks, nature’s beautiful green.  That is a part of what we fight for, isn’t it?  Green, beauty, life, nature?


I have been somewhat of an environmentalist since I took my first environmental studies class in college… or was it before that, when my sister, father, and I gathered aluminum cans and took them down to the recycling depot every month – and we stacked piles of newspapers in our basement until someone had a newspaper drive?  In college I was militant, trying as hard as I could not to leave an impact – and (here’s the militant part) expecting everyone else to be the same way and decrying them if they weren’t!  


Once green became so normalized a couple years ago, I moved on to “sustainable.”  We try to live as sustainably as we can – I often write about the ways we do that.  Emotionally, physically, environmentally, economically, and socioculturally sustainable.  But One Sustainable Generation didn’t quite have the same ring to it.  And truthfully, I wanted to reach out to people who were new to this, who hadn’t come to terms with sustainability, who were still back at the basics of lifestyle change:  Readers who are still green when it comes to sustainability.  And readers who are watching their (green) money in this economy and might be coming here to find ways to be frugal.  And readers who want to put a little (green) garden in their backyard, and come here to learn how to do that.


But the name of this website doesn’t matter so much as the accessibility.  We all need to change and grow and do things differently.  How we do that will be different for each of us, depending on our time, our location, our skills, and our desires.  Green isn’t a scary word to me, and to most people.  It is an accessible word, an attainable word.  


For us all to be sustainable is a lofty, ambitious, and necessary goal.  But first, let’s try for green – wouldn’t the world be better for all coming together as one green generation?  So my hope is to try for that, and once we get there we’ll see where we can go together next.


Oh, and of course, green is also one of my two favorite colors.


I’d Love to Know:  What Does Green Mean to You?

Recipe: Delicious (& Mild) Red Tomato Salsa

Salsa!


I’ve been getting loads of questions about what to do with all those tomatoes this time of year – so I thought you might enjoy reading this quick and easy salsa recipe from our archives. (Originally published 25 October, 2008)


When I was a child, my grandmother lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the land of amazing red and green chiles and wonderful New Mexican salsas. We went to Albuquerque at least once a year, and I always felt it was my second home, with the red desert, its people, and its cuisine deep in my blood.


I miss it. So sometimes I like to recreate it in the kitchen. The following is a salsa recipe that I made with tomatoes from our garden, chiles preserved from last year’s garden, and the rest of the ingredients from local farmers. Matt says it’s the best salsa he’s ever had. I hope you enjoy it, too!


Tomato From The Garden


Melinda’s Delicious (& Mild) Tomato Salsa


Ingredients.


Note: this is a great recipe to use up some tomatoes that have been sitting on your counter for a little too long at the end of the season! I use several types of tomatoes, whatever we have at the time – orange, canning, beefsteak, whatever you have will work!


  • 2.5 lbs. tomatoes
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (de-stemmed)
  • 1-2 dried cayenne peppers (or whatever hot peppers you have in your garden – optional)
  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • salt to taste (3-4 teaspoons?)


Steps.


1. Dice the onions and cook them in a large frying pan, with a bit of vegetable oil, until almost translucent.


2. Slice the tomatoes into fairly large chunks.


3. Remove the pepper seeds (unless you want a very hot salsa). Chop the peppers into tiny pieces, or grind into small pieces with a mortar and pestle.


4. Dice the garlic and add the garlic and peppers to the onions, stirring constantly, just until garlic begins to cook (about 2 minutes).


5. Add the tomatoes and salt and stir well. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes just start to cook but still hold most of their shape.


1/2-Cooked Salsa


6. Remove from heat and scoop the mixture into the blender. Pour remaining juice from the pan into the blender as well.


7. Add 1/2 cilantro to the blender.


8. Make sure you have the lid on the blender tight – you may want to also cover the lid with a towel if your lid isn’t very tight. Then pulse the blender quickly, just 3-5 times for one second each, until tomatoes are mixed but still chunky.


9. Pour mixture into a bowl that can be covered. Add the rest of the cilantro and mix. Taste and add more salt if necessary.


10. Loosely cover the bowl, and put it into the fridge to cool and to allow the flavors to set. Once the salsa is cool, you can either eat it, or cover it completely for later use. It will taste even better if left overnight.


Makes 5 cups of salsa. You can freeze some for later use… though in our house it never lasts that long! Served here with local beans, greens, cheese, tortillas, and homemade tomatillo salsa for Taco Night.


Taco Night


Sometimes You Want To Forget What You Know, And Just Stop Thinking About It

Behind the Curtain, by failafo0sa on Flickr

 

Sometimes you wish you could forget what you know.  Sometimes you just want to live the way people live in movies, the way you grew up thinking you’d live.  Carefree, not worrying about the state of the planet but just worrying about which dress you’ll wear.


It was nice, wasn’t it?  Easier in a way.  Sometimes.  Sometimes you wish you could just do what everyone else does, eat what everyone else does, and be who everyone else wants to be.


It’s not fair, is it?  That you and I have been opened to this world where our actions have consequences, where the things we do have a long lasting effect on our children’s lives?  That we pay more for food and basic things because we care?  That it takes us longer to get to work than other people who drive?  That we have to answer more questions from our children about why we do things differently?  That we have a disconnect where sometimes we don’t quite fit into society?


It’s the same with everything we learn, though, isn’t it?  When you learn a knew language, suddenly you can understand what people are saying next to you on the bus.  And you can never go back to not understanding.  When you learn a new skill, or take on a new job, or begin a new hobby, the world looks differently.  Your knowledge changes and your world opens up and you can’t go back.


When I first stepped onto a film set, I learned how movies were made in such detail, that I have never watched movies the same way again.  Whatever it is, when you find an Oz behind the curtain, good or bad, it’s always with you – you can’t un-know this fact.


We can’t go back.  We can’t un-know that our actions mean something now, to our families – and later, to their families.  But there is something beautiful about knowing, too, isn’t there?  Knowing that we are connected to each other, to the world around us, to each species on the planet.  And knowing that we can do something.  Knowing that we are doing something.  We’re changing the way we do things, and by example, we’re changing the way others do things.  And so we show more people what is behind the curtain.   And so we change the world.


Slowly, steadily, we move onward, enlightened.  Even just a little more enlightened than the day before.


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


“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson


While at times it is difficult, we press on. And we are not alone, we are living this life together.


Thank you for being a part of this community.