For those of you who live in the Gainesville area, the Second Street Bakery apparently sells shade-grown coffee, in addition to organic baked goods. Or so I hear. I’m going down this weekend to check it out!

A Great Quote

August 25, 2007

My brother sent this to me:

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

– John Kenneth Galbraith

My Terrapass entry got a lengthy and thoughtful comment yesterday (see it here) from someone who also runs a blog (the point of which seems to be exploring a healthy skepticism about global warming, in a calm and non-shrill way) and it has made me think quite a bit today. (I just tried to go back to the commentator’s site, “thankgodforglobalwarming.com” and it seems to have disappeared. Weird.) Anyway, I’m going to address the comment because I believe thinking about the questions it raised is useful.

First, guilt. Pat (the author of the comment, and as I have no idea if Pat is male or female, this could get awkward) asked me where my guilt comes from and at what point to I stop feeling guilty? The simple answer is a) from being part of the problem and not part of the solution for so long and b) when I am more a part of the solution than of the problem. But it goes deeper than that. It’s becoming increasingly obvious on a number of fronts that from where the planet sits, humanity is a cancer — just as rampant, just as destructive, ultimately just as potentially fatal. This is admittedly a nihilist view.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bags!

August 15, 2007

I’m killing two birds with one stone. I have a LOT of fabric (I’m a quilter). One of the changes I’m working on recently is to reduce the amount of stuff I have around (and the concomitant mental stress of not having dealt with it yet). So I’m reading the books I have instead of buying more, and using up my craft stuff, and finding good homes for things I don’t use.

First bag pictureI’m also trying to kick the plastic grocery bag habit, (see this link from Salon for some information on just how bad this is!) and encourage others to do so too. So I’m making bags with the quilting fabric — good sized, lined and batted, so they’ll stand up to some use. (See picture of the first one.) They’re colorful, they’re cloth (so they’re easy to fold and store) and they’re re-usable and washable. Many people I know can expect to get them as gifts soon, and if I really make a pile of them, I may sell a few on ebay just to give them a good home and de-clutter my life at the same time.

Terrapass

August 10, 2007

I’ve been looking into Terrapass. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Terrapass is a company that invests in clean energy projects like wind farms and so forth, while at the same time providing investors with the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions.

Here’s how it works: you go to their website and calculate your vehicle, home, or air flight annual carbon emissions rate. Then you can buy a terrapass based on your emissions that will support a clean-energy project sufficient to offset your emissions. The flight offsets were really good news, because I know someone who flies overseas about 40 times a year for business.

Now, I admit that when I first heard about this I had some misgivings. First of all, global warming seemed too big a problem to just throw money at without making other lifestyle changes. But the fact is, my significant other and I ARE making lifestyle changes. Still, it seemed like a too-easy way to assuage our guilt.

Second, it seemed like it could too easily be a scam. Here, just send us your money and stop feeling guilty!

But I checked them out — they’re independently audited, and they offer a 100 percent money-back guarantee. And for about $50 bucks, I can offset my car’s carbon emissions, and for about another $150, my home’s.

So here’s my thinking: we’re doing (or about to do) whatever we can that’s practical and affordable to reduce our emissions ourselves, and beyond that, investing in something like Terrapass to accomplish the rest seems like a good stopgap while we make other changes. (Need to remember to invest annually, though!!)

And I don’t see why we should stop with only our own mess, either. I’m a great believer in everyone doing what they can, even if they end up giving more than they actually owe — so I might just invest enough to clean up someone else’s car too, because taking as much action to reduce global warming as possible is in my best interest sooner rather than later. I see no reason to wait for some of the rest of the world to get with the program and hope that they’ll do it in time. (What was that thing Churchill said about entering a period of consequences?)

www.terrapass.com. Check it out.

PS — for those of you who use Splenda and are interested in reducing packaging as a way to cut your use of resources and your pollution-generation, Splenda is now available in tablet form — one little plastic (recyclable!) container about the size of a packet of Tic-Tacs. No longer necessary to use up all that paper in those individual packets!

Shade Grown Coffee

August 3, 2007

Here’s something I read the other day:

Unlike shade-grown coffee, most of the $4 billion worth of coffee imported by the United States each year is grown under conditions that severely damage the environment and jeopardize wildlife, especially migratory birds. By contrast, organic, shade-grown coffee plantations are environmentally supportive and provide critical habitat for as many as 200 species of birds, as well as dozens of species of insects, amphibians, and plants.

The piece went on to talk about the relative benefits to the earth of drinking shade-grown coffee:

Organic coffee and shade-grown coffee plantations provide many advantages. For example, shade-grown and organic coffee farms:

    • help maintain soil quality

      • can produce coffee beans for up to 50 years, while sun-grown coffee bushes are good for only 5 to 10 years

        • control erosion

          • facilitate natural pest control, as shade-grown coffee requires little or no chemical pesticides or herbicides

            • provide natural mulch and thus reduce the need for chemical fertilizers

              • provide critical habitat for migratory birds, plus many different species of insects, amphibians, and plants

                I went looking for shade-grown coffee at the grocery store (dream on!) but no dice. Here’s a link to a list of web sources, though. Downside — it’s expensive (well, what did I expect?) but I’m thinking I can at least work it into my coffee routine as a portion of the total.

                BTW, I found this information (including the above-quoted material) on a wonderful site: www.charityguide.org. There’s an animated button for it in the link list on this site — check it out!