Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arizona's First Wind Farm a Win/Win/Win

I am happy to report that Arizona is building its first wind-energy farm. The Salt River Project has agreed to buy all the electrical energy from the farm to be built 18 miles northwest of Snowflake.

It's a win because it takes Arizona one step closer to actually using a renewable energy source. We won't run out of wind any time soon.

It's a win because it will bring good jobs, additional revenue and clean energy to Navajo County and thus to our State.

And it's a win because millions of pounds of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, will be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

This is such a step forward for the diversification of Arizona's electricity generation. We all know that the costs of fossil fuels continue to rise and that the electricity generated by wind has zero fuel costs and zero emissions. It should absolutely help lower or stabilize rates for utilities in the long run. Let's make sure we keep watching!

On a local angle for Tucson, Tucson Electric Power Co. is looking a wind-powered opportunities and has issued a request for proposals for renewable energy projects that could include wind. Stay tuned.

And as usual, I have to add my comment about how good it is for our State to be leaders in this arena.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

THe Ongoing Green Conundrum

Today I started reading an article in the WSJ about energy companies flocking to Appalachia to buy land in order to drill test wells in search of natural gas deposits. The more I read the more I wanted to stop reading because I started to get what I call that "green angst." It starts in my gut and moves it's way through my whole body because I really like to be clear about my opinions. And in the rapidly changing, moving to greener pastures world of ours, sometimes it is just what I said - an ongoing green conundrum.

On the one hand, I really believe we need to continue to search for any kind of fuel that makes us less dependent upon foreign oil. There are places in the U.S. where geologists say there is enough natural gas to meet U. S. demand for two years. And that is a good thing.

On the other hand, (and forcing me past the angst and through the article), environmentalist raised what seems to me a very legitimate concern about water contamination. A non-profit news service cited instances of drinking water contamination in states where a particular kind of drilling technique (known as hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking) is used to drill. Reading on to the very end, the article states that the drilling won't cause groundwater contamination, it's the water being used to drill that's filled with harmful chemicals that is the concern. i.e. How will the water filled with frac fluid and brine be discharged back into the river systems?

What noone questioned was that the chemicals used in the drilling process are toxic.

Thus the condundrum. Can't someone out there just figure this out so that I don't have green angst? How about drill, spend a little more money on treating the water (and we all know there has GOT to be a way), maybe have a slightly less profit margin and turn things into a win/win. Maybe I just don't know enough or maybe even better- it's just that simple!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cars, Cities and Word About Masks

I am hoping the title kind of throws you! As I was doing my early morning blog preparation, I really wasn't' in the mood to write about cars. But write about cars I must. There are no less than THREE articles about cars in today's Wall Street Journal so I took it as a sign. On the good news list, and I quote "Honda Motor Co is the only major car company that guessed right on gasoline prices and geared up in the past few years to sell small cars." My first thought was how proud I am to be a green partner with Chapman Automotive. I aligned myself with them because of their commitment to working towards a greener company and because of Honda. And with their new plant in Indiana moving ahead, Honda will be providing jobs to Americans and giving us more fuel efficient cars. That makes Mrs. Green smile!

The other two articles affirmed my belief about the confusing part of car talk - is diesel better or isn't it. You can read the article to find out more. Article three gets a mere mention as it discussed how big, flashy, really expensive car sales are down. Oh well.

Now about that "cities" part. There was an entire section in the Journal today about success stories - taking a look at seven places that took different approaches to economic development and came out ahead. Five of those cities are in the United States and two in other countries. The stories were all great, inspiring, educational and did I say inspiring? I live in Tucson, Arizona and wish that all of our City and County leaders would read this and get spurred into action. It takes courage and leadership and solid public/private partnerships. I believe that every city wanting to reinvent itself has the basic ingredients it takes to do just that. It's the leadership and courage piece we need to focus on here in the Old Pueblo. Given our leadership in solar and our Clean Cities initiatives, let's move forward and put our city on the map!

And now about those masks. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dilemma Olympians face about wearing masks and the potential for insulting the host country. My friend Cassandra,who has visited there very recently, writes: "In Beijing, wearing a mask is not an insult, the Beijingers wear them themselves." So maybe it's just that we would think it's insulting. Thank you my friend!

Have a great, green week.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Local Tribute and Heartfelt Good-bye to a National Hero

I admit I was a bit conflicted as I sat to write my blog this morning. Given the fact the people take the time to read what I write, I owe them quality, good content and want to add some humor every chance I get. Upon reflection, writing about good news for Tucson and paying tribute to a national hero who died this week seems like the right thing to do.

Tucson Electric Power was recognized for being among the nation's top 10 "most solar integrated utilities" in the first ranking of its kind by the Solar Electric Power Association. TEP earned its recognition for both its company owned installations as well as the photovoltaic systems that customers have installed on their rooftops through TEP's Sunshare program. It gets even better - they randed 5th for their company-owned capacity and 3rd on a per customer basis. So TEP is walking the walk and local Tucson citizens are stepping up and helping to make Tucson an emerging leader in the area of alternative energy. Congratulations!

In terms of this tribute, I didn't feel as though I could write anything today without paying tribute to Randy Pausch. Randy is the professor from Carnegie-Mellon University who turned his death into a story that uplifted the hearts of millions of Americans.

When Randy found out he had just months to live, he gave a humorous and life-affirming lecture to 400 of his students and colleagues. Thanks to the Internet, the story spread across thousands of websites. During these past months, he also wrote a book called "The Last Lecture" which he saw as a gift to his three young children. "How do you get 30 years of parenting into three months? You write it down is what you do." And so he did.

What impact Randy had on so many of us was to stop and think about how very precious each and every day of life is, that we all need to make sure our priorities, especially in terms of our children,are straight and to live life purposefully. So I take this opportunity to honor Randy Pausch and to join the millions of people around the world he want to say thank you. You are a true hero.

A Local Tribute and A National, Hearfelt Good-Bye

I admit I was conflicted this morning about what to write.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Smorgy Borgy On Green - Cars, Bugs and Fast Food

The strangest thing about blogging is that "send it out to cyberspace" feeling and not ever knowing if anyone is reading what you have written. Well, since I have been blogging,I have found that just putting my many green thoughts in writing feels great and I love it. Enter Sara and Hank - two people who told me yesterday they like my blog and Sara even told me she has added it to her favorites. I am thrilled and will do my best to retain that standing! Thanks to both of you.

In our house when we all have something different to eat for dinner, we call it smorgy borgy so today my blog is just that - three shorts blurbs on very diverse topics.

Cars - every day cars make the news. No surprise on any one's part given the impact of rising gas prices. So after reading a long article today about one car giant teaming with dozens of utilities on plug-in cars this thought struck me - where is all the energy for the plug-in cars going to come from? I am NOT a scientist and I don't even make believe that I understand all of the massive pieces of information out there about electric cars and alternative fuels. But what I do know is that along the education of Mrs. Green journey, I listen to experts of all kinds talk about sucking energy off the grid and that we have to find alternatives to what we are doing now. So there is no conclusion on Mrs. Green's part for this part of the smorgy borgy. My opinion is let's keep working on those alternative fuel concepts that seem to offer so much promise and much needed relief to consumers.

Bugs - if you garden or if you like interesting, fun, funny stories, I invite you to go online and read the entire article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal entitled War of the Roses: Beetle vs. Nematode written by Steve Stecklow. You will love it - trust me. Besides being cleverly written, it epitomizes the challenge of caring, mainstream, committed people and their efforts to go organic. The author declared war on the Japanese beetle but was forbidden by his wife to exercise what he calls "the nuclear option" i.e. poisons. His description of spraying invisible nematodes all over the garden will have you laughing like it did me. There is no conclusion as it's a bit too early in the back east growing season but I will be watching for a follow-up article.

Fast Food - this one is a little bit of stretch for a Mrs. Green topic as it's more philosophical than strictly green. Lawmakers around the country are starting to introduce legislation to ban new fast-food restaurants and regulate the industry because of the war on obesity. Maybe it's just me but I think where I eat and where I took my kids to eat when they were growing up was totally up to me. No one has ever tried to lure me into McDonalds and force a Big Mac down my throat. I always felt it was my responsibility to teach my children about nutrition and exercise and taking care of their bodies. The truth be told, all three of them are much healthier eaters than my husband and I. They have brought us a long way and honestly avoid fast food except for a very occasional lapse. So it is with all things green and beautiful. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about respecting Mother Earth, about why we don't liter, about conserving energy by turning off lights and not wasting water etc. If you want to take a stand about fast food, don't eat it! Fast food restaurants are already getting the message and are introducing somewhat healthier choices into their menus. Let the market dictate - not the government in this case.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Green Challenges and A little Whining!

As many business leaders, builders and contractors continue to support green building and sustainability, the challenges remain in what I like to call "the emerging market." Laws are being proposed that appear to have some unclear standards and questions are being raised about how the laws being passed will be enforced. Today's Arizona Daily Star discusses those concerns around a proposed City rainwater law. It would require that by 2010, new business developments submit rainwater-harvesting plan. Developers would have to get 75% of their landscaping water from storing rainwater in cisterns or by building berms or large basins to hold rainwater on building sites. I have to say I hope the City stays the course and continues to work with developers to go strongly in this direction. As a desert dweller and as one who has listened to the water experts, doing this will be a win/win in the long run. We have got to figure out ways to make measures like this work - for all of us.

Now a bit of whining. I don't really know all that I need to about oil companies and how they spend their money. What I do know is that once again, all of the "BIG ONES" are posting record breaking profits - in the billions. Granted, many of the oil-firm investors will get the lion's share of the profits. What gets to me is the lip service oil companies pay to so much money going to research and development. FACT: the percentage they spend to find new deposits of fossil fules has remained flat for years, in the mid-single digits. The rise in gas prices is hurting millions of people who live paycheck to paycheck and retirees who have a fixed income and all businesses whose services involve driving (and what business doesn't to some extent?) So as oil company execs and oil-firm investors reap HUGE profits, I say let's put the pressure on wherever we can to find alternative fuels, become less dependent on oil and create new, exciting ways to move forward to a world where we are sharing the wealth AND preserving the planet.

Mrs. Green

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Faith Based Community In Action

It's heartening to see what many faith-based communities are doing to make our world a better place. They are in action all over the country and I am proud to report about a local Tucson community who recently received an honor from the Sierra Club. And I want to thank my friends Tom and Susan for sending me the link as it's one I missed!

Here are excerpts from Stephanie's article:

Stephanie Innes from the Arizona Daily Star reported last week that St. Mark's Presbyterian Church in Tucson, AZ., earned a pat on the back from a national environmental group.
The church is highlighted in the Sierra Club's new report titled "Faith in Action: Communities of Faith Bring Hope for the Planet," released in June. The group recognized the environmental work of religious communities by highlighting one "exceptional faith-based environmental initiative" from each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

St. Mark's and its pastor, the Rev. Stuart Taylor, are featured in the Arizona entry of the report, titled "Sacred Water." It recognizes the church's commitment to water issues locally and internationally. Taylor has implored his congregation to envision "an Earth transformed, in which the waters of the Earth are able to bless, heal and sustain all life."

Church members are involved in conserving and restoring water resources, and are developing a rainwater-harvesting system. The St. Mark's youth group recently took part in a cleanup of Southern Arizona's San Pedro River. Taylor reread the Old and New Testaments last year from an environmental perspective and began hosting community education events titled "The Green Bible" about Scripture and the environment. He keeps an up-to-date environmental page on the church's Web site, including tips for reducing one's carbon footprint.

An extensive environmental audit of the church resulted in a commitment to improve its use of natural lighting, as well as to replace shallow-rooted plants with xeriscaping, or desert landscaping that uses little water.
The church, at 3809 E. Third St., also is installing clear, easy-access stations for recycling, particularly near the kitchen and coffee-hour area, and reducing the use of plastic liners for some trash cans.
The "green" tips that Taylor has given to parishioners include: Wash clothes in warm or cold water, turn down the water heater's temperature, buy organic, eat locally grown food, eat less meat and buy in bulk, which uses less packaging.
"Almost all of the world's major religions have long-standing teachings and traditions that shape the way humans should relate to the natural world, although these teachings have not always been emphasized by those in leadership," the Sierra Club report says.
"After centuries of lying dormant, religious perspectives on environmental stewardship are being revived and communicated with great fervor, bringing new energy and vision to the movement to protect the planet. This awakening is not an accident," it adds.

Now that is a community involved and making a difference. It is changing our world - all for the better.

Mrs. Green

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thinking Globally and Acting Locally -Beijing/Tucson

This morning as I was doing my Mrs. Green's Research, think globally, act locally was the first thing that popped into my head after I read both the Wall Street Journal and the Arizona Daily Star.

Globally thinking, I am a bit perplexed about Beijing's notoriously bad air quality and how that fits into the need for all Olympians to breath the cleanest air possible as they compete for the gold. What were people thinking? How bad is it? Well, it's so bad that the U.S. Committee has developed a mask model for athletes in secrecy. Yes, what the mask is made of has still not been released. Athletes will be be in a position of choosing to wear the mask and risk insulting their host country or not wear a mask and literally risk losing their race. You can read all about it on the front page of today's WSJ. Beijing is doing everything possible to improve air quality during the games but the challenges are many with over 3.3 million cars taking to the road daily. Stay tuned.

And on the local front, it was heartening to see the title "Street signs sparkle in solar pilot program" in this morning's local paper. The Tucson Department of Transportation is testing solar powered caution signs to see if they stand up to heat and remain visible during the bright, sunny days in the Old Pueblo. Along the Mrs. Green journey, I have learned that too much heat is a huge challenge to almost solar-powered anything. Mild sunny days are best for solar power. And we have plenty of those so let's keep testing and trying!

Have a great day and do one great, green act!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Green Insurance? Are You Kdding Me Right Now?

Yes, you read it correctly! Wednesday's WSJ reported that a U.S unit of German insurer Allianz will begin offering homeowners' protection in California next month that will cover the cost of rebuilding houses to environmentally friendly standards, the latest sign of green products penetrating the financial services market. The policies will actually be offered through the Fireman's Fund Insurance Co.

So what does "green" insurance actually cover? There's a long list and it's all great: energy efficient lighting and appliances, updated plumbing, heating and cooling devices, and even extends to rebuilding one's home with lumber purchased from companies certified as implementing responsible forest management practices. All of these actions can help reduce energy costs and help preserve the planet.
Having policies like this also mean there is a growing to demand for green!

Cost? Not so much. $70 a year per $1 million in home value.

My question: why only California?

I will keep watching! draft 7:18:00 AM by Mrs. Green Delete

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I know this whole green thing has many serious sides but my mantra is going to continue to be "what if living green can be fun?" And so it is.

I know that all the doom and gloom about what is going on right now will bring out great things from deep inside people and creativity, innovation and stimulating ideas will contiue to pop up all over the place. Thus today's topic - Staycationers!
There are even Staycation Planners springing up!

The concept of Staycation is creating a fun, vacation like experience without leaving home. You have GOT to have fun with it. One example: A family in Oakland, CA., passed on a trip to Hawaii this year for a camp-out in their living room. They set up the tent in the living room, cooked s'mores over a candle, ate hot dogs prepared in the kitchen and read camp stories in the tent. They made staying home an excellent, fun, creative adventure. So now every night their 3 year old son asks his dad if they can camp out. Another man in Oregon started furnishing his apartment like a hotel room as a joke saying he was too broke to go on vacation. Word of mouth spread and he has recreated the stunt 11 times since April - renting his place out complete with hotel soaps (which he buys), do not disturb signs and room service from a local restuarant. You gotta love it!

For the complete skinny, check out the 7/16 Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal online. Trust me, you will be laughing as much as I did.

Mrs. Green

The most unlikely use for duct tape!

Good morning. There has been a joke around our house for years about duct tape. It can fix anything that's broken, right? Even when we were up in cool, green, high country in Greer, Arizona last week, my husband and I saw a man duct taping the broker skylight window in his vehicle. We made our standard joke about duct tape - it fixes everything.

Well, I would have never thought of duct tape removing kids' warts! You read it correctly - kids' warts! Not only have there been definitive studies supporting this theory (one is Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma), the article I read in the Arizona Daily start was written by a mom who got to try it on her child! In the study, there was consistency - apply duct tape for 6 days, remove, soak affected area, use pumice or emery board to scrape and repeat the process. It took an average of two months for warts to disappear. The mom who wrote the article said they deviated from the forumula and weren't as consistent but guess what? Happy ending! Warts gone, no costly medical procedure needed and no harsh chemicals used to remove the warts. AND most importantly from this mom's point of view - it was painless for her child.

So did I say living green can be fun? And believe me, I can fit almost anything into living a greener life - like removing warts with duct tape.

For more info about this and other great "how to" ideas from the author of the article, Vanessa Raymond, visit

Have a great, green day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green is so great!

I continue to believe that living in the "green" world is a happier place to live in a world filled with challenges of just about every sort. So looking for green info is fun, informative and usually has an optimistic outcome.

Today? No exception? Today's Wall Street Journal had a great article in their Enterprise section about businesses emerging to help school fund-raisers go green. How fun and great is that? There is a company called Greenrising that sells products such as recycled gift wrap and reusable water bottles. One school reported that selling these two products resulted in their best fundraiser EVER! Another company, Green Students Fundraising, sells energy efficient light bulbs, stainless steel water bottles and dryer balls (they soften clothes & reduce drying time). And last but not least, Higher Grounds Trading Company is a fair=trade coffee roaster, that is marketing to schools and take it a step further. Schools can incorporate lessons about the environment and labor standards are part of their partnership with schools.

And my final comment is again about why I love living the going green life. One parent quoted in the article said that we are giving kids mixed messages about obesity and eating healthy and then having them sell cookie dough and candy to raise money for their schools. As a sucker for any kid who rings my doorbell, I always say yes and never thought about the conflict. I will now...