Monday, August 25, 2008

The Continuing Saga of the CFL

The ongoing, ever-evolving story of the Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL) continues to unfold. As I have written before, they are not the perfect answer because of the small amount of mercury in them. That piece gets taken care of if you dispose of them properly. But they are an important step in the right direction.

On the solid upside, their benefit in terms of saving energy is unquestionable. So my friend and environmental one man Wikipedia, David Shaller, provided this update today on CFLs. It’s newsworthy and will have a significant impact on a go forward basis for consumers.

He writes: Toshiba to Halt all Incandescent Bulb Manufacture by 2010. Toshiba Lighting & Technology Corp. will close down all of its production lines of incandescent light bulbs by the end of 2010. The company has been producing incandescent bulbs the entirety of its 120-year corporate history and in 2006 turned out 40 million units. Toshiba will halt production of 81 types of incandescents in favor of compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) lamps. Toshiba pioneered the world’s first ball-shaped CFL in 1980.

Thank you David!

And if you did not catch my show on Saturday, you did not get to hear the announcement that TEP (Tucson Electric Power for you out-of-towners) is partnering with Home Depot and Costco on an instant rebate program which makes CFLs affordable AND Home Depot is a drop of site for proper disposal if you break one! It really is another win/win/win. Good the environment,good way to save money, and easy way to dispose of them should you drop one!

Take one small step and change out those light bulbs. There has never been a better, more affordable opportunity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Bag Lady Is At It Again!

I am sure you have people in your life that when you hear yet another wonderful thing they have done, you say to yourself “Isn’t she/he amazing?” That’s exactly how I feel about my friend and neighbor, Lisa Hawkins.

Lisa was the first guest on my radio show. She started an anti-plastic bag campaign in her school district making posters with great information and graphic pictures about public enemy number one. If you mention her name in the Catalina Foothills School District to almost any parent or staff member, there is usually instant recognition. She quietly goes about the business of changing the world one bag at a time – just one of her passions.

Enter the community garden project. Here’s the quote from the Arizona Daily Star article that cracked me up and touched my heart: “Sunrise parent Lisa Hawkins wasn’t an avid gardener in the past, but her passion for environmental sustainability sparked her idea to create a community garden on the former site of two portable trailers.” She didn’t know a thing about gardening before she started the project but trust me, that didn’t stop her. But then again, what does?

To check out the entire story and see the adorable picture of a six year old working with his Dad on the project, go to and put “garden connects community” in the search area. It will make your day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frenzy for Wood Pellets?

With record high humidity and the air feeling more like a sauna than something that helps you breath, it’s hard to get my head around heating my house at this point. Being a desert dweller, it’s not something I think about much anyway. But a Wall Street Journal article in this Wednesday’s edition, brought about the far reaching impact of high fuel costs one more time.

The article talked about homeowners who have more severe winters scrambling to buy wood burning stoves and other hearth appliances that burn sawdust pellets, corn, and even cherry and olive pits. Sales in some stores are up 250% store owners are saying that if the trend persists, people looking for stoves in September might have to wait until January until supplies come in.

The hardest to find items are pellet appliances which run partly off electricity and use sawdust capsules resembling rabbit food as the main fuel. The good news is they are particularly clean-burning and easy-to-use. And are you ready for this number? Sales at Home Depot alone have surged from 300 tons last year to 18,000 tons season-to-date this year. That number just blows me away and I am sure it will continue to rise.

I know that every time we fill up our tanks, it hurts. What I realized after reading this article, is that heating our homes is a place where we will all take another hit this winter. The average U.S. household is expected to spend 20% more this winter on heating with oil, natural gas, propane and electricity. Not a happy thought and one can only hope for a mild winter.

Another interesting little tidbit in this article was information about open combustion fireplaces which many homes have. They can actually be energy guzzlers, pulling heat out of the house and up the chimney. The alternatives like free standing wood and pellet stoves and fireplace inserts with insulated doors, or even newer open fireplaces can raise efficiency significantly.

Ending on an up note – the demand for these wood burning stoves of all kinds is creating jobs for people. Some companies have doubled the number of employees to ramp up for production. I always like to look for the silver lining and I usually find it.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Arizona Politicians Mixed on Oil

One of the things that is challenging to me is that when I read the newspapers, I know I am getting the author’s perspective/slant. Over time, one hopefully finds journalists to trust or reads two completely different viewpoints and tries to figure it out. Thus my topic – what’s the truth about oil drilling?

The good news is the both Gabby Giffords and John McCain both agree on opening up new areas for drilling. Giffords is in favor of exploring first and wants to see what’s out there. John McCain agrees. The debate centers on whether opening up new drilling would lower gas prices for consumers. Giffords says it’s a cruel hoax to imply that it would. Tim Bee disagrees.

My take? Total cynicism about oil companies lowering prices for any reason. When you read about record breaking profits and about salaries and bonuses paid to oil executives, you have got to wonder about the trickle down effect for consumers. I don’t ever try to predict the future but my thoughts are that oil companies would put a spin on increased prices due to high costs associated with new drilling and exploration. I just feel like they would find a way to make more money. My dream for the future? Healthy profits for all concerned - not greed and alternative fuels. We can’t let up.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Plastic Bags, Plastic Bottles and Spotlight on Tucson

Today I think I could write a novella just on things I read in the morning newspaper. The first article I want to celebrate is about public enemy number one: PLASTIC BAGS! They were the first topic on my radio show and the impact they have on our planet continues to be documented. So imagine my delight to find that Arizona Daily Star's reporter Stephanie Innes wrote about a photo exhibit that a Green Valley couple has started hoping to create a movement to dig Tucson out of a mountain of plastic bags.

Called The One Less Bag project, the couple want to create awareness and get people to take reusable bags to the store and make changes on their own. They hope with more people using reusable bags, we won’t need a ban on them – people will just want to make a difference. The photos are on exhibit through the end of August at the Rainbow Planet Coffee House at 606 N. Fourth Avenue. My hats off to Scott and Anna and to Stephanie for bringing us that news.

And the debate continues about bisphenol A use. A California bill has been introduced to restrict the use of it and require only trace amounts be used in products used by children under the age of three.

Bisphenol is a chemical found in plastic baby bottles and infant formula cans – to name just two items. There is really little dispute that it can disrupt the hormonal system but this is some dispute among scientists about whether the very low amounts found in food and beverage containers can be harmful. If you dig a little further, you will quickly find out other uses for it in things like dental sealant, eye glasses and other household goods. My take? Get it OUT of everything that any child three years old and under comes in contact with. Isn’t protecting our children from harm what grown-ups are supposed to do?

Now on a very happy note, our very own Desert Museum beat out the famed San Diego and St. Louis zoos in a travel recommendation’s Web site’s ratings of U. S. zoos and wild animal attractions. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum finished second to the Memphis Zoo in the new rating from the trip advisor. ( ) Given high gas prices, it’s a great deal for locals and a great tourist attraction for out-of-towners who help support our local economy. I need to plan a trip out there with my family as it’s been way too long.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

WOW on the Olympics and a Good Word About Goodwill!

I honestly could not believe my eyes last night as I watched the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and I am soooooooo serious. There were times when my mouth was open, my eyes were popping and I was saying to my friend “how did they do that?” And I said it over and over again.

Even though I was tired, I had to wait to see the American team come out and was I ever proud. I admit to watching Project Runway and they had an episode where they asked the contestants to design an outfit for the Olympics so it really raised my interest level up a few notches. I was NOT disappointed. Our team looked classy, sporty and fun and the red, white and blue made me proud. I am sure the TV station will run clips of it again so try to catch some of the opening ceremonies if at all possible. And what am I thinking? I am sure it will end up on YouTube!!

On a local Olympian note, I was thrilled to see that three athletes with ties to Tucson will compete today. Check out the front page of the Arizona Daily Star for details.

Goodwill – the Ultimate Recycler of “Stuff”

Hats off (no pun intended) to Suzanne Lawder and the amazing staff at Goodwill Industries. The Arizona Daily Star’s Business section reported that with the downturn in the economy, Goodwill’s customer base is growing and the company plans to add FIVE new stores in Tucson in the next 5 years. How cool is that? Very! Suzanne reports that high school and college students have helped create the image of secondhand shopping as “cool and trendy.” I will be checking it out and I hope you do too.

And as a Rotarian, I LOVED the opening paragraph describing events at a recent Rotary Club meeting at which an impeccably dressed speaker told the audience her outfit was from a Goodwill Store. Coming from a modest background, my Mom was the ultimate thrift shop shopper. Since my sister and brother and I went to a somewhat “upscale” school, my Mom told us to keep our thrift shop finds quiet. It was a pride thing and there were times I honestly wished I could get new shoes or a new dress instead of “slightly used.” Well, then I became a “mild” hippie and was so proud to shout to the world my thrift shops finds. Everything cycles – right? So now it’s cool and trendy and GREEN!

Gotta love it!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blessings to Our Olympians and Plant Waste As Fuel

I could not write a blog on 8/8/08 without sending best wishes and blessings to our Olympians. The Olympics create a spirit in the hearts of every American that puts politics aside and we all stand together to honor our athletes. We forget about the pollution in China, we forget about whether we do or do not respect China’s political practices and we stand tall and proud every time we hear our National Anthem play. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to make it to the Olympics and what it takes. I just know that it’s hard, that many sacrifices are made and that my heart beats rapidly when I sit glued to the T.V. These Olympic Games are supposed to attract the largest viewing audience in history and I know that I will be watching and cheering on the men and women who chose to make all the sacrifices it has taken them to get there.

And now for some Mrs. Green Humor. If you have been reading my blog on a regular basis, I hope it’s fairly obvious that I love being Mrs. Green and writing about all things green and beautiful. And I love to inject humor whenever I can. I am not sure why I think this is funny but reading that BP PLC will invest over $90 million in a U.S. producer of cellulosic ethanol biofuels made from nonfood feedstocks such as plant waste made me laugh. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand the myriad of alternative fuels being developed and maybe the idea of fueling my car on plant waste just hit the humor bone.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea. I like any ideas being explored that include the words “alternative fuel” because it gives me hope. And using the kind of waste they described in the article I read makes such good sense because it is recycling of plant waste. Given the mandates of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2008, which requires the U.S. to produce 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels such a cellulosic ethanol by 2022, everybody in the alternative fuels business better get busy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Greer Grounds Goes Green and Whole Foods Loan Program

I love alliteration! Imagine my surprise when I went to visit my favorite afternoon ice cream spot up in Greer, Arizona, and found a local Queen of Green! For those of you not familiar with Greer, it is a beautiful piece of green heaven in the northeast part of Arizona and about a four and a half hour drive from Tucson. The elevation is about 8300 feet so for a cool getaway and relief from the summer heat, it's perfect.

But I digress. Greer Grounds, the delightful little coffee shop on the main street, has great ice cream, awesome coffee and other wonderful treats - perfect for a vacation comfort food stop. The owner, Kristi Spillman, is committed to sustainability and making Greer greener! I was thrilled to find 100% biodegradable cups from from corn as well as forks, spoons and dishes all made from biodegradable materials as well. Her website is and I have to say it shows. If she can do it with the size of her shop, every restaurant in America should be able to and we should all be advocating for that every time we dine out.

On another "walk the talk" note - Whole Foods does it again. They have a local loan program that helps farmers to grow their business. The pilot program which can lend as much as $1,000 to $100,000 is called Local Producer Loan Program. The decentralized company is relying on employees who work with new and existing vendors to get the word out about the program. One person who has taken advantage of it received $50,000 to expand his certified-organic facility business which brews tea with sugar to create a fermented drink called kombucha.

I loved reading all the details of this article because Whole Food gets it. They emphasize carrying and marketing food and products from local businesses all over the country. This kind of program offers significant help to small growers and food artisans AND it makes our world a greener, healthier place. Kudos to Whole Foods for demonstrating outstanding leadership one more time.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Green Message Hits Back-to-school Cool & Something Just Plain Fun!

Imagine my surprise when the Accent section of today's Arizona Daily Star had on its front page a young man with a picture of Charlie Brown pointing to the recycling symbol! And of course the shirt was white with the image in GREEN. And to make it even better, the article, on back-to-school clothing trends, is entitled A+ Fashion Advice. It is, indeed, cool being green and a great message for kids to be sending.

To make this blog short and sweet - a simply delightful treat. My brother sent me this email yesterday and even though I was rushing to go somewhere, something made me stop and watch it. I did just what he said - PLAY VERY LOUDLY AND REJOICE.
And indeed I did. I hope you will take the time out of your day to watch this and delight in it like I did. It just purely, simply, delightfully fun. And that is good for our planet! Thank you to the young man who travelled all over the world to make millions of people smile, thanks to the Internet and thanks to my brother for sharing.

Have a great week-end and remember living green can be FUN!!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bagless In Seattle and $11.68 billion Exxon Profit

Thanks to my friends who emailed me about about the plastic bag charge in Seattle. The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a 20-cent charge for consumers who want to bring home a disposable paper or plastic shopping bag from convenience, drug and grocery stores. What I like about this is that you have a choice - bring your own bag or pay for one. The City Council also made plans to distribute at least one reusable bag to its residents and even discussed provisions for low income families. If you ever want to get a visual of our massive plastic bag consumption PER MINUTE, check out this website: and click on Running the Numbers. A picture is worth more than a thousand words. And if you want to change one small habit and take a step towards preservation of the planet, stop using plastic bags. It's a great way to take a single step. And let's hope more and more cities take note and put pressure on leaders to take action.

On another note, Wall Street never ceases to amaze me. I admit I was somewhat disgusted when I read about Exxon Mobil Corporation's record-breaking profits Thursday. I am a GREAT believer in profits - trust me. This number just seemed a bit excessive given our challenging economic times. The world's largest publicly traded oil company turned a profit of $11.68 billion and we all know why because we were paying for it at the pumps!

Imagine my surpise and confusion when I read that Wall Street expected more and Exxon's stock slumped. My old stand-by "are you kiddng me right now" thought came to mind. How much is enough? More research revealed that record energy prices inflated costs for plants that process crude and natural gas into fuels and chemicals so profits fell. And production of oil declined to its lowest average since 2005. My next thought was "so how much is that going to cost us down the road?"

But I am and shall always be an eternal optimist and hopefully will ALWAYS end my writing on a note of hope and possibility. Oil prices will result in increased progress on the alternative fuels front and tap into creative minds committed to finding solutions. And you can be sure I will write about any progress in that arena.

Have a safe, green weekend and remember to take your reusable bags to EVERY store you walk into - not just the grocery store.