In which I encourage you to watch t.v.

Uncharacteristic, I know, but every once in awhile, someone broadcasts something worth watching.

Case in point: next Wednesday (April 21st), many PBS stations will air Food, Inc. as part of their “P.O.V.” (which stands for Point of View) documentary series.  Check your local listings for times. simply listed it as “P.O.V.,” which threw me for a moment, but don’t be fooled!

If my sources are correct, it’s airing in St. Louis at 9:00pm and Burlington, IA at 8:00pm.  Personally, I prefer 8:00pm — less chance of interfering with my bed time and all, but I’ve been curious about Food, Inc. for awhile.  Now I can watch it at my favorite price (FREE), while sitting comfortably on my couch, wearing what I want (i.e., sans pants).

Tune in and celebrate Earth Day Eve by learning about the connection between farming and food systems, our health, and the health of our planet — just remember to unplug the t.v. or flip the switch on the power strip when it’s over!

Image from the Food, Inc. website

Green McMansions?

I recently received an email from St. Louis Green, Inc. inviting me to their, “Where Grand Meets Green,” home tour.  (Excuse me while I step away from my computer so I don’t vomit on the keyboard.)  I’m sorry, but I fail to see what’s “green” about a McMansion built out in the suburbs, accessible only by car.  I don’t care how energy-efficient you make the walls or what building materials you use.  These “homes” would more accurately be called “compounds.”  I must admit that I wasted time and money driving out to Town and Country (yes, that really is the name of one of the more affluent suburbs around here) for one of their home tours in the past — never again!

I want to tour homes in the city, homes that are affordable for normal middle-class families (and I’m talking about the middle-class that makes less than $100,000/year), heck, maybe even affordable for low-income families.  Homes that are truly green:

  • Not built with outrageous square-footage
  • Built in the city, in dense, mixed-use areas
  • Easily accessible by biking, walking, or public transit
  • Include rehabs — retrofitting current buildings for maximum efficiency, not always building new

Some examples of these exist, but not nearly enough.  While many builders give a nod to this type of construction, few seem really invested in it, because it won’t make them rich.  If someone has close to one million dollars that he/she wants to spend to build an over-sized, green-washed home out in Town and Country, fine, but let’s not celebrate or reward that choice by hosting a “green” event.

Tiny choices success

I frequent the Tiny Choices blog for their green living insights, and as a fairly regular reader, I completed their survey.  Tiny Choices featured my survey last Thursday.  In it, I mentioned my struggle to speak up in a constructive way when I notice others making less than green choices.  In the comments, Nupur of One Hot Stove said, “My suggestion for encouraging others to change their behavior- simply modeling the behavior sometimes triggers others to think about it, more than saying anything about it.”

During a recent work gathering, someone pulled styrofoam plates out for the cake.  Knowing that we had a full cabinet of dishes right behind me, I hesitated for a moment, then grabbed a stack of real plates.  I swapped them for the styrofoam plates on the table, saying that I would take dish duty.  Everyone seemed happy with this arrangement.  I plan to look for opportunities to model greener choices, with a hope that over time they will spread.

Two square

I visited an elementary school recently, and I could not help but notice the sticker on the toilet paper dispenser — the number “2” next to a picture of toilet paper squares.  This reminded me of the “These Come from Trees” stickers, a great cue to action to reduce wasteful use of paper in public restrooms.  I felt fairly certain that was the purpose of the “2” sticker, but as there was also a “Flush” sticker on the wall behind the toilet, I wondered if the number 2 referred not to the numbers of squares of t.p. to use, but rather to a step in a “How to Use the Toilet” sequence:

1. Enter the stall.
2. Lock the door.
3. Pull down your pants.
4. Check the toilet seat to see if a rude “sprinkler” was there before you . . . .

You get the idea.  But I’m already way past #2 on the list, and it’s not time to wipe yet, so I deduced that the “2” sticker must, indeed, refer to the appropriate amount of toilet paper to use.

Confession: Until I started buying my own toilet paper, I was quite profligate in my use of said paper product.  Once I had to flush my own dollars down the toilet, things changed, and I’ve been pretty good about the “two square rule” when I’m at home or other other peoples’ houses since then.  But something changes when I use a public restroom, and I catch myself with a huge wad of t.p. in my hand, so I benefit from some kind of a reminder as much as the next person.