April 2012


Every year, in the midst of our hectic daily schedules, Earth Day approaches more quickly than we’re prepared for.  It’s a time when we’re reminded to go the extra mile and make a new kind of effort beyond what we consider our daily eco-friendly habits.  We’re caught scratching our heads, thinking “how can I do my part without sacrificing too much of my time?
There are many small and large ways to keep the balance between responsible ecological action and keeping up with the demands of a modern lifestyle, and yet we can offer you two in one: plant some bamboo.
Yes, that dreaded homeowner’s bane that can grow at mythical speeds and lay tornado-like waste to landscaping.  Not quite true, though.  Yes, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plant on earth; some reports have claimed 39 inches in 24 hours in  optimal conditions.  This is actually a good thing, as it’s stalks, or culms, grow to desired height quickly and can be endlessly harvested; it’s the ultimate sustainable woody resource.  But not all bamboo species are “runners,” those that grow out in lines from underground nodes and root balls, defying fences and delicate plants.  It’s quite easy to find “clumping” species that have vertical primary growth like other plants and are non-invasive.  It’s becoming evermore popular and easy to purchase at local nurseries(for those of you in CA’s Bay Area) and online .
Why bamboo for Earth Day?
1)  As stated above, it is an absolutely sustainable resource.
2) It is an excellent C02 “fixer,” devouring the atmosphere-warming gas at incredible rates, and emits 35% more oxygen than the biomass equivalent of trees.
3) Although it thrives with ample water, its hardiness is epic and drought-resistant varieties are easily found.  Frankly, it’s difficult to kill.  It’s the Van Damme of plants, a real hard target.
4) It needs no fertilizer and usually no soil amendment, as long as it drains decently, which means very low energy cost.
5) The variety of uses exceed any other growing thing on Earth.  That’s not an official statement, but seriously, find something else you can make healthy food, medicine, building materials (from bicycles and fishing rods to boats and houses), musical instruments, clothing, paper, fertilizing charcoal, beer and weapons out of.  You will fail.  To see just how versatile this miracle vegetation is, check out this gallery of bamboo products.
6) It’s tall, dark and handsome.  That’s earthy.
And you don’t necessarily have to plant it in a pot or in your yard.  Our cities and suburbs have a surprising amount of abandoned or unclaimed open space that some bamboo plants would take full and beneficial advantage of.  And once it takes hold, the plant’s hardiness makes it easy to break apart root balls to form new clusters which can be harvested for new planting.
Planting bamboo is an easy favor you can do for yourself, your community and shared planet.  It feels good!  No, really; the internodes are smooth and silky to the touch.  Sensual.
-Jeremy Pearson 

Every action we take impacts the world around us. When we drive, fly, buy a can of soda, or even just take out the trash we are affecting the Earth. You may have heard the term “carbon footprint” to describe our environmental behavior. Carbon footprints are a way of measuring our individual and collective environmental harm caused everyday.   Entire companies have been founded on this idea, such as those that offer carbon offset credits. You can even calculate your own or household’s carbon footprint online and see how you match up with the US and rest of the world.

Although we love how informative carbon footprints are, it can be a little overwhelming. The idea of a carbon footprint only looks at the negative ways in which we impact the planet rather than focusing on the positive. That’s exactly what Gregory Norris thought when he decided to found Handprinter.org. The site looks at what Norris calls handprints rather than footprints. Handprints include all the positive things we do everyday that make a difference.

 

Norris, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, thought of the idea after realizing his students were feeling pessimistic about their effect on the world, even stating that “the planet would be better off if they had not been born.”  Norris felt his students and others looking at only their footprints were concentrating on detrimental actions. “…Something was missing-that we can also benefit the planet,” Norris explained, “I needed to name those benefits to make them as tangible as footprints.”

And that he did. He took his handprints and turned them into a website that not only lets you calculate your own handprint, but encourages others to follow suit. The website promotes spreading one’s positive impact via social media, which in turn increases your handprint the more you share. He hopes to take this idea one step further where organizations, schools, and maybe even cities will compete among each other for larger handprints.

Norris’ handprints are already having the positive effect he was hoping for, as they ended up on Time Magazine’s list of “10 Ideas that are Changing Your Life.”  We love the encouraging message handprints bring, because focusing on the bad news often overwhelms and depresses us, but this idea gives us hope. It introduces a way to look at our actions  in a bright light. Next time someone asks about carbon footprints, make sure to tell them about your handprints. Will you be using handprinter?

Easter is celebrated throughout the world for religious reasons, however, many people in the secular world use the holiday to usher in Spring. The main non-religious symbols of this celebration are the rabbit and the egg. Both are meant to represent fertility, as the season of Spring generally does. They symbolize the new beginnings and new life that is about to come.  We’ve always loved this idea as it dates back thousands and thousands of years, however being vegan, we weren’t such a fan of using actual eggs. And as environmentalists, we didn’t want to use chemical dyes or plastic eggs.

However, we have fond memories of Easter Egg hunts as children and remember the exhilaration of finding them hidden in your garden. So when we think of what traditions we will pass to our own children and how we want to represent fertility without hurting the Earth or animals, it gets complicated. We want to teach them to celebrate life and the season of Spring in a positive manner, yet still involve the childhood fun and amazement of a good old fashioned egg hunt.

What we decided upon was to keep the symbol of the egg, but vegan and naturalize it!  In craft stores, they sell wooden eggs which can be painted or dyed.  Even better if we could locate FSC certified sustainable wooden eggs, as the White House did this year.  Choosing plastic eggs is another possibility, however, they are generally made from petroleum and can’t easily be decorated. But on the plus side, they can be re-used the following year and can hide fun little gifts.

Once we decided to go the route of the wooden egg, we also want to avoid the typical chemical dyes and petroleum based paints and opted for a natural take. There are a variety of natural paints on the market to use, we love Unearthed, all vegan and natural.  We also found this uber helpful site which explained how to make dyes at home. Here is a run down of what to use for which color, click on the full article for exact instructions.

Gold: Handful of yellow onion skins
Yellow: 2 tablespoons turmeric or a handful of carrot tops
Green: Handful of coltsfoot
Blue: 2 cups chopped red cabbage (for best results, add cabbage to water while hard-boiling eggs)
Pink: 2 cups chopped beets
Purple: 1 cup frozen blueberries
Brown: 2 tablespoons coffee grounds or 4 black tea bags

After the wooden eggs are finished and naturally adorned, the next step was to teach the children how to respect the eggs as new life and not a food source. Traditionally, the eggs would now be hidden all over the yard or house, the children would find them, and proceed to eat them. Using a basket to collect them seemed to continue this idea. Building a nest within the basket or just by itself is a wonderful solution to this issue. The nest will symbolize the new life (eggs) how they would appear in nature, just waiting to hatch rather than be eaten by humans. For an even better effect, add  toy or wooden birds. Now when  the kids collect all their eggs, they will be returning them to Momma and Papa bird.

So there it is. It is possible to celebrate Spring, Easter, and new life, cruelty free and naturally. You can still use the idea of what eggs represent and have a fun, interactive way to teach children about the preciousness of life. Plus, now us vegans and environmentalists can still have our Easter egg or rather eggless hunt for generations! Happy Easter :)

  • Twitter: @autonomie

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

  • Facebook

  • Topics

  • Recent Posts

  • April 2012
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar   May »
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • Archives

  • Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 45 other followers