Sunday, January 27, 2008

How Green is Kansas City?

Living in the Kansas City area, I was curious how my metro area ranks on the Green Scale. The answer 18 according to I think 18 is good, maybe a B+, but we can do better! This was our note from "the teacher": While sprawl continues and most residents remain committed to auto travel, leading indicators point toward a more sustainable future for Kansas City. Without a champion for sustainability, such as a mayor or city manager, or even a sustainability plan, the city's sustainability efforts have been piecemeal until recently. However, progress is being made in some very innovative areas. Mayor Kay Barnes' 2006 addition of an Environmental Department, increased plans for public transit, green building, community gardens, and pristine water quality are just a few examples. Let's hope that Mayor Funkhouser will hold sustainable living high on his priority list for our metro area. Read about it: Take a look at and find out how green your city is. Post about it: How do you feel about your city's action or in-action in turning green? Have you taken any personal action in contacting your city council? Have you sent a letter to the editor of your paper? Let us know what you think and what you are doing. Buzz it up

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Conscious Simplicity: Is less really more?

In the age of SUV's and McMansions, economist-activist Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.(Times Books, 2007), contends that the more Americans acquire, the less happy we are, and the more we deplete our environment. To compound this dilemma, developing countries are coming online with our consumptive lifestyles and if they continue to follow our lead, the planet will not be able to support the mass rabid consumerism.

The artistic world has held a concept for many years about good design, "less is more". By scaling back and choosing voluntary simplicity, will we actually discover a better design for our lives? We would certainly have to live more consciously. Studies have shown that shoppers at local farmers markets interact 10 times more than shoppers at a supermarket. Think about your last trip to the grocery store. Did you have even one coversation with anyone except maybe a few words to the cashier and in answering the question, "Paper or plastic?"

McKibben decided to test his theory by proclaiming a year of eating locally for his family. Searching out local food was more time consuming and more thoughtful. McKibben forged new relationships with his community and his neighbors. "The winter permanently altered the way I eat," he said. "It left a good taste in my mouth. That good taste was satisfaction."

Post about it: What do you think about the pace at which we consume to support our lifestyles in America? Should we downsize? Have you taken any steps to downsize your life? What steps, big or small, have you taken to lessen your carbon-footprint impact?

Read about it: Voluntary Simplicity

Buzz it up

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Symphony of Local Culture

Last night we attended the KC Symphony and were completely entranced by Joshua Bell's performance of Corigliano's Red Violin which he played on his 300 year-old Stradivarius. I had never heard Joshua Bell before. What a hole in my cultural experience! If you have not heard Joshua perform, listen to him on this NPR interview. His music is heavenly and there is no doubt that he pours his heart and soul into his performance. A couple of years ago, before I started down the journey to greater connectedness with my community I was simply looking for a unique holiday activity. We went to a holiday performance of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. It was love at first sight (and sound). Before the end of the evening we had purchased a subscription to the rest of the season and became annual subscribers the following season. Last year a local theater group, The Kansas City Repertory Theater, performed a Sherlock Holmes play. My husband is a fan of Sherlock Holmes so we attended the performance. We found live theater to be very engaging and wanted more. We are in our second season subscription with the Repertory Theater. We were curious about the Kansas City Symphony and had a similar experience. I guess you could predict what came next. Last night we re-upped for our third annual subscription for next season. Continuing our love-affair with Kansas City, We joined the Nelson Adkins Museum as annual subscribers. So what next? All of this has sparked our desire to move downtown to the River Market area and find our own cozy loft. You just never know what happens next when you fall in love. Engage in the Arts! Visit the local museums, art galleries, attend plays, ballets, concerts of the local symphony and local bands. Feel the beating heart of your city. Maybe you too will fall in love. Buzz it up

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Junk-Mail Junkie, slow the madding pace to your mailbox.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the hierarchy of earth-friendly social action. You want to stay as high on the hierarchy as possible. When it comes to junk mail, that means REDUCE. Here are a couple of websites that can help you reduce the junk mail hitting your mail box.

The first one is This service allows you to pick the catalogs you want and nix the ones you don't. The second service is ProQuo helps get your name off of those nasty marketing lists that generate mountains of paper in your mail box.

This tip comes from Chris Pirillo. Website: featuring live tech talk.

Buzz it up

How green is your city?

Learn what you can do about global warming.

To date, 772 mayors across the US have signed The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement states that cities will try to reduce environmental impacts through various actions, ranging from anti-sprawl land use policies to urban forest restoration project to public information campaigns.

Check the list of signing mayors on The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Center . Is your mayor listed? If not, you can encourage your mayor to sign by sending the signature page along with your encouragement to make your city part of the effort to protect our environment. You will find the signature page at this link: The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement - Signature Page.

I am proud to say that my mayor, Jeff Meyers of Shawnee, Kansas is one of 20 mayors to sign the agreement in the Kansas City area. What is your city doing? Encourage your mayor to sign if he/she hasn't signed yet.

Check it out: The Top 10 Greenest Cities

What the countries mayors have agreed to do:
  1. Inventory global warming emissions in City operations and in the community, set reduction targets and create an action plan.
  2. Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities;
  3. Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and public transit;
  4. Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, for example, investing in “green tags”, advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, recovering landfill methane for energy production, and supporting the use of waste to energy technology;
  5. Make energy efficiency a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting and urging employees to conserve energy and save money;
  6. Purchase only Energy Star equipment and appliances for City use;
  7. Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program or a similar system;
  8. Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles; reduce the number of vehicles; launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages; convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;
  9. Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems; recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production;
  10. Increase recycling rates in City operations and in the community;
  11. Maintain healthy urban forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and to absorb CO2; and
  12. Help educate the public, schools, other jurisdictions, professional associations, business and industry about reducing global warming pollution.
Buzz it up

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Answer the Right Question

Paper or Plastic? Every time you check out, you hear the question. But is it the right one? My answer is a resounding NO! "Durable or Disposable?" That is the question! The paper bag and plastic bag industries are diverting your attention from the real question with their debates whether plastic or paper is better. Each has good-sounding arguments for using their product. Their common salve is that they can be recycled. And they can even be reused. So they say. It is a matter of degree. The real way to reduce is to use durable bags in place of disposable. You can find durable bags on the internet, local stores, or help support this site by ordering our logo bags. Disposable bags consumed this year: Five and Dime Five shopping bags will last over three years of weekly use and save me from using more than 500 plastic or paper bags each and every year. Someone refuted me by saying they would need more than a mere five bags for a shopping trip. My answer, buy ten bags then. Maybe you will keep 1,000 bags from being used over the next year by doing so. Another comment I have gotten is, "Why would someone pay $10 for a single shopping bag when the store hands out disposable bags for free?" My answer is that you have to ask yourself how free those bags turn out being in the full accounting. If we are killing wildlife, adding unnecessary greenhouse gasses and filling landfills with materials that will not break down even over a hundred years, is that really free? How much does that cost us? Over 1.2 Billion Dollars of plastic grocery bags for one year in the U.S. Do the interactive calculator on Paper vs Plastic at and you will find that if every American family reduced the number of plastic bags by 10 a week, we would save over 12 million barrels of oil. Let's bags...12 million barrels of oil at over $100 per barrel. How free are those free grocery bags??? Would that be about $1.2 billion dollars a year to produce the bags? Not to mention the clean up when they hit our environment. Responsible Use The hierarchy of responsible use is 1. Reduce 2. Reuse 3. Recycle. Everyone always thinks of recycling as the first answer when that is really the last step you should take. First, see how you can reduce your consumable products. Then see how many items you can reuse and reuse them until they cannot be used again. THEN recycle your heart out. Continuing to use petroleum products to produce plastic bags to lug our groceries home is just plain wasteful. Paper bags are not any better on the environment. Just shipping the paper bags to consumers uses a vast amount of carbon fuels and produces a frightening amount of greenhouse gasses. Durable cloth bags are the most eco-responsible choice. What do you think? Paper vs Plastic is just the beginning of this question. What are your thoughts on the use of paper and plastic bags? How many bags of either kind do you use every week? Do you recycle your shopping bags or pitch them in the trash? Have you considered purchasing a reusable shopping bag to take to the grocery store?

Read the Point/Counterpoint and then add your comments to the blog to let us know how you are using shopping bags and what you think of this growing national debate.

POINT: Are Shopping Bags Sacking Our Environment? COUNTERPOINT: Myths & Facts about Grocery Bags

For more on this topic: the plastic bag debate.

Buzz it up

Site Stats

View My Stats On StatCounter

About Our Friendly Earth