December 19, 2010
“Oh Rahm, O Rahm Emanuel” UPDATE:
My thanks to Beth Botts for filling in for me last week whileThe Frozen Robins and I entertained the kiddies and not-so-kiddies at the Wonderland Express exhibit a the Chicago Botanic Garden. “O Rahm, O Rahm Emanuel” continues to roll along…pretty much like the candidate himself. We now have nearly a thousand views on YouTube. Help us get over the top by clicking on the link above. I don’t make any money on this, nor are there proceeds that go towards some great cause. It just makes me feel like I’m King of the Internets! (How sad is that?)
Going green for the holidays Part I: Enviro-Log
One of the serious drawbacks to the holidays is how much junk (and I mean JUNK!) is produced each year to fill the Christmas maw. You know what I’m talking about. You need a gift for Uncle Pete but you have no idea what he might like. So you pick up some “cute” chotzke that he has no use for, and it ends up in a landfill. It makes me want to join the War Against Christmas.
Some of us are getting smarter about holiday gift-giving. I have some suggestions for ways that you can break the vicious “stupid stuff cycle” below.
Meanwhile, what if you could give a gift–or buy one for yourself–that not only didn’t contribute more junk to landfills, but actually helped to keep stuff out of landfills? I’m talking about the more than 1.5 million wax corrugated cardboard containers that are produced every day in the United States. That translates to 600,000 tons of was containers that are sent to landfills each year.
Enter a company called Enviro-Log. President Ross McRoy says that currently, the only cost-effective way of keeping those containers out of the landfills is a patented process that produces firelogs and firestarter products. If you’re wondering if we’re just exchanging one type of pollution for another–that is to say smoke–Enviro-Logs have a number of benefits over wood. They generate more energy per pound than wood or other firelog brands, burn 60-70 percent cleaner than wood, and can be used for cooking, heating, and recreational purposes.
In addition, burning Enviro-Logs produce 50% more energy per pound and result in 30% less emissions, including 80% less carbon monoxide and 86% less creosote. In addition, The firelog product is listed by the California EPA, supported by the USDA and Georgia Department of Natural Resources. I’m not saying that you should build a fireplace just to use this product, but if you already have one, it might not be a bad idea. You can also follow Enviro-Log on Facebook.
Going Green for the holidays Part II: Worthy Organizations
As I mentioned before, we would all be a lot better off if we didn’t buy so much stuff–regardless of what “experts” tell you about jump-starting the economy. Frankly, I don’t believe that the worth of our country should be determined by how much we purchase. Nearly a quarter of all retail goods move out of stores and into homes between Thanksgiving and Christmas That’s grotesque.
So if, in these last few days before Christmas, you’re looking for some alternative gift ideas, or even some ways to assuage your guilty conscience, here’s a short, and by no means comprehensive list f ideas.
- The Green Guide to Gift Giving from Grist.org (it was written in 2004 but it still has some great ideas.
- Top 10 Worst Christmas Gifts (also from Grist)
- As part of their “Ship It Green” initiative, the Union of Concerned Scientists wants you to write to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT), which are currently accepting public comments on the first-ever national fuel economy and emissions regulations for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
- Contribute to Family Farmed, which is one of the great supporters of local and organic food in the region.
- If you’re going to be purchasing winter gear anyway,Chicago’s Friends of the Parks has received an REI grant and is part of The Facebook Deal $50 donation per “check in” promotion
- If you want to give Gifts with a Purpose, go to the Amnesty International site
- The Natural Resources Defense Council also has a range of interesting and unusual environmental gifts
- How many of you can say that you’ve ever given a heifer, a sheep, a llama or a water buffolo for Christmas? You can do it through Heifer International
- The Northern Stars Holiday Giving Program is teaming up with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to help make this holiday season a little brighter for the thousands of children in the DCFS system. They’re still accepting cash–right up until Christmas. Call Jim Ginderske at (773) 494-6620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a donation.
- The Light Haiti Project provides Bogo solar-powered lights to people and places who need them in Haiti, which is still in terrible trouble.
- You can help an ordinary person pay a heating bill or a doctor bill or buy badly needed new tires at ModestNeeds.org.
- Visit our old friends Threadhead Records to download something special or donate to a really good cause.
It’s a Wonderful Show!
Well, I like to think that it is every week, but I mean something different. For the second year, I will be performing my holiiday piece, “It’s a Wonderful Slice of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life'” LIVE on the radio. I’ve taken the entire movie and mashed it into under fifteen minutes. I play all of the characters except Mary, who will be done by producer Heather Frey.
There will also be another guest artist this year. Jim Solum is a listener who tracked me down at the Chicago Botanic Garden last Sunday while I was caroling. I wouldn’t exactly say he’s blackmailing me, but he did videotape a lot of the performance by the Frozen Robins. To make sure that the tape stays in the right hands, he will be apearring via phone during “Wonderful Slice” today. I haven’t even given him a role yet. I’m still too worried about the videotape…
(UPDATE: The podcast of “It’s a Wonderful Slice of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life'” is now posted.)
Our Good Growing segment features Kim Marsin of Sweet Home Organics. We’re talking about how she and partner Rachel Reklau decided to go into farming (they’ve been doing it for about a year). Their farm is part of an incubator program that allows them to have access to land they don’t own. Their farming home is Primrose Farm Park, a 1930s heritage dairy/livestock farm in St. Charles, Illinois. They are their first “incubating” farmers, meaning that they lease land and equipment, such as tractors and implements, from Primrose .
Kim and Rachel, who employ organic practices, grow on two acres and keep two in cover crop, which helps build the soil for future years of growing. So, like many of us, they commute to work. The difference is that we might go to an office or a retail establishment or even a radio station, while they go to the farm. We’ll also discuss their “feed a family” program where they provide produce to a families in need.
My thanks to the good folks at Angelic Organics Learning Center for setting up this interview.