Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolution: More Online Billing

Ms. Philly Organic is not usually one for New Years' Resolutions. Successful change is usually a long-term process that requires dedication and planning. These skills are normally impaired around December 31. In the spirit of becoming more green, however, Ms. Philly Organic has a resolution this year: switching to more electronic billing and payments.

According to, a household switch to electronic billing and payment saves a tenth of a tree per year and 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Some businesses make donations to environmental and tree planting organizations for each customer who switches to electronic billing. Because Ms. Philly Organic tries to live frugally, she doesn't have a lot to switch and one payment will have to remain a paper check.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dreaming of a Recycled & Recyclable Tree?

Last year we bought a potted tree from an inexpensive, organic chain store. It was very small and didn't grow much by Christmas, which was fine for the grinchy adults of our household but not acceptable to the younger population of our home. It died shortly after Christmas.

This year we found The Cardboard Christmas Tree. The Cardboard Christmas tree is made from recycled corrugated cardboard and is recyclable. A portion of the profits is donated to the Arbor Day Foundation's Trees for America Program. Plus our kids loved it!

The tree ships flat as two cardboard sheets inside another cardboard sheet. It costs merely $22.95 plus another $8 for shipping. This price is lower than advertised prices for live trees (with a root ball for replanting) and is comparable to tree prices that require driving to the suburbs for retrieval.

The tree punches out in two pieces and interlocks together. It even includes punch-out ornaments! We decorated a few but traditional decorations work well. Given the cat population of our house, the included cardboard decorations are best.

Surprisingly the kids jumped excitedly when they saw the tree. We got out the paints and set to work. It was a bit slow but very fulfilling. The kids did something creative and didn't bicker. The process was a bit slow and there is more to paint.

The Cardboard Christmas tree wasn't removed from a forest in Canada and uses recycled cardboard fiber. After Christmas, the tree can go in the recycle bin on the curb or in storage for next year. For each dollar donated to the Arbor Foundation, one tree will be planted in a damaged forest. Painting the decorations occupied the kids constructively. The Cardboard Christmas tree is an inexpensive, green alternative to killing a tree for display for a few weeks.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Nail salons are frightening. Caustic odors from polish, removers, and acrylic nails linger. In open door weather, noxious smells leak out to the street. I fear for the health of the women (and it is almost entirely women who work in these salons), especially those who wear ineffectual filter masks.

The FDA does not regulate cosmetics. Nor does any other agency. Cosmetics often include carcinogens, chemicals that may cause birth defects, and other dangerous chemicals. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database rates OPI, a popular brand at nail salons, a “moderate health hazard” and notes that the ingredients include neurotoxins, carcinogens, mutagens, cardiopulmonary irritants, and more.

Fortunately Philadelphia has Juju Spa & Organics. MsPhillyOrganic understands that many cosmetics have a long way to go before they can be considered green or organic. Fortunately, according to Juju's web site, “Juju salon & organics uses only polishes and polish removers that do not contain Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Toulene, Acetone or color lakes (color bases that do not break down in nature).” Simply put, Juju does not smell like a nail salon, in no small part because they do not offer artificial nails. Their products are largely free from the carcinogens, neurotoxins, and other life- and planet-threatening chemicals.

It must be expensive, right? Most nail salons (the kind found on nearly every block in Center City) charge 25 or 30 dollars for a spa pedicure. Toppers Spa charges 68 dollars. Juju charges 42 dollars for a spa pedicure but the regular pedicure is only 32 dollars. The web site has coupons for 10 percent off, which brings the price back below 30 dollars for the regular pedicure.

“But I need my callous removal and scrub and foot washing,” you cry. MsPhillyOrganic recently visited Juju for a pedicure. Michelle didn't just cut, file, and paint. Before I even sat down, Michelle offered a cup of tea. She also warmed up a mint-scented neck pillow. The pedicure began with a a warm soak in a bowl. Next Michelle applied an oil to treat the cuticles and continued to soak my feet. She followed that with an organic scrub. The pedicure took about 40 minutes.

Sadly I forgot my flipflops and damaged my polish with my sandals. A little more time drying would have prevented that mishap. Ten days after my appointment, the polish still looked great and my feet are still soft. Plus Juju sent a postcard with a handwritten note from Michelle and another 10% discount.

So from Msphillyorganic's point of view, Juju's regular pedicure is better than the regular pedicure at typical salons. Not even Topper's offers tea and a heated neck pillow. No Center City $30 spa pedicure includes these free services (although one salon includes hot stones). Most of them use OPI or similar products. Worse, some of the women who do nails may be victims of human trafficking. Michelle was born in New Jersey and is a licensed and fully trained esthetician. With the reduced environmental impact of Juju's organic and less toxic products, this was a winner for me and priced comparable to my regular service.

Juju Salon will be moving across the street in the next few months. When that happens, the manicure and pedicure services will move out of the spa area and into the old Salon space. Please contact Juju or check the web site for changes and updates.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bring Your Own Chopsticks (B.Y.O.C)

There is a lot of misinformation regarding chopsticks. They are not all made from bamboo. They are no longer made solely from scrap wood. Most chop sticks are made from birch and poplar trees. Razing "fast growing forests" of birch and poplar trees has ecological impact because these types of forests are an early step in the reforestation process.

China produces approximately 63 billion pair of chopsticks annually while Japan uses 25 billion pair. Taiwan takes up another five or six billion pair. Disposable chopsticks are part of deforestation. The environmental impact led to the the Bring Your Own Chopsticks movement (B.Y.O.C.) as an easy way to reduce the number of disposable chopsticks used.

Trophy Bikes is selling great reusable chopsticks from Snow Peak. The chopsticks unscrew to fit into a nylon carrying case. The eating end is white ash, sourced from recycled baseball bats from Japan. The end that you hold in your hands is stainless steel. At $29.95, they probably aren't an economical budget item but if you live on the go and eat a lot of Asian food, these chopsticks could save some trees. Plus they are a beautiful novelty Christmas gift for the type of people who adore folding bikes or who include chopsticks with their dining utensils. Maybe a folding bike is out of the budget this year but folding, reusable chopsticks are still affordable.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Used Electronics Drive - Toxtour

What is Toxtour? Many electronics recyclers don’t actually recycle a single thing. Many electronics end up overseas, dumped wholly intact into a landfill or an incinerator, leaking heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the soil and the water. Even if you just leave your old electronics in the attic or a closet, they will still leak toxic chemicals into your home.

Chris Swain, an environmental educator developed Toxtour as an education tool, fund raiser, and way to stop electronics from polluting the earth. Recyclers pay a dollar per pound to recycle, while the host organization receives 15 cents for every pound collected. All downstream electronics recyclers have signed the Basel Action Network’s Electronic Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship. Nothing is incinerated, dumped into landfills, or shunted to developing countries. So get those dangerous old electronics out of your house and recycle them!

Date: Saturday, December 6 (rain or shine)
Time: 11am – 2pm
Place: Cedarbrook Middle School, 300 Longfellow Road, Wyncote, PA
Cost: $1.00 per pound (ethical recycling fee)
Contacts: sarah {at} ttfwatershed {dot} org, 215.208.1613 or
Accepts: Televisions, Computers, Monitors, Keyboards, Drives, Cables, Cords, Peripherals, Fax Machines, Scanners, Laptops, Stereo Equipment, Speakers, CD & DVD Players, Telephones, Remote Controls, VCR's, Projectors, Digital Cameras, PDAs, Speakers, Radios, Answering Machines, Camcorders, Electric Typewriters, Video Game Systems, Pagers, Microwaves, Toasters, USB Media, Magnetic Media, Zip Disks, Audio Tapes, Floppy Diskettes, etc.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Scrub Your Pans With Loofah

Loofah works well on your pots too! It's tough, made from a gourd (so it's biodegradable), and gentle enough for non-stick surfaces. While loofah scrub pads are available commercially, it's more economical to make your own by simply slicing off the top of a loofah scrubber from the grocery store or drug store.

Read more at or

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mushrooms Increase Your Locavore Quotient

The most green diet includes lots of organic, local food. How do you do that in the fifth largest city? MsPhillyOrganic fully intends to explore "really local food" in many posts and acknowledges that eating green will require ongoing discussion. It is possible to eat more local food without destroying your budget (if it is still intact).

Locavores eat food grown within 100 miles of their home. Local food is generally considered as hailing from a source within 50 to 150 miles. As we all know, Kennet Square in Chester County is the Mushroom Capital of the world. Kennet Square is approximately 30 miles from Philadelphia, so it meets the mileage requirement for locavores and the broader definition of "local food." It's hard in any city to find food grown within 30 miles.

Mushrooms are cheap, starting $3.99 per pound while 90% lean ground beef costs 4.99 per pound. Steak costs even more, depending on the cut, fat percentage, and other factors. Mushrooms save dough! As an added bonus, mushrooms are a dietary superstar. They're low fat (how you cook them is your business), full of micronutrients that are hard to find, and low calorie (a full serving has 20 calories.) They're an important source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Mushrooms are also low-carb. Plus they're loaded with umami, the fifth taste!
Eating vegetarian is one of the best ways to green your diet. Factory raised meat dumps a lot of unprocessed waste directly into the water systems, not to mention that animals and meat are trucked all over the nation to be butchered and stocked in the store. Mushrooms grow in compost that growers reuse. When it is "spent" for their purposes, growers make it available for little or no cost to the public, for whom it's still viable garden compost.

Replacing just a few meat meals per week with mushrooms makes your food source more local, more environmentally friendly, healthier, cheaper, and more green! This is a sure bet with no way to lose. Tomorrow's dinner could be only 30 miles away and not in Topeka.

How Does Single Stream Work?

The Recycle Bank produced an informative, digestable video series that covers the single stream recycling process from your curbside pick up to new products. It includes a few small facts concerning how quickly aluminum soda cans can return to the grocery shelf and water amounts used to manufacture a water bottle...before it's filled. Watch and learn!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Plastics above 2

This is a late notice but tomorrow you can recycle plastics labeled from 3 to 7. On November 15th between 8 and 9 AM, volunteers will collect plastics numbered three through seven. Plastics with these numbers are typically yogurt and take out containers. Containers must be rinsed out.

To contribute your plastics. go to Lanoce Park (on Rochelle between Kalos and Osborne). Volunteers to assist with collection are welcome. If the event is successful, it may happen monthly monthly basis. Check back for updates!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Green$ense from Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank now offers the Green$ense program, which earns account owners 10 cents per transaction without paper, to a maximum of $120 per year. Paperless transactions include using your debit card, online bill payment, and automatic payments (like your gym membership). Citizens deposits your green rewards monthly and sends an email notification that includes green living tips.

The debit card that accompanies the account is made of recycled plastic. According to the Citizen's Bank web site, any personal checking account can be enrolled in the Green$ense program. It would be best if they didn't send a new plastic debit card but continued to use the customer's current card, whenever a customer is not new to Citizen's Bank.

The also site will calculate the number of trees and pounds of paper that you save by switching to electronic billing and payment. If you're already a Citizen's customer, this is a great way to get paid to modernize your life and reduce your impact. If you're not a Citizen's customer and you don't use electronic billing, this might be the enticement you need to start. It definitely makes economic sense while it earns a little money for you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vote No on Parks

On Tuesday, Philadelphians decide a ballot questions concerning the merger of the Department of Parks with the Department of Recreation. The merger would end the Fairmount Park Commission, replacing it with a commissioner who is appointed by the mayor and who reports to the mayor. There would also be a new commssion that would be advisory only and would lack any authority.

The appointment of commissioners is problematic and secretive, to be sure but what are the ramifications of the proposed charter change? Change supporters have failed to provide any projections or to disclose any information about what is to come. The campaign has also included misleading information. The best assurance is that it can't hurt to try and that we should trust those making the proposal. Is this good enough for Philadelphia and our parks? Change is fine but it should accompany concrete information and quantifiable projections.

Ten of the sixteen Commission seats now are filled by nomination and interview behind closed doors by the Board of Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District. They can select new commissioners based on any or no criteria. However, the ballot initiative replaces this process with appointment by the Mayor. Which might be fine under the current administration but it's not good when another Goode or Street is elected. For those who think appointment is better, how did you feel about the Bush Supreme Court nominees? Supporters say that changing the nomination process from the current system to appointments will increase accountability. When has a mayor ever lost an election because of an unpopular appointment? At any rate, under the current system, six seats are ex-officio seats filled by the mayor and five other officials appointed by the mayor. It seems that we already can hold the mayor accountable for Commission decisions.

Much of the conflict lies in park funding. Fairmount Park was founded by an endowment until 1975. It's been underfunded since 1975. Proponents of the change say that only the new system allows fund raising and that currently all funds must be dumped into the General Fund, where they disappear. In other words, “We can't raise money now but all money we raise must go into the general fund.”

Nothing prohibits the Fairmount Park Commission from leasing land or concessions. Nothing prohibits the Commission from raising funds or creating public-private partnerships. In fact, there already is a Fairmount Park Conservancy. Although the charter does require funds raised to be deposited in the general fund, they are to be earmarked for the Parks. They aren't supposed to be used for police, fire, streets, etc... Any use of park funds for other purposes violates the charter as it is currently written. If this is happening, as Mayor Nutter and others allege, it violates the charter.

Councilman Bill Green is the only city council member who voted against this ballot initiative. He wanted to require a two-thirds majority vote of council to approve land acquisition and disposal. When Clark and Blondell refused to include that provision, he refused to support it. Proponents of the merger say that the new department will create guidelines for land acquisition and disposal, guidelines that don't currently exist. Guidelines are merely suggestions and guidelines may not cover all of the nuances in a proposal. Guidelines are not mandatory and binding but are mere suggestions. Guidelines may not take into account all of the subtle nuances in individual land deals. The charter change allows land deals to take place following a simple majority vote of city council.

Mayor Nutter has promised to increase park funding by dedicating a portion of the parking revenue to the parks. Some people say that Nutter can only give parking revenues to the park with the charter change. Currently nothing prohibits the city from giving additional funds to the parks system. The city currently budgets money for the parks. There are no guarantees of better funding with this change. In fact, the proposed city budget cuts will be far worse than we've been told so far. Most likely park funding will not improve in the next few years.

I will say that I think appointment to the Fairmount Park Commission needs to change and needs to be more apparent. The Commissioners must have better qualifications. The Commission needs to do a better job raising funds and caring for the park. However, the Commission has existed since approximately 1860 and operated the park on an endowment until 1975. During that time, the park holdings increased and the Commission has kept the system together. To present an agency that has existed for 150 years on an endowment as a failure seems like a wrong assessment. Improve the Commission by all means but this change to the charter seems to do little to improve the Commission or funding.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's in Your Bucket? (Part 4)

This final wrap up returns to what many people consider the most difficult topic: plastics. Sadly too many people say, "I'll throw it all in the bin and hope for the best." Yet plastics are simple.

Most plastics are marked, permitting easy identification. A small triangle with a numeral inside appears on the bottom or other inconspicuous part of the container. If a 1 or 2 is inside the triangle, it is recyclable. Philadelphia only accepts plastics 1 and 2. If the container has no triangle or contains some other number inside the triangle, you should not throw it in your bin. The bigger obstacle with plastics is that manufacturers develop new types of plastic regularly. Plastic number 5 is very common now. Check your purchases to be sure you’ll be able to recycle the containers, buy less plastic, and lobby for expanded plastics recycling. Also keep in mind that some volunteer groups collect other plastics.

For consumers, single stream recycling is a hedge bet. There are ways to make your recycling more green and more economical. Avoid joining mailing lists and switch to email and electronic statements. Print on both sides of the paper to reduce the amount of paper that you use. Consider whether you need to print at all: apply for a job online or submit a resume by email instead of printing it. Maybe you can copy and paste information and email it to yourself, apply labels, and maintain a virtual filing cabinet. Buy products composed of postconsumer recycled content (which may be even more important than whether you recycle your double-sided paper.)

There's hope that single stream recycling will greatly improve Philadelphia's recycling rate. The city must educate our citizens. Reducing and reusing are more economical than recycling and use less energy and should be the first steps of creating a more green life. Those steps cannot exist alone and the more we recycle, the greener Philadelphia and its residents will live.

What's in Your Bucket? (Part 3)

Today we explore the easy recycling categories: metal, glass, and cardboard. Of the three, the source sof least confusion seems to be metal and glass. Jars and bottles of green, brown, and clear glass are recyclable. Acceptable metal recyclables include tin and aluminum cans, empty aerosol cans, and empty paint cans. The cans can be mixed metals (bimetal cans). As noted previously, tin and aluminum foil are trash and are not part of the recycling program.

Scrap metals are not part of curbside collection. You should call the scrap man to recycle these. Yes, the tin man still exists today and business is booming to feed China's ravenous appetite for metals. Your old miscellaneous objects of steel, iron, and brass are valuable income for scrap metal recyclers.

Although some trucks skipped cardboard in the past, it is acceptable in Philadelphia's single stream program. Residents must empty their cardboard boxes and flatten them. Likely the cardboard that the recycling truck failed to collect was intact and not collapsed.

What about putting your "empties" into a cardboard box? Although sorting is not necessary, you should use a sturdy container for recycling. A cardboard box is not sturdy, especially when precipitation occurs. Be kind to your recycling collectors and don't use paper bags or cardboard boxes to hold your recycling!

What's in Your Bucket? (Part 2)

Mixed paper is a main source of confusion. According to the city web site, mixed paper includes "newspaper, magazines, mail, phone books, food boxes and more." Apparently "more" includes catalogs, junk mail, advertising inserts, telephone books, food boxes (like cereal and cracker boxes), computer paper, fliers, and soda cartons.

Does this sound like any and all paper? Yes but according to Conservatree, "Most paper manufacturers say that the quality of the fiber materials they're getting from single stream systems is problematic." Recycling Today agrees. Treehugger notes that papers printed using an inkjet printer can ruin batches of recovered fibers. In the past, it was difficult to remove laser ink from paper without damaging the fibers although the process improved, so hopefully time will improve the recyclability of paper printed with inkjet printers. Unfortunately ink is becoming harder to remove as plastics are added to inks. The lesson: print less, which saves money, paper, trees, problematic inks, and recycling costs.

I called the Streets Departments' customer service hotline to ask specific questions about recycling paper. Office paper is fine and there's no need to remove the staples. Include envelopes with little plastic windows. Shredded paper qualifies (matching the types previously discussed) but you should put it in the bottom of your recycling container below heavier objects so it doesn't blow all over the neighborhood. Pizza boxes are not okay because oil from the pizza can sink into the cardboard. Tin and aluminum foil are not paper--they are trash. Because recycling can be mixed together, there's no need to put your newspapers in a paper grocery bag. It should be be placed into the sturdy container with your other recyclables.

So we really need to be careful to sort our paper properly. Careful sorting improves Philadelphia's fiber content and raises the recycling rate. Keep out food-stained products. Include nearly everything else.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weatherize Your Windows

Many people use shrink wrap plastic kits to weatherize their windows each fall and winter. In the spring, they rip down the plastic and throw it in the trash. With Plexiglas, you can make reusable shields to weatherize your windows. As an added bonus, this will save even more energy and keep more warmth in your home! Instructions on making your own custom storm windows with easy steps and explanations are available for free.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's in Your Bucket? (Part 1)

In 1987, Philadelphia became the first large city to pass a recycling law. Although that law made recycling mandatory, 93% of Philadelphia’s waste still goes to landfills. In fact, Philadelphia’s recycling efforts have waxed and waned many times over the years, with an initial program that served only 1/3 of the city, cuts from weekly to biweekly recycling pick-up, and restrictions on acceptable materials. Sadly the low recycling rate in Philadelphia reflects the ambivalence of past city governments (Rendell and Street), confusion about materials and schedules, and lack of enforcement or incentive (although saving the planet should be a pretty major incentive).

In July of this year, Single Stream Recycling expanded city wide. Now Philadelphians can easily recycle using any sturdy bin and by mixing together all of their materials. Simple, right? No, residents remain confused about what materials are acceptable. At our own house, we celebrated single stream by tossing material into the bin but began to realize that we’d become more liberal about our toss and to wonder if we should toss so freely. During the next few posts, Msphillyorganic will sort out some of the confusion.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers

I'm not sure if I will make this Saturday but it would make a good complement to last week's weed pulling. If you need volunteer opportunities, check out the Greater Philadelphia Cares web site. View environmental projects directly.

Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers needs 5 to 10 volunteers on Saturday October 4, 2008. The work sessions are around Roxborough and Mount Airy and usually occur twice per month. Projects are removing invasive plants, planting trees and shrubs, rescuing trees from vines, and performing trail maintenance in Wissahickon Park. All work is outdoors and helps preserve a woodland park. All tools, gloves, and materials are provided. The project leader is
Ron Ayres. His telephone number is 215-653-0421 or 215-483-4348. Send email inquiries to {at} See the Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers web site for additional information.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Snakes Today

This weekend Mr. Philly Organic and I weeded a soil area between the street and the retaining wall at the edge of our property. We don't think of the area as anything special, just a collection spot for dog waste, stoners, weeds, and some illegal dumping. A couple times a year we clean. We'd like to plant something hardy and low maintenance but some of our neighbors randomly chip in and use weed whackers there. Technically, it is our property and our responsibility.

Yesterday had amazing rewards. Although I grew up in a rural area, I saw the largest caterpillars of my life practically in my own back yard. They were black and nearly an inch in diameter when curled up. We found two of these mighty caterpillars.

The best reward? Three beautiful red snakes. Sadly I did not photograph them. I say "sadly" because allegedly there are no red snakes in Pennsylvania. They were tiny and we found them all apart. None of them seemed afraid of us and they did not act aggressively. Mainly they stayed still and watched us until we moved beyond them. I'm sure two of them were immature because they were so small. They had round, nonvenomous pupils and fast- flicking black tongues. Two had lines down their backs but one seemed to have triangles and, possibly, the lines also. They were tiny as snakes go, a few inches long and very thin. One stayed in its niche in the wall and did not come out but watched me intently. It seemed quite a bit longer than the other two, still less than twelve inches. When they tried to hide, they moved rapidly in the curve method.

I posted to Another user suggested they were baby Northern red belly snakes. He consulted two books. One said Northern red belly snakes aren't in Philadelphia but another said they are. I hope to photograph them and I looked for them again today. It's rainy and cloudy without any visible snakes. Now I have a new project: find and document my beautiful snakes. I hope that they will stick around or at least move to the half of the wall that belongs to the house behind ours and is still protected by weeds.

I'd planned to take pictures of the weeding project and to ask readers for advice about what to plant in this narrow strip. I never considered it a habitat or ecology before. It's so narrow, not more than four feet at the widest point and it borders a street. Now I'm glad that I didn't photograph it because I don't want people to bother the snakes. The pressure to plant something there is greater because I want to provide protection and habitat for the snakes and need to discourage people using the spot for unsavory activities. Building a greener life doesn't only mean buying organic produce or composting your leaves and coffee grounds. It also means protecting the micro natural zones in cities and realizing that even that narrow island can host wildlife.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moving to a Greener Life

"Going green." It's today's action item as the University of Delaware removes plastic trays from its cafeteria and Septa declares itself green. I've always tried to live in an ecologically aware way, from buying apple shampoo in the early 90s to never owning a car. Sometimes these decisions saved me money but often I chose to spend extra money on a less toxic product. If cost was truly prohibitive or an alternative didn't exist, I opted for old fashioned, home remedies.

Living an ecological life is easier now because demand and the industry have grown but not necessarily become cheaper. As an individual who sought to live a cutting-edge lifestyle (not bleeding edge, however), I've decided to make my life greener and to share the process with others. I've never been wealthy so I'll continue to focus on products and techniques that are affordable (without defining affordable as requiring a six-figure salary), practical, and easy. This is not an organic gardening blog but rather a blog about the small, simple, affordable steps anyone can take to reduce environmental impact. I hope you'll find the information useful and that you'll be inspired to integrate some of my ideas into your life too.

My aim is not to encourage consumption. I want to find practical actions that are simple and economical. It's my special goal to target ways to green an urban life, where we have high density population and close proximity. As a beginning marker, I'll share a little about myself. I live in Philadelphia, in the Wissahickon section with my longterm partner. Until a couple years ago, I was an apartment dweller in various Philly neighborhoods. Our house is an older house and we have very bad soil. There is a lot to do to our house and to our soil to conserve resources and energy and to build a more sustainable life. There's a lot to do just to grow a garden! As we try to green, I will share our attempts, including mistakes and successes and we'll try to make it applicable to as many people as possible. If I write about something that is specific to Philadelphia or uniquely found here, perhaps it will encourage others to offer the same endeavor in their own locations or to identify other alternatives. So come along for the journey!