Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Calling All Hands: Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers

Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers needs 5 to 10 volunteers this Sunday, June 28 from 10 AM to noon. Remove invasive plants, plant trees and shrubs, rescue trees from vines, and perform trail maintenance in Wissahickon Park. All tools, gloves, and supplies are provided.

Contact Project Leader, Ron Ayres, at 215-653-0421 (h) or 215-483-4348 (c) for more information or to sign up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Step of Going Green

Recently Mr. Philly Organic and I had a slight plumbing problem: A small clog caused a slight back up into our utility sink. Gross!

We avoided using any harsh chemical clog dissolvers. This is especially important when a plumber might snake your lines because splash back could burn his face or hands.

We tried to reduce the clog with a technique that keeps our pipes clean and removed clogs in the past: baking soda, salt, and boiling water. There was a slight improvement but ultimately the plumber came out for a mechanical repair.

Unfortunately we've had this problem more than once but the baking soda, salt, boiling water technique has kept the pipes clear for two years. After the plumber's visit, Mr. Philly Organic bought pipes and sewer plumber so he can mechanically fix the problem in the future. We also decided to perform more regular maintenance with baking soda.

What's the recipe for the baking soda flush? Dump a cup of salt into your drain. Follow that with a cup of baking soda. Then wash it all away with a quart of boiling water. For smaller vanity sinks, reduce the amounts by one quarter or one half.

Sadly we had to clean out our utility sink. We still had old pine disinfectant in the house. Ms. Philly Organic has relied on natural cleaning techniques like baking soda for many years and assumes this is an old product from before we combined households. Why not throw it away and replace it with a green product? Simply, that's not a green behavior. The first step of going green is not throwing away anything; it's using up the toxic items first.

Throwing out toxic products does not prevent them from joining the water cycle. In fact, many chemicals are removed from treated waste water that comes out of drain pipes. They are not removed from the garbage dump but leech slowling into the ground water. So this time the green choice was to use what we found in our cabinet and to plan a replacement. In the future we'll rely on vinegar, which has anti-microbial properties.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Congressional Energy Bill: Good Enough?

What do the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and New York Governer David Patterson have in common? They all believe that the Waxman-Markey Climate bill, referred to as "the most ambitious energy and global warming legislation ever debated in Congress" by the New York Times, is inadequate.

The Washington Post notes that "Democrats turned to a coalition of business and environmental groups to help draft their own sweeping climate bill. And one little-noticed provision of the draft bill would give one of the coalition's co-founders a lucrative exemption on a coal-fired project it is building. "

The New York Times also reports that "In weeks of closed-door negotiations...Mr. Waxman doled out billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits, known as allowances, to cushion any price shock caused by imposing a cap on emissions of heat-trapping gases. In the end, 85 percent of all pollution allowances were given at no cost for various purposes, including compensating energy-intensive industries, state governments, oil refiners and low-income households..."

The same permits could have been auctioned, especially in a time of decreasing governmental income. Worse are suggestions that the process is being rushed so that President Obama can tackle healthcare. While healthcare restructuring is an urgent matter, many studies prove that environmental degradation increases the health problems of all, especially the poorest people in our country and on the planet. These increased health problems increase healthcare costs and demands.

MoveOn.org is sponsoring a petition urging the strengthening of a bill that wasn't necessarily written to improve our environment and energy, but rather with the suspect input of energy companies who also have received free allowances. Sign to Moveon.org petition at http://pol.moveon.org/cleanenergy/

Other environmental groups do support this legislation. In fact the legislation is hotly contested across party lines and many affiliations and creeds. Whenever an issue is in so much contention, it's essential that we educate ourselves and express our opinions. With that goal in mind, Ms Philly Organic provides an additional reading list and encourages you to search Google for more information. Then speak up!

Additional reading

1. "Bill Needs Strengthening to Guarantee Necessary Carbon Reductions, New Green Jobs and Consumer Benefits, Science Group Says," Union of Concerned Scientists, May 14, 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51475&id=16315-783803-slkOllx&t=6

2. "EPA urged to act on climate, not wait for Congress," Associated Press, May 18, 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51479&id=16315-783803-slkOllx&t=7

3. "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009," Library of Congress, May 15, 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51482&id=16315-783803-slkOllx&t=8

4. "Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy," Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, September 2008 http://www.peri.umass.edu/green_recovery/

5. "Bill Needs Strengthening to Guarantee Necessary Carbon Reductions, New Green Jobs and Consumer Benefits, Science Group Says," Union of Concerned Scientists, May 14, 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51475&id=16315-783803-slkOllx&t=9

6. "Stopping the Coal Rush," Sierra Club http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51483&id=16315-783803-slkOllx&t=10

7. "So How Good Is This Climate Bill, Anyhow?" Sierra Club, May 22, 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51478&id=16315-783803-slkOllx&t=11