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Spring Forward

As I was riding my bicycle to yoga today, I heard many different birds singing to each other…so happy that the sun is shining and things are starting to turn green after a long, cold winter. These little signs of seasonal change can be tuned into. Buds have appeared on our Japanese Magnolia – the first tell-tale sign that the bushes and trees are ready to burst out of their dry, brown, tired winter husks. Crocus blooms sprout from between snow piles and the grass is becoming green again.

All this tells me that it is time to start planting seeds indoors. This is a new habit for me as of last year. All of the seeds I planted last year sprouted, but about 1/3 of my seedlings molded and died. It is all a big experiment for me as I learn more and more about how to grow our food. I am a novice learning from failure each year. One success was planting seeds from a butternut squash from the previous year and getting the seeds to sprout indoors, transplanting them to our small urban garden outside and watching those seeds become squash again by July. It seemed such a miracle to witness the full cycle first-hand.

This year, I plan to try seedlings in another location with south-facing sun (THE key ingredient to success here in the Northern Hemisphere) where they will get the most sun. I will also try to not drown them this time.

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Taking a Hard Look at My Carbon Footprint

I’m sitting at my desk for the first time all summer. This is the first time I’ve had to really contemplate my impact. This past summer, I did a lot of traveling…to New York City, Paris, Pennsylvania road trip and San Diego. Realizing that no matter how much recycling, composting and conservation I do at home, one trip in an airplane pretty much negates all my efforts. So, I set out to off-set my carbon impact by doing a bit of research.

I quickly found www.carbonfootprint.com and used their calculator to determine my carbon footprint just from flights and the road trip.

Denver –> New York –> Paris (Return) (Plane)

2.58 metric tons of CO2

Denver –> Northeast Corner of Pennsylvania (Return) (Hybrid SUV Automobile)
1.30 metric tons of CO2

Denver –> New York (Return) (Plane)
.82 metric tons of CO2

Denver –> San Diego (Return) (Plane)
.43 metric tons of CO2

Total: 5.13 metric tons of CO2

For a little as $58.92 I can off-set my usage. Wow. There’s one way to get the “should” off my back!

Other options include:

http://carbonfund.org/individuals

http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/

25+ Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

among others…. Google has a wealth of resources on reducing your carbon footprint and off-setting your carbon contribution.

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Sustainable Three Blog

I have always had a deep love of nature. Essentially a Colorado native, I grew up daydreaming in the fields of my elementary school smelling grass and playing with dandelions (turning our skin yellow when they were yellow and making wishes when they were grey and puffy). My family and I also frequently went to the mountains to our tiny cabin on 3/4 of an acre. We would hike and collect and smell the fresh air. We would pick wild raspberries and eat them, right off the cane. We would use the outhouse which involved walking up rickety steps my dad had nailed right into the side of the hill. Mostly, I remember having the space to enjoy nature.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to enjoy gardening. The most exciting presents arrive daily throughout the spring and summer.

Additionally, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to notice trends that make me sad. When I was younger, in winter, we would witness the “Brown Cloud” over the downtown buildings of Denver. The air pollution would hover just over the buildings. Now, that “Brown Cloud” stretches from Colorado Springs to Boulder…and I can SEE it with my own eyes – in my lifetime! So, we’re talking thirty years. I see litter. I see waste. I see people throwing recyclable and reusable items in the garbage rather than the recycle bins – the city now provides roll-away recycle bins and the recycling is single stream. I see recycling containers in restaurants and parks and the zoo. Upon closer investigation, items that are not recyclable are in the recycling and items that are recyclable are in the garbage. I see that brown cloud. I see the increase in traffic and water usage. I see harmful chemicals being sprayed on plants, trees and grasses.

But, I have hope. Because we used to have to take our recycling to a facility. We used to have to separate our items. We used to do a lot more work. Slowly, it’s getting better and easier. Perhaps one day, recycling will truly be single stream and we won’t even have to separate garbage from recycling. Perhaps we will teach ourselves to reuse rather than recycle in the first place. Perhaps we won’t feel as though we need so much stuff.

I get that it’s a pain to have to do any of it. It’s so much easier to throw things away. But, I can tell you, these days, with all the catastrophes happening in the world, it feels GREAT to do SOMETHING to make a difference for the better. That’s where I come in. Follow me on my journey to attempt to achieve a more sustainable household. We live in the city, so we most likely will not have cows grazing in our backyard. We won’t have enough crops in our garden to feed our entire family for the entire year. But, we will continue to try to decrease our carbon footprint, increase our handprint and increase our overall resiliency.

The concept behind Sustainable Three is simple: Choose three habits to change at a time. Or, do three things once each until they start to form a habit. Be gentle with yourself. But, be optimistic. If nothing else, these three steps should help you “get the ‘should’ off your back.”