Friday, June 29, 2012

Finding an Eco-Friendly Guitar

EcoYogini's adventure with finding an eco-friendly, affordable guitar...

I can't imagine a world without music. Piano lessons, voice lessons, classical piano competitions, learning the guitar, singing in the high school concert group, playing in a band and finally mourning a dream of becoming a famous singer song writer (lol).

Music is what keeps my stress at bay (singing Zombie definitely helps on a shitty day). Music is also the reason for my noise induced, moderate bi-lateral sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in your ears is never normal- note to self).

That said, I could never part with my guitar.

My second guitar (first one got dented in my undergrad...), traveled across the country to BC and back with me. Upon our much anticipated return to the Maritimes, I opened up my guitar case that I had carried on the plane with me to find this:

(Do you see something missing??? the head just SNAPPED off in the case. I'm currently saving this guitar for a wall planter...)

I was shocked, fought back tears in the parking lot and almost threw up all at once. Guitars are expensive. After a few consults, the discovery that I was sold a lemon all those years ago (factory second with a twisted grain neck), I was informed it wasn't worth fixing.

For the first time in over 12 years I spent six months without a guitar.

Finding environmentally friendly musical instruments for a reasonable price is tricky. As it was going to be my main instrument, I wasn't willing to look for second hand, I wanted it to be an acoustic electric, not to have a lacquered front finish and it had to sound a-frigging-mazing.

I finally found this beauty:
(isn't she beautiful?)

A Larrivée acoustic. Not only does she meet all my requirements musically, she fits my body perfectly, smells delicious (yes, wood has a beautiful smell) AND is pretty darn eco-friendly!

  • Many Larrivée guitars are made from wood sourced from naturally fallen logs
  • Larrivée only uses selective logging and not clear cutting.
  • No logging roads are cleared as they hand select each tree.
  • My guitar has Canadian sitka spruce and maple.
  • My guitar was made in Vancouver, Canada!
So there you have it! A somewhat eco-guitar :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Plastic-Free by Beth Terry (book excerpt)

The June Theme is Reading! And in light of that, I'm posting an excerpt (with permission of the author) from Beth Terry's new book, Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.

I've had a chance to skim through Plastic Free, and it is one of the best green books I've seen. This book combines convincing explanations of the problems with plastic with incredibly comprehensive information regarding plastic alternatives (the book is over 300 pages!). Some of my favorite parts are the inspirational bios of Beth's heroes and the action item checklists at the end of chapters. I love a good action item checklist. This excerpt is one of the many suggestions you'll find in Plastic Free for actions you can take to make a positive impact.

Going Further: Asking Companies to Change Their Packaging

It may seem like writing or calling a company to request plastic-free packaging won’t do much good. Often, a customer service representative will take your message or send you an email response that is little more than a standard form letter. But all of our calls, letters, and emails add up and make an impact. I already shared with you the success that I and 16,000 other people had letting Clorox know we wanted to be able to recycle our Brita filters. But I’ve had successes on smaller levels too. One reason I love to support small businesses and Etsy sellers is that you can usually contact the owner directly before making a purchase and find out if a product can be packaged and shipped plastic-free. The small business relationships I value the most are with owners who listen to my suggestions and change the way they package their products for all of their customers, not just for me. One such business owner is Lisa Albrecht from LaundryTree.

A few years ago, I read about LaundryTree soapnuts on the green living blog Tiny Choices and noticed in the photo that the product seemed to be packaged in plastic bags. I left a comment on the blog asking if that were the case; the blog writer contacted LaundryTree; and Lisa from LaundryTree contacted me. She said that she actually wanted to move away from plastic bags but wasn’t sure what packaging to use instead, and she asked if I would help her figure it out. Wow. I was stunned! I honestly hadn’t expected such a positive response. And I’m not sure how much help I actually provided Lisa besides giving her the encouragement and support she needed to do the research. In less than a month, she had found her solution and started packaging her soapnuts in recycled kraft paper bags lined inside with PLA bioplastic instead of fossil-based plastic. As she phased out the plastic bags she already had, she switched over completely to the new bags. A huge company like Procter and Gamble or Clorox would have required months of product design, focus groups, and retooling before making a change in packaging. Small companies like LaundryTree have the flexibility to make changes quickly.

Because of successes with companies like LaundryTree, I continue writing to companies and asking for change. I’ve even been known to mail back unexpected plastic laundry powder scoops. I don’t always know if my letters or emails have made an impact, but what I do know is that most companies are not going to change their policies and practices unless we speak up. So let’s speak up.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Voting for the Environment

You may have noticed Emerald Apron and I switched days this week, that is due to the fact that yesterday was the primary in my state. I've been helping with a congressional campaign in my state and it was a big day for us.

Yesterday had me thinking about how important voting is for the environment. I happened to meet the candidate I'm volunteering for because I wrote on my current representatives Facebook wall about an environmental concern in my town. While my current representative never replied the candidate running against him messaged me about it and she has made it one of the issues she is concerned about as well.

This has shown me just how important it is to stay aware of the campaigns in your state and nationally. Researching candidates environmental voting records, talking to them about their views on the environment, and such is the first thing to do. If you do find a good candidate that you feel will do a good job and also help protect our environment then help how you can. There are so many ways to help, even if you don't have a lot of time or money, you can help. Here are some ways to help candidates that will fight for our environment.

  1. Put a sign in your front yard. Many candidates give these for free or a very small donation.
  2. Talk to friends and neighbors about the candidate, sometimes just getting the candidates name out there can help.
  3. Be apart of their social media campaign. Retweet their tweets, share their Facebook messages, etc...
  4. Volunteer to help canvas around your town.
  5. Get involved with your local party. If it's not the party your candidate is representing you can still help talk to other people in your party about this candidate, and why you feel they are better than your own parties candidate.
  6. Donate money. Campaigns need money to get the word out.
These are just a few ways to get involved but the most important thing is to vote! No matter your political views, voting is important. Voting is a right many don't have and something that those of us that do have it should use. If you aren't registered, click here to learn how you can.

Do you have a tip for helping candidates and/or how to learn about good candidates in your area?

Photo Credits: hjl

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

5 Fun Beach Reads

From Emerald Apron's Library

Since our theme for June here at the Green Phone Booth is summer reading, I've been reminiscing about the days when I could pick up a book, head to the beach or pool and lie in the sun reading all day. I used to keep a beach chair in the car in case I decided on a whim to head there. Oh, how life has changed! Now I'm way to engrossed in digging holes, building castles, jumping over waves or skipping rocks to even think about sitting down with a book.

While actually playing at the beach is fun, I miss those days of sitting and reading. I took a walk down memory lane via my bookshelf and found my favorite books from summers past. Here they are, in chronological order of when I read them, with little blurbs about why I loved them so much. Each of these books is a page-turner, and each of them have kept me up into the wee hours in the morning instead of allowing me to put them down and go to sleep.

The Valley Of Horses by Jean M. Auel

I discovered the Earth's Children Series by Jean M. Auel when I was a sophomore in college, after reading The Mammoth Hunters for an anthropology course, and I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to read the whole series. While I have loved following main character Ayla's adventured through prehistoric ice-age Europe, my favorite book from the whole series is The Valley of Horses. The combination of a young woman learning skills for self-sufficiency and surviving on her own, befriending animals, and eventually falling in love make it a real winner for me. I continue to re-read it every so often because I'm such a big fan. (Though I have to say, honestly, that I so anticipated the release of the final book of the series The Land of Painted Caves last summer and was disappointed with it. It wasn't the ending that I had imagined when I started reading the series so many years ago.)

Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC by Joseph B. McCormick, M.D. and Susan Fisher-Hoch, M.D.

This is another book that I discovered in college, back when I was a biology major and fascinated by emerging infectious diseases. This non-fiction book documents over 20 years of the husband and wife team's work for the Centers for Disease Control, studying, tracking, identifying and working to protect people from such deadly viruses as Ebola, Lassa fever and HIV/AIDS. I was so amazed to read about doctors putting themselves at risk in dangerous situations and without the availability of standardized universal precautions to protect themselves against the diseases they sought to contain.

The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks by Susan Casey

I discovered this book in a gift shop after arriving by ferry to Block Island, RI, on a short weekend trip with my mom. I've always been intrigued by sharks, and it just felt so appropriate to read this one on the beach! Journalist Susan Casey documents her visit to biologists at the shark research station of the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. This is the home of some of the world's largest Great White Sharks and I found myself totally enthralled with her tales of hopping in a Zodiac and chasing down a shark after each seal attack. If Jaws is the book that demonized Great White Sharks, this is the book that redefines them as both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

The Sookie Stackhouse Series a.k.a. The Southern Vampire Mysteries a.k.a. True Blood Series by Charlaine Harris

I fell in love with the Sookie Stackhouse character on the HBO series "True Blood" when I was at home on a maternity leave two years ago. After learning that the show was based on a series of books, I knew I had to check them out. I found the Sookie Stackhouse Series to be such a fun, quick read that I tore through all of them in a few months and find myself waiting for the release of each new one! I find myself able to relate to Sookie, even though I've never met a vampire or werewolf, and I actually like both the books and the show. The "True Blood" show is different enough from the books that it's not predictable, but it remains true to some of the underlying qualities of the characters from the books.

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mermaid. It had a lot to do with "Splash," Disney's "The Little Mermaid" and my short venture into synchronized swimming. (Is anybody else singing "Under the Sea!" in their head right now?) I never lost my love for mermaids and I still collect figurines and ornaments, and I've read a few books that are collections of stories about mermaids from different cultures around the world. However, in Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, I found that I loved the way Hans Christian Andersen's original story was changed to make me care about all of the characters, including the woman who serves as the mermaid's competition for the prince's love. The ending was a total surprise and was just about as happy an ending as I could have hoped for. Though I didn't actually read this book on the beach (I read it this past winter), I think it would be a perfect beach read. I still wish I could be a mermaid sometimes...

What five books would you choose as your favorite beach reads?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Drinking the rainbow

Going Green Mama has been chilling with a few smoothies.

Insanely hot weather and a need to eat a more balanced diet have led me to breaking out the blender once more.

While my family has a few standbys, such as a milkshake of ice, banana, cinnamon and milk, I'm anxious to try more ideas and expand my diet.

Enter a book I recently read, "What color is your smoothie?" Chocked full of 300 recipes, I'm never at a loss for a cool drink in rhe morning.

What I love about this book is not just the vst number of recipes, but how it gets you thinking outside the box. While I'm not quite ready for the "green" smoothies my friends have been trying, there are other veggie options ranging from fresh corn to mushrooms to garlic. I'd had never considered that before.There's also easy references in the back that talks serving sizes, nutrients and main benefits of produce.

I love the ease of this book, the wide range of ideas and the creativity it offers. And while I'm not quite ready to drink the entire rainbow, I can't wait to branch out more.

What's your favorite smoothie recipe? Share it below.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Is it Already Too Late?

a suburban greenmom is having a sort of defeated day
This is a post I just found today, even though it’s a couple of months old:
And then I went poking around a little further, and found this:
And this:
There are more, lots more. Like here. And here. And here.
I’ve been having a harder time blogging lately in general. Part of it is that, after about three and a half years of steady writing and probably well over 800 posts, I’m just a little tired; at some point, one runs out of stuff to say.  But I think more of it may be about what this article touches on: I’m beginning to feel a little defeated.
I read articles like these, I look at our 95+ degree Chicago June, watch plants that should be fine shrivel up and conk out while “annuals” I planted last year pop back up as though winter had never happened, I keep abreast of the news with its huge politicization of whether climate change is even real and whether or not it’s anti-American to suggest that states ban disposable plastic bags. I get righteously enraged when I see stupid articles and hear stupid stories about the idiocy of what’s happening, but then I just sort of sigh and go, yeah, that’s nothing new…and I wonder, is anything any of us are doing making a difference at all? Is it…could it be…already too late?
And then I shake my head and go, “naah, I can’t think like that!” and get on with my life.  But the question never quite goes away: it sticks, and erodes the soul, and as a side effect makes authentic blog-writing quite difficult at times.
So I’ll ask you guys the question, because I know many other greenies have been at this place at one time or another: How do you get through? Do you think it is too late, and are we at this point just sort of trying to salvage whatever we can?
Can we still save the world?
Jenn the discouraged greenmom

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Books, Food and Local Eating

The Climate Crusader is sharing the books that turned her on to local eating.

Summer is officially here, and with it the high season of local eating. While I am not a strict locavore, as more and more fresh produce shows up at my farmers' market, my garden starts producing and my CSA starts delivering weekly shares, the portion of my food that's locally grown rises. At this time of the year, when strawberries are ripe and the lettuce is tender, eating seasonally is easier.

By now, we probably all know the reasons that local eating is important. "Food miles" - which refer to how far your food traveled to reach your plate - are a significant part of your carbon footprint. Locally-grown food is also typically fresher, which means fewer of its nutrients have been lost. Plus, when you buy local, you're supporting your local economy and helping to create a stable food community. These are all good things.

Since we're profiling books during June, I thought that today I'd share three books that really got me started on my local eating journey.

The 100-Mile Diet

The 100-Mile Diet was published as Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally in the United States. Since I'm Canadian, though, I read the Canadian version. The book chronicles the adventures of one couple who committed to eating only foods grown within 100 miles of their home for one year. Since they live in Vancouver, as I do, much of what they shared was directly applicable to me. This is the book that truly opened my eyes to how far removed we are from the food we eat.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

I have never been a big fan of corn, but after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma I realized that I sure do eat a lot of it. Corn is in almost any processed or packaged food you buy, in the form of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and maltodextrin, among many others. This book was my primer on the politics of food production, and how modern agri-business operates. It also made me consider the implications of what that means for us and our health.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

This book shares a family's year-long adventure in local food, from their farm in Southern Appalachia. This book encouraged me to try things like making my own cheese (the ricotta went well, the mozzarella not so much). It also made me long to have my own chickens one day. How connected are you to the food you eat? What does it mean to eat something that you grew yourself? These are the sorts of questions that I found myself asking after reading this book.

As I said, I'm not a strict locavore. I do enjoy bananas, for instance, even though I live in Canada. But all the same, I think it's good to consider the impact of our choices. I also think it's important to understand the political forces that are at play in our lives. These three books helped me do just that.

What about you - do you try to eat local? What books influenced your decision?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Take those books outside!

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama

At the beginning of the year, I started the book 15 Minutes Outside and dove into it as a way to get myself and the kids outside during those days of the year when leaving the house is the last thing I really want to do. What I love the most about the structure of the book is that it is broken into months and the activities are suited to the seasons.  Here are a few of the ideas for June:

  • Sleep under the stars
  • Celebrate Summer Solstice
  • Draw "lanes" on your driveway for the kids to ride their bikes and play traffic
  • Do a playground tour
  • Act out your favorite story
We spend a lot of time outside.  The favorite spot in the yard is our sandbox and I've found it is the best time to read to my children.  You see, children are very tactile beings and they can absorb more if their hands are busy.  So we sit outside in the sand and I read aloud.  Currently, we are reading through the works of a.a. milne.

Think about it.  When could you squeeze in a little extra reading?  Playing in the yard?  Waiting for swimming lessons?  Taking turns while you pick berries?  Sheltered on your porch during a summer storm?

Reading and the outdoors go perfectly together, but we need to teach our children this joy.  And sometimes, we even need the reminder ourselves!  Get outside; grab a book, your children and start reading.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tales From the Crazy Book Lending Lady (aka EcoYogini)

EcoYogini treads the edge of the deep end when it comes to lending her books...

When I get a really great book, I just want EVERYONE to be reading it and experiencing the amazingness that I am. Sharing the fabulousness of a story (of an adventure!) is one of the best parts of analog books. Unlike an electronic copy of a book, when I read someone's real paper book it's like I'm more closely sharing their reading experience. Somehow the real-life aspect of the ink, paper, binding translates more easily into a shared true experience than the fleeting electronic word. I'm physically touching the words so it feels more real to me.

So I love lending books. It's like sharing Joy. Unfortunately, not everyone is great at borrowing books. When I lend a story, it's like lending a precious and fun part of me. Trashing and mistreating my book is kinda like insulting my reading adventure. No really. (I know, you're looking at this blog post and thinking- this lady is crazy! but seriously though I can't be alone here).

It's not that I barely open each book to avoid binding creasing... but my books are kept in pretty good shape. Sure over time, if they are read many times they start to get a little soft and well loved... but I don't crease the pages, rip the covers, spill coffee or water or completely fold back the covers of my books. I love every part of my books, why would I do that?

Recently, I lent The Hunger Games and Widdershins to one of my best friends M. The Hunger Games I had only read once. I just got them back last weekend and this is what they looked like:
 (It's like her cat attacked it and she sprayed water on him to stop the cat attack and it got on my book... or something like that)
(this is what most of my books look like- this one was even read by Andrew, myself AND another friend who obviously knows the book borrowing rules. PS- The Magicians? Totally a kick butt book)

M., although I love her dearly, looked at me like I was completely bonkers when I asked her what the eff she did to my books... kinda jokingly.

So- perhaps there is a need for some guidelines as the lend-ee and borrow-ee of cherished books. You know, just so we keep things in the happy book place... (ok, I might be a little crazy).

The Share-ee of Amazing Story:

  1. Write your name and phone number in the book. No really- I know it's totally junior high, but some borrowers borrow SO many books they forget who gave them what. Case in point- My Tante Denise borrowed about 5 books from me 4 years ago. Unbeknownst to me she had also about 20 books waiting to be read. I have never seen them again. Or they lend them to other people to read too (not cool). So write your name and your phone number. The cool kids do it.
  2. Keep track of who you lend what books to. Just so after a few months you can politely inquire as to how the reading is going. Don't they LOVE LOVE the book like you did? Perhaps they're finished and can return it to you?
  3. Subtly marvel over how beautiful your book is... because you don't read while in the tub, or fold the binder all the way back, or crease the pages. 
The Borrow-ee of Amazing Story:

  1. Please don't crease the pages to hold your spot. Any little scrap of paper works just fine. I have about a zillion bookmarks, I can give you one. 
  2. Please don't read near water... or pop, or in the bathtub, or outside while it's raining. Having my book soaked in water with icky food and drink stains really isn't conducive to happy future reading. 
  3. If I don't bend the cover back, please resist doing so as well. You can easily read a book with the cover normally opened. It doesn't have to be curled all the way back and around. No really, it doesn't.
  4. Please don't write in my book... unless they are awesome little notes in pencil. That I can erase if I don't agree. 
  5. Please don't decide the book is so awesome YOU need to lend it to one of your friends. I've lent you a piece of my story adventuring soul... it feels weird for YOU to lend piece to a stranger. 
  6. If you don't like it... please give it back. If you like it... please give it back.
  7. If you trash my book completely, apologize. That's all I need. I don't need a brand new book, just an acknowledgement that shit happens and you know books are important to me. That's enough.
There you have it. Evidence of the fact that when it comes to books I may be slightly off my rocker. Do you have any book rules that you adhere by? Or perhaps you've come to the end of this post and are still shaking your head at the crazy that is EcoYogini :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Too Darn Hot

numbers,symbols,temperatures,thermometers,weather,mercury levels,concepts

But when the thermometer goes way up
And the weather is sizzling hot
Summer lovin'
With the oven we're not

Eco-novice is hot and hungry.

I have something to say on the topic of reading, but that will have to wait, because I have more pressing matters to discuss.

It's hot.

We hit 94 last week, and will creep even closer to 100 later this week. I am currently making milk, and that makes me feel very warm. When I'm nursing, I am most comfortable around 60 degrees. When it's 90, it feels like 105 to me. Anything above 75, and I'm uncomfortable. Over 85, and I feel like I'm melting. I have no A/C.

Milk-making + 90-plus temperature + no A/C =
Don't you dare turn on that oven

The temperature dipped below 70 a little over a week ago and I went into a baking frenzy: four loaves of honey whole wheat bread, granola, granola bars, and pizza for dinner. I'll be watching the weather forecast regularly for my next chance to bake.

But generally during the summer, it's too darn hot to use the oven. Which makes dinner a little more challenging. I can use the stove top to make:
  • Tacos (local grass-fed ground beef, ground turkey, or beans)
  • Quesadillas 
  • Lentils (or other legume) and rice
  • Pasta
  • Stir-fry (tofu and veggies)
But many evenings, it's too hot to imagine even turning on the stove top. Of course there are salads, but without a healthy dose of protein, this nursing mother is hungry 15 minutes after her last bite. If I weren't nursing, I'd probably be happy to subsist on watermelon. I'm not really a grill or BBQ person. We don't have one currently, but standing outside next to or near a fire isn't super appealing to me in the heat anyway. I'm thinking about buying an electric pressure cooker or a slow cooker, so that I can cook food in the garage and not heat up my house.

So, Boothers, I'm turning to you.
What do you make for dinner when it's too darn hot to turn on the oven?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My reading list for the summer

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama

Prior to having kids, I would camp out on the deck with a stack of books as soon as the weather got warmer.  I would read through dozens over the course of the spring and summer and now, 3 summers later, I have hardly cracked a book open!  This year, not only do I have books whose spines haven't even been creased, I also have a few books unfinished on my Nook.

The Rhythm of Family: Having read Amanda's blog and swooned over her creations, I am excited to dig into this book.  I love her writing style, photos and have moments of why-didn't-I-think-of-that-! while I read.
Playful Learning: My computer bookmarks are loaded with ideas from Mariah's blog and although this book is geared for ages 4-8, I'm a planner.  I plan to homeschool my kids for at least the first few years of schooling and I want to make sure it's as enjoyable of an experience as possible!

15 Minutes Outside: I bought this book on my Nook right after Christmas, read through until about March and then stopped reading.  I could always use more ideas for constructive fun on our walks or new ways to jazz up sensory play.
Beyond the Sling: I love Mayim's writings in general and honestly, any chance I get to read a book AP written from the perspective of someone who is in the thick of it is so exciting!
Last Child in the Woods: I started reading this book while I was waiting for Liam to be born.  I'm fairly certain I never finished it.  And if I did, I don't remember much of what I read, so it's time for a re-read.
This Organic Life: I grabbed this book at the library, signing the kids up for the summer reading program.  Barbara Kingsolver wrote a blurb that is on the back cover and since Animal, Vegetable, Miracle changed my life, I was sold!

I have 6 books to either read or finish this summer... and as much as I love reading books about trains and thunderstorms and dogs to the kids, I'm excited to regain a few brain cells.  I'm anxious to learn more about ideas for educating my children in a creative manner, remind myself why I parent the way I do and get some more inspiration for our life.

What books are on your reading list this summer?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

World Day Against Child Labor

Today is World Day Against Child Labor. An estimated 215 million children worldwide are involved in child labor. Several industries use child labor, one of those is the chocolate industry.


It's not just poor countries that use child labor, child labor is still used illegally and sometimes even legally in the US. Largely in agriculture.


Sadly these children miss out on a childhood, education, health care, and are often working in very unsafe an environment. One way you can help end child labor is to buy certified Fair Trade products. Also sharing this information with others can help as many don't know this is going on, especially in the US. If a company you like doesn't use Fair Trade products and ingredients contact them about making the switch. Together we can end child labor.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Applesauce waffles

Going Green Mama is cleaning out the kitchen...

The other day I promised my son we'd make waffles. Except, mid-recipe, I realized we were completely out of oil.

I knew you could subsitute applesauce for oil in baking, but I wasn't certain how it would work in a waffle iron, which by its nature usually requires more oil in the cooking. I was pleasantly surprised - and got rid of the last of my applesauce as well!

Applesauce waffles
2 cups Trader Joes Multigrain Baking Mix
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
6 tbsp. applesauce

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into preheated waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's directions.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Five Reasons to Love Your Public Library

The Climate Crusader is extolling the benefits of public libraries when it comes to summer reading.

The greenest book of all may be the one that you borrow from your library. It's the cheapest book, as well. Public libraries aren't just a book lover's paradise, they're also a way to reduce the environmental footprint of your summer reading. Today I'm sharing five reasons to love your public library.

At the library
My kids love the library

1. Libraries Reduce Clutter

I'll come clean and admit it - I have shelves full of books in my home that I've read once and kept, thinking I would read again, but I never have. And even worse, I have many books that I've owned for years and never read. When you borrow a book from your library you're not filling your shelves with unread books that just become more clutter to collect dust.

2. Reuse - It's one of the Three R's

When you buy a book, how many people read it? In the best case scenario, I would guess that a book may pass through a few people's hands before it bites the dust. Popular library books, on the other hand, can each be read and enjoyed by dozens of people. You're reducing your consumption of new books, as well as reusing each book many times.

3. Kids Love Summer Reading Programs

Most public libraries offer summer reading programs for kids. My daughter looks forward to participating in the summer reading club each year. The programs are free, they expose kids to new literature, and they reduce summer reading loss, so your kids will be ready when school starts again. Plus, visiting your library is a great way to spend time over summer vacation.

4. Librarians are Fabulous People

When you're doing some research, looking for a book recommendation, or searching for local resources, your librarian is a fount of wisdom. Librarians don't just issue library cards and check out books, they're experts on tracking down information, and they're in the know about what's happening in your community.

5. Libraries Offer More Than Books

Public libraries carry a wide array of materials that users can access. My library has newspapers and periodicals, paper books, e-books, audio books, CDs and DVDs. Libraries also offer free internet access to their users. If you'd like to listen to your book as you take a road trip this summer, or you'd like some great summer tunes for your kids, your library can hook you up.

What do you love about your public library?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Reading - Wordless Wednesday with Linky!

The superheroes at the Green Phone Booth are excited to announce our theme for June: SUMMER READING!

Please link up your Wordless Wednesday post in the linky. What are you planning to read this summer?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Are You Addicted to Plastic?

Had something come up today and didn't have the change to get my other post finished so instead I will share this video about Beth Terry's, of My Plastic-free Life, book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. I happen to be in this book. :)

For some extra humor be sure to check out the blooper as well. And you can get the book at places like but if you are going to order it I recommend ordering from They are making sure the book will come to you with plastic-free shipping!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Analog Books vs E-Reader: a Book Lover's Experience

EcoYogini weighs the pros and cons of e-readers....

I'm standing in the last metro car, elbows tucked in, sweaty stinky people pushing up against me on my way to McGill one morning. I'm reading a French book, the pages up close to my face as if to block out the sight of so many strangers invading each other's space. I have to be careful that I don't fall out when the doors open at each stop- "Station Laurier".

The man directly in front of my tries to strike up a conversation about my book (a classic Québec lit novel that I actually wasn't enjoying at all): "Ah! Ce livre est magnifique, n'est-ce pas? Les personnages blah blah...." At this point in my life I'm really quite bad at avoiding eye contact, the rural Atlantic Canadian in me just has to respond in order to be polite. It was ridiculous, since that was WHY I had chosen to read a book, so I wouldn't be harassed by weird men looking for the lady who makes eye contact.

This interaction resulted in the man giving me his dating 'card' with "Je m'appelle____, s'il vous plaît appellez-moi à ______" which was extremely awkward because I took the same metro car and bus every day... and we did end up running into each other again. Thankfully he was just weird and not some crazy serial stalker killer guy.

This wouldn't have happened if I had been reading on a Kindle.
Bookshelf un de trois: as you can see we have eclectic tastes in books....

Last fall Andrew decided that he wanted a Kindle. I was completely against it. There are so many aspects that are a part of the essential reading experience for me: The feel of the book, the cover, the smell, the act of turning the pages and of marking your place. A Kindle would be a sad electronic version of a beautiful analog experience.

(Another bookshelf with some of my 'eco' books- French novels from Stolen Harvest-candle!)

Except: it saves on a crap load of paper and trees. 

After five months (the Kindle was a Yule gift), I will admit that I have read a grand total of 6 books on the Kindle- to Andrew's smug joy. For a analog book lovin' gal, I have a few thoughts on the Kindle. Since I feel it's important to be honest and authentic (le mot du jour in blog land) here goes:

The Kindle in 'sleep' mode
Kindle- The Good Stuff:

  • It is ridiculously easy to buy books. Although this would kind of fit in the 'bad' category as the entire experience of book shopping is one of my favourite things to do (read here), sometimes book stores don't have the book you're looking for... or you finish a book and you want to read the next one RIGHT NOW. It's honestly scary how fast you can buy a book, under a minute and voilà! It's on your Kindle, ready to read.
  • It's easy on the trees. Of course there would be an initial environmental cost of creating the Kindle and the electronic parts that go along with that, but it uses a minimal amount of energy as it's 'electronic ink' and not digitally powered (magnets move the 'ink' into words on the screen- which isn't backlit for easier reading). 
  • It saves on space which is a big concern for Andrew. He grew up with parents who read A LOT (and whose childhood home is now a bit overrun with books). I grew up in a home where I was the only reader, so I think our three bookcases are a perfect addition.
  • It's easier for travelling... (but I really don't mind bringing a few analog books with me- it's just that they can get heavy...).
  • If you're reading something embarrassing (like Fifty Shades of Grey- which honestly AVOID, it's SO SO terribly written, I'm annoyed we spent the 9,99$ Kindle price for it), no one has to know.
  • It can update to Goodreads automatically which is pretty geeky and awesome. (If you don't know what Goodreads is- go there, it rocks).
  • It's a lot easier to buy good French novels which are difficult to find in book store in the Atlantic provinces.

Kindle- The Annoying Stuff:

  • I am not a fan of the way the Kindle feels in my hands. It's kinda small so it doesn't feel like a book. 
  • It doesn't smell, look or feel like a book. This is important.
  • It drives me bonkers how you have to change the pages and you're never quite clear where you are in the book. AND what if you accidentally push the forward or backward button too many times? Because it's electronic, it's much more intangible, which makes it tricky to find your spot- backwards or forwards it all looks the same.
  • Not having real pages also means that you can't just go back and reread a certain part of the book- unless you were paying attention to the percentage part of the book when you read that part, you'd have to press through the button of the entire book. It makes it feel like when you're done reading the book, the experience was fleeting and almost unreal.
  • Buying a book on the Kindle means you only get an electronic file, which the company (Amazon usually) can retract and alter at any time they'd like. 
  • You can't write notes in the Kindle... (without ruining the screen).
  • You can't lend books with the Kindle (I love lending books to friends, sharing the reading experience).
  • Due to planned obsolescence, in a few years this Kindle will be out of date. If they decide to change the electronic book file format, you will likely have to buy a new version of the Kindle. More environmental damage, more money.

The verdict: If it were just me, unless I had an unlimited budget (or won the lottery) I wouldn't buy a Kindle. I prefer analog every time. My goal this summer is to get a library card and give it another go!


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