Category: Social Justice


Last Easter, I raised baby chicks.  This Easter, I’m going eggless.

Do I think eggs are bad for our health or unethical to eat? Nope.  Although depending on your egg source, one could argue that certain large-scale egg production facilities are cruel to chickens.  And it’s well-known that eggs, especially the yolks, are high in cholesterol.  But my situation is far more black & white than that: if I eat eggs, I get terribly sick for at least a week and can’t leave the house for several days afterwards.  But Easter is coming, and besides the Christian holiday, it’s all about eggs, which still bring joy to my heart with their perfectly smooth, rounded, life-giving symbol.  View full article »

Valentine’s Day is a great time to share your care; here are ways to do so without hurting anyone or anything.

I love Valentine’s Day and spreading little notes and treats around.  Although I’m not perfect at it, trying to spread the love without spreading injustice and destruction is a top priority for me.  This week’s issue of The Free Weekly is out today, and contains great articles on Comprehensive Sex Education, loving meat-producing animals, and the latest Making Ripples column about creating a Valentine’s Day gift box from a toilet paper roll!  Here are some reminders for how to love your sweetie without harming the planet and other people:

  1. Buy local.  Shipping things from far away adds to our climate change problem.
  2. Be fair. Chocolate isn’t harmless if children were enslaved to produce the sugar and the farmers don’t get paid fairly, so purchase fair trade chocolate.
  3. Know your ingredients. Even if a product doesn’t have a certified stamp on it, chances are, it could be harmless – research the ingredients if possible.
  4. Reuse before recycling. Turn something old into something new, and help reduce the waste stream.
  5. Roses have more than thorns. Make sure yours are produced sustainably.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Ripples!

Get the scoop about composting toilets!

This week’s issue of The Free Weekly includes a Making Ripples column dedicated to helping you pick out your very own composting toilet.  My mention of “several readers” (names left out) wanting to purchase a composting toilet was cut out of the column, maybe for space considerations, but it’s worth stating that so many people have asked me about composting toilets during the past month that I felt the topic was relevant, as families are trying to decide which model to build or install. Ryan and I are leaning towards a Sun-Mar self-contained unit, but I’m still undecided because the reviews point to problems with the design.  There are so many options, and it’s not like picking out curtains!

What I’m most excited about is conserving drinkable water with a dry toilet. For more information about water, such as the fact that women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water, check out Water.org or visit this infographic illustrating the Global Water Crisis.  Also, here is a great, concise Prezi presentation by Travis Hitchcock about Freshwater:

Are you ever asked, “Why do you go to so much trouble trying to be more sustainable?”

If so, keep reading for some objective responses that don’t involve tree hugging.

Frequent reasons for people not wanting to do more include not having enough time, money, or desire – after all, life is short, and money is scarce.  But life could be much shorter and money much scarcer without at least some effort to live sustainably.  Although death can come knocking at surprising times, such as after a freak accident involving rabid skunks, there are things we can control in life and things we can’t control.  Ignoring information about what we CAN control leaves us at the mercy of both.

One of the biggest reasons I’m choosing to live sustainably is because my first two decades of life were so unsustainable, I felt that the quality of my life made living less worthwhile.  I coped with my poor health by embracing creative escapes from reality through reading, art, and music.  Switching to a more sustainable life, however, is not a light switch turning on good health.  Many of you know I’ve been struggling with gluten intolerance that damaged my gut and kept my weight too low.  The lab technician says that this began about 12 years ago, when I was 15 and still living unsustainably, not to mention taking loads of pharmaceuticals.  Now that I’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 endometriosis, the doctor said such an advanced stage must have begun close to when puberty began.  Thus, my lifestyle cannot be held up as a reason for disease or health (yet).  I think of it as planting an orchard today to enjoy the fruits 20 years from now.  It may take awhile…but it’s something I can choose to do, unlike avoiding a meteor collision.

What will you do to live more sustainably and try to avoid cancer in 2013?

Here’s an interesting article from Care2.com about the difference between believing we can heal ourselves, and shaming ourselves or others for being sick.  I had to share this because I had no idea some people focused on Western medicine could misunderstand when alternative medicine is suggested, as though the sick person had brought the disease on themselves or could cure themselves if they really wanted to.

 

America's Cancer Clusters
Image source: www.best-nursing-schools.net

Amanda’s upcoming surgery questions our resolve to exclusively focus on alternative medicine.

This is a third update to our previous posts, Healing from an Ovarian Cyst Naturally, and 35 Days Pain-Free (the second update).  I’m sorry to say that the alternative medicine approach did not work for me in the long run – it eliminated my symptoms, and increased my overall health and ability, but did not shrink or cure the large complex cyst on my left ovary.  My follow-up ultrasound revealed that the cyst still hovered around 9cm in size, not getting much bigger or smaller since it was discovered in April 2012. View full article »

Enjoying winter greens in a smoothie is a tasty way to keep colds away.

I love our green smoothies, and this week in The Free Weekly, our favorite recipe is included so you can try them too!  (It doesn’t appear online this week, but you can pick up a copy around Fayetteville and find the recipe inside.)  If you have a winter garden, green smoothies are a good way to use up any kind of green you might be growing this month, especially if they’re slightly bitter.  The fruit juices make greens taste sweeter, and the avocado turns an “applesauce” texture into “ice cream”!  We use a high-speed Vitamix blender, though, and green smoothies are less feasible with standard blenders.  It was well worth the investment, and we use our Vitamix several times a week.  Blending fruits and veggies in this manner supposedly makes the nutrients more accessible to our bodies, since we don’t chew as much as our ancestors did and can’t break down the cell walls as effectively.  Good nutrition, and in particular the nutrients that come from dark leafy greens, is an excellent protection against all those colds circulating in your office or school.  Stay healthy!

How to make vegan chocolates with Christmas foil colors.

Wrap your own chocolates in recycled candy foil instead of throwing it away!

This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a kitchen, and really quick too.  You could choose to melt your own block or bar of vegan chocolate, or use shaped vegan or close to vegan dark chocolates that already come in shapes.  I’ve done both, but I don’t yet own any holiday-themed candy molds.  So I used Divine dark chocolate Christmas trees, and had my husband Ryan eat some Hershey kisses wrapped in colorful holiday foil.  We saved the wrappers from the kisses, brushed off any chocolate crumbs inside the wrappers, flattened them a bit, and then I used them to wrap these little Christmas trees!

Hint: after you wrap your shaped chocolates, use your fingernail to press into any grooves or designs on the chocolates, so they look less like blobs and more like the shape they’re supposed to be.

I love these cork oak trees!

The latest issue of The Free Weekly is out today, so grab a copy and check out what we’ve learned about sustainable flooring options.  We decided on cork for our earthbag home, but as always, research and exposure to new information could change our minds over time.

In Portugal, cork oak trees are harvested every nine years, helping to protect the man-made forests with profits from the sale of corks and cork flooring, employing about 60,000 workers, and sustaining habitat for native species.  How cool a floor is that, which can do all those things?  Here’s a video about harvesting cork from trees without harming them!

“…the environmental issues, the social issues, and the economic issues are in good balance, and it all starts with harvesting the cork itself.” – Carlos de Jesus, Director of Marketing, APCOR

The Free Weekly is out today, and it’s all about the Party in My Pants! (ahem, meaning non-disposable menstrual products)

Sorry for the delay on Ripples posts; Ryan got sick, then I got sick, and Thanksgiving occurred somewhere in there along with many Ripples’ Cookie orders to fill (more on that in a future post).  I’m still feeling crummy, but wanted to add links to the sustainable menstrual products mentioned in Making Ripples this week. Check out our column on Periods for the Planet, and enjoy the products listed below from these online retailers (no I’m not being paid to say this, actually I just find the idea of rainbow owls on a soft fleece pad much more appealing than bleached cotton disposables). Also, click below to view and print a brochure I made (Women’s Alternatives) that you can give to a girl or woman who may be interested in reducing waste and declaring her period for the planet! View full article »

Celebrating the Harvest in Community

Yesterday, I participated in my fellowship’s tradition of Bread Communion, when everyone brings a loaf of bread to pass around in baskets during the service.  Each person takes a piece of bread, and together the congregation reflects on gratitude for each other and nature’s gifts. View full article »