1) On NatGeos...yes lots of stuff is available on Google but a significant proportion of stuff posted online is questionable, if not outright crap. Kids need to learn to consult and cite multiple sources. My husband was a university professor until recently and was not impressed with students who just cut-and-paste from the top three Google search hits for a given subject...aside from the flagrant plagiarism, the lack of diversity in sources is unappealing at best in an academic context.
So if you have room, save them. Worst comes to worst they're a beautiful photo collection, and part of how we teach our children to love and respect the earth and other cultures is by showing them that kind of beauty.
As an aside...I went to university for anthropology and journalism thinking I'd then go write for NatGeo. Within days of starting classes I learned that NatGeo is considered the tabloid of the anthropological world! In fact, I also learned at the time (this was early 90s) that they were no longer hiring writers, but simply hiring freelance photographers and buying field notes and then paying someone in NYC to write up the notes as articles. So it's lovely, but it's a pop culture rendering of anthropological science.
Originally Posted by granolapunk
1. are you a loud outspoken advocate for green topics in general? i want to tell everyone i know and especially my family all about the things i'm learning and implementing in our lives but i also don't want to be obnoxious.
I am blunt and outspoken about it all the time. I don't go out of my way to be a jerk about it but neither do I sugar coat. I try primarily to lead by example. For instance, when I've worked in places where people were prone to throwing away recyclables, I would make a point of moving them to the recycle bin. I didn't say anything, I just did it. Or if recycling wasn't available, I would politely offer to take people's recyclables home with me to put in my recycling there. Some people thought I was a looney (I probably am). Others appreciated it, especially folks here in Vegas who live in apartments and thus do not have recycling access short of driving it to the depot in person.
If I make a point of doing the eco-thing and others don't and they feel bad about it, that's their problem, and their choice/opportunity to change their behaviour. If they don't feel bad, then they weren't going to make the eco-choice anyway.
With things like cloth diapers, I make a point of stating that we use them every chance I get. If anyone asks, I give them gobs of reasons why it rocks, but I'm also honest about the downsides. I've long wanted to do a huge page on my site about the pros and cons, the tips and tricks we've learned, etc, but I haven't had time.
Smashing people over the head with any ideology rarely works. The best way is to show how good something works for you. If I hear someone complain about the price of diapers or formula, I don't snark them with, "Well it's your own fault for not using cloth or breastfeeding," but I simply say, "Oh, that's too bad, I haven't had that problem because I use cloth or I breastfeed."
The only time I get snarky is when it comes to discussions of public figures, or other general groups. For instance, if someone talks about people who don't recycle, I'll happily snark that. If a politician does/says something that is eco-unfriendly, I'll loudly decry that (and I'm non-partisan about it, which is easy, since most of them are pretty bad on environmental issues).
Originally Posted by granolapunk
3. i've been getting rid of a lot of plastic. i know it's better to freecycle or goodwill it, which is what i have done, but at the same time i feel bad doing that, knowing what i know about the hazardous chemicals in plastic.
The danger of plastics in day-to-day, non-heated use is vastly overstated. I recently asked my brother in law, who holds a doctorate in chemistry with a focus on polymers and works for a waste management company in that regard in Australia, if it's true that one shouldn't reuse water bottles because of chemical leakage.
He confirmed what I'd otherwise read: most common plastics do not leak chemicals unless you do something to them so drastic that you're going to wreck the object anyway. So in the case of water bottles, anything that you do that would release the plasticizer (which is what holds the chemicals together) would destroy the bottle.
However, he did say that he never reuses water bottles because of bacteria buildup...he said anything you can do to clean that type of plastic thoroughly would also destroy the bottle.
In general, it's probably not a good idea to microwave food inside of plastic, because while it's considered safe on a small scale, repeated microwavings do break down the plasticizers and that could lead to chemical transfer. You can tell by the way some of those plastics get brittle the more you microwave them.
But reusing plastic in safe ways is perfectly acceptable. Ideally, less plastic in the first place would be better in terms of overall reduction. But if the reused plastic slows production of something that isn't likely to be made in a non-plastic form, go for it.
I actually tried to find a freecycle or fairly priced reused potty for my toddler, but had no luck and had to resort to buying new. It wasn't that we couldn't afford it, but I wanted to use less plastic, and we didn't want to spend a fortune on a wooden one. If more people had put their used potties out there, we would have reused instead and that would have been one less new plastic item in the stream.
So I would encourage reusing/recycling plastic items, as long as they're in good condition and have been used safely and properly.
Originally Posted by Scrubsjm
Has anyone had experience hanging a clothesline against HOA regulations?
Ours won't let us hang laundry in any way that's viewable by anyone. So even if it's below the fence line, if a neighbour can see it from a second-story window, we could get cited for it. We are considerably unhappy with this...living in Las Vegas, clothes would dry very quickly outside, albeit stiff as a board, but then we could do a light fluff in the dryer instead of running it all of the time.
I recently put out one of those fold-away rack things and hung the cloth diapers on it, mostly for a good sun-bleaching (which totally works!). Nobody noticed, so nobody complained, but if I did it often enough someone surely would.
I am drafting a letter to the local water authority at the moment to complain about our HOA making us replant dead grass in the summer. It's dead because we follow the water restrictions...our neighbours who do not follow the restrictions have lush lawns. We can't afford to xerascape the yard, and the water authority's rebate for doing it only applies to a certain size and up, which is bigger than our entire yard. So I'm writing to them to complain and demand that either they restrict all HOAs in terms of requiring us to do water-wasteful things (such as planting new grass in June), and/or increase the scope of the rebate to include small yards, and/or significantly raise the cost of higher water use thresholds to be deeply punishing.
If our water usage even with cloth diapers can be below Threshold 4 all the time (unless we have a leak, which we immediately fix), then surely the cost for that threshold should be punitive.
HOAs need to be held to account to be in line with environmental laws. If they want to tell me I can't hang laundry in my front yard, fine, but my backyard is my private space and I ought to be able to hang what I want there so long as it doesn't directly impact a neighbour (ie hang over their space).
But HOAs are lucrative and politically powerful so don't count on change happening any time soon. Lawns are more important than the environment, dontchaknow...