Staggering Technology Waste

According to Chuck Burr in his book Culturequake, the waste associated with our lifestyle – and our techie gadgets – it astonishing! Each American generates about one ton of municipal landfill waste per year and about the same quantity of hazardous waste.

Electronic devices represent less than 4 percent of total solid waste, but they make up 70 percent of all hazardous waste. For every pound of electronics in your pocket or on your desk, approximately 8,000 pounds of waste is created somewhere in the world.

More than ever I want to buy cautiously, use what I have as long as possible, and recycle every shred I can. What a mess we’re leaving behind as we consume, consume, consume.

Heavy Blooms This Year?

I remember hearing that Germany’s Black Forest was observed to produce heavy seed load as it was threatened by industrial pollution. The theory was that the trees knew they were in trouble and went into high gear to make sure they left seed behind as they died.

I noticed that on our farm the fruit trees seem to be blooming unusually heavily. And those blossoms are turning into fruit. One columnar apple tree that, in the past, has produced a maximum of about 25 apples now has on it zillions of tiny fruits. I know some will fall off having only been partly pollinated, but the Black Forest idea popped into my mind and I wondered – do the fruit trees sense some disaster coming? Creepy (or preposterous) with the 2012 end of days predictions – but I wondered if anyone else was noticing heavy blooming.

It has made for a very pretty orchard bloom this spring.

Fiber Faire April 14th

If you’re interested in spinning and all things associated with fiber production, you’ll want to aim for Aurora on April 14th. I’ll be there selling wool from my sheep (washed fleece and roving) and my booth partner will offer felted sheets for making a variety of useful things.

There’s a beginning spinning class, food available, and a special section of raw fleeces. Also plenty of people to talk to about raising fiber animals, handy tools for working fiber, and lots of colorful wools ready to spin. You can do all the work yourself and start with raw fleece or buy something anywhere in between raw and finished yarns.

Here’s the link:

My sheep are set for shearing next week – mud or no. The wool has to come off.
Happy Spring!!

Checklist for Living More Sustainably

Make a Difference Now:

Steps to Increase Family and Home Sustainability

by Susan W. Clark

For Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT)


We can all do more to contribute to positive change, and this list gives lots ways we can all live well while reducing our carbon footprint. We are creating the future with every choice we make.


Eat foods that are in season (ask a produce clerk or a grower).

Paper or plastic? Neither! Take your reusable shopping sacks.

Reduce packaging by buying in bulk.

Use refillable bottles for water, shampoo, etc.

Shop for local produce at the grocery store or at a farmers market.

Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) or shop at a farmers market.

Grow as much of your own food as you can.

Reduce meat consumption or buy local, free range or organic meats.


Limit air travel.

Get to work without a car one day a week – or every day.

Use the car sparingly, cluster errands, and walk or bike when you can.

Carpool, ride the bus or bike, join with neighbors to share trips.

Become a one-car or no-car household.

Think small and consider petroleum alternatives when buying a car.

Ask yourself if you really need the ATV, jet ski, RV, boat, etc.


Be an informed consumer. Support locally owned businesses, not third world sweatshops.

Bring your reusable shopping bags on every trip.

Shop at garage sales, second hand stores, and thrift shops. Donate your unneeded items.

Buy items that are certified Fair Trade.

Buy clothing made with organic cotton, locally produced wool and/or make your own clothes.

Reduce the size of your wardrobe. When considering a purchase, ask yourself if it is really necessary.


Recycle and reuse as if the earth depended on it.

Buy paper products (TP, copier/printer paper, etc.) with 100% post-consumer recycled content.

Air-dry laundry when possible.

Use non-toxic earth friendly products for all your cleaning.

Make your yard a chemical-free zone (enjoy the influx of birds and bugs that will follow).

Stop watering your lawn. Better yet, replace grass with plants that will feed you and/or the birds.

Take shorter showers or use less water in your baths.

Read labels and purchase make up, shampoos, and other personal care products not tested on animals.

Replace paper napkins and paper towels with cloth ones.

Fill a rag bin with old t-shirts and re-use them for all your clean-up needs – or take up quilting.

Use a washable travel mug in the car and at work. Stainless or ceramic are better than plastic.

Avoid plastic utensils by carrying a metal fork and spoon in your car.


Install insulation, caulking, weather stripping and double pane/storm windows as needed.

Consider adding solar water heating or a photovoltaic system to your home.

Cool with windows and fans rather than air conditioning.

When heating, set temperature lower and wear layers of clothing.

Waste Management

Return bottles and cans for the deposit.

Recycle everything you can.

Make sure your unneeded items go to an organization that will see that they are re-used.

Set a goal for waste reduction this year. Could you cut your garbage in half by recycling more?

Set up a composting bin or worm bin for household food waste.


Join a credit union. They are like a co-op for money: member owned.

Use credit cards sparingly and pay off the balance in full every month.

Live on less than you bring home. Save, give to charity, and make earth friendly changes.

Use your shopping and investment dollars to support businesses that uphold earth friendly values.

Refuse to be defined as a consumer.

Read labels, read product reviews online, buy smart, buy clean, buy as little as you can.

Learn a practical hand skill, or if you have such a skill, offer to teach or demonstrate it.


Get to know your neighbors.

Invite friend and neighbors to take a Northwest Earth Institute* course together.

Volunteer your time and resources to protect the Earth.

Get involved in your community’s environmental issues.

Express yourself to political representatives on environmental issues.

Your Personal Lower Carbon, Environmentally Friendly Plan

Try using this list to study your life for opportunities to do more.

Where do you over-consume?

Where are you already conserving?

Highlight the areas where you can take steps now to lessen your impact on our environment.

Share this list with friends, family, co-workers, and strangers driving SUVs.

*NWEI: 317 SW Alder, Suite 1050, Portland, OR  97204; 503.227.2807;

Inspired by “What You Can Do” in NWEI’s Visions of Sustainability.

Copyright 2008 Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT)

Permission is hereby given to re-use with attribution.

Dreaming in the Wrong Direction

I just ran across some data from a quarter of a century of Street of Dreams homes in the Portland area. I can hardly organize my anger and frustration into words. How great if our culture had decided to honor simplicity, energy conservation, and so on. ARGH!


Street of Dreams Home Prices

1977 1987 1990 2005
High $169,900 $349,000 $1,100,000 $4.1 million
Low $85,000 $241,000 $509,900 $2.2 million
Source: Street of Dreams Magazines

Street of Dreams Home Sizes (in sq. ft.)

1977 1987 1990 2005
High 3,160 4,022 6,611 8,000
Low 1,620 2,992 3,682 4,800
Source: Street of Dreams Magazines

Slavic Snack Idea

I recently went through a notebook to pull out (and recycle, of course) used pages. I found notes from an interview with a man who had gone to Georgia (part of the old USSR) on a fruit collecting trip. What impressed me was his reports of different and intensive uses of land and resources. People who’ve experienced hunger get very creative.

One thing he saw was grape vine trellised over the roads, taking advantage of the sunlight and space above the traffic. Harvest? I’m not sure. Maybe the road gets blocked while people stand on something to pick the grapes.

Another thing he saw was in a market, a lumpy rope of something he didn’t recognize. He was told that they threaded nuts onto a string, dipped them in the cooked down thick syrup of grape juice, and hung them to dry. He said it was like a nut wrapped in fruit leather. I’ll bet other fruits could be used, too. I haven’t tried it, but let me know if you do. I may get to it at some point.

One Minute for Peace

Not long ago I received an appeal for donations from the American Friends Service Committee. Their plan is to raise the equivalent of one minute of what the US spends annually on our military. Any idea how much that minute is worth? Two million one hundred thousand dollars.

Their mailer was a yard-long, thin piece of paper marked with all the major pieces of the Federal budget. The military portion was 60% of the total, with little slivers for things like agriculture (2%), EPA (1%), and Health and Human Services (7%). These numbers give me a different perspective when I hear those Congressional ninnys arguing over whether to cut military spending or not.

This mailer also featured the following quote from Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

In this season of political speechifying and holiday sentimentality, I think the quote – and who said it – makes a great counterbalance.

Happy Holidays!

Rendering Pork Fat

My writing is appearing again in Good Food World, an online magazine. In the latest piece I discuss my adventures in using animals fat, and the fat from a pig in particular. Here’s the link:

Once I’ve finished rendering the lard, I plan to make soap and that will be discussed here for sure. In the meantime I hope your harvest has been plentiful and your freezer and/or canning shelves are full.


Quilt Show Coming

On the 14th and 20th of this month I’ll be  spinning – and dressed in pioneer costume – at the Aurora Colony Museum’s annual quilt show. This is a beautiful show, with the museum’s antiques providing a perfect background. Here’s a link to more information:

All About Fruit Show Coming

Want to taste HUNDREDS of apples, pears, and grapes? If you can get to Canby on October 15th or 16th, you’ll be able to wander a room full of an astonishing array of fruit varieties and taste them too. This is especially wonderful if you’re thinking of planting fruit trees and don’t know all you’d like to about variety selection. How perfect to taste a zillion fruits and then plan to plant your favorites. I love this show.

The event is put on every fall by Home Orchard Society and is one of two annual events this all-volunteer group hosts. The other one is in the spring and focuses on grafting. Both shows have short classes put on by local experts, and several booths offering fruit related books, fruit identification, and other great things. You can learn a lot at these events even if you’re an experienced fruit grower and lots of people come every year to cruise the varieties and taste new ones, check out the latest books, and attend a lecture on some new twist in fruit growing.

The All About Fruit Show is, as I said earlier, on Oct. 15-16. The hours are 10-4 and the location is the Canby Fairgrounds (or Event Center as the sign says now). On Saturday at 11 AM there will be a class offered in which two experts will answer questions. Wow, your own consultation! At 12:30 the topic is Heirloom Apples. On Sunday the classes will be Espalier Training at 11 AM, and Unusual Fruits at 1 PM.

You can get the complete info at