Sunday, September 28, 2008

Your favorite green thing to do...

The Veggie Fest was an absolute joy of an experience. Cville Weekly graciously sponsored Betty's booth and the event was a grand success. Adrienne and I talked to so many people, gave away lots of "green recipes," shared information about how to use the website as a tool for your green life, and above all enjoyed the beautiful rain on/rain off day. We also encouraged people to share their favorite green thing and here are the results from you all (I'm sorry I didn't get first names and ages).

*I plant trees and gardens
*I use cloth diapers
*I use fecal waste from my pet to enrich both the compost heap and garden plot directly. Turning compost frequently and breaking matter up to better enrich garden soil.
*I wash out and reuse ziplock bags as containers
*I dry clothes on the clothes line
*I decline a bag in the store when purchasing a handful of items
*I follow a vegan lifestyle
*I am a veg head!
*I recycle (from Bohden)
*I play in the rain (I do too!)
*I am careful not to waste water
*I use a tankless water heater (check American Tankless)
*I don't use plastic or paper bags
*I compost
*I use 1/2 c baking soda, followed by 1 cup vinegar and shut drain for unclogging. When the fizzing stops, I add hot water for 1 minute
*I don't cut down trees (Bohden, 4 yrs old), Please save the land for animals and don't build lots of houses
*For my automatic dishwasher, I fill half-full with a detergent and then shake baking soda over dirty dishes, then start!
*I unplug all appliances and things including the coffee pot when not in use. I also burn candles and use night lights instead of other lighting.
*We recycle!
*I don't receive bank or store receipts anymore!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Update on the No-Buying Pledge: Month Nine

This post is dedicated to the first (non-family member) fan and supporter of Better World Betty, my dear friend Eva out in Colorado. She is a continual inspiration to me. We had our phone date today and she wants an update on the no-buying pledge. So, here goes.

I left you on June 6 - a post describing my minor infractions (around six in number), the last one being couple of beach goodies. Aye, there's the rub. I have two kids with gear needs! So far we've managed to utilize last season's baseball pants, my mom's free body-for-life bag (for his baseball equipment), and gently used toys and books for bday gifts (ah the birthday parties).

Here are August and September's divergences:

#7: I didn't buy everything on the back-to-school list (four dozen pencils!! no way), but did need some new items that we considered essential: two new outfits, new tennis shoes, new art supplies (we shopped the best Michael's alternative: Studio Art and Craft House), and a couple of required folders.

#8: Orange baseball socks and a protective cup for being catcher (dad's didn't exactly work). Plastic does have its place. :-)

#9: This month my prison pen-pal requested new clothes she could wear for a job interview (huge step) and they will allow me to send her some! I went to one of the local discount shops and bought her two versatile outfits and a sweater for the winter. Difficult not to go hog wild here, knowing the rough road she continues travel. I trust these clothes and the love and compassion accompanying them will serve her well.

So Eva wants to join me in this pledge. She asked if I've started a no-new-buying club. (cool idea) She also offered to design a sticker I can put on my car after the year is up. I told her to start designing it (she's an amazing artist). "This is so huge!" She is so sweet. "You need some way to proudly display you accomplished this at the end of the year."

So what are the guidelines? They started out hard and fast: Nothing new for a whole year. Just the essentials - food and shelter needs. The only minor tweak I discovered once our dishwasher stopped working was that it was important to allow for tweaks in the green direction. This fall we will be purchasing a new energy-efficient, water saver clothes washer. Surely an eco-smart thing to do in lieu of our old one that keeps tearing our clothes and likely uses too much (cold only) water.

It's so interesting because at first I would be at a shopping place and see something in a window and go ooohh, I "need" that. (kind of like what used to happen when I got all those catalogs in the mail) And then I would think "aahh - the no buying pledge strikes!"

But now I don't even notice. It's quite liberating. It only comes up when someone says, "Oh just go to Target and buy another one," which is quite common notion in our culture. Just go buy another one.

And when I feel the retail therapy urge, I might head into one of my favorite consignment shops and buy a new top. Everyone likes to have something new every once in a while. Balance and perspective is so important from a personal sustainability standpoint.

The other tool I have utilized since the pledge has been giving the gift of services - instead of giving my pregnant friend new baby gear she doesn't need (this is her third), I'm giving her a triple deluxe interior/exterior car wash (commercial car washes use 50% less water than home washes).

I do have one purchase I am really struggling with: a new ipod. My beloved husband ran over my ipod accidentally when we were unloading the car from a vacation and I inadvertently left a tote in the driveway ("I thought you got it" - "I thought you did!") It's worked since June, but died two weeks ago. I ask Betty, how am I supposed to cook and do dishes without music? That's essential, right? I wonder how much recycled content they are putting in Ipods these days anyway. (That's another rule: recycled and gently used items are fair game). Hmmmm. What's a Betty to do?

Eva asked about Christmas. That should be interesting. Stay tuned...


p.s. One thing I would do if I were starting new with the pledge is to track the money saved. All those times I thought - ooh I want this. And walked away. I used to be a sucker for the colorful little notepads in the grocery store or cutesy stickers. (I found an eco-jot 100% post consumer recycled cutesy notepad at Studio Art a few weeks ago and I'm using that)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Easy like Sunday morning...

Lionel Richie (and Maroon Five's Sunday Morning) are really onto something. Sunday is a wonderful day to slow down. Pause. Reflect. Recharge.

Next Sunday I hope you will join me in a Slow Sunday celebration by baking bread at home. If you haven't heard, the editor of Resurgence last month began a campaign called Slow Sunday and it really is a beautiful (and Betty-like) notion.

Think Globally, Bake Locally (see The intention is to spark a resurgence in local production and to commit a small act of defiance against highly processed bread made far from home.

Satish Kumar says, "Small is beautiful. When we bake bread, we are in touch with ourselves. Bake bread to save the planet." The aim is to encourage people to take part in small acts of defiance for the environment within their own communities.

"The Resurgence Slow Sunday is inspired by two of the most profound philosophies of our time – Schumacher’s ‘Small is beautiful’ and Gandhi’s ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Big change is possible though small, meaningful actions at a local level (Betty's Operating Philosophy #1). It is only by changing our immediate environment that we can pave the way for change on a larger scale. In other words, we can make the world a better place, but it will only happen when large numbers of people join together and practice what they believe in.(taken from his you tube segment) And when thousands upon thousands of people do this small thing all around the world, change begins to happen." (end quote)

I have been playing with the notion of "slow" myself. I am consciously slowing my pace down, which feels counter-intuitive, but so much healthier.

This time last year I was running full speed ahead trying to get Betty's website complete. I missed my son's Back to School Night, bills weren't getting paid, my house was a mess, I missed the fall ball deadline, and I eventually ended up on crutches with the worst sprained ankle I've ever had. I was going too fast. So this September I have embraced "slow,"

Some people are even choosing to make Sunday a no-purchase/consumption day. A day infused with more being and relating, rather than the usual work-week habit of doing. A day to lower our consumption, reduce our carbon footprint, commune with friends and family, incorporate nature into our lives, and reflect on how we are being.

I hope you will join us,

Monday, September 15, 2008

What are the presidential candidates views on issues related to the environment?

It can be difficult to muddle through the spin and rhetoric of such a hotly contested election.

Betty wants to link you to the facts and I trust you will be able to draw your own conclusions. As a a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, Better World Betty cannot and does not endorse individual candidates or political parties. While we advocate on issues, support or oppose proposed laws and regulations, and speak out about actions taken by public officials, we do not support or oppose candidates themselves.

If you would like your leaders to seek solutions to global warming; if you believe in conservation, rather than exploitation of our wildlife and environment; if you want the United States to take a lead role in renewable and clean energy and increasing the fuel economy in our fleet; if you believe we can live a better, cleaner, greener life with the help of our government, check out these sites:

Find out how your candidates answered questions to key environmental questions at

Check this easy to navigate site, where you can search by issue:

Then tell your friends, family, neighbors, strangers in grocery lines, to check the facts. And if you are willing and able between now and November 4th (tomorrow it's a mere 50 days away), find a way to ACT on these convictions.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday Night Surfing...

This week I came across the following cool sites:

An eight page guide on how to recycle anything (of course consult this AFTER you check Betty's recycle search tool which will give you the best LOCAL options. Example, please give your backpacks to Boys and Girls's Club):,21770,1835098,00.html

Check this cool local resource from Montfair Resort:

Do you know anyone who is planning a wedding anytime in the next year?

Check out these sites to green your wedding:

Buy a Recycled Dress:
The Green Bride Guide:

Also remember that we have lots of great local bands to perform your music and an amazing flower farmer, Megan Weary (Roundabout Farm). I recently got a sneak peek at the flowers she did for a Cville wedding (I do my CSA work share there), and they were amazing!

I also know a local artist/silversmith named Annie from Sante Fe who just moved here and likes to do wedding bands for people (just email for her contact info).

Happy surfing,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Betty's Getting Herself in Gear - Bike Gear

Ok, so I've been telling myself that once my second son started preschool that I was going to start biking to my meetings and errands. This year will be my son's third year of preschool and I've gotten on my bike once. And that was a five minute ride to a neighborhoord PTO meeting.

Eco-guilty as charged.

But the recent article in Cville Pedal vs Metal including the inspiring article about the bike mentoring got me on the phone Tuesday morning, inquiring about how I can get a bike mentor ASAP!

I am a little frightened. My husband didn't help by blurting out, "I don't want you riding the hellacious bypass!" And it doesn't help that a close friend of mine was hit last year by an SUV, which outweighed her by a couple tons. She fared well, luckily. But it makes this Betty a little nervous.

The last time I was regularly on my bike was in the Rocky Mountains. And I gotta tell, I'd rather brave a few wild animals than the wild drivers.

That's where the mentor will come in handy.

I told my avid biker (doesn't own a car)/buddy, Howell, and he had a fresh perspective on my plan. Make it fun! He's not saying don't be mindfully aware of things that outweigh you by tons. He's merely invoking that important component of human nature: we like to do things that are fun, so make this fun. If you have fun doing it, you will want to do it some more.

Then he highly recommended I do a bike wardrobe makeover. He told me where to go buy a bright yellow bike shirt and suggested I coordinate it with other hip pieces (you mean rubber bands over my lower pant legs?).

"Include the bike," he then advised.

Betty definitely needs a dinger. Or at the very least a honker horn. I can't wait! He also recommended adorning my bike with stickers. Of course, right after Betty's sticker, will come my Trees sticker and then unmentionable stickers (of a political nature - all positive of course), and of course who can leave out the ubiquitous Buy Local, Buy Fresh sticker. Yipee! (my love of stickers goes way back)

My friend is like the biking eye for the driving guy or something, he really knows how to sell this. I tell him he needs to become a bike mentor himself. (in fact, he's already one, just not officially)

So stay tuned (I promise to include pictures) and keep out of the bike lanes. Don't be hitting any Betty wannabees.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

As the recycling world turns...

When Betty first found me (or I found her, I'm not totally sure which)a year ago I couldn't understand what was so hard about having curbside recycling in the county and I didn't believe any of the claims that it wasn't making money. So I joined a citizen action committee in the hopes that I could help drive positive change (a la Betty's mission and my own personal mission).

Though I'm still surprised that recycling facilities can't make more money doing what seems to me such an important and responsible human act, it's not as easy as one would think. I keep learning about the collecting, sorting, hauling, single-stream vs co-mingling, transporation costs, and market values which make recycling more complex than just tossing your recyclables into a bin.

Today I took a tour of the UVA recycling facility compliments of Sonny Beale with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority CAC (citizen action committee) of which I am a part.

The sheer volumes of waste and recyclables that UVA hauls and sorts and redistributes is difficult to comprehend. We sat around the loading dock and listened to Sonny spew amazing numbers - in the tons. Here are just a few:

UVA recycles over 2000 tons of paper annually
UVA recycles over 700 tons of cardboard a year
They run the R.O.S.E program: the Reuse of Office Supply Exchange, which is open to the public. Who knew? (Well now you do!) Attention non-profits and schools and small business owners and anyone else interested - they have a section of free office supplies. As long as you don't mind used manila folders, they are yours for the taking.
They support a medical equipment reycling program (M.E.R.C.I. is the acronym for Medical Equipment Recovery of Clean Inventory which is run by volunteers from the OR and other medical center employees and students). Useable medical equipment is sterilized and then sent out to remote areas and disaster relief organizations.
They collect inkjet cartridges (photo above is just from the past week)
They recycle all sorts of media like CDs, disks, cell phones, etc.

Interesting note (this is news to Betty): the paper that reams of paper come in - even if it's recycled-content paper - that paper itself has a plastic in it and gums up the machine. Please don't recycle that paper covering. Same with the paper that labels come on. The labels (even though they have stick) are fine to recycle, but the paper they stick on (that waxy looking kind) is non-recyclable.

The most depressing thing Sonny told us was that in a recent study of trash collected at UVA a total of 40% was recyclable materials!

The other depressing piece: the improved Scott stadium was promised to have 50/50 recycling/trash all throughout the arena, but in reality it came out 60/40 and the John Paul Jones Arena, which seats almost 16,000 per event, is still working out the details of how, where to allow their patrons to recycle (it seems that "aesthetics" place a big role in recycling over there). He didn't give me any numbers, but I felt a little ill thinking of the major consumption/waste generated over there that is headed straight to Ivy Landfill. (I complained the last event I went to there because I had to search for ten minutes just to find their recycling receptacles, which as optimistic as I am I know not everyone will do)

Sonny reported that keeping everyone at UVA informed and aware of the broad range of recycling there is an uphill battle with staff and student flux.

Nevertheless they are doing an amazing job. For more details see:

After the tour, we had an interesting discussion about Van der Linde's new recycling facility at Zion Crossroads that is supposedly 60-90 days away from opening. 12 million big ones have gone into that project. We all look forward to seeing what we could do as a community (the city, the county, uva, and however many surrounding areas) to make it a win-win for everyone (rumors of rent-free containers abound. The question is who will bring all those people to the recycling table? I hear Betty can host a pretty decent potluck!


Friday, September 5, 2008

It's go time: less than 50 days...

The election is less than 50 days away and it promises to be the most important one certainly of my time and perhaps yours as well.

Better World Betty, grateful for the support of the Virginia Organizing Project, is a 501 3(c) and therefore must remain non-partisan, so I can only say this: If you consider the environment an important piece of your decision process, please take an active role between now and November 4th in this historic election by doing the following:

*Register to vote (
*Participate in canvassing events, phone banks, or "get out the vote" activities for the candidate you feel places climate change solutions and the protection of our environment among the top issues facing America
*Walk your neighborhoods
*Make your voice heard to your friends, family, neighbors, and government representatives about your desire to see green incentives, green jobs, renewable energy (which means NO to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!), increasing the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), preserving our natural resources, staying out of our national parks, forests, and sacred places (like places I formerly called home: Utah's wilderness) honored in meaningful legislation.

In today's world it's not an option to be a political bystander. The time is now to be informed and participate in local, state, and government politics.

It's hip to be heard!

So if you feel a slight absence in the local kitchen of green-consciousness (i.e. fewer Betty blogs until November 4th, for example), realize it's not for lack of caring. Better world action is just taking place in a different and equally important arena until Election Day.

Peace on Earth,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On Being Waterwise

Betty's Green Tips appear monthly in Cville's ABODE. Check it out here, or online

Baby, it's dry outside
With the last measurable rainfall having happened in July, we all need to get more water-wise. Local water expert Jennifer Watson at Charlottesville's Public Works recommends spending a day pretending that a gallon of water costs the same as a gallon of gas. (Your five-minute shower just got very expensive!) Other strategies:

Don't leave water running while washing, brushing, or shaving. Each minute saves three to five gallons.
Stop the flow. Pesky leaks still top the list of EPA's biggest home water-wasters. To find a toilet leak, drop food coloring in your tank and wait 15 minutes. If the toilet changes color, you've got a leak. Speaking of toilets, did you know that commodes made before 1980 consume five to seven gallons of water per flush? The city (970-3211) and county (977-4511) will give you a $100 rebate to replace your old toilets, plus a free water-saving kit.

Don't let water (and money) evaporate by daytime watering. Corann Ley, a local horticulturalist, offers this lawn trick: If your handprint stays in the grass, water. If not, leave it. Plant native and drought-resistant plants and don't forget to mulch. Thorough watering, rather than daily watering, promotes stronger root growth and therefore healthier plants. Drip irrigation hoses can save you 70 percent on water use.

Our community
Find a way to connect to our local water this month: Hike at Ivy Creek, fish the James, or volunteer to monitor local streams ( or