Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Chase Bank has lost two BILLION dollars (or more) gambling.  They have fancy names for gambling.  Just like they use fancy names for corporate welfare.  We cut assistance to the poor and bail out rich bankers who give themselves big bonuses for tricking us.

I’m so curious about the somnolence of the American people.

I transferred my money out of the big banks into a credit union after the meltdown.  Yes, I getter better service, better rates and nicer people.  But my primary reason was to ‘vote with my feet’ – to say no to greed, to plutocracy and plundering.  I am appalled by the behavior, lack of ethics and robbery that all the big banks participate in.  I turned my anger into action and moved to a credit union – which supports the local community and is not for profit. 

I don’t understand why everyone hasn’t done this.

I also don’t understand why people are just putting up with being robbed by the rich, overall, but let’s save that for another day.

So I’m curious.  If you still have your money at a big bank, rather than at a community bank or (even better) a credit union, why?

And I’m also curious – have you watched the movie “Too Big to Fail”?  Have you read books about the financial meltdown?  Are you okay with being robbed – truly, personally robbed – as a taxpayer, shareholder (if you have mutual funds you are most likely involved in this mess)?  Really? 

We used to (about 30 years ago) have a democracy in this country.  One of the nice things about democracies is that you get to vote.  And one of the nice things about capitalism is that you get to vote with your feet. You express approval or disapproval in each store you visit (like Wal-Mart? Then you are saying yes to abusive labor projects and misanthropy), each institution you frequent and support.

If you have questions about making the switch from gambling, reckless, ethics-less Big Banks to community banks or credit unions I can both point you  to good resources and also tell you of my own experience.  For a starter, I have never paid one cent for an ATM nor have I had a hard time getting all the cash I seem to go through.  Just not an issue.  That was one of the things I thought about before I made the switch.

So now, over to you.  Mad about being robbed? Whatcha gonna do about it?

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We’ve started a ‘mini-cohousing’ experiment here where I live.  Four households (five, if you include my friend Bill who doesn’t live in the neighborhood but often teams up with us) have joined forces to share more, buy less, and to help one another.

At our initial meeting David & Katja said they have a compost bin behind their garage and that we are all welcome to use it.  I composted all last summer, when my friend Bill had his community-based garden (his town has a plot of land where people who don’t have space to garden where they live can have gardens).  It has really tugged at my conscience to just throw food scraps out since fall.  So I was very excited at David & Katja’s offer.

I’ve seen some fancy composting containers for sale, and if I had a household of more than one person it might make sense for me to get ‘more stuff’ and spend the $20 to get one.  But it’s just me here and Bill came up with a very simple system last summer.  I use 2 different 1-gallon Ziploc bags.

First, I fill bag 1 – putting in my fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds (and I believe I can put eggshells in but I want to make sure David & Katja are okay with that in their compost).  I eat a fair amount of fruits and veggies so I can often fill a gallon bag in 4 days or so.  Put stuff in bag, zip it up, put it in the fridge so it doesn’t smell.  Continue til done.

Once the bag is full I get it to the composter – in the summer that means Bill takes the bag and dumps it directly into his garden, now I walk across the street to David & Katja’s composter and just dump it in.

Then I wash bag #1 and while it is drying (my drying rack is to put it over the top of one of my 2 metal water bottles, near the garden window and let the sun dry it), I use bag #2 as above.

Simple.  Easy.  Cheap.  5 household, 1 composter.  I don’t know how much David & Katja paid for their nice composter, but this site has a variety of options in case you, too, want to start composting.

How about you?  Do you compost?  If so, tell us about it!  If not, tell us why.  Is this something your neighborhood or farmily could do?  Join the conversation – I really want to know!



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A few days ago I wrote about sharing a shredder with my friend Bill – a baby step towards the cohousing future we want to create.  And a way to live more lightly on the earth, be frugal and not have too much stuff!

Yesterday I got another opportunity for the type of neighborliness, “We’re all in this together” vibe I’m seeking to have more of in my life.  My dear friend/neighbor Julie texted me asking if her husband Pete could borrow my Forester mini station wagon to take their daughter Madelyn to band practice.  Julie had their minivan and Madelyn’s stand-up bass would not fit in Pete’s Saab without putting the neck of the bass out the window in our very cold Chicago winter evening.

Often I’m home in the evenings, but I had plans to meet with a bunch of women last night.  My friend Kay had been feeling a bit down and when we had tea earlier in the day said she’d like to go with me (she’s actually the one who introduced me to this group).

So I called Kay, asked if she could drive me to/from the gathering – she said yes.  Texted Julie back that it was a go.

Then, I remembered my conversation with Kay about how frustrated I am that the nutritionist I saw a few years ago seems to have been right – looks like I ***am*** allergic to almonds.  I had, alas, just bought a big $12 bag of almonds last week.

So in some very nice synchronicity, Pete used my car to get Madelyn to/from band practice.  Kay and I had more one:one time to talk in our rides to/from the group.  I gave Kay the bag of almonds – I was pleased to give them to someone I knew would appreciate them – she was pleased for the unexpected treat.

Cohousing.  It’s a more formal, structured way to ensure neighborliness and community and resource sharing.  Right now I live in a little suburban house in an ordinary neighborhood.  But I’m creating more neighborliness and sustainability every day.

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