Author Archives: ecojoy79

About ecojoy79

Passionate environmentalist and nature lover living in Austin, Texas. Love to write, read, watch films, cook, craft, play, camp, and hula hoop.

Make Every Month Bike Month!

May is national bike month here in the good ole USA, and while May is coming to an end that doesn’t mean bike month has to be over on the 31st! To find some inspiration to make everyday a bicycling adventure check out these great pedal power promoting sites:

Common Circle Expeditions: a great organization that promotes sustainable living through educational bicycle tours.  These are vacations you can truly feel good about with field trips to green building and permaculture sites throughout the northwest and Hawaii. Bike. Learn. Experience. Spread the Change. :).

Ride the City: A fantastic website that is the Google maps for bikes. Put in your start and ending location and it will calculate the safest or most direct routes for you to travel via two wheels. This would be great for an iPhone app! This site is still in the works, but currently has listings for New York and coming soon for Chicago and Austin.

PedalBug: a  great tumblr blog dedicated to photo documentation of bicycle adventures. Check it out and be inspired to start your own adventures.

World Commute: “World Commute is a not-for-profit, free social-network website to encourage, promote and track the use of non-motorized transportation around the world”. This includes bikes! Use this website to track your pedal power usage and see the difference you are making in numbers. Great information on bicycle commuting and another great way to connect with other bike commuters.

Bike Commuter Tips: Blog featuring great tips, tricks, and insight on bicycle commuting.

Austin’s Yellow Bike Project: great Austin based non-profit “dedicated to providing human-powered transportation for the people of Austin, running a community bike shop, and educating kids and adults”.  Check here to find a similar program in your town.  Don’t have a program like this in your city? Check out the link below and start your own!

International Bicycle Fund: Check out how to start a community bike program ranging from a community bike library to full decentralized on-demand bicycle rentals stations like this.

Critical Mass: Critical Mass is a montly ride dedicated to celebrating and promoting cycling, and to assert car drivers to cyclists right to the road. So find the local Critical Mass in your area and promote two wheel transportation while making new biking buddies. Power in pedaling numbers!

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Filed under Alternative Transportation, Urban Sustainability

Renew your home’s spirit with Green Spring Cleaning!

Spring, the season of renewal and rebirth, is in full gear!  Flowers are blooming, butterflies are emerging, and love is in the air! Nature is truly looking it’s best and beckoning us to come play.  However, the grime and dust that has built up since the winter months is staring us directly in the face at home. Dust bunnies of guilt!  To get out and truly enjoy the beautiful spring weather bring some renewal and rejuvenation to your home by conducting a green spring cleaning!  With a clean and organized home you can truly enjoy the season by starting fresh and green clean. By going green with your cleaning you can save money, improve your indoor air quality and thereby improve your health, and help to protect the environment:

The Green Cleaning Triumvirate: with these 3 natural cleaners all your household needs will be covered for a very low cost!

1) Baking Soda: an all around wonder cleaner and deodorizer that can be used for a multitude of home tasks from cleaning carpet to removing stains on almost anything! It can be used to clean in the kitchen, bathroom, and all around the house.  Plus, baking soda is super cheap and never spoils! So get yourself a box of this magic stuff. Check out some great uses for cleaning with baking soda here.

2) Borax: a natural mineral based cleaner that can be used in a variety of ways around the home. Borax can be used as an abrasive for cleaning surfaces and grout, boosting laundry cleaning, to deter bugs and pests in the home (including fleas!) , and more. Check out some uses for borax here.

3) Vinegar: White distilled vinegar can be used for numerous household tasks from cleaning chrome fixtures, to getting rid of pests, disinfecting, removing lime deposits, cleaning out coffeemakers, and more!  Check out all the great uses of vinegar here.

To continue your spring cleaning journey here are some great ideas to clean and de-clutter your home the green way!

1) Clean your pipes! After a long winter your home’s pipes may need a bit of a cleaning.  To de-clog drains and pipes and to give them their seasonal cleanse use this eco-friendly recipe: Pour 1 cup of baking soda down drain followed by 1 cup of hot vinegar.  Wait 5 minutes then pour 2 quarts of hot water down drain.  To declog your disposal use the same recipe but half the amounts.

2) Get rid of old and unwanted clothes by hosting a clothing swap with friends!  A clothing swap is a great way to hang with friends, get rid of that bag of clothes you have been meaning to donate, and get some hip “new” threads for yourself.  You will feel renewed with your new recycled look :).

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Filed under Conscious Consumption, Economy, Uncategorized, Urban Sustainability

Keep Earth Hour going by slaying some vampires…energy vampires that is!

On Saturday March 28, 2009 the citizens of the world stood up and called for action on climate change with a simple flip of a swtich.  All over the world people turned out their lights for 1 hour from 8:30pm-9:30pm to make a statement to the leaders of this world that it’s citizens are ready to take the challenge of climate change head on!  Check out this video from Earth Hour 2009 rolling out across the globe:

Why not make every hour Earth Hour?  Well, living without lights everyday could be pretty hard in modern society, but we can at least cut back on our energy use right?  An easy way to save energy as well as money on your monthly bills is to slay some vampires…at least the ones plugged into your house!  That’s right, I am talking about energy vampires also known as any electronic device plugged in when not in use.  Even though the device may not be ON it stills draws energy from the circuit which leads to higher energy usage and bills.  According to the EPA the average US home spends $100-$200 extra dollars a year on energy vampires.  Just think what you could do with that cash!

Some of the most notorious energy vampires include TV’s, DVD players, cell phone chargers, computers, stereos, kitchen appliances like blenders, toasters, coffee makers and microwaves. How does one slay an energy vampire?  Do you throw garlic at your TV? No way! An easy solution to stop those vampires from leeching off the planet is to plug everything into a power strip.  Then you can simply switch the powerstrip off or unplug it when not in use.  This is especially important in the home entertainment and office areas since that is where many of the really thirsty vampires leark….muahahaha.

If you are in the market for some new appliances or other electronic devices consider purchasing Energy Star qualified products.  Energy Star products meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the US EPA and the US Energy Department.  Energy Star rated products include products ranging from home appliances and electronics, to office equipment, lighting, heating and cooling products, and more.

So continue your commitment to Earth Hour by slaying those energy vampires and reap great savings for your wallet and the planet!

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Filed under Conscious Consumption, Renewable Energy, Urban Sustainability

Effective Microorganisms: Probiotics for the Planet and your Indoor Compost

We all hear about how great probiotics are for contributing to a healthy digestive system for humans and other animals, but could it be possible that these bacteria could have the same effect on the planet?  The company EM America has developed a series of products that utilize probiotics which offer safe, natural, and dramatic results in the areas of household uses, agriculture, health, and the environment! It is truly a cure all for the planet!

Probiotics, which comes from Greek and means “for life”, are living microorganisms that when administered to a host reap positive effects on the health of the host.  The purpose of probiotics to bring balance to the good and bad bacteria in a host.  The probiotic bacteria will reproduce until a homeostasis is met between the two.  Adding probiotic supplements to your diet is reported to have positive effects on gastrointestinal health, lactose intolerance, immune function, blood pressure, prevention of colon cancer, and more.  Now this same principle is being applied to treat the ailments of the planet.

EM America’s probiotic products can be used for everything from bio-remediation of soil that has been severely polluted, to waste water treatment, to treating odors in households and in livestock arenas, as fertilizer for gardening, as natural household cleaners, to prepare with raw foods, and more! As for urban sustainability, EM has created a product called Bokashi that is extremely helpful for those who want to compost in an urban setting but do not have a lot of space to do so, or have hesitated due to fear of odor and pests. Nobody wants their neighbor to say their house smells!

Bokashi is a fermented rice or wheat bran that has been inoculated with the EM probotic formula and is then dried and used in indoor composting containers to help food to break down quickly with less odor.  The probiotics in this miracle mix can even break down foods that many compost fans traditionally steer clear of, such as meat and animal products, due to the smell and pest issue.  This is because the Bokashi actually ferments the food waste so that there is no rancid smells!

In order to use this you need to purchase or make an indoor composting bucket.  EM America sells fancy Bokashi Buckets on their website, but you could easily make one for yourself.  All you need is two 5 gallon buckets, one lid, and a drill.  Check out this video on the EM America site that shows you how to make your own.  Once you have your bucket system, you pile the food in there, sprinkle in some Bokashi, and continue to layer food waste and Bokashi until the bucket is filled.  Let the food ferment for one week in the bucket, then after the waste has pickled you can add it to a worm bin, existing compost pile, or bury it directly in a garden with no worry of pests or smells.  It is as easy as that!  Plus, if you purchase the liquid version of the probiotic formula you can make your own Bokashi and then use the liquid for a plethora of other household applications!

So say goodbye to fear of bugs, flies, and smell in your compost and hello to a happy, healthy, and balanced system for the planet!

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Filed under Agriculture, Community, Conscious Consumption, Natural Health, Permaculture, Urban Sustainability, waste minimization

Credit Cards for the Planet?

Credit seems to be the word on everyones mind lately.  It seems to be the one thing that everyone wants, but no seems to be able to get…unless your AIG it seems!  As for the rest of us, many people are worrying about finances in this shaky economy.  Debt is a big issue these days, and unfortunately we have been living past our means for too long.  With credit card companies targeting young people, personal debt has skyrocketed in past 20 years.  A healthy stable economy built on solid foundations is key to a sustainable world, and it starts with getting rid of personal debt.   If you have high credit card debt, now is the time to start thinking about working that debt down!

One way to do this is to consolidate your credit card debt onto one card with a lower interest rate.  If you have a high interest rate card with a balance it is going to take years just to pay off the interest on your card.  Now is the time to look for safer cards with better interest rates and more amicable contracts.  There are many cards out there that offer great steady rates, and some even do good for the planet!  The Working Assets card is one such card.  This group donates a percentage from each purchase you make to  support 50 non-profit organizations!  How great is that?  Not to mention it still offers the other benefits of other credit cards such as travel rewards, gift points, etc.  While I am not sure about the interest rates on these cards, Discover has come out with a truly green credit card: a biodegradable credit card!  So when you finally cut up and throw away that card, you don’t have to feel guilty about it sitting in landfill for thousands of years as a testament to consumer culture!

If you are like me you may be contemplating the tenacity of your banking institution.  Many banks out there are not secure, and remember some have even shutdown and their customers lost their money!  If you want a much more secure system to put your money into consider a credit union.  However, you must meet certain criteria to join some credit unions.  This can consist of being a member of a professional organization or being a member of a co-operative.  Credit Unions offer lower interest rates, member perks, and they do not engage in high risk loans.  So that means your money is more secure!  Check this map for credit unions in your area.

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Filed under Conscious Consumption, Economy, Urban Sustainability

Drink up and Fuel the Nation!

…At least that is what some beer companies are aiming for.  According to a recent article in Environmental Leader, the companies E-Fuel Corp and the good folks at Sierra Nevada have teamed up to start producing ethanol from discarded beer waste!  Pretty darn innovative right?  Well turns out that Molson Coors, yep the folks that bring you Keystone and Coors, have been producing ethanol from beer waste since 1996 and produce almost 300 million gallons a year!  Woah!  Surprise to me!  Well, at least those beers are good for something, right?

In fact, it was some ethanol produced by the Coor’s beer waste that fueled the vehicles at the Democratic National Convention last year!  This was just one of the many green initiatives that was taken on by the DNC last year.  To further, the convention had green events happening everyday to encourage attendees to live with a lighter footprint.  As a planner I am so happy to see events like this, and to see so much waste be diverted with a little progressive planning!

So if Sierra Nevada and Coors beers are not your thing, you can always reduce your beer’s footprint by buying organic beer, locally brewed beer, or even brewing your own!  Check out to find a local brewery in your area and help save some transportation resources while supporting your local economy.  If you enjoy projects and libation, then home brewing your own organic beer may be for you!  Check out Seven Bridges Co-operative for all your home brewing needs.

So drink up folks and re-power America!

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Filed under Conscious Consumption, Renewable Energy

Meet the New Urban Eco Nester!

Please welcome Kasi Schnell to the Urban Eco Nest!  This lady bird is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sustainability and green living and will be a co-nester on this blog.  Check out her biography on the Nesters Page and look out for her posts!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Get your Precycle On!

Well we already know about the importance of recycling, but what is this about PREcycling?  Precycling falls into the Reduce part of the old mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Precycling is the practice of selecting products and consumables that utilize the least amount of packaging.  Much like the adage of “think before you speak”, this reinforces “think before you buy”.

An easy way to light the fire to your precycling mindset is to check out the bulk foods section of your local grocery store, health store or food co-op!  Not only does buying food in bulk reduce a tremendous amount of packaging waste, but it ends up saving money too.  At many stores you can also purchase soaps, detergents, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and other personal products in bulk therefore reducing the amount of waste that stems from personal care products.  To find a local food co-op in your area that has bulk items check out Green America’s (formerly known as Co-Op America) Green Pages.

Many companies are now jumping on the green gravy train and precycling by reducing the amount of packaging in their products; not to mention saving tons of moola while also boasting their environmental responsibility to consumers.  While I am not a fan of Walmart, their move to demand their suppliers reduce packaging on their products has prompted many other retailers and companies to do the same.  More and more companies are starting to value the triple bottom line, but consumers must demand it for real change to occur.  Demand change with the power of your purchase and get in that precycle mindset!

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Filed under Conscious Consumption, Urban Sustainability

Got $425? You can Buy the Earth!

At least in the game EarthOpoly you can!  This new twist on the classic real estate mogul board game takes green education to a whole new level!  I recently received this game as a surprise gift from my Dad, and I have to say I love it!  I always felt bad playing the real Monopoly.  I have to say constantly spreading development throughout imaginary world and gentrifying the neighborhoods from Mediterranean Avenue all the way down to Connecticut made me feel a little bit guilty.  Guess I could never be a developer! Haha!  Well if you are like me then you can play this classic game guilt free!

EarthOpoly by Late for the Sky Games is a game that is truly earth friendly.  The classic properties of Park Place and Board Walk have been traded up for the likes of Mother Earth and Sparkling Blue Sky!  You can even purchase the Awesome Oceans and Majestic Mountains!  To top it off on the back of each property card is interesting facts about that type of ecosystem and a green living tip!  Instead of upgrading to houses and hotels when you buy all the properties in a color group you can buy Carbon Credits!  Once you have enough carbon credits you can then upgrade to CLEAN AIR!  If only it was so easy in the real world!  Instead of electricity and water you can buy wind and solar power!  Railroads have been replaced by some different R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink.  Yep, and instead of Jail…you go to the Dump!

The game is also printed with soy based inks, is wrapped in biodegradable plastic wrap, and all games pieces were either made by nature or are completely recyclable!  This game is truly great for all ages.  So learn some new facts, spread the environmental wisdom and have fun while you are at it!

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Filed under Community, Conscious Consumption

Start the Revolution with a Green Resolution!

Well the holiday hump is over and now we head on into a new year!  So it is that time again to make the annual statement of change for our lives…the New Year’s Resolution.  When mulling over the same things you promise yourself every year why not think about making your resolution a little greener?  For some inspiration Urban ECO Nest has given some of the most common New Year’s resolutions a greener twist:

Top 4 Greener Resolutions

1.  To Lose Weight: This is probably the number one resolution that is made every year.  Well, a great way to become healthier and lose some weight along the way is to eat more locally grown produce!  By eating more locally grown foods not only will you feel healthier, but you will be supporting your local economy and reducing your carbon footprint!  Check out Local Harvest, a comprehensive list of farmer’s markets, to find a market near you!  Another important aspect in a healthy lifestyle is exercise!  Engage in the beautiful environment around you by taking a hike, playing frisbee, or engaging in some yoga to center your body and mind!

2. To read more books:There is nothing like digging into new read to start the year off right!  Nothing is more inspiring to me than a good Eco Read.  Check out these great green minded books for inspiration and great new knowledge to share!  Also, purchasing books can be very expensive and not to mention the fact that they use a lot of paper.  So this year make a resolution to use your local Library!  The books are free, they usually have movies to rent, and you will get to be engaged with a vital aspect of your community.

3. Volunteer More: We all are guilty of saying that if we only had more time we would volunteer. Well, making green choices is just one step in the path to creating a sustainable planet, to be truly sustainable we must create a community.  Many great non profits out there can not survive without the help of volunteers.  So this year get involved in your community and vow to make some time for an organization you believe in.  They say volunteering leads to a happier mood and a greater sense of purpose which in turn can lead to a longer life!  Check out Volunteer Match to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you!

4. Get Organized: It is time to clear off that clutter that has accumulated over the year and learn how to reduce and reuse the stuff we have!  Too often when we take on a organizing project we buy more stuff to help us get organized which leads to more waste and more money spent.  To learn how to organize your life and to find creative ways to use what was deemed as” old junk” to your organizational benefit check out Real Simple.  These folks are the experts of the organizing world and have some great ideas for organizing everything you could imagine!

So get out there and make your world a greener place!  Happy New Year!

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Filed under Conscious Consumption, Green Holidays