Sunday, July 19, 2009

Green Baby Update: Summer 2009

As you may remember, we are taking steps to try and limit Bodhi's environmental footprint from the get-go. It's hard to believe that he's 10 weeks old already, but even in that time, our eco-motivations are paying off:
  • Recycled Clothes -- Bodhi is growing at a tremendous rate. Since coming out at a whopping 10 lbs. 6 oz. and 21.5 inches, he's put on over three pounds and two inches. Needless to say, we've had to dig into Brother Will's old stuff sooner than we thought. Thank goodness we kept so much of his clothing. That's really helped save some money and eliminate the need to buy more stuff.

  • Eliminating Waste -- We're using the gDiaper system. This enables us to compost Bodhi's pee-only diapers (flushing is also an option but we're giving our septic tank a break on this one). On average, we're tossing about 5 lbs. of pee-pee diapers (that's about 6-8 individual diapers) into the compost pile each 1.5 days. That works out to 100 lbs. of used diapers being kept out of the landfill per month. (30 days/1.5 * 5 lbs.). Not too shabby.
Of course, we could be doing other things. Cloth diapers always comes up as a topic, but for us, it wasn't a good fit. I think this is a good example of finding the balance between saving the planet and saving our sanity. With two other kids to take care of, cloth diapers could not fit into our daily routines.

So what's next for Bodhi? Hopefully, our garden escapes the stranglehold the weather has on it, finds it groove and can start producing some veggies that we can use to supplement our solid food expenditures come the fall. Beyond that, it's a boatload of recycled toys that will start to make their way from the basement into our living room and a bunch of new handmade outfits that Sara plans to make for him in the coming months.

Anybody have any other green baby tips worth sharing?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saving Suburbia (Part II): Transition Towns

Way back in December, I wrote a post on “saving suburbia” spurred on by the announcement of a proposed 650-acre Eco-Village development here in town. My intent was to follow that up periodically with other thought-provoking ideas out there on how to transform the inherent design failures of modern suburbia into something more promising and sustainable. (Clearly things – work, school, baby – got in the way of that well-intentioned plan.)

During my research I happened upon a UK-based movement knows as “transition towns”. I squirreled away my notes and there they sat until one day, fellow Sustainable Sakonnet reader Jeremy happened to forward a note about a NY Times Magazine article chronicling transition town efforts here in the U.S. I just love when things come full circle like that!

In a nutshell, the transition town premise is that Peak Oil and Climate Change will negatively impact life as we know it in the not-so-distant future. The solution: Start preparing now by figuring out how to solve these pending dilemmas at the community level.

To that end, the Transition Town (TT) movement offers community members a literal game plan and playbook for recruiting and organizing their fellow neighbors, then developing solutions for everything from energy to transportation to food. TT doesn’t provide communities with the answers; it merely supplies the tools for you to figure that out on your own.

It appears to be working with – according to the article – over 150 TTs in existence across the globe. Closer to home, a national arm of the grassroots organization has formed (Transition United States) to provide guidance and resources to communities through hands-on training and ongoing support. One by one, a network of Transition initiatives is taking root across the county: Los Angeles, Boulder County, Colorado, Sandpoint, Idaho (the feature location for the Times Magazine article).

Now, I read something like that and say, “Let’s rock! This is something that we could do right here!” Then, the reality of community organizing hits me upside the head and retorts, “Sakonnet could never get something like this off the ground. Too polarizing. Too tree-hugger. You’ll get kind words of support but little action. People are too pre-occupied with other things…” The list of excuses goes on.

But could we?

I know from professional experience that if you involve others in the solution, they are more apt to support it, give it a try, and less apt to shoot it down. From that angle, the TT concept makes sense. But do enough people in our community feel this passionate about the potential life-altering consequences of the post-carbon crash and climate catastrophe to do something of this scale?

Please, someone, take me off of this pessimistic ledge I’m holding on to...

More TT resources:

Official TT Wiki
• TTs in action (Ashland, Ireland)
• TT coverage on
• Rob Hopkins (TT Founder) YouTube interview