Monday, March 30, 2009

What is happening ... by Argentum Vulgaris

One of the very first people to follow Reduce Footprints was my "bloggy" friend Argentum Vulgaris of Tomus Arcanum. Many of you know AV ... he is a generous blogger who seems to always have time to reply to comments and promote other blogs. He's a frequent visitor here and typically leaves thought-provoking remarks on the "subject du jour".

If you've never been to Tomus Arcanum (or the nine other blogs AV owns), you're missing out. When you arrive at his blog, the first thing you'll notice are these fun little figures that pop up on the screen. As the page loads, you'll find gadgets of every kind ... all interesting and fun to browse. Finally, you'll see the day's post. Here's where it gets real interesting ... his posts range from the beautiful ... to the funny ... to the shocking ... and sometimes to the disturbing, like when he talked about child brides in Yemen or about the slaughter of whales in Japan. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He is one of the most honest and direct bloggers you'll ever find. That being said ... there's one other thing that is absolutely true ... you'll always be entertained at his site.

AV has graciously agreed to write for us today. So ... sit back ... relax ... and enjoy:

I have been invited as a guest blogger, my immediate reaction was “great!”, but then the sobering thought, what’s a guest blogger arose.

Well, I soon discovered that a guest blogger is one elected who does a lot of work in a short space of time, considered a labour of love, and I am honoured to be considered worthy of performing such a task.

I have burbled for sometime about environmental issues on my various blogs. Ranted about how we, as a race, don’t care for our backyards and continue not to care ignoring all that is before us, telling us in no uncertain terms that we should be caring; and caring a lot. I am not the greatest environmentalist, rather just a man who has lived 57 years, I do a small bit in my own way at home; one to reduce costs and two, make use of things that I have already used. In the case of one, I am a spendthrift, I hate being conned out of one cent change and demand the letter of the law, then give me five cents; and in the case of two, I can’t see the use of buying tupperware when I have perfectly good margarine containers and jam jars to use; and as for buying dirt to go in my pot plants, I compost and make my own. So it all goes back to number one really, money!

Hence, I read Small Footprints, indeed, I even go back and re-read some parts. It is people like Small Footprints, who will eventually be the saviours of the planet; not individually (SF put your Spider Woman suit away – you’re not a super heroine yet), but you and those like you are all super people. I find some of the issues tackled by SF to be somewhat sobering, things we take for granted, things we throw away (and millions of others throw away too) that make it a problem a million times bigger than if it were just me.

Small footprints has given me the chance to write as a guest blogger, I am honoured that my past ranting has been read by at least one other person apart from myself. Thank you SF, so less ado and more do.

What is happening?

We are literally pissing on the planet and we have to stop!

Our planet, the little mudball we call home, is becoming untenable. We, us humans, have already used, destroyed and polluted most of it, the land, oceans, rivers and air; and we are not satisfied, now (and have been for years) we are even polluting space.

It has been common knowledge for years that we are damaging the place. If we were tennants in a building and treated it this way we would have been evicted years ago. Our God is a very tolerant landlord.

The story starts at the beginning. It is evident from paeleontological sites that early man was not a tidy beast, and we have continued to soil our environment ever since with due disregard for nature.

The major change came with the industrial revolution. The introduction of steam, to produce steam you burnt coal, burning coal produces smoke, a lot of smoke and a lot of waste. Money was the driving force, capitalism advanced shame-facedly, to the point where we are today. No heed was given to the tons of pollutants that we threw into the air at this time.

So with all that untidy history we have become a devil-may-care “throw-away” society. We use, we throw away and all this throwing-away accumulates. Not only accumulates, but accumulates exponentially, remember, with each passing year the Earth’s population increases, each year there are more people to throw stuff away. We are turning the Earth into a giant garbage dump. We are fast running out of space.

It doesn’t matter if we are talking plastic bags, disposable razors or toothbrushes (all of which SF has alluded to in past posts), we are throwing more and more stuff away. We have to seriously STOP and take stock of ourselves. It doesn’t matter if I am talking to you, your family, your community, suburb, city, country, or some giant global conglomerate. We have to STOP; and unless we do, we’ll be living in that garbage dump, and living in it very soon; perhaps within some of your lifetimes.

Everybody can start and contribute, yes, even YOU! We must start at the bottom, the top will always ignore the problem as long as money is involved. Education must start at home and the schools, for it is the new generation that will take the issue to the top. Only then will we begin to see the huge corporations sit up and take notice and we will see governments begin to accept their responsibilities, responsibilities shirked for so long.

Each of us must take time out and sit on the beach of life and look at the world and wonder. We had a beautiful planet, we can have that again, but it won’t happen by magic, it won’t happen by leaving it to the other person. We all need to take a personal responsibility, be we are all the owners of this world.

Would you let your child throw chicken bones on the lounge floor?

Because that’s what we are doing to the planet!

I'd like to give a big THANK YOU to AV for that wonderful post. And ... I'd like to suggest that each of you hop over to his site(s) and browse around.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A special Sunday version of Reduce Footprints

Hi Everyone!

Did you enjoy your Earth Hour? I thought you might like to see some of the actions that took place. Thanks to everyone who participated!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Comments of Note

Before we get started with this month's comments, I'd like to offer you one final reminder about Earth Hour. Tomorrow, March 28th, is the big day. I hope that each of you will vote for the earth and turn off your lights for one hour between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm. It's an easy way to be a part of a global demonstration ... and tell world leaders that you care about the earth. Here's a short, two minute video:

OK ... on to this month's Comments of Note:

From Buyer Beware!

ginovieto said...

I really think more people need to be aware of this situation. My sister is the one who got me to purchase reusable recycled bags to go to the grocery store! To not buy water bottles but to purchase a aluminum reusable bottle! All these little things can be a great for the planet if MORE people knew about it! Great blog!

Sinclair said...

Thanks for the info! I prefer cotton/canvas or other natural fiber bags, but I do have a couple made from recycled plastics. I gave up plastic bottles because of the harm to the environment AND the harm to me and my family from the chemicals leeching out into my drinks. Keep up the good research.

From Shining a light on recycling CFLs

Ron said...

Incandescent bulbs are banned here in Canada and because of that most (even small) hardware stores have a take back program. Sinclair, if you're not getting on the band wagon by not using CFL's, would you at least consider using LED's at some point? I'm a huge fan of LED lighting.

In fact, I'm so gung-ho on LED technology that I've even switched all my camera lights to LED standards and they've been a blessing! They last longer during shoots and they never heat up! Anyways, sorry I got a bit off topic, but for those who don't support using CFL's, maybe LED could be an alternative. Studies show that they use less than 1% of energy used by a regular incandescent...which goes a long, long way to reducing our footprint.

Thanks, Footprints for raising this topic!


From Don't toss it ... yet!

Rebecca Woodhead said...

What great ideas! I'd heard the cork key fob one before and forgotten it. It's so simple. You could turn cereal boxes into an in-tray too - ooh, you could use the paper roll holders to stack them. Cover them in something pretty. Job's a good-un!


s engelmohr said...

Another great post. I use my old shoe boxes for everything from storing old papers/pics/mag. to storing electronic cords, etc. I reuse glass jars for dried foods, pens & pencils, change and batteries to be recycled. I do like your idea on tooth paste tubes, wish I had known that when my kids were little and making cup cakes. LOL

eemilla said...

We use our old newspaper to clean mirrors and windows. When I had old panty hose that were exhausted, I would wash them once more then cut the legs into one inch bands which I would use in lieu of rubber bands for my pony tails.

Nina E J said...

These are great ideas! I use empty toilet paper rolls to store my oil paints - I put tape at the end and stuff them with a bit of cloth from broken tshirts or something at they can be used for storage! I have some empty cereal boxes that I don't know what to do with however I think I can use the advice here!

Nana Net said...

Love the ones about the toothpast tubes! Who would of thought to use them for cake decorating! Perect idea!
Now I use the giant size containers of coffee and creamer for my hubby to store his odds and ends from his workshop in. You know screw, bolts and things like that. Plus I use them to keep scraps of paper and pens in too. But of course after I wash them out good!
Keep up those great tips coming to us all! And Happy St. Patricks Day!

From A garden by any other name ...

Marcy said...

In my opinion this is one of the best things Obama has done since becoming president. It sends a great message to the citizens of the US. Plus, Michelle Obama said that her kids are more likely to eat fruits and veggies if they grow and pick them themselves. This is so true! My kids could care less about the veggies I bring home from the market, but they are always intrigued by the ones growing on the porch and more likely to try it. Not to mention, having a garden teaches kids valuable lessons about nature and food.

Cesia said...

I recently learned something new! Apparently most seeds that you purchase from big companies are non-seeding varieties, which means our plants can't reproduce in a natural way. This is, obviously, a greedy (for them) and non-sustainable (for all of us) way to live.

Heirloom seeds are not genetically modified and produce seeds. They also are from traditional (old) varieties.

Here's an article about why Heirloom seeds are important.

I bought some for my square foot garden this year! Now I just need to get my lazy butt around to planting them. :)

- Cesia.

Thank you to these commenters and everyone who left a comment this month ... you add so much to Reduce Footprints.

"See" you on Monday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A garden by any other name ...

During World War I and II, people in Canada, Germany, The United Kingdom and The United States were asked to plant Victory Gardens. The war effort was top priority in those days and food items such as sugar, coffee, meat, dairy products and canned goods were being rationed "at home" so that the troops would be well fed. Resources of all kinds were commissioned into service. That meant the discontinuation of transporting fresh fruits and vegetables across the country. Victory Gardens, sometimes called War Gardens or Food Gardens for Defense, sprang up to help ease the situation ... to give people fresh food while also boosting their morale. After all, it was considered patriotic to have a Victory Garden ... so, people ate well while doing their part to defeat the enemy. They pulled together and strengthened their communities. It didn't matter whether a family had a large piece of land or lived in an apartment ... they started gardens, shared resources and kept each other going.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 20 million victory gardens were planted in this country. Eleanor Roosevelt had one at the White House. Approximately 9-10 million tons of fruits and vegetables were harvested ... an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables. It made a huge difference.

Today, with the US in a recession and the world economy suffering, people are once again turning to gardens ... this time coined Recession Gardens. With costs going up and wages going down, people are looking for ways to ease their food budget ... and growing fruits and vegetables is becoming popular once again. Even people who don't have any space for growing things are getting in on the act ... did you know that in the U.S. there are approximately one million community gardens? There's probably one near you.

Those of us trying to live a green life have utilized home gardens for a long time. Whether we have a plot of land or just some containers ... we grow fruits and vegetables. The White House is recognizing the value of locally grown food as well. Mrs. Obama recently started a garden where 55 varieties of vegetables will be grown. And it isn't just for show ... the kitchen staff will use them for the Obama's meals as well as White House dinners.

Whether you call it a Victory Garden, a Recession Garden or, in my case, The Farm (as I affectionately call my apartment patio) ... growing your own produce makes a difference. Here are a few reasons why:
  • It's economical ... for the price of a package of seeds (approximately $2.00), you'll get fresh produce throughout the summer. If you share seeds or use ones from previously grown crops ... the price is even less. Imagine ... for the price of one head of lettuce in the market, you can get an entire season of lettuce.
  • It reduces waste ... composting is a wonderful way to nourish your home garden. And it saves landfills and waterways.
  • It's healthy ... growing your own veggies means you control what goes on them. You get to decide if chemicals touch your food and, hopefully, you'll opt for organic gardening methods such as the use of lady bugs to control aphids and other pests.
  • It's good for the earth ... rather than traveling across country to reach your grocer's shelves and adding to air pollution, your veggies reside just outside your kitchen door. And no processing such as chlorine washes for your veggies ... just pick them, rinse them and eat.
  • It's educational ... children love to garden and watch things grow. Having a garden is a wonderful family activity and one which teaches children about sustainability.
  • It's fun ... we loved digging in the dirt as children and I'm betting that most of us (perhaps secretly) love it as adults.
There is a saying ... "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". Today, things are tough ... not just with the economy but for the environment as well. We can help! So let's get going and plant some fruits and veggies.

A garden by any name ... is a good thing!

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Monday, March 23, 2009

How To Grow Your Own Air ...

A few years ago, one of my friends got sick at work. She felt dizzy and nauseous ... to the extent that she had to leave work and go home to bed. By the time she got home, she felt better. This happened frequently in the next few weeks so she went to the doctor. It turns out that the new building, which her group recently moved into, was pumping various chemicals through the air conditioning system ... straight into her lungs. And ... it was making her sick.

We are a climate-controlled society. As global warming creates extremes in temperatures, and as our society's practices create more pollution, we look to artificial means to provide the air we breathe. Unfortunately, these climate controlled environments carry their own problems ... including contaminated air.

Here is an interesting video about an easy way to create clean air:

Wasn't that fascinating? Now, in addition to growing our own fruits and vegetables ... we can grow our own clean air.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Field Trip

When I was a child in Elementary School, we occasionally took a field trip. These were special days ... days to escape the same old classroom and see the world. With permission slips handed in and our coats on, we headed for the bus and exciting adventures.

Today, I invite you to take a field trip with me ... to leave the same old walls of Reduce Footprints and see something new. You'll still get to read one of my articles .... just not in this setting.

So ... are you ready? Grab your things because we won't be coming back here. Got everything? OK ... when you're ready, click on the bus below and climb aboard. Happy Field Trip!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't toss it ... yet!

We talk a lot about reusing things ... getting as much life as possible out of an item before it is sent to a landfill. It's easy with some items ... plastic butter containers can be used for leftovers, jars can be washed out and used for all kinds of things, old shirts can be turned into cleaning rags, etc. Other items don't seem to lend themselves to reuse ... that is ... until some very creative people tackle the problem.

Here are some unique ideas:

Used Toothpaste Tubes from EHow:
  • Clip off the cap end of the toothpaste tube with the knife or scissors.
  • Use hot, soapy water to completely rinse out the toothpaste tube.
  • Now, use the empty tube to store knifes or scissors, you won't cut your fingers when you reach for them in a drawer.
or ...
  • Clip off the bottom end of the toothpaste tube.
  • Use hot, soapy water to completely rinse out the toothpaste tube.
  • Fill the tube with icing, and you have a cake decorator you can use over and over again. Just rinse it out and store it in a drawer until you need it again.

Empty Toilet Paper/Paper Towel/Wrapping Paper Rolls from How to Reuse Paper Rolls
  • Extend Your Vacuum Cleaner's Reach - If your vacuum cleaner attachment isn't quite long enough, extend it by taping a wrapping paper roll onto it. Like magic those cob webs in the corner of your ceiling are gone.
  • Keep your electrical cords organized, and tangle free, by passing them through a toilet paper roll.
  • Keep important documents (diplomas, certificates, etc.) rolled up in a paper roll ... it'll keep them dry and crease free.
  • Use them to start seeds for this year's garden. Use scissors to cut each toilet paper tube into two pots, or each paper towel tube into four. Fill a tray with the cut cylinders packed against each other so they won't tip when you water the seedlings. This will also prevent them from drying out too quickly. Now fill each pot with seed-starting mix, gently pack it down, and sow your seeds. When you plant the seedlings, make sure to break down the side of the roll and make sure all the cardboard is completely buried.

Empty Cereal Boxes from Repurposeful
  • Use them as mailing boxes. For easy instructions on how to fashion them, click HERE.
  • Cut off the tops and store magazines in them.
  • Tape the ends closed and give them to your kids ... they make great building blocks for little imaginations.

Used Corks from Purdue University
  • Run your dull razor blade through a cork to get a few more shaves out of it.
  • Attach a cork to boat keys so they will float if they end up overboard.
  • Glue wine corks onto wood backing and make your own cork board.
  • Use corks as fish hook holders.

Empty Onion Mesh Bags from Thrifty Fun
  • Stuff it with batting or old socks/nylons, tie off the ends and use as a squishy Ball for kids.
  • Do you like to camp? Use mesh veggie bags to "drip dry" dishes.
  • Line a planter with the mesh bag to hold dirt in place.
  • Use them to hang wet bathtub toys from the shower head to dry.

What unique ideas do you have for reusing common household items?

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Get ready ... only two weeks left!


Are you ready for Earth Hour 2009? As you know, this blog is all about easy ways to reduce our footprint on the earth ... and Earth Hour is one of the easiest, and fun, ways to do that.

On March 28th at 8:30 pm, for one hour, simply turn off your lights.

Simple, right?

Now here's the fun part ... turn Earth Hour into an environmental "holiday". We celebrate all kinds of things throughout the year ... why not a celebration for the earth. Make it fun ... something that you and your family will enjoy ... and will look forward to each year. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pull out those board games which are collecting dust in the closet and play by flashlight ... your kids will love it.

  • Have a romantic, candlelit dinner.

  • Grab some blankets and lounge chairs, head outside, and watch the stars.

  • Prepare some fun foods ahead of time and have a picnic in the living room ... by candle light.

  • Tell ghost stories.

  • Do you live in a warm climate? Perhaps close to the beach? Take a moonlight stroll.
  • How about a bubble bath in a candlelit room with soft music from a battery operated CD player.

  • Have a scavenger hunt.

So now it's your turn ... what ideas do you have for celebrating Earth Hour 2009? How creative can you get?

And here are two more things you can do:
  1. Click over to the Earth Hour site and sign up. You'll be added to their "count" and they'll send you updates on the Earth Hour effort.
  2. Tell everyone you know and encourage them to participate.
Join me in celebrating Earth Hour 2009.

VOTE EARTH Become part of a global effort!

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shining a light on recycling CFLs

It finally happened ... that compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), which I purchased eons ago, finally died. It lasted for years (literally) and saved energy! It did a fine job! But what do I do with it now?

CFLs are efficient but they do contain small amounts of Mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "... the vast majority of mercury-containing lamps are considered a hazardous waste."

If a CFL is broken, mercury vapors will escape and this could present health problems when the vapors are breathed into the lungs. Some of the possible health issues are: tremors, emotional changes (e.g., mood swings, irritability, nervousness, excessive shyness), insomnia, and neuromuscular changes (such as weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching). For more on the health issues associated with Mercury, click HERE.

CFLs which end up in landfills cause environmental problems. Mercury, which leaks from a broken lamp, can be converted to an organic form that accumulates in living organisms and contaminates the food chain. We're already seeing food contamination ... many species of fish contain high levels of mercury and consumers are cautioned about eating them.

Should we stop using Compact Fluorescent Lamps? No ... their energy savings far outweigh the danger from Mercury. However, disposing of CFLs properly is vital.

According to the EPA, "Virtually all components of a CFL or other fluorescent light bulb can be recycled. The metal end caps, glass tubing, mercury and phosphor powder can all be separated and reused. Recyclers often sell the metallic portions as scrap metal. The recycled glass can be remanufactured into other glass products. The mercury can be recycled into new fluorescent light bulbs and other mercury-containing devices."

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Check with your local garbage service: Find a customer service number (there should be one on your bill). Call and ask if they offer CFL or mercury recycling.

  2. Check with your municipal government: Look up your local government's sanitation services department. Ask if there is either CFL curbside pick-up recycling or if there is a designated drop-off spot.

  3. Check to see if your retailer has a take-back program.

  4. Check on Earth 911 for CFL recycling centers. If nothing comes up for a search with "CFL," try "mercury" or "fluorescent bulbs."

  5. Mail in your CFLs: Some for-profit companies provide recycling if you mail in your bulbs. One of these is

  6. Live near an IKEA? They have recycling bins in every store, and will accept CFLs purchased from any retailer.

  7. Hit up your local Home Depot: As of July 2008, Home Depot has started offering CFL recycling in store. Find the store closest to you here: Home Depot Store Locator

CFLs are energy efficient and ... if recycled ... are earth friendly as well.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Buyer Beware!

In July, when I began this blog, I wrote a post on plastic bags (you can read that post HERE). Reusable bags are one of the mainstays of living a green life ... right along such basics as replacing light bulbs with energy efficient versions and lowering the thermostat by 5 degrees.

In the beginning, not many people carried reusable bags into the store ... but now it is very common to see people with their giant totes carrying groceries to their cars. It has become so common, in fact, that companies want in on the "green" action and reusable bags with a store's logo or an advertiser's slogan are popping up all over.

The same thing is happening with reusable water bottles. They have become trendy and the perfect medium for advertising.

Unfortunately, these products are being made out of fresh plastic ... not recycled soda bottles ... not sustainable materials ... not earth friendly. Manufacturers will boast that their product is made out of polypropylene and tell you that polypropylene is easy to recycle and totally earth friendly. But it is plastic ... a by-product of oil refining processes. Yes, it can be recycled but the recycling process degrades the plastic's properties and recycling is difficult and expensive. That means that much of it will end up in our landfills and oceans.

So today's tip is easy ... be sure to find out what those reusable totes and water bottles are made of. If it's fresh, virgin plastic ... just say no. Choose, instead, bags made out of recycled or sustainable materials and stainless steel water bottles.

I'd like to leave you with the following video. It is the reality of plastics in our world.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Vegan Recipe - Taco Seasoning

On Wednesday we talked about single use packets of spices and how it would be more earth-friendly to make up one's own spice blends. So ... I thought I'd share one of my favorite mixes with you. This blend comes pretty close to the commercial varieties ... without all the preservatives and packaging. I usually double or triple the recipe so that I have plenty on hand.

Taco Seasoning


1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Here are a few ways to use it. Depending on how spicy you like your food, use a little or a lot:
  • Add to cooked beans and use as a filling for burritos. Add some shredded lettuce, tomatoes and vegan cheese for a filling meal.

  • Slice fresh tortillas into wedges, spray lightly with oil and bake until brown on both sides. Sprinkle taco seasoning on the warm chips for a spicy snack. (Note ... the spray will help the seasoning stick).

  • Sprinkle it on sliced tofu and fry. Once fried, slice the tofu into sticks and place them on a bed of fresh spring greens for a healthy, tasty taco salad.

  • Add to refried beans for a delicious dip.

  • Sprinkle onto Vegan Boca Burgers for a taco burger.

  • Use it to make a Vegan 7 Layer Dip/Salad.

  • Toss a little into soup for a "south of the border" flavor.

I hope you and your family enjoy this!!

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's the small things that count ...

There is a wonderful green site called "Our Green Year". On day 295 of the authors' green journey, they gave up bubble gum. Yep ... bubble gum. They explained that the ingredients probably weren't fair trade, organic, healthy or Eco-friendly and that the packaging was ... well ... over the top. Bubble gum is waste with a capital "W".

That got me thinking about all the small packages that we come across ... those tiny packets of sugar, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, seeds, tea, tissue, sewing materials, etc., etc.

Remember when restaurants put a container of sugar on the table for patrons to use at their discretion? Many restaurants now use a container of various sweetener packets ... each individual packet holding a pre-measured amount of sweetener.

How about fast food restaurants? When you want some ketchup with those fries, you'll probably be given little, individual ... yep, you guessed it ... packets.

It doesn't end with restaurants. There are many stores that promote buying items in large quantities to save money. The basic concept of buying in bulk is great ... unless those items are individually wrapped, then wrapped together, then boxed or covered with plastic.

For example ... go to one of the warehouse type stores (I won't mention them here) and you're sure to find toilet paper with each roll individually wrapped or a few rolls wrapped together and then put in a huge plastic bag together with other "groups" of wrapped up rolls. It's a lot of waste and turns "buying in bulk" into mere "bulk".

So, today's tip is easy. Pay close attention to the items you buy and the things you use. If the item comes in small packets, see if there is a different option. For example, instead of buying spices in individual, one meal packets ... buy large containers of the mix or ... make your own (there are recipes for almost every spice blend on the Internet).

If you have a choice at a restaurant, choose the sugar, salt, etc., that comes in a container rather than a packet.

Are you taking fast food home? Use the ketchup you have at home instead of the small packets.

Put together your own sewing kit instead of buying those small, match-book kits.

Good things may come in small packages ... but they are just as good in bulk ... and there is a lot less waste. It's a small thing ... but it counts!

As always ... I would love to hear from you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ice & Snow Furniture Raised From Lake

I am always amazed at the various ways in which the environmental message is passed on. Recently, I received an email from a University of Wisconsin student, Hongtao Zhou. Hongtao is an environmental artist who is trying to raise awareness on sustainability ... in a very unique way. He has graciously shared his message ... and some photos ... with us:

Ice & Snow Furniture Raised From Lake

Human activities have changed the planet dramatically by leaving too many prints along. Below is how Hongtao Zhou, a University of Wisconsin-Madison Artist/Designer, response to make more folk understand sustainable design by his ice and snow art.

Hongtao is creating the icy furniture on frozen Lake Mendota near the UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace shoreline, making a unique landscape place for visitors to enjoy winter fun. They stop by taking pictures, eating ice cream with snow bowls and trying the cold ice chairs. This furniture set is created in a factory called winter, and they are raised by following the nature using local climate and natural resources to please people in winter. Basically, it is not wise for human to work against the climate. The pieces uses the winter as a huge factory, use the local snow and water as raw material, leaves 0 energy consumption.

This public art/product is functional, connecting the lake, the land (architecture), the air and the people and complete a sustainable life cycle with minimum environmental impact. Comparing with other art or product, the whole life cycle is clean and leaves 0 negative impact to the environment.

Environmental artist Hongtao wants his climate furniture to demonstrate the beauty of sustainable design.

Following the weather changes, the furniture will back into the lake and become a part of the water body again and complete their beautiful green story.

Ice & Snow Furniture Raised From Lake Mendota, Photo by Hongtao Zhou

Snow bowls for ice cream, Photo by Hongtao Zhou

Hongtao Zhou is creating the icy furniture on frozen Lake Mendota near the UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace shoreline, photo by Susan Frikken,

Cold night working with the weather, photo by Susan Frikken,

Fisherman stop by, Photo by Hongtao Zhou

For another article on Hongtao, click on the following link:

You may contact Hongtao for more information at:

Cell phone: 608-658-0723

Mailing address:
Hongtao Zhou
6241 Humanities Building
455 North Park Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Wasn't that incredible? I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Hongtao Zhou for this beautiful example of sustainable design.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To All My Followers ...

I'm always so happy when Reduce Footprints gets a new follower. And ... I like to return the favor by visiting a follower's blog. But here's the thing ... the new "follow" format on blogger doesn't automatically include a link to one's blog. So, please ... if you'd like me to visit your site, please include a link to your blog either in the links section of the follower settings or by leaving a comment on Reduce Footprints with your address.

Thanks ... and I'll "see" you on Monday!