Pandora is the founder of Greener Good and President of the Board of The Center For A Sustainable Today. She lives in an Ecovillage and loves to garden, ride her bike. She is a web designer, photographer, filmmaker, gardener and sewist.
Greener Good is on hold while we move to a new website. See our new blog on Medium.
Here are some photos showing the progress of our structure that will hold the rain chains at the ecovillage.
See my previous post on the rain sculpture.
Every holiday has its advantages especially when it comes to leftover boxes and gift bags.
These items can be restored. So if you're given a gift, there are ways to get the most out of them if you're not ready to recycle. The cardboard box craft was something I stumbled across on Pinterest. Old boxes, gifts bags, and wrapping paper can be transformed into stylish storage bins, toy chests, or even bookshelves. These crafts are family friendly and add a unique design to just about any living space.
Kids love boxes. Colorful mazes and toy stands can be a fun project for the whole family. Even if you just have tissue boxes or egg cartons tipjunkie.com offers hundreds of creative ideas toward a greener lifestyle.
Gift bags, ribbon, or wrapping paper can be used to design your boxes. These options can save you time and money.
Wreaths are perfect for Valentine's Day. If you received a variety of cards or even want to find a great way to put your flowers on display, try hanging them up. Faux flowers can last a lifetime. Detaching the stem or tying them together with cutouts of your Valentine's cards are a great option.
Make your memories worthwhile by taking the ends of your boxes to create a flip book. The insides of gift bags and wrapping paper can be a great template to write sweet notes or title each page and add portraits to your book. Poke 2 or 3 holes and attach all cardboard sheets together with ribbon to pull your sweet gestures together.
Everyone can participate in being green. Plan a party or have your family get outdoors and collect rocks for their Valentine gift exchange. Decorate the rock with paint or add cool patterns. If patterns aren't your thing adding the word "love," "friends," or even "siblings" on rocks is a special way to get your message across to those you admire.
I've owned six computers over my lifetime. They were:
1. Grid Compass (laptop)
2. IBM Thinkpad (laptop)
3. eMachine (desktop)
4. Dell (laptop)
5. iMac (desktop)
6. iMac (desktop)
This list includes only my personal computers, and not other computers that I used in my household or that I co-owned. The first one was purchased in 1990, so this covers 27 years of computers. Some of the computers lasted longer than others, but on average this would mean that they have a lifespan of about 4.5 years.
At my house, counting my husband's computers and mine, we have five computers. Two of them are almost useless because they are too slow and can no longer be updated. I like to clear out old things to make room for new, so this seems like quite a junk pile. Old computers are hard to get rid of because you either need to give them away or recycle them. One of them I did give away, but now it has been returned to me.
I'm concerned about the environmental damage this is causing. Some of the parts are recyclable, but others are not. I know that much of the change is because of technology changing and improving so fast, but I hope that we get to the point of making products that last longer because they can have the parts replaced. I'm starting to think about looking into more eco-friendly options to reduce my computer waste.
Over the years, I have purchased several mobile devices. I've enjoyed owning them and using their features, but I have been disappointed with how long they last. My first mobile computer was a Pocket PC; many large office supply stores carried them. I bought one in 2002, and liked the calendar, scheduling, and to-do list features. I also had a mobile phone, so I carried two devices. I was glad when the Treo phone came out, as it took the place of both devices, so then I carried only one. Then, when the iPhone came out, it made my previous device obsolete. I used the iPhone for a couple of years until I decided to discontinue my cell phone service. Then I discovered that I could put the Skype app on my phone and still make a phone call with it, even without cell service. I could also still use all my other apps on wi-fi. I thought that was great!
After about four years, I could no longer update the software on the iPhone, as Apple no longer supported it. This meant that I could not download or upgrade any of the apps I had on it. The apps slowly began to become dysfunctional and unusable. I then decided to buy an iPad Mini. I could run all of the same apps on it and make calls on Skype. I liked the bigger size because I could view web pages easily, but it was too big to be a pocket mobile, so I bought an iPod Touch to use as my new phone and email device. That was more portable, great for carrying with me when I rode the bus.
Now my iPad and iPod are three and four years old, and some of the apps are starting to slow down. I'm thinking that they are getting to the end of their planned lifespan. I have enjoyed the fact that technology gets better each year, but I don't like how quickly electronic devices become outdated, and I don't like how companies phase products out and don't support older software, hardware, and apps. This planned obsolescence creates more profit for the tech companies, which helps to advance technology to the next level, but is very bad for the environment. Encouraging everyone who buys a product from Apple to buy a new device every year or every few years creates more products that end up in our landfill, and uses up our precious resources.
I am not comfortable with this waste. While I do enjoy new technology, I think that I would be even happier to have a product that doesn't update every few months, as then I wouldn't have to learn how to use it over and over again. My biggest complaint may be with the apps themselves. Apps that are constantly updated until they are obsolete and then make your device useless are not a good deal for consumers. It seems that computers that use a web browser and have the capability to have software and hardware updated are a better deal. You could perhaps stretch their use to eight to ten years instead of the short four-year lifespan of an Apple mobile device. Having to change devices every four years is quite expensive and annoying. I'm starting to research alternatives, and looking into the average yearly cost of operating various brands and products to see how I can be more eco-friendly.
I grew up in the '60s and '70s, when things were simpler, and we didn't have all the complications of high-tech devices. I enjoyed growing up in that era, as I found lots of things to keep me busy. I took music and horseback riding lessons, joined a girls club with lots of events, and was in a soccer league with my dad as the coach.
In my first year of college, the first computers were becoming popular. The Commodore 64 was one of the first home computers, and many people just used them for playing video games, but some of my friends were studying computer science. I have always been an early adopter of new technology. I was one of the first to get a home computer, and then a cordless phone, then a cell phone, and I bought the first iPhone. Technology was a big exciting thing in my generation; everything new and exciting came out when I was in my twenties.
Now, in my fifties, I find that technology has started to get in my way of experiencing some of the beauty of life. I am on technology overload, and have started considering going lower-tech.
Here are some lower-tech things I have added recently:
A lower-tech sewing machine. I still use my new computerized machine, but for some projects, you just can't beat the old steel workhorses.
A notebook and a good pen. For a long time, I wanted to type all my notes on my computer and mobile devices to save paper. Now that I have a junk pile of old devices, I am starting to think that paper is more sustainable and easier to recycle. I also buy pens that are meant to last seven years instead of taking the free ones you find at events. There is nothing like taking a pen to paper to get the real creative writing flowing.
An old slimline telephone. I've added a house phone. I like the old-fashioned slimline phone, but I don't like the phone service that comes with my internet provider. When the internet goes out, I can't use Skype on my computer or my slimline phone. I wanted to hook up an old-fashioned phone line; there is a connection for it in my apartment, but finding out how to get the line activated was not as easy as it was in the old days. I also don't like the computerized robocalls that come these days. I think it was better when someone had to look up your phone number in a phone book and then hand-dial it. Now that phone numbers have been digitized, scammers are taking advantage of this by having their computers dial random numbers.
A lower-tech iPod. My husband bought me an iPod Shuffle, which I am amazed will do almost what my iPod Touch will do as far as playing music. The 4th generation came out seven years ago, and they haven't updated it for seven years, so hopefully it will be longer-lasting. The iPod Touch comes out every other year, and is obsolete about four years after you buy it because of the software and apps that it runs.
A musical instrument. Instead of always playing music on my computer or other devices, I decided to buy a ukulele and learn to play it again. I find this more entertaining, as it is more of an activity than a passive listening event.
I plan to reassess more of my technology and consider going lower-tech with other items in the future to bring back more of the charm of my youth.
I love giving tours of the ecovillage to students of environmental studies. This week, I gave a tour to Stephanie Mullen, who wanted to take photos for an assignment at Portland State University. I showed her many of our sustainable experiments, including the solar panels, rainwater catchment, recycling and composting.
At the end of the tour, she asked what we were doing to show our ideas to the greater community so that other apartment complexes and communities could replicate what we were doing. I had to admit that while we were busy doing our own experiments, so far we hadn't done much to facilitate events to share our knowledge. She gave me some ideas for partnering with other organizations that could help us produce an event.
This question got me thinking about my role in the ecovillage. I have always wanted to do more with community outreach; I create a lot of videos and photos to share on the web, but I would love to do more. I think the idea of partnering with another organization is a great one! I hope to create this event soon.
I delight in seeing the first flowers of spring. I love to see to garden flowers, native flowers, and even the flowers that would be considered weeds, spring to life.
Now appearing: Hellebore
I love early spring, when the first flowers come out. They are always such a nice surprise, and fill my head with thoughts of spring sunshine. The first ones I notice are usually the crocuses with their bright colors popping up out of an otherwise colorless palette. When I saw them this year, I thought, "I must get some pics of this beauty," but then they were gone. It seemed that just a few days later, when I brought my camera out, they had already faded into the earth.
It seems like this is how it is with so many things in life—I say to myself, "I will stop and smell the flowers later." Why do I wait? The time to cherish the beauty in life is now. Our society has such an emphasis on getting our work done and being productive that we sometimes forget to balance our business with the enjoyment of life. Small wonders are here for us now, and the crocuses were planted so that we could enjoy their beauty just as they arrive. They don't wait for anyone. So, should I arrange my schedule around the spontaneous beauty that pops up around me? Can I learn to breathe in the beauty and enjoy it when it is there?
I can, and I will! I think my photography can help me with this. Next time I find myself saying, "I should get my camera and take a picture of this," let that be a hint to myself that it is time to stop and smell the flowers along the way.