Archive for November, 2011

Mom’s Wheat Dishes

November 11th, 2011

What traditions are important to you?  I am planning to use my mother’s “good dishes” for the holidays this year.   They were grocery store china with a wheat pattern and they remind me of our large farm dinners over the holidays when I was growing up. They are not dishwasher safe so that means we have to wash them by hand – another relationship building activity! And no disposable dinnerware going to the landfill!

Reclaim your holidays  this year by looking at what  is most importantmaki. Make choices that honor your values, time, money, and energy.  For ideas on alternative ways of celebrating your holidays go to or the “Facebook Reclaim Your Holidays” page.

What would add meaning to your holidays this year? What parts of the holidays are not “life giving” for you?

Kristi Cooper

Energy, Food, Health

Push mower

November 10th, 2011

When I was  little girl, my grandparents had this rotary mower. Every Sunday after dinner, my brother and I pushed it all over their tiny lawn.  It had a long wooden handle and the open metal blades whirred as they sliced  the blades of grass and dandelion heads. Denny and I huffed and puffed and proudly cut the lawn for Grandpa.  We felt so strong and useful. The violets were usually too short to get cut and I remember laying in the lawn, smelling the fresh cut grass, picking the violets and dandelions that excaped the mower and bringing my bouquet to my grandmother.  We tasted the sweetness of the violet blossums and yellow dandelion flowers.  We “glued” our fingers together with the dandelion juice and painted our chins with their golden petals. As an adult, I learned that both violets and dandelions can add valuable nutrients to our diet and to the soil.

I am sure my grandparents had this mower for several reasons, the biggest being economic – they had a tiny lawn and a fixed income. What if we could make our yards smaller, so we could use a hand mower for the paths? What if our fitness routine was actual physical work? What if we didn’t kill the violets and dandelions with chemicals and relished their beauty and ability to add valuable nutrients to our lives?  What if we turned our lawns into food bearing spaces?

What could you do this fall and winter toward this goal?  I’m going to find a push mower on clearance!

Kristi Cooper

Connection with Nature, Energy, Environment, Food, Health, Water quality & conservation , , , ,

Winterizing Rain Barrels

November 8th, 2011

Well, these frosty mornings remind me that I need to get my rain barrels emptied for the winter.  I am collecting gallon milk jugs to store my rain water indoors. I have about 200 gallons still in my barrels. So I will need to do a good watering of my trees and shrubs and then save 50-60 gallons for indoor use this winter.  We will drain them and store them covered or upside down so they will not collect ice and snow over the winter.

Hmmmmm, if I had a cistern, I wouldn’t have to do this.  I am planning to attend a day of learning about “Beyond Rain Barrels” at the Johnson County Extension office November 15.  Anyone want to join me?

Kristi Cooper

Energy, Environment, Water quality & conservation ,

Green Office practices

November 7th, 2011

My office bought pitchers to serve water and other beverages  for meetings to reduce the use of disposable bottles. We also have glass glasses and cloth napkins to use for sit down lunches, etc.  We have a small container in our kitchenette to collect fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags for the vermi-compost bin under my desk. I used shredded office paper for the compost bin. We have boxes labeled for recycled paper in the work room and they get dumped into the recycle bin down the hall whenever they get full. We can recycle cardboard in the dumpsters behind the building.

What does your workplace do to be more  respectful of the environment?

Kristi Coooper

Energy, Environment, Food, Public policy, Waste Prevention , ,


November 5th, 2011

Once again, I had to get out the chain saw to get into a package. You know the kind – industrial strength plastic that is 50X larger than the item and impossible to get into.  I wish I  could just get the stuff I need without all the packaging.  And come to think of it. . .  I wish I didn’t think I needed all the stuff I buy.

Did you know that the stuff that you and I buy has a bigger impact on the environment than the gas mileage you get on your car!  Sad but increasingly true. Our consumer habits are detrimental to our health and the health of the environment. Consider these figures from US EPA for 2007: Nearly three-quarters (73.3%) of the waste we generate is throw-away products and packaging. According to a study released in September 2009 by the Product Policy Institute, 44% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from products and packaging. Read more at

packaging waste How can you influence what is produced? What do you think you need that you really don’t?

Kristi Cooper

Connection with Nature, Energy, Environment, Food, Public policy, Waste Prevention, Water quality & conservation , , ,

Green Holiday Entertaining

November 3rd, 2011

I have been at several large group meetings lately and  I cringe when we leave garbage cans full of trash.  I learned after one event that the facility does recycle but did not have labeled bins in the meeting rooms we used.   At a holiday open house last year at University of Northern Iowa they served over 100 people with NO waste!  They used well identified waste stations to turn the waste into a resource.  

Waste Station

What do you do in your meeting spaces to prevent waste and turn it into a resource?

Kristi Cooper

Energy, Environment, Food, Waste Prevention , , , ,


November 1st, 2011

On a weekend away last winter, we bought a dehydrator.  Finally, this past summer, we tried it out. Canned peaches, slices of fresh nectarine, and pears became sweet tidbits and a puree of overripe strawberries, blueberries and fresh mulberries made a great fruit leather.   I followed directions from the National Center for Food Preservation

This month, I’m sending these packable sweet treats with my husband on a hunting trip!

What is your experience with dehydrating food?

Kristi Cooper

Connection with Nature, Energy, Environment, Food ,