New Year, New Idea

If you’ve been thinking about making a small change to help the environment, you’ve probably thought about how to produce less physical garbage. Plastics are one of the biggest problems, and let’s face it, they are found on everything.

HOW TO GIVE UP PLASTIC : SAVE THE WORLD ONE PLASTIC BOTTLE AT A TIME by Will McCallum, is a new book we have in our library that might help you achieve the goal of less plastic in your life. Written by one of the leaders in the anti-plastic movement, the book is full of informative statistics, quotes from influential people in Government, entertainment, and business, and contains lots of ideas on how you can reduce your plastic footprint.

If you don’t see it in the new bin, ask us to place a hold and we’ll let you know when it comes back in for you! We have lots of other interesting books on the subject as well, so make sure we point you in the right direction.


What do we have in the bin?

Once in a while, I like to take a walk over to the new bin to see what’s in and just what’s new.  Of course, we’re putting out new items on almost a daily basis, so there should be something for everyone to read.  In the non-fiction bin today, I chose a few random books that might be of interest to readers.

The first book is called Three Ways to Capsize a Boat by Chris Stewart. I’m thinking I might take this one home and have a read because it looks fun and interesting.  Stewart has had a myriad of jobs, from being the original drummer in Genesis to a sheep shearer, to a circus performer.  So when he is offered the chance to captain a sailboat in the Greek Islands, he takes on the challenge even though he has never sailed before!  Brave man, I think. His adventures are certainly worth writing about…from more than one fire aboard the boat to crashing into the dock as he meets up with the owners of the vessel.  But once he has finished his summer, he doesn’t want to stop sailing, so he joins a crew retracing Leif Eriksson’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean.  Sounds fun (well, maybe to someone who doesn’t get sea-sick)!

The second book in the pack is simply called Oceans : The Threats to Our Seas and What You Can Do to Turn the Tide, edited by Jon Bowermaster.  Of course, this was written before the BP Oil disaster, so maybe an update to the book will need to happen. Bowermaster has a great website chronicling his travels around the world to test the health of the world’s oceans, which you can find right here at Oceans 8. If you click on the Oceans 8 tab, the site brings you to a unique look at our oceans.  You can watch video, read the blog and see statistics that might get you interested in helping keep our oceans clean and healthy.  This book is the companion to the film, Oceans,  and has great information from a variety of sources.

The third book in my pile is called Eat the Cookie…Buy the Shoes by Joyce Meyer. I’m sure my husband might encourage me to take out this book, as it boasts the mantra to “give yourself permission to lighten up”, thus….eat the cookie, buy the shoes. The advice here is probably very good, and very common sense, we just need to stop being so hard on ourselves and enjoy life sometimes.  Keep in mind that this is a Christian-based book with advice based on Bible passages so if that isn’t your cup of tea, take a pass. But if you’re still interested, you can find out more about author Joyce Meyer on her website here.

The last book I picked up today is one that has been HIGHLY recommended to us by a number of patrons.  Called I Shall Not Hate : A Gaza Doctor’s Journey by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish.  After losing three of his daughters and a niece when Isreali shells hit his home in the Gaza strip,  “the Gaza Doctor” decided that revenge was not something he was going to pursue.  Instead, he remained in the area and continues to travel back and forth across both sides of the border to treat the wounded, hoping to ignite some conversation between both sides, instead of choosing violence.  If you don’t know much about the conflict, you’ll learn what it is like for people living right in one of the most dangerous zones in the world.  And hopefully, it’ll make you think about the way people are treated and how some people can rise above violence to promote a better cause.

Stop in and pick up a book like one of these from our new bin today!

Are you switching off for Earth Hour?

voteearthOn Saturday, March 28th at 8:30pm (your own local time), the Earth will be switching off.  It is a global mission to save our planet called Earth Hour and so far, 83 countries have committed to participating in Earth Hour and hopefully, many more will join.

What is Earth Hour?  It all began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour.  Last year, it became a global mission and this year, it is a way to cast your vote.  Turn your lights off…and you are voting for Earth.  Leave your lights on….and you’re voting for global warming.

It will be easy for homes to shut off their lights for an hour, but even businesses should think about participating.  Why not turn off the lights in your office or better yet, on your whole office floor before leaving on Friday afternoon?  You’ll be saving your company some money as well as saving the earth. I know we’ll be shutting everything off at the library that evening.  If we all did this on a weekly basis, think about how much better off the planet would be.

For more information on this great endeavor, you can visit Earth Hour here.

So go ahead, turn off those lights and cast your vote for Planet Earth!

Do you reuse?

This weekend, my husband commented on the fact that although the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is everywhere, we don’t really do all of those things. When I thought about it, he was right.  We recycle quite a bit in our house and while we are working on the reduce part, we really don’t reuse a lot of things.  I bring empty egg cartons to work for my storytime (they make great glue containers), and paper towel rolls, but what about all the other waste that comes from packaging and disposable materials?  Does anyone really find uses for all of the packaging or items they purchase?  I suppose many people do,  and here is just a great example of a variety of lighting made by DIY’ers and reused materials.

cardboard-fairy-lightsEgg carton light string, photo courtesy of Esprit Cabane (see their DIY step-by-step instructions to make these yourself!)

ballpoint-pen-chandelierBallpoint Pen Chandelier by EnPieza (made fora client)


spoon_1Plastic Spoon Chandelier by Studio Verissimo

You can find more creative uses of reused materials at this great site called Web Ecoist. Maybe it will inspire you to make something out of that peanut butter container you were about to throw in the garbage.

Inventing Greensburg

A while back, I did a blog on the little town of Greensburg, Kansas, a place which is slowly rebuilding in an environmentally friendly way after a major tornado hit the town in May of 2007. I was impressed by the fact that this town was taking the opportunity in such a devastating situation to really make some changes that would not only put the town back together, but do it in a way that is inspiring to every other town, village and city in the world.  And one of their town’s residents, a kind and generous woman by the name of Anita Hohl

was nice enough to respond to my blog regarding her town.  So I thought, why not see what our readers out there are thinking and doing with their lives.  I asked Mrs. Hohl a number of questions regarding the changes her town is making, in hopes that we can all learn something from their situation and possibly improve our own “green” standings, and the following is our email “conversation”.

(Carleton Place Public Library) – There was a question about the ultimate goal for Greensburg [in an interview on the town website that was conducted just after they started rebuilding].  Is the actual goal to promote awareness of the town through a “green” effort or will that just be the outcome?  Do you think that more people will move into your community specifically because it is/will be a green community?

(Anita Hohl) – **I think that’s just the outcome. The ‘green initiative’ is primarily for us, as a town.  Sustainability was the only way for our town to survive in the future. I do think more people will come here. There are so many people, both individually and companies, that are very dedicated to sustainable living, and the idea that our whole town is working toward that goal will make it a very attractive place to work, and live. I also think that although other small towns can’t really ‘start over’ like we’ve been able to do, they really need to start making some changes like what we’ve made to make sure they can survive in the future.

(CPPL) – I love your idea of wanting people to create “new” jobs such as a delivery service for groceries.  As small communities, this would really benefit a lot of people, and not just the ones who are trying to save on gas and time, but also people who just can’t get out themselves.  However, I think in my community, it might not fly, even if people think it is a great idea.  People don’t want to part with their hard-earned cash these days, it seems. How would you encourage people to use services like these if they were available in your community?

(AH) – **Here in Greensburg, especially now, most things we need we have to travel out of town for. With the prices going up, especially the price of fuel, it will be cheaper in the long run to pay a small fee for someone else to pick things up… plus the big thing is that it creates less traffic, less emissions, and saves the environment that much more if one vehicle is making one trip instead of 5 vehicles making 5 trips!

(CPPL) -You educate your children at home, as do many people.  I assume you are encouraging and teaching them about living a greener life.  I think that we really need to get the children involved because they will be the ones living with what we choose to do today.  Do you think there should be a whole new curriculum taught in schools now, just as we teach math and spelling, that would educate our youth about the environment?

(AH) – **Most definitely! The only way for kids to have a future at all, is to do things so much different than we have in the past! I am seeing a real change in this generation over my own generation, in that the really understand the effects of our actions on the environment, and really want to do things differently. Greensburg GreenTown started a Green Club at our high school that has really taken off. There are assemblies where people who deal with environmental issues in their work come and talk to the kids. Our new school system is being built green, to LEED standards. I really look forward to Greensburg kids in particular going out into the world and making a huge difference for the environment, but kids everywhere are stepping up to that challenge and making a difference wherever they live. I have taught my kids to see beyond their own lives – that we are not just Greensburg residents, but we are citizens of the world, and that we need to work to help everyone on every continent, and that what we do as a nation effects the entire world.

(CPPL) – I think the fact that people in your community get together to teach each other about their own cost saving and green measures is absolutely wonderful!  Somehow, I think people might be reluctant to share these little secrets in some communities (for whatever reason), even if it really is a great community-oriented thing to do.  Any ideas on how we could promote an exchange of ideas here? How does your community really make this work?

(AH) – **We weren’t near as close as a community before the storm. Sadly, it often takes something catastrophic to bring people together. GreenTown is a non-profit organization that works very hard to keep people together, and keeps them talking… It just takes perseverance and planning to arrange events that will get people talking together, interacting. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it is so necessary to our survival if we work together! In times past, people were always sharing information, whether it was at public gatherings, or just over the back fence… but today people don’t talk like they used to, their lives are too full, too frantic. Simplifying our lives is really the key.

(CPPL) – We are such a “NOW” society in general.  Everything has to be so instant these days, especially to young people.  How can we get people to really think into the future and know that we need to do so?  Is Greensburg promoting its changes as something good for the future, or more as cost savings for the future?

(AH) – **We maintain that sustainability is the only way we will have a future. Some people here are only concerned with the savings to them, but most of us have learned enough about what is really going on to know that life can’t go on the way it has been… So many people are still ignorant of the facts – they think conservation is only about saving the polar bears, or some endangered species in a jungle somewhere, but they don’t see it’s about conserving us! I think if people knew the facts about how our water is being depleted, and about how the water we do have is getting more and more polluted every day, they would understand things like water conservation so much better. Education is the key.

(CPPL) – What is the main source of renewable energy that your community is focusing on?  Wind power?  Solar power?  Or are you more concerned with individuals making changes which will add up to a greater community difference, rather than town-based changes?

(AH) – **The city plans utilize wind, solar, and geothermal energy, as well as rainwater collection systems, passive solar, and a host of other technologies.  Individually, we are all encouraged to do as much as we can on whatever level – every little bit helps! This is just a start for us all and I’m sure more will be added in the future. I think that people don’t realize how big of a difference small changes can make. If not in the energy savings themselves, then in the influence on others we create when we make these smaller changes. Look at the impact our tiny town has made on the world – and one person’s efforts can make just as much impact in their circle of friends!

(CPPL) – We have several “off-the-grid” homes around here and although the start-up costs when building can be daunting, the result is huge savings to run the home.  However, there are still many glitches involved in running these homes and in the winter months here, that can be disastrous. Do you think that off the grid homes are realistic anywhere in the world or should they be reserved only for communities without a great deal of weather change?

(AH) – **I think that currently they can be quite a bit of work. I think the more technical they are, the more that can go wrong! 150 years ago, all homes were “off the grid” and I think one way of making “off the grid” work better is to simplify life itself.  Drastically reduce things that need energy to work, and reduce square footage of the homes. Going completely off-grid is not feasible for everyone, or even possible. I think it can be done everywhere, but not by just anyone. Simple living is the key to going green that seems to be the hardest thing for people to understand. They want to keep all their vehicles, and huge houses, and all the newest electronic gizmos and gadgets, and still go green… but it just doesn’t work that way! The “bigger is better” theory is one thing that created the environmental mess that we’re in!

I think that many of Mrs. Hohl’s answers touched on very good points. I think I was most struck by the simple statement about how 150 years ago, all homes were “off the grid”.  How true!  It seems like such an odd idea that people actually lived that way, without electricity and luxuries we have today, and they were perfectly able to sustain themselves.  I know that it was not an easy life, and it would be a HUGE thing to most of us to have to give up the way we have always known to live, but it is worth thinking about.  With the state of the world today, we are constantly trying to find ways to make our lives better, go greener and use fewer resources.  Maybe the scientists of the day shouldn’t be focusing on alternate ways to make things run the way they are now, but rather, maybe they should be focusing on the fact that going back to the old ways might save us altogether.  Simple is the solution, I’m afraid.

Many, many thanks to Anita Hohl for her great insight and suggestions for our blog readers.  Hopefully, she and her town will inspire you to make a few changes in your lives today. For more information on Greensburg and their GreenTown initiative, visit this link:

It’s not that easy being green…..

Photo of Greensburg, Kansas by Greg Henshell

Maybe you wouldn’t think of a tornado as being something good for a community, but the small town of Greensburg, Kansas might change your mind. Last year, a tornado virtually wiped out the entire town, hitting homes, businesses and everything else that was basically standing within the town limits. With everything gone, some would think that it would be easier to just pick up and move somewhere else, but most of the 1400 residents decided to re-build. And this time, they are choosing to go green.

Returning homeowners and businesses are being encouraged to go as green as possible. Energy saving lights, rainwater collection systems, solar panels, wind turbines and water-saving toilets are just some of the things that people are encouraged to consider as they start again. It really is a unique opportunity for an entire town to completely change the way they live. You can read more about Greensburg and their efforts here.

Did you know that actress Nicole Kidman asks that the lightbulbs in her hotel rooms be changed to energy efficient bulbs when she travels?

For an interesting read about going green, try:

Farewell my Subaru : An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine

You can find a lot of information about going green in your own life as well at this great website called The Green Guide.