Mon., April 22, is a day for everyone — environmentalists and non-environmentalists alike — to surround ourselves with fresh air, feel the rich soil underneath their feet and discover their inner naturalists. Luckily, Tampa Bay organizations provide a variety of ways to help you show your love and appreciation for the planet we call home. If it's more convenient for you to celebrate over the weekend, rather than the Monday the holiday actually falls on, you have plenty of options.
That is the question that's pondered in the documentary film, In Organic We Trust. Through interviews with farmers, academics, and the public, In Organic We Trust tracks the organic movement's split from a philosophy to a corporate industry. Director Kip Pastor started the documentary (his first feature-length film) as a graduate student at the American Film Institute Conservatory. Pastor recently took the time to talk to me about his experience as a food activist and first-time filmmaker from his Los Angeles office.
As Floridians, hurricanes are routine. We are conditioned to it, the pace of preparation every year like clockwork. But as one New Yorker wrote me this morning, "Yes, you guys have hurricanes down there unfortunately. NYC does not, sadly."
So here are some ways people in the area are helping or can help.
When you conjure up images of European medieval woodland landscapes, as depicted in fairy tales and hero's adventures, the scenery is often an iconic archetype. The mosaic of images probably contains languidly moving brooks flanked by dense arboreal vistas and most certainly there is a vibrant lush green carpet stretching in all directions on the forest floor. This expansive and luxuriant green blanket is composed of an interwoven series of a singular and amazing plant; moss.
If you enjoy wine and being green, why not combine the two in honor of Earth Day? First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day honors anything protecting and preserving the planet. So, consuming green wine will preserve the planet and provide a buzz simultaneously. A win-win situation.
No, green wine isn’t a Kermit-like hue; the green refers to the practices surrounding the production of these wines. For example, many green wines are produced in sustainable wineries, which ban pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Some of these wineries are also biodynamic, meaning the vineyard is considered a “holistic ecosystem.” But biodynamic or not, green wineries produce their wines in an environmentally-conscious manner.
OceanSolution, located in Clearwater, is a company that harvests ocean water for their alternative fertilizer. It can be used on everything from agriculture to professional landscaping and turf. Recently, we asked Travis Queseda of OceanSolution a few questions about their product.
Q. What does OceanSolution provide for optimum plant growth that common fertilizers do not, and cannot?
A. If you are interested in organic only, Ocean Grown Solution products will provide all the necessary support for optimum plant growth and nutrition. OceanSolution (OS) is a foliar nutrient program that provides plants of all types the ability to maximize their genetic potential beyond that which is available through traditional fertilizer programs of today. OS is a mineral-based fertilizer solution built on a foundation of concentrated ocean water extracts that provides a complete and naturally balanced mix of all 90 natural elements.
I personally have never been one to get excited over Valentine's Day. I do, however, get excited over my dogs. Ask anyone and they will probably tell you that I'm one of those "dog people," the kind who prefers four-legged friends to two-legged ones. In my defense, I can't think of any one time my pups, or any pup for that matter, has left me feeling betrayed, deflated or otherwise unwanted. Can you?
One day upon scanning the shelves at Books-A-Million, I discovered the “Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook” from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company. It makes sense now that we are becoming more aware of all the advantages of organic eating that we would want to offer our pets the same kind of benefits we want for ourselves, so I bought into the idea and haven't looked back since.
The book has more than 100 recipes that are fun and simple to make. The most difficult ones involve the use of a food processor (which says a lot), because if you own one you know they exist only to make your life easier. You don't have to be a seasoned baker to make these treats, and I promise your pet will still love you regardless of the outcome.
Since I've experimented with this book, I've purchased others that are equally as creative but bring some concern, as some of the recipes call for ingredients such as garlic and raisins- foods I've learned are toxic to dogs. So for the most part, I stick to Bubba Rose, and I test my treats on my loyal, loving subjects. They may or may not be able to taste the difference in their new biscuits, but I've yet to hear any objections, and I feel a whole lot better knowing they're eating identifiable ingredients that I put together with my own hands.
St. Petersburg's new landmark could be the Lens, pending St. Pete City Council approval.
Michael Maltzan's Lens design got voted number one by the Pier design jury during its final meeting Friday morning. The Wave, by BIG, placed second and West 8 Urban Designs placed last. The jury received over 5,000 comments from the website and exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
In Friday's discussion, the jury found that the Lens project would have the lowest subsidy cost for maintenance and greatest flexibility for design elements. According to city officials at the meeting, the current cost to maintain the pier is between $1.3 and $1.5 million. The Wave had the highest potential subsidy, but also the highest potential revenue.
Some people take their coffee black, but now Bay area residents can drink it green.
Back in 2008, Dunkin Donuts — the all-day stop for coffee and baked goods — launched its first-ever “Green” café" in the heart of St. Petersburg. That shop scored the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification in 2010, a benchmark measuring minimal environmental impact in building design.
Now, the franchise takes another shot, opening its second environmentally friendly restaurant on Fourth Street, in the Garden District, near the Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Pete.
So lace up your sneakers and head down for the Jan. 13 grand opening.
Fri., Jan. 13, 1 p.m., 1046th Fourth Street North, St. Pete.
Dear EarthTalk: There are a number of companies out there now doing “energy audits” for the home, after which they try to sell you attic insulation and other products and services. Is this just a scam or would it be wise for me to look into this? —Bill Richards., New York, NY
For the most part, companies offering energy audits are reputable and legitimate and will help you both save money and reduce your carbon footprint if you follow their advice in regard to upgrading things like insulation, windows and appliances. “A home energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient,” reports the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.”
“During the assessment, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy,” adds DOE. “Energy assessments also determine the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems [and] may also show you ways to conserve hot water and electricity.”
You can conduct your own energy audit if you know where to look for air leaks (drafts), water waste and other key areas of a home’s inefficiencies. The DOE’s energysavers.gov website has guidelines to help homeowners conduct their own do-it-yourself home energy assessments. For instance, DOE recommends that homeowners make a list of obvious air leaks, such as through gaps along baseboards or at the edges of flooring and at wall and ceiling junctures. The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home can be as high as 30 percent per year, reports DOE. (The DOE website also provides information on other ways to save money and resources through less obvious things such as outdoor landscaping. It also posts guidelines for energy-efficient designing and remodeling.)
You should also check the filters on heating and cooling equipment to see if they need to be changed so as to keep your furnace and air conditioners functioning at maximum efficiency. And if these or other appliances over 15 years old consider replacing them with newer models that meet federal EnergyStar efficiency criteria. Also, swapping out older incandescent bulbs in light fixtures with higher efficiency compact fluorescent or LED bulbs will save money and energy.