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After a completely random landing on a sustainable lifestyle blog, Hole in the Fence (a really good read, btw), I ended up following a link to The Nature Conservancy’s website. And, since the space time continuum apparently stopped while I was surfing the web, I decided that I had a burning need  (and unlimited amounts of time) to use their Carbon Footprint Calculator.

Our family, it appears, puts out about 39 tons of carbon per year. Considering the national average is over 50 tons, we’re doing pretty good. I guess we can do better but that’s another post.

What the Carbon Footprint Calculator did, though, was get me thinking about all the things that we can do to be green, business wise. As a matter of fact, now would be a good time to start up a small green business. Not only would you be doing a service for others but you’d be helping the planet and making a living at it, too. Not a bad set of circumstances.

So, without further ado, here are five green small business ideas that you can get started with:

1. Worm Farming - otherwise known as vermicomposting. Okay, it’s not glamorous since we are, after all, talking about worm poop. And you have to really like wiggly slimy things but worms are Nature’s recyclers and, according to my husband, vericompost fertilizer is the tops for any garden (notice how I avoided writing “its the s**t).  Here’s more information about vermicomposting to get you started:

2. Small Space Gardening – This is a very cool idea for those of you who have a knack for gardening. Here are a couple ideas: put together seed packets and instruction booklet for people in your climate zone, go to peoples’ homes and take care of their gardens, set up patio gardens for apartment dwellers for a fee, set up and run a community garden (if you have the room on your property), etc. You may want to start with The Edible Garden (book by Sunset) or the National Gardening Association.

3. Solar Panel Rentals – Sounds weird but it actually does exist. The upfront costs of solar panels is a little steep, to say the least, but if you can rent them from someone, the rental price is typically lower than the energy bill from the big power company. To start up a solar panel rental business, you’ll need to know your solar technology. Take some classes, install your own, install some for others, read about it, etc.  Additionally, you’ll need to be located in a sunny spot with decent solar subsidies to really make a go of it. Of the green businesses discussed in this post, this is the most expensive upfront but one with the longest lasting impact.

4. Green Clothing – Renewable sourced clothing is very hot right now plus it’s good for the environment. And, if you focus on pet clothing, you may have a niche market. Or, you could source the fibers for others to use in their projects (think organic cotton, bamboo, soy, and hemp). If you want to go the route of making clothing, you’ll need to know how to sew really well. So, this particular business is not for me but it might be for you!

5. Going Green Consultant – Why not help other businesses become greener and environmentally responsible? Any business can go green, from the office supplies to investments to business practices. All you need to do is take your passion for helping the environment and apply it in a new direction.

It goes without saying that you’ll need some business sense and elbow grease to get any small business going. However, if you have a passion for sustainability and for helping others, then I say go for it! Do your research and touch base with your local Small Business Administration or SCORE office for help (if you need it).

Do you have some other small business ideas that are sustainable and/or green? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

We should do more of it.

Seriously. It’s been years since we actually got a person on the moon (much less a female or a minority).

This dip we have in national curiosity about space reminds me of the early part of the 20th century when the US became isolationist. The only way to move forward is to look outward and, oh I don’t know, actually make that first move.

Which we did back on July 20th, 1969.

The goal was set by JFK in 1961 and reached by end of the decade. That’s what we can do when we work together and make the effort.

Moving forward, keeping the pace, and getting the job done. We’ve done it with other things, although those were mostly reactionary (9/11 & Katrina come to mind). Wouldn’t it be grand to do something positive & proactive again?

I would love to see my kids get excited about traveling the solar system. My eldest likes to watch the stars at night and, at our new place, we have a great view. I want him to think that he too can make it to the moon or beyond.

So, in my opinion, making that positive first step towards exploration and discovery is the goal the United States should focus on. We should continue what those space pioneers began in 1960’s, build on it, and create a new sense of wonder for the whole world.

114 degrees in the shade

Except for me. Yes, I live in the desert. Yes, I knew it was going to be hot when I moved here. And, no, I don’t have  a pool.

The two swamp coolers we have won’t stand up to this kind of heat. We’ll just have to mosey on down to the movie theater this afternoon during the worst of the heat and watch Harry Potter.

So, I guess the heat isn’t too bad. Just as long as I’m not in it.

..and cats and hamsters and horses…well, you get the idea. Even as some of the hand made pet items make me alternatively cringe and smile, they also make me realize that we will do anything for, or to, our pets.

Case in point: my puppy needed a martingale collar for his upcoming obedience class but I couldn’t find one small enough (he has one tiny neck!). So, I turned to the wonderfully talented Mandy at Pawsh Companions for help. She came up with a professionally designed martingale collar that looks good and works well.

That’s my Charlie there to the left. Isn’t he adorable?

Anyhoo, there are is a mind numbing amount of pet items on Etsy. Here are a few that jumped out at me and I thought I’d share with all the dog (and other pet) lover’s in the blogosphere!

Modern Dog House Plans: for those who prefer DIY and feel manly (or womanly..we can swing hammers too!) about making their best buddy a better designed house than most of us live in.

Eco Dog Coat: Who can resist a dachshund in posh green recycled plastic? I know I can’t and if my grandmother’s dachshund were still with us, she’d be wearing this snazzy jacket! Better yet it comes in custom sizes and colors. Charlie may be sporting some new clothes come wintertime.

Bully Bowl, The Food Station for Short-Nosed Dogs: What a very cool idea for those dogs with smushed in faces! The bowl is tilted so that the dog can eat comfortably. I’ve not seen something like this before so it is truly an unique item! Plus it’s affordable, customizable, and applicable to other dog breeds. A fabulous trifecta!

Chicken Gourmet Cookies for Big Dogs: Finally! Something for the big boys (and girls) to enjoy in more than one bite! These extra large doggie cookies are meant to satisfy even the biggest appetites (the owner has a newfoundland mix so she knows!). The ingredients are pet safe and natural too without processed items. And did I mention they are particularly elegant to look at? Check out these big dog cookies that even the Queen would be proud to serve to her pampered pooches.

Pet Portraits in Oils by puci: Honor your pet with a one-of-a-kind oil portrait. This artist has some serious talent and the prices are reasonable.

Every Dog Has His Day Spa Kit: Lovely presentation gift for that perfectly pampered pooch. This Day Spa Kit includes everything you need to keep your pup clean and smelling good.

Do you have a favorite dog item that you’d like to share? Know of other great Etsy sellers? Let me know!

Honest Scrap Award

Honest Scrap Award

So, Carrie Ann (Another Day, Another Thought..or Two) has awarded me the Honest Scrap award. I am, apparently, to publish to the world 10 true things about myself and then nominate 5 other bloggers to pass on the honesty love.

Hmmmm.

Since I am in an expansive mood, having just survived an encounter with a gopher snake hissing at our 10 week old puppy, I have decided to bestow upon you those things that I find true about myself.

You may want to remove the small children and elderly from the screen. No? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Truth #1: I like cookies. While I realize that this isn’t an earth shattering admission, it does have its consequences. Namely to my thighs and hips. Cookies are a bit of an obsession with me and I cannot have them in the house. Just so we’re clear, graham crackers do not count as they are a cracker and not a cookie.

Truth #2: I like to read. I will read a book from beginning to end in a couple of hours. I just pulled out all my books from their boxes after moving and found that I need more shelves. Well, more like 5 more book cases. My husband says its an addiction worse than crack cocaine. I don’t know what he’s talking about, too many books. How can you have too many books? I just need more shelves.

Truth #3: I am a mouse potato. I would rather spend time on the computer than watching the TV. Of course, there isn’t much on TV that I’d like to watch and at least my computer’s spam filter is a good one. Just an FYI, you know you are a mouse potato when you have to deliberately turn away from the screen to have a two second conversation with your spouse and/or child. Not having access to the Internet for the past 4 days has been a good thing for me. Jittery but good.

Truth #4: I like to color but not to draw. This is a bit of an odd admission for me since I am a pretty good artist. I can draw, mind you, I just prefer to play with lights and shadows than figure out the lines beforehand. Coloring books rock!

Truth #5: Pink is my favorite color. It didn’t used to be. However, the fact that I have 1 husband, 3 sons, and a male puppy has forced me to remind them with a subtle clue that I am, in fact, female and not “just one of the guys.” In other words, I don’t appreciate them farting, burbing, or pulling things out of their noses at the dinner table. Or any other time for that matter.

Truth #6: I wrote a book. Okay, it was a really bad one but still I took the time to write it. As a matter of fact, I’m stuck in the editing phase for it at the moment. I can’t figure out how to get the main characters from point A to point B and still kill off the henchman. Anyhoo, the book was the product of National Novel Writing Month (and yes, I did win!). I plan on writing another book this November and will be posting about it on my other blog, Write Chronicles.

Truth #7: I am a bad granddaughter. I should call my grandparents more often but I don’t. It isn’t that I don’t love them because I do. I’m just lazy.

Excuse me for a moment.

Okay, just confirmed that my grandparents still love me. Now we can move onto….

Truth #8: I swear like a sailor. Well, not all the time but I have been known to exhibit more salty language. This only becomes a major problem when the two year old begins to repeat everything I say.

Truth #9: I hate snakes. Okay, I admit it. I do not love all of God’s creatures. Snakes creep me out. There is a gopher snake living under the timber shoring up the lawn in our backyard and I can’t send the kids out to play until it leaves. Which I have a feeling it won’t. It hissed at my puppy which automatically puts it on my s**t list. Plus they ick me out with their wide mouths and eating of live animals. Eww.

Truth #10: I have a hot temper but just as quickly forgive. As my hubs puts it, I’m a bit high strung (and high maintenance but those are separate issues. I think.). I pray every day for access to the Fruits of the Spirit and, on some days, I fail miserably. On the flip side, I’ve learned to forgive and ask for forgiveness which you would think is an inherent behavior but isn’t. It was a tough learning process that made my family stronger in the end.

Okay, that’s done. Kind of cathartic. Anyhoo, I nominate the following people for the Honest Scrap award:

No, I realize that isn’t five people on my nominee list, and yes, I can count. I’ve nominated 2 very special people that I respect and admire. I’d nominate Carrie Ann, too, but she’s already gotten the award and we don’t want her head to swell too much. She’s fabulous and she knows it.

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