Current Issue - Green Living Journal

Focus on Healthy Homes
What’s Radon? ● Stamp Out Mold ● Living Well
Non-toxic Paints ● Organic Bedding
Fossil Fuels: Divest or Engage?
plus Urban
Lumber ● Simple Root Cellars
National Editor’s Page............................................................ 3
Local Notes . ................................................................................... 4
Healthy Home Section
The Joy of Living Well............................................................... 8 Leave It at the Door.................................................................10
Radon: If Only It Smelled Like Sulphur . ..........................12
Natural and Organic Bedding Options ...........................14
Dealing With Biological Pollutants ...................................16
21 Ways to Detox Your Home .............................................18
Avoiding Toxic Chemicals in Paint ....................................20
Electric Vehicle News
The State of the Electric Vehicle..........................................22
Outdoor Root Cellars..............................................................24
Urban Lumber...........................................................................26
Divest or Engage? ...................................................................28
Classifieds . .................................................................................. 31
Green Living Journal
Columbia River Press P. O. Box 677, Cascade Locks, OR 97014
Editor: Gary Munkhoff 541.374.5454
[email protected]
Susan Place 541.374.5454
[email protected]
Linda Ross
[email protected]
Prepress/Graphics/Ad Production: Katie Cordrey
iByte Company - [email protected]
National Editor: Stephen Morris
[email protected]
Distribution: Ambling Bear
Printed with soy-based inks on recycled paper by Signature Graphics
The Green Living Journal is published quarterly and 20,000 copies are
distributed free of charge throughout the Portland-Vancouver metro area. We
encourage our readers to patronize our advertisers, but we are not responsible
for any advertising claims.
Subscriptions $9.95 per year.
Copyright © 2014 / 2015 Columbia River Press LLC
Cover Photo:
This issue’s cover is a portion of the mural on the west side of the City
of Portland maintenance building at 3150 N Mississippi Ave. The mural was
painted by artists Jakub Jerry Kucharczk, Matt Schlosky, and Matthew Allen
Wooldridge. The 118 feet long mural depicts a timeline of neighborhood
history starting with the Native American settlement of the area to its recent
past as the center of the African-American community.
Green Living Journal
National Editor’s Page
By Stephen
Photo courtesy of Flickr member Lyle
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
your own advice, you might occasionally
leave money on the table, but you will
also avoid the classic mistake of throwing good money after bad. I call this the
Greed and Fear Rule.
And what does this all have to do
with Green Living? Everything, in my
opinion. People who are “friends of the
environment” are thought by some to be
tree-hugging dilettantes who can afford
to pay carriage-trade prices to drive their
Priuses to the local co-op.
My definition of a “friend of the
environment” is a cheapskate who
thoughtfully applies The Snowpants
Rule to each and every decision, fully
considering the resource requirements
and payback. Should I grow kidney beans
in the garden when I can buy them for
$0.79 a pound at the supermarket, or
$1.69 for the organic ones at the co-op?
From a dollar and cents perspective, this
is a no-brainer, but what if you factor in
the fact that my out-of-pocket costs are
zero because I saved seed from last year’s
crop? What if I monetized the benefits to
my health from the fresh air and exercise
I get in the garden, or to my psyche from
the rhythm of shelling beans? Then there
is the satisfaction of consuming something in March, that came from my own
soil and has been touched at least twice
by my own hands. I can’t express these as
numbers, but I promise I’m going to grow
beans again!
Stephen Morris is the National
Editor for the Green Living Journal,
lives in Randolph, VT, and is an avid
Red Sox fan.
Recently, my oldest son, now a
thirty-something living in New York City,
referenced, “The Snowpants Rule.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“What’s that?” he looked at me incredulously, “You made it up!”
“Remind me then.”
“When we were little kids and we’d
want to go out and play in the snow,
you’d tell us we couldn’t go out unless we
promised to stay out for at least as long
as it took us to put on our snowpants in
the first place. The Snowpants Rule.”
Ah-h-h, yes. My mind reeled me back
across the decades to packaging up
my son and his brother in hats, boots,
mittens, and snowpants to be protected
from the harsh, Vermont winter. Too often, after taking fifteen minutes to properly bundle them, they’d feel the first puff
of wintery chill and would be banging on
the door to get back in.
My son continued. “I’ve found The
Snowpants Rule can be applied in any
number of other situations, too. For instance, there’s the Travel Variation of The
Snowpants Rule. It’s not worth traveling
anywhere unless you are planning to stay
there at least the square of your travel
time. So, don’t spend two hours going
somewhere unless you are planning to
stay there at least four hours (2 x2=4). If
it takes twelve hours of travel time, you
should spend 144 hours (12 x 12), or six
days, there. It’s a very versatile rule.”
I’ve thought a lot about The Snowpants Rule since then. The concept is brilliant, not because I gave it a name, but
because of its simplicity. Paraphrased, it
is, “Think through your resource requirement before embarking on a project.”
Duh, that’s a no-brainer, you say, but it’s
amazing how many times we see it violated in real life. A few examples:
I was approached recently by someone wanting marketing assistance to
increase volume on a product with a cost
of $12 that they would sell at a retail of
$16, giving retailers a 40% discount (netting $9.60). Since each transaction would
be losing $2.40, increasing the volume
wouldn’t help much.
A local restaurant failed because the
owner finally realized that with the number of tables he had, and the number
of “turns” he could do each evening, he
would never be able to cover his fixed
costs. He did the math, but only after the
This brings to mind other cliches,
such as, “plan your work and work your
plan.” These are wise words that apply to
many situations, but how often do we
violate them? Another variation on the
theme is what I think of as The Garden
Rule. When planning a garden, complete
your plan, then cut the garden size in
half, and cut it in half again. Seasoned
gardeners have learned the hard way
that what seems feasible when tilling in
April, may be a tangle of untended weeds
come August.
Another variation of The Snowpants Rule can help you in managing
your investments. Remember the Tech
Bubble? Fortunes were lost when decisions were fueled by greed, then losses
were exacerbated
by tumbling prices
which caused
panic selling. Now,
before making
an investment, I
try to ask myself,
“What profit will I
be satisfied with
and how much am
I willing to lose?” If
you are disciplined
enough to follow
Local Notes
Fix-It-Fairs 2015 Season
The Fix-It Fair is a FREE City of Portland event where you can learn simple
ways to save money and connect with
resources. Join your neighbors and talk to
the experts about how to spend less and
stay healthy.
Ongoing exhibits and hourly workshops on such topics as:
Water and energy savings
Safe and healthy home
Food and nutrition
Neighborhood and community
Weatherizing your home
Gardening and growing your own food
Yard care and composting
Free lead blood testing
Free giveaways
Hourly door prizes
Free professional childcare
Free lunch
Free minor bike tune-ups and
flat tire repair for students and
When & Where:
Saturday January 24, 2015
Rosa Parks Elementary School
8960 N Woolsey Ave, Portland, OR
9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Saturday February 21, 2015
David Douglas High School
1001 SE 135th Ave, Portland, OR
9:30 am to 3:00 pm
For more info:
WSU Offers Small Farm Business Planning Course
WSU Clark County Extension will
offer a 10 week course, Agricultural
Entrepreneurship and Business Planning,
designed to help entrepreneurs develop
a workable business plan to guide the
success and sustainability of their agricultural enterprise.
The course will help beginning and
existing farmers gain skills in business
planning and important aspects of
operating a sustainable business. Special
emphasis is placed on direct marketing, record keeping, and financial and
legal issues unique to agricultural businesses. Instructors include farm marketing specialists, accountants, attorneys,
agricultural professionals, and local farm
business owners sharing their farming
and marketing experience.
“Local farmers looking to expand or
start their business will benefit from the
advice, tips and experiences shared by
knowledgeable instructors and guest
farmers throughout the course”, says
Eric Lambert, Small Acreage Program
Coordinator. “A farm business plan is a
roadmap that can guide farmers to be
successful and sustainable,” says Doug
Stienbarger, WSU Clark County Extension
Green Living Journal
Registration is $100 per farm or family
and class size is limited to the first 30 participants. This class series fills up quickly
so contact Eric Lambert at [email protected] 360-397-6060 ext. 5729 or visit
the WSU Clark County Extension events
calendar ( for registration
details. Deadline for registration is January 12th.
WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without
discrimination. Persons requiring special
accommodations should call WSU Extension Clark County at (360) 397-6060 ext. 0
two weeks prior to the event.
Wednesdays, January 14
through March 18, 2015
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Hazel Dell, WA
Local Notes
Paint Care Oregon
PaintCare is a non-profit organization
established by the American Coatings
Association to manage paint recycling
programs nationally. Oregon took the
lead in 2010 as the first state to adopt the
program. Since then, seven more states
have joined.
Here are some highlights of how
PaintCare Oregon has grown up in the
past four years, according to Oregon
Program Manager Roy Weedman:
The number of PaintCare dropoff sites now number 135
95 percent of Oregon residents
live within 15 miles of a permanent collection site.
Locations include chain stores,
such as Miller Paint, SherwinWilliams and Glidden Profes-
sional, as well as independent
operations like Madras Paint &
Glass and Hood River Supply.
More than 600,000 gallons of
paint is expected to be processed this year.
More than 2 million gallons of
paint have been processed in
the first four years.
66 percent of latex paint is being reprocessed into recycled
content latex paint.
For more info:
Study participants are needed to help
evaluate if a whole-foods nutrition education course affects food choices over time
and results in decreased risk factors for
diabetes and heart disease. The nutrition
education course is a series of hands-on
workshops led by naturopathic physicians. It focuses on simple techniques for
selecting and cooking tasty, nutritious
whole foods and teaches how these foods
can improve health and fitness.
Study participants attend a weekly,
90-minute nutrition education course
over 12 weeks, as well as four study visits
over a 12-month period. Study visits take
place at the same location as the classes.
Study visits last about one hour each and
include a fasting blood test and completion of surveys. Participants receive
weekly meals during the course and up
to $120 upon completion of the study.
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
To participate, individuals must be between the ages of 18-70 and pre-diabetic
or at risk for pre-diabetes (having one or
more of the following risk factors: overweight, inactive lifestyle and/or a family
history of diabetes). Participants cannot
have a current diagnosis of diabetes,
celiac disease, active inflammatory bowel
or heart disease, be currently taking antidiabetic or corticosteroid medications,
currently pregnant or have previously
taken the NCNM FAME or ECO courses.
Workshops are held at three locations: Charlee’s Kitchen at NCNM in SW
Portland, Mt. Olivet Church in North Portland, and the United Methodist Church
in Banks. The study is being run by the
Helfgott Research Institute at National
College of Natural Medicine. IRB# 091614.
Call 503.552.1883 for more
information about the study.
Participants Needed for Nutrition Research Study
Local Notes
The fourth biennial ORGANICOLOGY, an
educational conference for organic farmers, activists, policy experts, educators,
retailers and sustainable businesses is
scheduled for
Tour – February 4, 2015
Join Lane Selman, Oregon State University agricultural researcher and director
of the Culinary Breeding Network, to
experience culinary gems at Ayers Creek
Farm, goat cheese at Fraga Farmstead
Creamery and the traditional sake of
Feb. 5-7 at the Hilton Portland
Created by four organic trade organizations, Organicology is a collaborative
platform uniting the organic food community to advance trade knowledge and
address challenges in the organic food
The 2015 conference will continue to focus on sustainability, organic farming and
When it comes to waste, we’re all
familiar with the three R’s: reduce, reuse
and recycle. Most of us recycle and many
of us are finding ways to reuse or repur-
seed issues, as well as a wide range of
pertinent and timely topics, including the
impacts of climate change on agriculture
and genetically engineered crops.
Pre-Conference Organic Farm & Tasting
pose things. But the most important
piece of the puzzle is reducing waste, and
that’s the difficult part. A typical household in Clark County produces about 50
pounds of waste each week. How can we
reduce the amount of waste we produce?
Enter WasteBusters: a waste reduction
competition for Clark County families.
Participants start the competition with a
baseline waste weigh-in, then complete
workshops and challenges that help
them to reduce their waste. The competition begins on Earth Day, April 22nd, runs
for six weeks and culminates in an awards
Organic Tradeshow
Saturday’s all-day tradeshow will feature
many exhibitors, ranging from small family farms, breweries and food manufacturers to farm and organic seed suppliers,
and advocacy and education groups.
For more info:
ceremony at the Recycled Arts Festival on
June 27th 2015.
Alyssa Hoyt, a member of last year’s
winning family, put it best, “Knowing I
would be doing an inventory of everything that went in our trash can, I evaluated the items I bought with the end
waste in mind.”
For more info:
or contact WSC-Clark County Environmental Services AmeriCorps member, Beth
Simon, at [email protected]
Documentary Film Series Returns to Fort Vancouver Regional Library
The Vancouver Watersheds Alliance’s Annual Food & Film Series kicks off in January and continues the fourth Tuesday of
the month through June from 6-8pm at
Fort Vancouver community library in
Downtown Vancouver.
This highly acclaimed event features
provocative documentaries spotlighting
relevant environmental topics facing the
planet today, plus complimentary pizza
(GF/DF option). This is our 5th year
For more info:
Green Living Journal
Reduce Your Waste Project Offers Classes
behaviors and learn how to make lasting
changes. Reducing your waste is a simple, profound way to decrease your impact on
the planet and save money, too.
Master Recycler and waste reduction
advocate Betty Shelley and her husband,
Jon, have had just one 35-gallon can of
garbage per year since 2006. In a three-session class, Less is More:
Getting to One Can of Garbage a Year,
Betty Shelley teaches you her techniques
for reducing waste and why they’re so
important. The format is interactive and
encourages participants to examine their
Class Dates
January 13, 20 , 27
March 3, 10 and 17
April 21, 28 & May 5
6:30 pm-8:30 pm at the NWEI office, 107
SE Washington St. $30 fee;
$25 for NWEI members.
To register, call 503-244-8044 or email
[email protected]
Class is limited to 8-12 participants.
March 28 - 29, 2015
Portland Expo Center
Join the Better Living Show and
explore the latest in green living, health,
and wellness. Take in a fashion show, join
your kids in the Kid Zone, sample vegan
fare, learn about sustainable gardening
and more.
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Priceless to explore
Whether you are just starting to look
into going green and moving towards
a sustainable lifestyle, or looking at the
next big thing to further your efforts to
reduce your footprint, the Better Living Show is for you. The expo revolves
Everything you need in one place:
• New green technologies
• Gardening and healthy eating
• Personal health and wellness
• Eco fashion
• The latest in green construction and renewable energy
Free To Attend
The 2015 Better Living Show
around the latest and greatest ways to
live healthy and lower your impact on the
Healthy Home
The Joy of Living Well
Photo by Tony Giammarino
What are the components of healthy
living? Although that wasn’t necessarily
what Stuart W. Rose and Trina C. Duncan
set out to discover when they built their
home in Poquoson, Va., their sustainable
housing project ended up revealing the
answers: namely, healthy air, fresh food
and a commitment to finding joy.
About 10 years ago, when they realized we were on course to burn out the
planet’s resources if we didn’t change our
ways, Stuart (who goes by Stu) and Trina
wanted to do something to be part of
the solution. Because Stu is an architect
and Trina got her undergraduate degree
in interior design, they decided to build
the most sustainable home they could —
for themselves and others. Leaving their
home in Washington, D.C., the couple
moved to Poquoson, where they would
develop the sustainable living community Garden Atriums — starting with a
home for themselves.
Garden of Health
Wanting the most efficient home
possible, Stu and Trina superinsulated the
house and nixed exterior windows on the
north side to block cold winter wind and
hot summer sun. But they also wanted
the interior spaces to be sunny, which
led them to the idea of building a garden
atrium — a light-filled space in the center
of the home filled with plants.
The atrium became the focal point for
the entire home. But more than bringing in sunshine and beautiful plants, the
atrium made for a much healthier home;
something the couple hadn’t anticipated,
but something Trina desperately needed.
Having suffered a debilitating illness throughout childhood, Trina had a
weakened immune system and is sensitive to chemical exposure. She hoped to
improve her health by choosing materials
that wouldn’t offgas into their home’s interior, such as zero-VOC paint, solid-wood
cabinetry and dye-free wool carpet. Trina
and Stu also sourced locally as much as
possible. “We wanted to be able to say,
‘Oh, we got this at your local whatever
store,’ so people could see that building
this way is easy,” Trina said.
While those choices were crucial to
improving their home’s air, installing
Green Living Journal
By Jessica Kellner
the atrium — which they chose for its
efficiency and aesthetic qualities — may
actually have had the biggest effect on
air quality. “Somebody visiting our house
made the comment that these plants
have got to be really good for the air, so
we hired a toxicologist to come see,” Stu
said. “He has these devices for testing
carbon dioxide and oxygen content, but
without even measuring he said, ‘My
gosh, you have an oxygenated environment.’ When he measured, we ran about
300 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide, which is about the same as outside
air. Most houses run between 1,000 ppm
and 1,500 ppm, and over 1,500 is when
you have rashes and other problems.
Our oxygen levels are two to three times
higher than outside air!”
Trina said living in the space has dramatically improved her well-being. “When
I lived in D.C., I’d be around anyone sick
and I’d come down with whatever they
had,” she said. “That has changed significantly since I’ve lived here ... I used to get
constant hives and they’re gone. They
weren’t gone before we moved here. My
immune system is stronger, and I think
breathing air that has a lot more oxygen
helps. It’s pretty significant for me.”
Trina also credits the home’s quietude
— with superinsulation and landscape
plantings strategically placed to buffer
sound, she said the home is the quietest
place she’s ever lived — and its connection with the cycles of nature for her
improved health. “When you’ve got a
humongous skylight over your house,
you’re aware of when the sun is up and
down and your body gets really in sync
with the sun. My rhythm of when I go to
bed and wake up and how much I sleep
has significantly improved. Here we’re really aware of moon cycles and sun cycles
and weather and all of that. We’re in tune
with the earth and its rhythms, which I
think is how we’re designed.”
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Stu and Trina aren’t the only ones
who benefit from their home’s health
effects. Determined to help showcase the
feasibility of selling sustainable homes,
they developed several homes for others,
all centered around a community park, to
create the Garden Atriums community.
Today, six of seven home sites are built
and occupied; one remains to be developedß. “None of the residents who are
here now have any allergies anymore,”
Stu said. “I have a friend I grew up with
who was visiting us for 10 or 11 days. On
day three, he came down for breakfast
and he said, ‘My allergy symptoms are
gone. I take a lot of pills and I get a shot
once a week.’ Before he left he was off all
of his medication.”
A healthier indoor environment isn’t
the only benefit the Garden Atriums
homes offer their residents. Designed
for community living, the homes are
clustered together (although all have
private yards), leaving room for large
areas of shared space. In the center of
the community lies a 3-acre park area
that includes an organic garden space, a
recreational grass area, a fruit orchard, a
solar-powered greenhouse, a boat dock
and a pond.
Although several community members
enjoy gardening, others didn’t have time
to take advantage of their garden plot.
Wanting everyone to have access
to fresh produce, the residents pooled
resources to hire a permaculture-certified
farmer who grows food for the community. “We all go down on Saturday
mornings for ‘Market Time’ when farmer
Jonathan has everything out in baskets,”
Stu said. “There will be a long white thing
and someone said ‘What’s that?’ It’s a
parsnip. ‘What do you do with it?’ There’s
an exchange of information going on.”
The farmer distributes the fruits and
Healthy Home
Community by Design
veggies, talks about the plants, and lets
the children try different foods. A pair of
young twins live next door to Stu and
Trina, and they love tasting the food
that grows on the property. “We have an
orchard around the pond and these kids
know when something is ready and they
can pick it,” Stu said. “The upper branches
are for the adults and the lower ones for
the kids. They have a greater knowledge
of food than I ever did as a kid.”
For Trina and Stu, it was important
that they and their neighbors felt a
sense of community, so they worked on
ways to enhance connectedness as they
developed the space. “There’s a firm in
Milwaukee and their target is to make
boring communities lively,” Stu said. “I
had some work to do about a two-hour
drive from there, so I said; ‘Can I hire you
and just pick your brains?’ They said the
key is crossroads — what do you have
that allows you to bump into somebody?
That’s where cul-de-sacs lose.”
With open spaces to play sports,
trails for walking, a pond for fishing, a
solar-powered greenhouse for growing
year-round and more, there are plenty of
spots for community members to come
together. “I love to garden,” Trina said.
“Part of what’s been really nice for me
is that not everyone who moves here
knows how to garden, so I’ve been kind
of the local expert. People learn from
each other and teach each other.”
Stu and Trina’s education and careers
make facilitating community relatively
easy for them. Stu’s doctorate is in organizational development, and he and Trina
are partners in a consulting firm in which
they teach client relations and coach
CEOs and associates on leadership and
team development. Therefore, communication was crucial to their vision in building community. Rather than being run
by a committee, all decisions involving
shared Garden Atriums’ land are made
continued on page 30
Healthy Home
Leave It at the Door
What’s in the dust in your home?
crawling on floors, and placing their hands
in their mouths. Anyone with asthma or
other respiratory problems, or a weakened
immune system should make every effort
to reduce household dust.
There may be insect fragments,
lead dust, pesticides, pollen, dust mites,
animal dander, hair, human skin flakes,
fungal spores or cigarette ash.
Many of the contaminants inside your
home are brought in from outdoors. They
can enter your home on your shoes and
clothing. Not surprisingly, the greatest
concentration of household dust is found
in carpeting near the entryway.
The first four steps you take inside
your front door bring in close to 85
percent of the outdoor contaminants..
By taking a few simple steps, you can
improve the health of your home and
reduce the time spent cleaning.
Children are at greatest risk of exposure to contaminants found in household
dust. They are more likely to be sitting and
Doormats help reduce tracking in
contaminants. Findings from an EPA
study indicated that when a doormat was
used and shoes were not worn, lead dust
and other chemicals in the home were
reduced by about 60 percent.
Leaving contaminants and shoes at
the door reduces the time and effort
needed to clean your home. You will save
money by reducing wear and tear on
your carpets and floors. It also reduces
your exposure to pesticides, lead dust, as
well as asthma and allergy triggers.
Photo courtesy of Flickr member Lyza
To prevent slips and falls indoors,
choose an indoor shoe, slipper or sock
with a non-slip sole. If you have balance
issues or a tendency to bump into things,
choose a hard-soled shoe with good traction to wear indoors.
Adapted from: Leave it at the
Door HACE-E-81. University of Georgia
Cooperative Extension. Pamela Turner,
Ph.D, Sharon Gibson, Ambre Latrice Reed.
Article references available. Distributed by
Oregon State University Extension Service.
OSU ES provides programs to all without
Advertising in the
is a Bargain!
Green Living Journal
Healthy Home
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Healthy Home
Radon: If Only It Smelled Like Sulphur
By Jim Bittner
a significant issue is to test your home,
which may be accomplished with an
inexpensive, easy-to-use kit purchased at
your local hardware store. Some houses
will test low, others moderate, while still
others will be quite high.
So why all the fuss?
It’s on television.
It’s in the newspapers.
It’s on billboards.
Portland, Vancouver, Salem, and
points between have a radon issue--one
that has been here for thousands of
years--and one that is not going away.
The soil in the Willamette Valley, much
of Clark County, and up and down the
Columbia River Gorge contains granite,
Ice Age material brought down the Columbia River from western Montana and
northern Idaho during the Great Missoula
Floods between 10,000 and 12,000 years
ago. This rock is found as sand, gravel,
cobblestones, and even boulders. Mixed
into the upper layers of our soil, this
material contains uranium, which breaks
down naturally and produces radon gas.
Radioactive, colorless, invisible, and
with no smell, radon is drawn upward
into our homes (regardless of the
architectural style, age of the home, or
foundation type) by the relatively low
pressure found in the structure above
(think of the house acting like a big chimney). The only way to know you have
Almost 40 years ago, medical research
began to connect long-term exposure
to high levels of radon with the development of lung cancer. Today, the American Lung Association, American Cancer
Society, Office of the Surgeon General,
Environmental Protection Agency, and
World Health Organization have each
acknowledged the significant risk which
radon poses. An estimated 22,000 fatalities are attributed annually to long-term
radon exposure in the United States
alone. Radon is now the second leading cause of lung cancer, trailing behind
cigarette smoking, as the leading cause
of lung cancer for non-smokers.
In 2005, seven significant case studies
in New Jersey, Missouri, Iowa, Connecticut, Utah and Winnipeg, assessing 3,662
cases of lung cancer, confirmed the radon
health risks predicted years earlier by occupational studies of underground miners. Researchers had questioned if the
older occupational studies could be used
to calculate risks from exposure to radon
in homes. “These findings effectively end
any doubts about the risks to Americans
of having radon in their homes,” said
Tom Kelly, former director of EPA’s Indoor
Environments Division. “We know that
radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon
can lead to lung cancer.” 22,000 deaths
a year, are attributed to radon exposure.
For context, 3,300 fatalities were a result
of distracted driving, whether texting or
using a mobile phone, in 2012.
Green Living Journal
What can be done about radon?
First and foremost, testing your house
is a simple process. For under $30, a
short-term test (from 2-5 days in length)
can be performed, including shipping,
laboratory analysis, and reporting. Based
upon the report, a homeowner can then
make an informed decision whether to
seek out a certified mitigation firm. Each
state maintains a list of currently certified
companies. In Oregon, contact the Public
Health Division’s Radon Program at 971
673-0440, while the Washington State
Department of Health’s Radon Program
may be reached at 360 236-3253.
Mitigation involves installing a system
to counteract the house’s upward influence on radon. No one can stop the soil
under a home from naturally producing
this gas, but what can be changed is the
path radon takes. A depressurization
system will “hold” the gas beneath the
house, draw it to a collection point (typically a small well excavated beneath the
basement slab or in a crawlspace), then
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Healthy Home
vent it to the exterior of the house and
above the roofline (preventing re-entry
through a nearby open window). Postinstallation testing will confirm a system
has successfully lowered the radon levels
in the home.
For most single family homes, such
a system will cost between $1,500 and
$2,000. It is a permanent, year-round
solution, and EPA’s preferred approach
to the problem (as opposed to merely
ventilating the home by keeping windows cracked open, or placing a fan in
the basement).
Many property owners only learn
about radon when they place their home
on the market. A growing number of
home inspectors are including radon testing as part of their services, and real estate
agents--increasingly aware of radon--are
frequently encouraging buyers to have
homes tested. In many cases, a high test
(above the EPA Action Level of 4.0 picocuries, a measurement of radiation) will spur
a buyer to ask the seller to “fix” the house
prior to the close of escrow.
Radon. It’s a problem in Hood River,
Camas, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Silverton,
Corvallis, and all points between. Not
all homes will test high, or even be at
moderate levels. Any given house can test
low, even when the neighbor across the
street tested their home and found it to
be moderate or high. The accumulation of
Missoula Flood granite in a neighborhood
can vary tremendously, literally from one
property to the next. It’s a bit like “geologic roulette,” which is why testing is so critical. Both EPA and the Surgeon General’s
Office recommend every home be tested
for radon, regardless of location.
There’s an adage in the radon profession: if it smelled like sulphur, and was
orange or purple as it entered a home,
people would be immediately concerned
and spurred to act, just as they are when
there’s a leak from a natural gas appliance. But radon doesn’t smell like sulphur.
Test your home to protect your family’s health.
Jim Bittner is the Sales & Marketing
Manager for Cascade Radon. Reach
him at 360-721-3967 or 503-421-4813
Photos Courtesy Cascade Radon
Natural and Organic Bedding Options
Healthy Home
By Ginevra Holtkamp
most wool bedding, which is not machine washable. Protect
comforters with a removable, washable duvet cover and use
zippered pillow protectors. To boost the loft of a wool pillow,
put it in the dryer with two tennis balls and run it on low for 20
Organic Bedding: Organic Cotton
Organic cotton tends to be more affordable than wool, and
it is machine washable, making it ideal for sheets and duvet
covers. As a mattress stuffing, cotton provides a healthier alternative to synthetic foams, but it is not inherently fire-resistant
and must be wrapped in wool or treated with flame retardants
to comply with flammability standards. Cotton compresses
over time, making it a poor choice for pillow batting.
Photo courtesy of Shepherd’s Dream LLC 800-966-5540
Our beds should be safe, comforting havens where we can
drift off to dreamland without worry. But unfortunately, many
mattresses, sheets and blankets are made from synthetic,
petroleum-derived materials that have been doused in flame
retardants and treated with formaldehyde finishes. Sounds like
a chemical nightmare, right? It doesn’t have to be. Natural and
organic bedding materials offer healthy alternatives that are
good for you and the planet.
Organic Bedding: Wool
Wool is a remarkable fiber. It regulates body temperature,
keeping us warm in winter and cool in summer. It wicks away
moisture and dries quickly, which deters mold, mildew and dust
mites. It’s also naturally flame-, wrinkle- and stain-resistant; staticfree; 100 percent biodegradable; and extremely durable.
Natural mattresses that include enough wool can pass stringent flammability standards without the use of potentially toxic
flame retardants. Wool mattress pads keep mattresses dry and
clean, without the use of plastic. Wool comforters provide loft
and warmth without overheating, and wool pillows are a humane and healthy alternative to down, which can trap moisture
and harbor dust mites.
Certifications: Products labeled “Pure Grow Wool” (also
known as Premium Eco-Wool) are made with wool sourced from
small farms in the U.S. where sheep are raised organically and
treated humanely. Only long fibers are used to make Pure Grow
Wool products, maximizing resilience and longevity.
You can also trust wool products certified by the Global
Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the world’s leading standard
for textiles made from organic fibers. GOTS-certified products
contain a minimum of 70 percent organic fibers. The use of toxic
heavy metals, formaldehyde and chlorine bleach are prohibited,
and manufacturing chemicals, including dyes, must meet stringent safety requirements.
Tips: Regular sunning and airing is the best way to care for
Certifications: Conventional cotton can be heavily laden
with the residues of pesticides and insecticides. It is typically
bleached with chlorine and dyed with toxic heavy metals that
harm humans and contaminate water and soil. It may also be
treated with formaldehyde (a probable human carcinogen) to
help prevent shrinking and wrinkles. GOTS-certified bedding
is made with organic cotton grown without pesticides, insecticides or GMOs and finished without toxic chemicals. Oeko-Tex is
another reputable third-party certification system that screens
for harmful
substances in the
finished product.
It does not require
the raw material to be grown
Tips: If you
wish to avoid
consider organic
cotton bed linens
in natural shades
of cream that
have not been
bleached or dyed.
Wash new bedding to rinse away
from Mother Earth
Living. To read
more articles visit
com. Copyright
2014 by Ogden
Publications Inc.
Green Living Journal
Healthy Home
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Biological pollutants are, or were, living
organisms. They promote poor indoor
air quality and may be a major cause
of days lost from work or school, and
of doctor and hospital visits. Some can
even damage surfaces inside and outside your house. Biological pollutants
can travel through the air and are often
Molds and dust mites are common
biological pollutants inside the house.
Allergic reactions are the most
common health problems associated
with biological pollutants. Symptoms
often include watery eyes, runny nose
and sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, coughing, wheezing and difficulty
breathing, headache, dizziness and
Mold grows on organic materials such
as paper, textiles, grease, dirt and soap
scum. Mold spores float throughout the
house, forming new colonies where they
land. You can sometimes see and smell
mold colonies growing on surfaces. Mold
growth should be suspected wherever
there are water stains, standing water or
Stamp Out Mold
What Are Biological Pollutants?
Adapted from Oregon State University Extension Service Flyer
Healthy Home
Dealing With Biological Pollutants
Green Living Journal
moist surfaces.
Mold, and the moisture that allows it
to grow, are highly destructive to homes,
buildings, and possessions. The presence
of mold can make homes uninhabitable
and unable to be sold without remediation.
Mold control scams are prolific.
Much of the available information relat-
Healthy Home
ing to mold control is inaccurate, making us all vulnerable to
misinformation and scams.
The Oregon State University Extension Service has printed a
one page flyer (opposite page) that illustrares15 actions for the
prevention and elimination of mold in the home.
Dust Mites
Dust mites are tiny insects that you can’t see. They
live everywhere—in carpets,
upholstered furniture, stuffed
animals, and bedding. Open
shelves, fabric wallpaper, knickknacks, and venetian blinds are
also sources of dust mites.
They are problematic when
Photo courtesy of Flickr member
Gabriel Andres Trujillo Escobedo
they become airborne during
vacuuming, making beds or when textiles are disturbed. Dust
mites have been identified as the single most important trigger
for asthma attacks.
Controlling dust is very important for people who are allergic to mites. You cannot see mites, but you can either remove
their favorite breeding grounds or keep these areas dry and
clean. Dust mites can thrive in sofas, stuffed chairs, carpets, and
bedding. They live deep in the carpet and are not removed by
Clean rooms and closets well, dust and vacuum often to
remove surface dust. Vacuuming and other cleaning may
not remove all animal dander, dust mite material, and other
biological pollutants. Some particles are so small they can pass
through vacuum bags and remain in the air. If you are allergic to
dust, wear a mask when vacuuming or dusting. People who are
highly allergy-prone should not perform these tasks. They may
even need to leave the house when someone else is cleaning.
Use synthetic or foam rubber mattress pads and pillows, and
plastic mattress covers if you are allergic. You can buy them at
your local department store or through the mail. If the mattress
cover is uncomfortable, put a mattress pad over it. Do not use
fuzzy wool blankets, feather or wool-stuffed comforters, and
feather pillows.
Wash bedding, including blankets, pillow covers, and mattress pads in hot water (at least 130° F) to kill dust mites. Cold
water won’t do the job. Launder bedding at least every 7 to 10
People who are sensitive to dust mites may need to replace
carpeting in their homes with hard surfaced flooring and use
area rugs that can be removed and cleaned.
Compiled from OSU Extension Service and U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission publications.
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
21 Ways to Detox Your Home
Healthy Home
By Dr. Frank Lipman
Many of us have done a detox in order to eliminate internal
toxins from our body, but how many of us do anything about
the toxins in our homes? Common household and body care
products are increasingly being found to have negative health
effects on the nervous and immune systems, and on our reproductive, endocrine, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.
Why is detoxing your home essential? The average home contains up to 1,000 chemicals, many of
which we’re unable to see, smell or taste. While these chemicals
may be tolerated individually and in small doses, problems can
arise when one is exposed to them in combination or in larger
Everyone’s tolerance level is different, depending on genetics, nutritional status and previous contacts with chemicals; but
the negative effects of household toxins are often compounded
by the use of other drugs, especially the habitual use of alcohol,
or prescription or recreational drugs.
Indoor air is about three times more polluted than outdoor
air. Home insulation, so wonderful for keeping our homes warm
in winter and cool in summer, doesn’t allow fresh air in, so we’re
constantly breathing in the same stale air. Wall-to-wall carpeting
keeps us cozy, but can introduce a myriad of toxins to our well
insulated homes. It can also trap dirt, fleas, dust, dust-mites and
Many of the cleaning products we use to clean our furniture,
bathrooms, and windows are full of toxic chemicals, some of
which do not even appear on the labels. Similarly with the many
personal-care products we put on our skin and the pet-care
products we use on our pets.
Most tick and flea products contain active ingredients and
solvents that might cause cancer in animals. Also, substantial
human exposure is possible by absorption through the skin,
while playing with and handling the pet.
The pesticides we use on our gardens eliminate not only
plant pests, but also most of the insects that are beneficial to
help control these pests. Of the 30 most commonly used lawn
chemicals, 19 have studies pointing toward cancer and 15 are
known to cause nervous system poisoning.
This is not to say that we should not keep our houses comfortable and clean and our yards looking good. What’s important is to understand that how we do this can have an important impact on our health. Abundant toxins can and do lead to
health problems.
Taking more care to reduce our exposure to both internal
and external toxins, by detoxing our bodies and our living space
allows the body’s own detoxification to function more efficiently. This strengthens our resilience to the daily onslaught of
factors impacting our health.
There are many things you can do to detox your home,
some more practical than others. Here are 20 tips to get started:
1. No shoes in the house! That’s how a lot of household dirt,
pesticides and lead come enter, via your shoes. Go barefoot or
wear slippers once you’re home.
2. Place floor mats vertically by your entryways to wipe your
shoes. This way, more dirt and residue from your shoes stays
outside on the mat
3. Keep the air clean. Keep your windows and doors open
as much as possible to ventilate. Use green plants as natural air
detoxifiers. Remove odors with baking soda. Use fresh flowers or bowls of herbs like rosemary and sage to add a pleasant
fragrance to rooms. Have your air ducts and vents cleaned with
nontoxic cleaners. Get a portable air purifier, especially for the
4. Switch from the standard household cleaning products to
cleaner and greener ones. These don’t damage your health or
the environment as much and work as well as the mass marketed
ones. You can also use basic ingredients you have around the
house, for instance, vinegar in place of bleach, baking soda to
scrub your tiles and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains. According to Annie Bond, the author of Better Basics For The Home, she
can clean anything with water and these five basic ingredients: •
Baking Soda
Washing Soda
Vegetable-based liquid Soap (eg Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap) •
Tea Tree oil
Distilled White Vinegar
Green Living Journal
12. Avoid stain-guarded clothing, furniture and carpets, due
to the presence of PFCs. Wrinkle-free and permanent press fabrics (used in clothing and bedding) commonly contain formaldehyde. Opt for untreated fabrics whenever possible.
6. Use plastics wisely. Some contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which
is linked to cancer, and Phtalates, which are linked to endocrine
and developmental problems. Avoid plastic food packaging
(when you can). Don’t wrap food in plastic, and don’t microwave food in plastic containers. Choose baby bottles made from
glass or BPA-free plastic. Avoid vinyl teethers for your baby. Stay
away from children’s toys marked with “3“ or “PVC.” Avoid plastic
shower curtains.
13. Be conscious of toxins in carpeting, especially in products made from synthetic materials. Use natural fiber wool and
cotton rugs. If possible, replace your wall-to-wall carpeting with
hardwood floors, all natural linoleum or ceramic tiles. Use nontoxic glues, adhesives, stains or sealers for installation.
7. Avoid non-stick pans, pots, bakeware and utensils. Teflon
contains perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which have been
linked to cancer and developmental problems.
15. Go green with pet care. Avoid harmful pet-care products and avoid toxic pest control, including traditional termite
exterminators. Continued on page 30
8. Keep house dust to a minimum, as more dust means more
toxins. Mop all surfaces at least once a week. Use a vacuum
cleaner (with a HEPA filter, preferably) for your carpets. HEPAfilter vacuums capture the widest range of particles and get rid
of allergens.
14. Use non toxic sealers. Or replace particleboard walls,
floors or cabinets (which often contain formaldehyde, which
can emit irritating and unhealthy fumes for decades). Avoid
plywood, fiberglass, fiberboard and paneling. 9. Avoid excess moisture, as it encourages the growth of mold and mildew. Check
areas for moisture accumulation or leaks,
particularly basements. Clean surfaces
where mold usually grows, such as around
showers and tubs and beneath sinks.
10. Get a shower filter, as many of the
contaminants in tap water become gases
at room temperature. A shower filter can
help keep these toxins from becoming
11. Get a water filter, as more than 700
chemicals have been identified in drinking water. Filtering your tap water is better
than drinking bottled water.
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Healthy Home
5. Replace your skin care and personal products with less
toxic and more chemical-free options. Deodorant, toothpaste,
cosmetics, hair products, nail polish and perfumes are often
loaded with toxins. Learn how to identify them and avoid them.
Avoiding Toxic Chemicals in Paint
Healthy Home
By Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk
Photo courtesy of the United Soy Bean Board
I have to admit that I like the smell of fresh paint. Having lived
in a collection of motley old apartments and homes, I loved the
way a couple of gallons covered over the scuffs and stains left by
the last tenants and created a “new” living space. To me, the aroma of freshly painted walls signified a clean start. But as it turns
out, what my nose didn’t know could have been hurting me.
That “new-paint smell” is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a class of chemicals that evaporate readily at
room temperature. These toxic chemicals in paint are found in
some pigments and also are added to alkyd oil and (to a lesser
extent) latex paints to provide certain desirable working qualities, like spreadability, or to improve durability. Low-level exposure to these chemicals may cause temporary health problems,
such as headaches, dizziness or nausea. Higher exposure levels,
such as among auto spray booth operators, and longer exposure times can cause permanent damage to the kidneys, liver,
and nervous or respiratory systems.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor
air is three times more polluted than outdoor air. Outgassing
from VOCs contributes greatly to indoor air pollution. Outside,
VOC emissions react with other hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides
and sunlight to create smog.
To address some of these problems, more than 20 companies now manufacture low- and no-VOC paints that perform
as well as their predecessors. A number of paint products can
give your home a fresh start without compromising your health.
Here’s an overview of some low- and no-VOC paints, and a few
all-natural options you can choose from for both interior and
exterior painting projects.
Although it can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals, paint still can be divided into two subcategories according to its primary solvent. In latex paints, water is the primary
solvent; in alkyds, it’s a petroleum solvent (oil). Latex paints, with
much lower levels of VOCs, beat alkyds hands-down for safety.
(Even the newly formulated alkyd paints use much more solvent
than standard latex paints, and cleaning up brushes, rollers and
spills after painting with alkyds requires additional solvents,
whereas latex paints clean up with soap and water.)
The biggest difference you may notice is with drying time:
Low- and no-VOC paints dry a lot faster, and you’ll need to work
quickly so that you’re always painting into a wet edge (painting
over dried paint will leave a striped appearance). Because these
paints tend to dry faster on rollers and brushes, cleanup may take
a little longer.
First, don’t confuse “low-odor” with “low-VOC.” Fumes from
some VOCs can be masked to make a low-odor paint, which
means that what you can’t smell still can hurt you.
Moreover, don’t assume that all low-VOC paints are created
equal. A “low-VOC” label on a can means the paint meets the
EPA’s maximum VOC-emission standards: Latex paints must
contain less than 250 grams per liter (gm/l) of VOCs; alkyds can
contain up to 380 gm/l.
When shopping for a safer paint, start by reading the label.
Look for paints that have VOC levels of 150 gm/l or lower. Realize that pigments, typically dissolved in chemical solvents, and
other additives, such as mildewcides and conditioners, contribute to the relative toxicity of the final paint mix.
In addition to choosing a low-VOC paint, pay attention to
everything else that’s in the can. Because the EPA’s regulations
primarily focus on reducing air pollution, other toxic chemicals
that do not increase air pollution, such as heavy metals, are
excluded from VOC calculations.
Besides solvents, heavy metals and crystalline silica (beach
sand) are added to paint for color or texture. These ingredients
aren’t a problem when suspended in liquid paint, but they are
considered carcinogens if inhaled (which can occur when sanding or scraping). Ammonia is used to inhibit bacteria and mold,
and to help the paint “flow” off the brush or roller. Athough
none of the major paint companies use lead or mercury
anymore, paints with mildewcide additives still contain trace
amounts of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a respiratory irritant
and potential carcinogen.
For this reason, chemically sensitive individuals need to
be especially careful about using kitchen and bath paints that
contain extra mildewcides.
Request a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from the paint
store to get information on everything that goes into the paint.
If the store can’t provide one, check the manufacturer’s website
Green Living Journal
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Natural paints are sometimes sold as a
powder, or the pigment is sold separately
from a liquid base, requiring you to do
the mixing. In these cases, you’ll want to
make enough for one full coat. Exactly
matching one batch to the next is nearly
Natural paints are not always compatible with other paint products. Milk paint
works well on new wood and plaster, but
can pull off old paint if it’s not adhered
well. Milk paints applied over latex
binder (used in drywall joint compound)
may “crackle.” Some natural paints also
waterspot easily. For walls or furniture
that require extra protection, you may
need to apply a topcoat of varnish or
polyurethane, which means an extra step
and the potential for additional chemical
Healthy Home
or call their customer help line.
Vibrantly colored paints predate
modern VOC-based paints by several
centuries. The old painted walls of many
buildings in Italy, Egypt and Greece attest
to the fact that combinations of natural
resins, oils, clays, and mineral or plant
pigments can be both durable and lightfast. Today, companies such as Bioshield
and Sinan have refined those ancient
recipes to offer a no-VOC line of plantand earth-based paints and finishes.
(The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company
offers a casein, or milk, paint made from a
mixture of lime, earth pigments and milk
protein.) Because you mix them yourself,
these products offer more artistic creativity. They can be applied full-strength for
regular coverage, or thinned to produce
a washed effect.
Because natural paints don’t use the
same solvents that give other paints
smoothness and uniformity, they can be
a little trickier to apply and tend to give
walls a more handcrafted appearance.
Excerpted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS,
the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To
read more, visit
Copyright 2013 by Ogden Publications Inc.
The State of the Electric Car
The electric car (EV) has been with us for more than a hundred years, and,
at one time, there were more of them on the road than gas-powered
cars. For various reasons the EV lost favor with consumers, and the
internal combustion engine (ICE) put people on wheels. This in turn
created the world we live in today, where we have traded individual mobility and economic expansion for pollution, congestion,
and dependence on a finite resource.
The resurgence of the EV began with the introduction of the
Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt in 2010. They didn’t exactly
sell like hot cakes, but both car makers were committed to creating consumer acceptance. After all, they had huge investments in
bringing these cars to production.
Over four years have passed since the EV resurgence began, so
let’s take a quick look at how the EV is faring with consumers
Worldwide, more than 600,000 plug-in electric passenger car and utility van vehicles have been sold. This
number includes hybrid vehicles. -Wikipedia
The Nissan Leaf continues to
set sales records, and as of October
of 2014, there were over 142,000
of them on the road, worldwide.
It is the best selling electric car
of all time.
There are now more than
20,000 charging stations in the U.S.
On a per capita basis, Norway
has the highest market penetration
where 1 in every 100 passenger cars
on the road being a plug-in electric
vehicle. -Wikipedia
Plug in cars are now available from Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota, Tesla, Ford,
Smart, BMW. Fiat, Mitsubishi, Mercedes Benz, and Honda (availability is limited). Kia is entering the market with the 2015 Soul as is Volkswagen with its
e-Golf. Hyundai is working on a plug-in hybrid for late 2015 or early 2016.
The Chevrolet Volt is
the best selling plug-in car
in the U.S., having sold over
70,000 between its introduction in 2010 and October of 2014. The Nissan Leaf
is number two, followed by
the Toyota Prius (plug-in
only) and the Tesla Model S.
Courtesy Tesla Motors
The United States leads with about 260,000
highway-capable plug-in electric vehicles.
Green Living Journal
Next Car
Will BE
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
Outdoor Root Cellars
By Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie
Mike Biegel
By layering apples or root
crops with straw, you can
store them in a buried
garbage can through
You don’t need an underground room to make an effective
root cellar — you can easily use soil, mulch and a few other
tools to store vegetables and fruits without ever leaving your
garden. Based on your winter weather and your available
space, choose from these four ideas for outdoor root cellars to
store your harvests through the snowy winter months.
The Organic Garden Blanket
The earth holds a surprising amount of summer heat in its
mass. If you can trap this heat with some kind of fluffy organic
blanket — leaves, clean straw, sawdust or even banked-up
snow — it’s entirely possible to keep soil from freezing for
months longer than if it were left bare. To make handling the
blanket easy, tuck your leaves or other material into recycled
trash bags before you lay them over your root crops.
Vegetables that can be harvested when the soil is covered
in snow include beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, endive root, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, parsnips and salsify.
After the first hard frosts mark the end of the growing season,
nestle your crops under an organic blanket and they’ll keep
reliably down to about 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Trench Silo
Root crops come from the soil, and soil is wonderful at
keeping them fresh. This is the power behind the trench silo,
and a shovel is all you need to make one. Start by digging
up your beets, carrots, parsnips and other long-keeping root
crops, cutting the tops down to about 1 inch. Next, dig a
trench 6 to 10 inches deep and 18 to 24 inches wide. Replant
your vegetables close together in the bottom of this trench,
replacing the soil around them and heaping it 6 to 10 inches
above them, burying the crops completely with soil.
The temperature and humidity levels below ground are
perfect for preservation, so you will be able to harvest crisp,
living produce from your trench silo right through winter and
into spring.
If you live in a region that has cold winters during which
the soil freezes too hard to dig, you may have to leave your
root veggies cozy in their trench until spring before harvesting
them. If your climate is mild enough to allow you to dig into the
soil year-round (perhaps with the help of an organic blanket
over the trench), you can harvest as needed throughout winter.
In that case, be sure to mark the ends of your trench silo with
a couple of stakes so you can find it easily after snow starts to
fall. When you’re ready to harvest something, simply dig down,
take what you need, replace the soil (and blanket, if you’re using
one) and move the stakes so you know where to dig next time.
The Hole-in-the-Ground Pit
The human race probably wouldn’t be around today if preserving food were technically complicated. A root pit — nothing more than a glorified hole in the ground — offers simplicity
and economy of construction in exchange for a certain amount
of inconvenience. Root pits work well as long as they’re built
according to some basic, essential parameters.
The first parameter is a location with good drainage. Sandy
soil is usually best because the particles that make up the soil are
large, allowing water to drain quickly by gravity. Find a slightly
elevated spot if you’re able, as the slope will encourage surface
water to run away from your pit as it percolates downward.
If your wintertime temperatures drop below 25 degrees, dig
your pit deep enough so that your stores will be entirely below
ground. As you dig the hole, flare the sides to keep the soil from
caving in. Line the bottom and sides of the hole with straw or
dried leaves. Cover the hole with a three-quarter-inch-thick
wooden lid, and then cover the lid with soil.
The Garbage Can Cellar
Keeping water out is one of the challenges of a hole-in-theground pit cellar, but using a garbage can will help. Dig a hole
slightly larger than the diameter of the can and deep enough
so that the can’s lid will sit 6 inches or so below the soil level.
Set the can inside the hole, then layer in the veggies with some
straw or dead leaves. Set the lid on the can, use a stick to pack
soil all the way down into the gap around the outside of the can,
and then flare the soil out at a tidy angle around the opening.
Cut a couple of 2-inch-thick pieces of extruded polystyrene
foam slightly larger than the diameter of the lid and place the
foam on top of the can to keep out frost. Cut another circle of
three-quarter-inch-thick exterior-grade plywood to about the
Green Living Journal
same size and place it over the foam, with a stone on top to
keep it securely in place.
Long-keeping root vegetables will live happily down there,
even in the coldest weather. Good storage apple varieties will
too, but keep your veggies separate from them. (Apples release
ethylene gas as they ripen, which will shorten the storage life of
Excerpted from Mother Earth News, the Original Guide to
Living Wisely. To read more articles from Mother Earth News,
please visit Copyright 2011 by
Ogden Publications Inc.
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
By Dave Barmon
Several years ago while renovating a
landscape for an older home being
flipped by a realtor, my whole thinking
about lumber completely changed.
The house, long occupied by an aging
woman, had been in a state of disrepair.
The new property owner, John, removed
pretty much all of the vegetation in order
to make sense of the outside space.
Unfortunately, this meant cutting down
all the trees. In the back yard remained
a cherry log. After a few days of looking
at it, I asked John when he was going
to buck it up for firewood and get it
out of there. He said, “Firewood!?! That’s
furniture, baby!” A few days later, a guy
named Jeff Nelson with Treecycle NW
showed up and explained that he had
just purchased a portable sawmill and
planned to mill the log in his driveway.
I suddenly realized that so many of the
trees I had planted or cared for had the
potential to provide us with wood. I
literally did a 360 in the back yard and
could see fir, oak, cherry, and so many
other species of trees that grow lumber.
Over the course of several years, I
have milled, dried, and built many things
out of trees from in and around Portland.
Yes, there have been challenges, like
hitting metal which can damage a blade,
as well as getting logs that seemed great
to me, but to the trained eye would not
be good for making spatulas! At the end
of the day, there is a lot of high quality
urban wood that has been used to build
Green Living Journal
beautiful things.
Author of Harvesting Urban Lumber,
Sam Sherrill, estimates that every year
in the US, billions of dollars of usable
lumber from urban trees is cut up for fire
wood, mulched, or taken to the dump. While some urban trees can have a variety of defects, such as too many branches
and metal embedded in the wood, there
are vast quantities of beautiful lumber
going to waste.
Over the last few decades, a lot of
technology has been developed to mill
trees with portable sawmills such as
Woodmizer bandsaws and swing blades/
slabbing mills like the Lucas Mill brand.
Granberg International makes an Alaskan
mill which is a frame to which one can attach a chainsaw and cut slabs and beams.
We recently milled 60 slabs of spalted
silver maple in a backyard in NE Portland
with our Lucas Mill.
In and around Portland there are several companies milling urban lumber, including Goby Walnut, Jewel Hardwoods,
Treecycle NW, Portland Stump Grinding
and Urban Hardwood Recovery. Most
of our inventory is not yet available as it
takes several years to air dry wood slabs.
Across the globe from Portland to
Rio De Janiero, lumber-producing trees
can grow well in urban and semi-rural
areas. Over the last few years I have
become a strong advocate of planning
for the future with urban lumber in mind
so that every tree, when it comes down
can be turned into valuable building
materials rather than firewood and
mulch. This means planting more trees
closer together and removing the lower
branches. Of course, not sticking metal
into the trees would be helpful as well!
In 50 years, a considerable percentage
of lumber across the world could come
from sustainably managed forests right
where we live. Currently, I am working with Oregon
State Legislator Julie Parrish on a co-op
model which will create a framework so
that urban and semi-urban land owners
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
David Barmon co-owns Fiddlehead llc, a Portland
Oregon-based landscape construction and consulting
company which promotes an integrated approach to food,
forestry and water.. He has worked on several edible garden
projects for Gerding. Last fall, he installed the landscape
at the Full Plane House, one of the first Living Building
Challenge projects in North America.
Photos courtesy Dave Barmom
across the state will be able to plant and care for trees in a way
that they can create building materials and jobs while reforesting land. We believe we can create a bipartisan urban lumber
system which has mixed-aged, mixed-species forests without
clear cutting.
In the meantime there are a few things we all can do to build
the urban lumber movement:
Source urban lumber products when possible.
Plant lumber-producing trees and grow them with a
straight trunk while removing the lower branches (1020 feet up).
Talk to local officials and tell them to support urban
Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
SRI Mutual Funds Debate
Best Way to Tackle Fossil Fuels
Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The launch of the Fossil-Free campaign in 2008 by Bill McKibben and -- calling for the divestment of
the “Top 200” publicly-traded energy
companies based on estimated carbon
reserves in the ground -- has divided the
socially responsible mutual fund industry
into essentially two camps. Both sides
have the same goal of weaning the world
from CO2 producing fossil fuels in favor
of cleaner alternative energies. But they
differ on their approach to forcing big oil
to change.
On the one side is the “Total Divestment” camp comprised of SRI mutual
funds that embrace’s call for
fossil-free investing -- and even take it
one step further, eliminating all fossil fuel
companies from their portfolios, including coal, oil, natural gas, pipelines and
energy service companies. Leading proponents of this fossil-free group include
the Green Century funds, Portfolio 21,
and Shelton Green Alpha Fund.
The larger camp includes those fund
companies that believe that rather than
shun fossil fuel companies entirely, it is
more productive to continue to invest in
the most enlightened of the industry –
those that are making the most positive
steps toward environmental change
– and then “engage” these companies
as shareholders to promote even faster
change through various forms of “shareholder activism”, such as:
Dialogue with company executives
File shareholder resolutions
Work in coalitions with other
shareholders and stakeholders
Vote proxies
Conduct letter writing and email
Work with government regulatory agencies, such as the EPA
and SEC
Attend and speak at annual
share-holder meetings
The engagement group includes such
industry leaders as The Calvert Funds,
PAX World, and Domini Funds.
Engagement or Divorce?
The fossil-free funds admit that
engagement has an impact, but they say
that the process is taking too long, given
the increasing speed of climate change.
Green Living Journal
Their stand is that the only way to stop
or slow down climate change is to simply
leave the carbon in the ground. Once
it’s extracted it will be burned and then
there will be no turning back. Therefore
fossil fuel companies must be forced to
stop extracting by what amounts to a
boycott of all their securities, much like
the anti-apartheid boycott on South African investments by the developed world
in the mid-1980s.
The funds promoting engagement
have always included divestment as part
of their screening process, eliminating
companies that are unrepentant offenders – such as Exxon and Monsanto – but
have attempted to work with more openminded companies that are attempting to change and are generally less
carbon-intensive. They question whether
essentially declaring investment war on a
whole industry really forces it to change,
or instead closes off any chance for effective dialog. They point to the major
gains that have been made through their
engagement efforts through the years.
Are Both Right?
At the moment, it’s hard to say which
approach is more impactful. The Divest
movement is relatively so young and the
fossil-fuel stock boycott so small to date
that there really isn’t any hard evidence
as yet of any significant impact on the
extraction rate of fossil-fuel companies.
The engagement camp has the advantage of a far longer track record of policy
results, but while it has slowed down the
release of CO2, it has not prevented it
from recently rising above 400 parts per
But is it wise to cut off all engagement
with big oil in favor of an adversarial
boycott strategy that is largely untested?
Is it better to convert the devil you know
than create a more hostile devil? The
decision is up to every investor, and
fortunately now there is a clear choice
among mutual funds, according to the
philosophy that appeals to you most.
“For us, there has never been a question of divesting from fossil fuels, because there has never been the possibility of investing
in them. The equities of fossil fuel companies, far from being the
relatively secure source of risk-adjusted returns that they were
in the past, now represent substantial systematic portfolio risk.”
--Shelton Green Alpha Fund
“For Portfolio 21, it is not about divestment. We do not own these
stocks because our research tells us that these companies pose too
much risk to the environment and society, and that they face too
much risk based on their business operation profile.”
--- Portfolio 21
“Domini pursues a strategy of partial fossil-fuel avoidance,
combined with corporate engagement. We believe a range of strategies need to be brought to bear on the problem of climate change.
We currently exclude individual companies that, in our view, fail to
responsibly address the key sustainability challenges they face. We
apply exclusions to entire industries only where we believe the core
business model is inherently destructive, and incapable of reform..”
-- Domini Funds
“Divestment is a valid choice, but so too is active ownership that
challenges companies to curb carbon emissions and to point us
toward a renewable energy economy. What Calvert finds unacceptable is not exercising our rights as shareholders to push companies to look over the horizon and see the compelling need for
dramatic action to address this growing crisis.”
--Calvert Funds
Article provided by Progressive Asset Management Inc. For
more information contact Celia Mueller, CFp®. Celia Mueller is a
Financial Advisor Representative based in the Portland, Oregon
metro area with Progressive Asset Management Group, the
socially responsible investment division of Financial West Group
(FWGJ, Member FINRAjSIPC. She can be reached at 503-6561644 or [email protected] or Office of
Supervisory jurisdiction: 1814 Franklin Street # 503, Oakland, CA
94612. 800471-7244.
Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015
21 Ways to Detox Your Home continiued from page 19
The Joy of Living Well continued from page 9
16. Keep your lawn safe. Replace toxic lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides with less harmful natural ones.
by consensus. “As a society, we’re not really good at ‘how do we
work together’ and ‘how do we work through something if we’re
uncomfortable,’” Trina said. “Our society is so fast, sometimes
you have to slow down a bit to deeply communicate.”
Yet with its emphasis on community engagement, residents
at Garden Atriums can also find plenty of quiet time. Every
bedroom in every home has an attached private patio, and each
home also offers a private garden space. The level of activity
and community is entirely up to the individual. “The people
next door have twins who are young, so they’re everywhere,”
Stu said. “Some others have 13-year-olds and they’re out playing
softball. Others enjoy walking the dog, and others just sit and
watch the pond.”
17. Tell the dry cleaner not to use the plastic wrap or remove
it as soon as possible. The plastic traps the dry cleaning chemicals on clothes and in your closet. Let your dry cleaning air out
(preferably outside) before storing it. Use “wet cleaning” if you’re
lucky enough to have it in your area.
18. Use low VOC, low odor latex (water-based) paint. Open
all windows to ventilate properly when painting indoors.
19. Have your house checked for carbon monoxide leaks.
These are most commonly found in leaking gas stoves, gas
fireplaces, furnaces, chimneys, and gas water heaters.
20. Check radon levels in poorly ventilated basements that
have cracked walls and or floors. Radon is an odorless gas that
forms as uranium in rocks and soil breaks down. Radon is linked
to lung cancer
21. Avoid toxic people. And finally, no amount of environmental toxins are as important as emotional toxicity. You can
do all the above, but if your house is full of anger, resentment,
jealousy, unhappiness and a lack of love, compassion and forgiveness, the house will remain toxic.
We can reduce our risk of chronic illness by limiting our
exposure to these toxins but don’t let this become an obsession, which can cause so much stress that it creates more of a
negative impact on your health than the toxins themselves.
Dr. Frank Lipman is an internationally recognized expert in the
field of integrative medicine. He is the founder and director of the
Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. He offers patients a
customized blend of Western medicine with acupuncture, nutritional counseling, vitamins and herbs, relaxation techniques,
physical therapy and bodywork. In 2010, he developed Be Well by
Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and health
programs. He is the author of REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start
Living Again; and TOTAL RENEWAL: 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health.
Finding the Joy
As they examined lifestyles of sustainability within the
community, Stu and Trina realized there was one other element
of sustainability many people don’t talk about: joyfulness. “It’s
really getting to the heart of why we’re alive,” Trina said. “Our
premise is that if you are happy, joyful and feel fulfilled, you feel
more of a need to take care of the earth and take care of others
and be more generous. Without that, people pull in and become
angry and frustrated.”
Hoping to share these thoughts with their community
members, Stu developed a course that Trina taught on exploring individual passion. They invited Garden Atriums community
members and some other friends to sign up. “It was a 10-week
course,” Trina said. “Everyone did work on their own and then we
did group sharing and support. For instance, one woman was
just working too much. She had no life outside of work. She took
one room in her house and made it into a yoga and meditation
room. One person changed jobs. She was a nurse in a hospital
and it was draining her. She started working as a hospice worker
instead. Another person decided to take a vacation to a place he
always wanted to go. It was just about getting people to think
about who they are and what’s important to them, helping find
balance in a world that can sometimes overwhelm us.”
Despite its many healthy qualities, Trina said the most important benefit of her home is its calming nature. “I’ve always felt a
house should be one’s sanctuary,” she said. “This home actually
feels like a sanctuary. There’s a calming effect. It doesn’t matter
how insane my day has been, the plants, the light, the sound —
there’s something that is just nurturing to the soul here.”
Excerpted from Mother Earth Living. To read more
articles from Mother Earth Living, please visit www. Copyright 2013 by Ogden
Publications Inc.
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Issue 27- Winter 2014-2015