Eco lunches

Peter's Eco Lunch Bag
A homemade duck-cloth lunch bag.

I’ve noticed lately two things:  1) there are a lot of tips to show you how to build a green lunch and 2) there is a lot of talk about how organic food doesn’t hold any more nutrition than conventional food.  The discussion that could happen based on these trends is amazing, and I would like to add a few points to hopefully further the discussion. Continue reading “Eco lunches”

How to get Free Mulch in the Portland Metro Area

Yesterday, I received an email from “Ben”.  Unfortunately, my reply bounced back.  Regardless, I said that when asked a question, I would post it here.  Ben was interested in more concrete places to get free mulch, and this is what I’ve set to tell him:

We got our free mulch from Asplundh, who I believe were contracted by P.G.E.  They trimmed our neighborhood’s trees when I wrote that post a few months ago.  They simply had a sign that read, “Free Wood Chips.”

I believe tree trimmers and arborists have to pay a fee to dump mulch, so they’d much rather give it away.  I’ve heard that some tree services have a long list of names, so it may just take some inquiring to find out.

As for a place to start…  I would contact these companies or agencies in addition to Asplundh:

  • International Society of Arborists, Pacific Northwest Chapter: – they may have further direction.
  • James Kinder, Green Options Tree Care, 5755 Willow Lane, Lake Oswego, OR 97035, Phone: 503-744-0914, Email:, Website:
    ** Update 16-Mar-2010: They take their tree removals and recycle them at the “goat farm”.  Sorry, no chips. Great eco-company regardless.
  • Mark Bourgeois, Arbor Pro Tree Experts, Phone:  503-473-TREE (8733), Website: – this man specifically told me to call his company and they would maintain a list, and if in my neighborhood may be able to donate mulch.
    ** Update 17-Feb-2013: They no longer do free mulch. Friendly group, so give ’em a call if you need an arborist!

Lastly, I’d call the Oregon City Hall to find out if they use a specific tree service and get that company’s name to call directly.


Sustainability means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but in academia it focuses on balance.  Academia, more specifically, focuses on balancing the Economy with the Environment while always focusing on Equity.  What does that mean on a small scale, though?

It’s always so easy to criticize the Giant Corporation (McDonald’s, Ikea, Walmart) for the Evils they inflict upon the helpless little guy.  We often take refuge when we can “stick it to The Man.”  But, what opportunities are we forgoing on a personal scale?

Sustainability, then, means balance.  And one vision of that balance is found in Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia.  In his very thought provoking books, Callenbach details many ideas, one of which is the 20 hour work week.  What would happen if the government mandated no one work more than 20 hours per week.  What would our lives look like?

Recently, my family got sick with a nasty cold.  No, it’s not the Swine Flu (or Avian Flu, or Bird Flu, nor West Nile!), but it has laid us up!  We’ve been incapable of doing the most mundane chores around the house – like dishes and trying to figure out what’s for dinner because this Nasty Cold sapped our energy.  Last Friday, Levi and I spent the day snuggled in a blanket, on the couch, watching hours of OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting, PBS for Oregon).  I even endured Barney and his “I Love You” song because we lacked the energy to do anything different.  I had many high hopes for the first day Levi and I would spend together, alone, while Daddy was off learning how to be a mechanic.  Alas, life had other plans.

Remember, being sick is often nature’s way of saying, “Dude, you overdid it, and you need to take a break.”  “You need to rest, Dear,” Mother Nature gently reminds us with a bout of the Nasty Cold.

So we did.  We rested.  Levi and I watched T.V.  My body wouldn’t allow me to work on projects with deadlines looming.  Nasty Cold prevailed.

The irony of the situation is when other greenies forget these basic balance reminders.  We can argue the psychologies of selfishness, the fears of missing deadlines, the lack of trust the whole shebang screams… but the point is this – we must remember Balance.  When we preach balance of Nature’s Services, we can’t forget one of the most important… sleep well young one, you have a big day ahead of you.

The Triple Bottom Line

One aspect of sustainability is something called the Triple Bottom Line. It’s gone by different names such as the three-legged stool concept and the 3 Es. The idea is that you factor the economy, the environment, and social issues on the same or a level playing field, each getting equal weight when being considered for a decision. So, if something doesn’t consider the economic impacts of say an environmentally sound project, it wouldn’t balance by the Triple Bottom Line assessment. The questions we should be asking ourselves, according to this idea, would be: “How does this policy/plan/product impact the environment/people/economy?” If we’re considering outsourcing jobs, for instance, who is being displaced then by lack of a job? How would that benefit those who are losing there jobs? Is there another plan we could use that could balance the economic side while not exploiting the people who get the job done?

A Last Push to Deregulate itemizes some of the recent rules President Bush plans on putting through as his term nears an end.  How does relaxing drinking water standards, for example, impact people and the environment?  Is it a good decision for either?  Would it balance under the Triple Bottom Line assessment?  Does it take into account a longer impact such as health impacts from drinking potentially contaminated water?

No, rules like this do not take a Triple Bottom Line assessment into account. How long will we go before we realize that this type of planning will only serve to harm us? Perhaps the November 4th election will proffer hope or change no matter which party rules this new administration. Perhaps we can see a more complete form of planning for the next 4 to 8 years.

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Taxes. Essential for governments to fund essential services – police, fire, etc. My husband and I have felt and received benefits of other services like healthcare when jobs didn’t line up for us. We know what it’s like to live with a tight budget. Sure, it’d be great to buy an espresso everyday and work on building community in my local third place, but we need that money for milk. Likewise, governments, when facing downturns in economies, should work with what they have. We have grown used to just buying new and asking for raises when we should be reducing and reusing first. Conservation should be the first step when approaching a budget shortfall. Likewise, in this day of confusing politics, often when people don’t vote (the 50% who never even register, for example) it’s their way of saying, “NO!” Who has participated in one of these ubiquitous kitchen table conversations with their partner and really pondered over who or what to vote for with no clear or passionate choices? Taking away the double majority clause takes away their silent voice. Vote “No” on Measure 56 to better retain democracy.

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