Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recycle Live Christmas Trees

In my last post, I talked about donating your live trees to Inland Fisheries to be used as fish habitat in Lake Arrowhead. As I mentioned, the City of Wichita Falls also takes live trees to use as mulch around the city.

The announcement from the city came out today. The city does not pick up trees at curbside, so you can deliver your trees (after removing decorations and tree stands) to Lucy Park or Kiwanis Park in the area near the tree farms--you can tell the place by the piles of mulch. You can deliver the trees until January 31. After that you can drop trees at the Transfer Station.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Help Create Fish Habitat

If you get a live Christmas tree, you can donate that tree after the holidays to help improve fish habitat in Lake Arrowhead.

Normally, Texas Parks and Wildlife gets the leftover trees from various tree lots in town to sink into the lake for fish habitat. The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists help with this project. However, this year everyone has sold out of the live trees. Therefore, the fish need your help.

You may drop off live trees in the parking lot at Inland Fisheries at 409 Chester Avenue. Remove all lights, ornaments and tinsel. TPWD cannot use flocked trees--the chemical isn't good for the fish.

If you don't have a way to transport the tree, I can pick up in Wichita Falls (although that begs the question of how you got it home to start with--but things do change.) Just email

The city also accepts trees for mulching, but I haven't seen the details for that yet. I will post when I do.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Capital

I subscribe to the Green Economy Post. In a recent email there was an excellent article on the attempted use of corporate social responsibility programs by companies which are bankrupt in social capital.

All I can say is "Amen."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green Business Coming to Wichita Falls

I attended the Chamber Annual Meeting today and Tim Chase announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with a Spanish biodiesel company to come to Wichita Falls. No other information was given; I imagine more information will be in the Times Record News in the next day or two.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

EcoFair 2010 Planning Has Begun

A few intrepid volunteers met last night to begin planning for EcoFair 2010. The EcoFair will be on October 9, 2010 at River Bend Nature Center. Right now, the focus will be on finding sponsors, vendors and programs for the event.

If you have suggestions for local product/service vendors or presentations, you can post your comment to this blog and I will be happy to pass on to the committee or you can call River Bend Nature Center at 940-767-0843, or attend the next EcoFair Committee meeting, January 12, 7PM at the Thai Orchid Restaurant, 1912 Elmwood Avenue North, Wichita Falls.

Get involved in bringing sustainable living to Wichita Falls!

Green Equity Toolkit

An interesting toolkit from The Applied Research Center. Scroll down on this page to find the toolkit. You can read it online or download it. I think this would be an excellent program for Sierra Club or River Bend.....hmmmm.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Urban Farming

Although Wichita Falls, TX isn't exactly the town a person would visualize upon hearing the word "urban," an article I found, "Farming the Concrete Jungle, Feeding a Green Economy" is applicable nonetheless.

Some months back a few of us were talking about a use for some properties on the east side of town in the flood plain. One idea for a productive use was to offer the ground as community garden space. This could be of benefit to many people, especially those at lower incomes and inadequate transportation (there aren't any grocery stores in that area of town.) I brought it up at a Park Board meeting, but it didn't seem to get any traction there and to be honest, at the time I didn't need another project. Still don't, but the article reminded me of the possibility. This would be a great project for the Master Gardeners to get involved with (I can suggest it--I am not part of this group.)

2009 also saw the first attempt that I am aware of for Community Supported Agriculture. I heard there were some hiccups this first year, but the point is, there is movement.

Locally grown food is one way to encourage a more sustainable lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Join the Planning for EcoFair 2010

To the left is the flyer for EcoFair 2009.
The planning for EcoFair 2010 kicks off on Tuesday, December 15 with a meeting at the Thai Orchid at 7:00 PM.

The EcoFair is hosted by River Bend Nature Center and is a local sustainable living fair with activities for the entire family.

If you are interested in being involved, but cannot make the initial planning meeting, no problem. Contact River Bend at 767-0843 or send an email to me at, and I will make sure your contact information gets to the right person.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Butter or Margerine?

Growing up, we got margerine. It was cheap. I started eating butter in England--mostly because they don't serve much margerine. I keep both margerine and butter in the frig and use margerine for cooking and butter for eating. I am thinking I need to toss the margerine, period.

Yesterday at a meeting (I think it was the Park Board), someone mentioned they no longer eat margerine because it was basically a form of plastic. I of course, had to check out this claim. Well, it may not be plastic, but it's definitely not good for you. Here is an explanation of how margerine is made; it may make you ill just to read it.

I have my excuse to eat what I like better--butter.

Reduce Food Waste

I throw away a lot of food (especially produce) and am trying to get better about it. I go to the store and think, "I'll make that this week!" and then don't do it.

Supposedly Americans was 14% of the food they purchase each year and throw out $600 in fruit alone. I don't think about how those mushy bananas add up, but they do.

I came across a good internet article on ideas to reduce/eliminate food waste. One they don't mention is "don't buy so much." I stop in the store a few times a week for various items and I am trying to take the European approach, at least on produce--only buy 1 or 2 days' at a time. I pass the store that often and so it's no great hardship to stop. The question will be whether the amount of produce I save offsets impulse purchases of other grocery items. We'll see.

Al Gore on Saturday Night Live

OK, this isn't local green news, but I had to share it anyway. I am not a big SNL fan, but a friend forwarded this clip from a recent program to me, and I liked it.

This was posted to a vegan website and so the title picks up about a 5 second statement toward the end of the clip, but the entire clip is posted and worth watching.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Program on Water

There will be a program about water at the monthly League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls meeting on December 2 at noon at Luby's Cafeteria.

The speaker is Larry Lambert. I have heard Larry speak many times. He does good research and I always enjoy his presentations. Larry will be talking about water as a scarce resource and some of the possible social and economic repercussions of scarce water resources on a global level.

The local League did a study on water resources in the area and developed an action position from that study. They are actively involved in water planning.

League meetings are open to the public. No RSVP is required. If you are interested in hearing this presentation, please go through the line (either in the front or the back buffet line) and be seated by noon, when the program starts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't Forget Electricritters

Electricritters opened at River Bend Nature Center last weekend and will continue on Friday and Saturday nights through December 19. Electricritters is the primary fundraiser for River Bend and is a fun family event, with lots of lights, s'mores and hot chocolate. Come out and bring the kids (or grandkids) for a treat.

Interview on Recycling

I just finished an interview with Everyday Experiences on recycling. Everyday Experiences is an online radio station. I am not sure when the program will actually air, but I expect within a week or so.

For this and other programs, see Jennifer Thomas' website at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Basic Bird ID Course

Want to learn some of the common winter birds in the Wichita Falls area? Here's an opportunity at River Bend Nature Center.

For those interested, bring your binoculars and we'll take a short bird walk in Lucy Park following.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wichita Falls MTP Bicycle Master Plan

I stopped in to the Transportation Master Plan Public Meeting tonight, primarily because I was interested in the biking portion. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) plans for transportation for more than Wichita Falls proper (although that is the major portion.)

Usually at a public meeting, you sit through a presentation and then have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. However, at this meeting, they had maps and reports on various parts of the plan set up around the room with people top answer questions. So I was able to go directly to the portion I was interested in and get one-on-one attention, especially as I arrived early and they were already set up and ready to go.
I've put a map to the left on the proposed bike plans. The green circle is the circle hike/bike trail system already underway. I did ask the representative what a "bike facility" was. It is a dedicated bike lane on a street or a dedicated bike avenue separated from the road. A Class 3 bike route is a sign posted route on the road for bikes to use.
I left my comments at the meeting. I encourage others who want to see the city encourage greener transportation options to chime in as well. The full bicycling plan is 101 pages, but worth a quick scan and more in-depth study by those interested in this issue. My reasons for supporting more biking options in the city:
- Fewer cars on the road; better air quality
- Fewer cars on the road; reduce wear and tear on infrastructure
- Improved health for those riding bikes
- Opportunity to capitalize on our biking reputation with Hotter 'n Hell
-- Add additional short events during the year (tourism dollars)
-- Encourage other biking related businesses (training facilities, manufacturing, etc.)
If you have thoughts on this topic, please send your comments to the MPO.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Public Meeting on Transportation

I received a notice from the city of Wichita Falls concerning a public meeting on transportation planning tomorrow. There are usually so few people who show for these things, it is easy to have an impact. The flyer for them meeting has all of the information.

Of special interest to those of us with a green bent will be bicycle projects and public transit.

Hope you can make it!

Follow-up on BPA in Food Can Liners

Monday I wrote a blog entry concerning BPA in food can liners. This morning I see an article from Consumer Reports on this very thing, and the news isn't good. The amount of BPA in food from a can is can easily be above safe limits, if you eat much canned food. Personally, I don't eat a lot of food from a can, with the exception of tomatoes. In one canned soup, the contents contained more than double the amount of BPA considered safe for an adult male.

The article ends with the following pointers to reduce exposure to BPA:
  • Choose fresh food whenever possible
  • Consider alternatives to canned food, beverages, juices and infant formula
  • Use glass containers when heating food in a microwave

Consumer reports recommends frozen fruits and vegetables over canned, if you can't get fresh.

Another reason to take up gardening.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I've been fortunate to be outside around 6:45 yesterday and today. What glorious sunrises we have had.

It seems to me that if more people were outside at sunrise and when the stars are out at night, we would be far less arrogant about our place in the environment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BPA in Food Can Liners

I was looking at the Fall issue of Green American and came across an article on bisphenol-A in food cans. I then looked up the report from As You Sow about the response of food companies to a request from them to eliminate BPA from food packaging. I encourage you to do the same.

For now, here is a short summary:

- Why we don't want BPA: this chemical has been associated with hormone disruption, cancer, neurological defects, infertility, obesity, and heart disease (in women.) Because women respond to estrogen and estrogen mimickers like BPA, women are at higher risk for heart arrhythmias than men.
- Current regulatory status: Several states have passed laws to eliminate BPA from children's products; other states are considering such legislation. The FDA is reassessing the safety of BPA. Several food industry groups insist BPA is safe and food companies continue to line cans with BPA.
- Status: As You Sow and Green America surveyed 20 major food companies about their use of BPA.
-- 14 companies responded. All use BPA to line food cans: Hain Celestial, Heinz, Nestle, Kellogg, ConAgra, General Mills, PepsiCo, Campbell, CocaCola, McCormick & Company, Kraft, Hershey, JM Smucker, Del Monte.
-- 6 companies did not respond: Chiquita, Dean, Hormel, Sara Lee, Sysco, Unilever
-- Best: Heinz as it has already moved to a less toxic alternative to BPA in baby-food can linings. Heinz, Hain Celestial, Nestle all indicate they are working to phase out BPA.
-- The following companies indicate they intend to take no action concerning BPA: Del Monte, Hershey, and JM Smucker.

Note: Although Green America posts the magazine to its website, the Spring issue is still up as the current one, so I cannot provide a link to the referenced article.

Sierra Club Meeting Tonight

The Red River Group of the Sierra Club meets tonight.

For those interested, we will be meeting at El Chico's on Southwest Parkway for drinks and appetizers to help with the Cartwright fundraiser. Then we'll head over to the Thai Orchid for dinner and to discuss upcoming projects and events. Following this, we'll head out to The Prairie for stargazing. Dress for the weather and bring a lawn chair and binoculars.

Come for any or all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Always a Good Time at Texas Master Naturalists

Tonight was the monthly Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalist meeting. Among the topics was a proposed project for next spring monitoring bat populations under bridges. Sounds like another interesting project.

Lila Arnold brought the information back from the TMN Annual Meeting (which I had to miss this year). Bats are apparently adapting to habitat loss by appropriating space under bridges and TXDOT is cooperating in the survey effort. As usual, our area has a paucity of information about bat populations.

A related story in the November issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine is very interesting.

If you have seen bats near a bridge in the area, please let me know, so we can check it out come spring and add it to the monitoring project.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sierra Club Meeting

The next meeting of the Red River Sierra Club will be Tuesday, November 10, 7:00 PM.

The group will meet at the Thai Orchid for a meal and the meeting. Then the group will caravan to the rural green housing development, the Prairie, for a guided star walk.

Dress for the weather and bring binoculars (if you have them) and a lawn chair (with a blanket, if you think you'll need one.)

See you all there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Sustainability is Good For Business

I came across a good article today I thought I would share: The ROI of Going Green: A CEO's Rationale for Adopting Sustainability.

Since it is written by a company CEO, it probably has more gravitas among business owners than my own greenie ramblings. I would like to see more numbers associated with the article, but there you have it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

City Trails

As I said in a previous post, the Wichita Falls city trail system is an underutilized resource. It's nice for me because I can take a quiet walk most any time.

The city has added trail system maps to its website at The trail is being added to in portions, with a goal of having a trail system that circles the city at some point. As with anything, money is a factor.

Get out and enjoy the trail.

Great Morning for Invasives Observations

A beautiful morning for a walk. The weather was clear and in the 50's.

I decided to walk one of the city trails and make some Invaders observations. I chose the Falls Trail between the entrance to Lucy Park and the pedestrian bridge behind the MPEC.

The picture to the left is of a mimosa tree, one of the 134 species of plants the Texas Master Naturalists are helping to document in Texas. I made 25 observations in just this short section of trail. I am sure I would have made more if I was better at plant ID.

If you haven't discovered the city's trails system yet, it is one of the best-kept secrets in the city. This particular section is not as heavily used as some of the areas, probably because of concerns for safety. Personally, I have never had a problem, but I have had others tell me they don't walk that stretch as a portion of it goes through a run down area of town. But it is a very scenic stretch of the river (as scenic as the Wichita River gets anyway) except in the winter, when the vegetation dies back and you can see all of the trash.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day for Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day for Climate Change.

The idea that climate change is bogus has a lot of traction in Wichita Falls and many conversations about improving sustainability have gotten side-tracked on the "climate change is Al Gore's personal campaign to stay in the spotlight and make piles of money" argument. Although sustainability and climate change are related, there is a lot more involved in sustainability than the issue of climate change (although that's a big one.)

I really don't care about whether we're getting hotter or colder. I am not overly concerned about the arguments about how fast the climate is changing and the precise impacts. What I am certain about is that people are using resources, many of which are finite. I am also certain that not all of the changes in the climate (or other environmental factors) are good. If past history proves out, some of them will have far-reaching and as yet unknown negative impacts.

Finally, I know that if Al Gore and the majority of climate scientists are right, we have to tame the climate change monster. If we act and there is no climate change issue, then we have some severe economic shifts we will have to cope with. As resources dwindle (especially oil), we will have to make these adjustments anyway. If climate change is indeed coming upon us quickly, then action is a matter of life and death for many.

There's the bottom line. It's a matter of doing a risk analysis. Likely neither side of the argument is 100% correct. If we could be certain, we would know what we have to do. We don't. So where is the greater good? It is in working toward a sustainable lifestyle that ensures our children and grand children have access to the resources they need for a healthy and happy future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stop the Spread!

On September 19, I attended an Invaders of Texas workshop. This is a citizen science project to document the range of invasive species in Texas. As usual our area has not been well studies and many invasive plants are not noted as present in our area.

Travis Gallo, our instructor, said the training would ruin our walks, because we would notice all of the invasives. I can't say my walks have been ruined, but I will agree that I never realized just how much of our local flora shouldn't be in Texas (and often, not in the US.)

If you missed the Invaders training, you can still participate in this project by taking the on-line Voyager training (guess what sci-fi program the person who came up with these names is fond of.) Then with digital camera, GPS, pen and paper, you're on your way! You can learn more about this program and sign up for the on-line program at If you take the training and want to sign up to upload observations, our satellite is the Rolling Plains Invaders.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yesterday's EcoFair

I had to teach class yesterday, but managed to get by the EcoFair at the very end of the day about the time the rain started. In talking to several people there, River Bend had a steady stream of visitors for this event. I didn't have my camera (I finally broke down an bought a small camera and haven't gotten into the habit of carrying it with me) to take pictures, but there were some good ones in the Times Record News this morning--in fact, if you hurry, one of them is posted on their website this morning.

Good job to Samantha McMahen and the rest of the River Bend folks for continuing this worthwhile and fun event.

Vote for Green Initiative

I received an interesting e-mail from Ashoka about an initiative from Google. Called 10 to the 100, Google is promising to spend $10 M to support some social entrepreneurship ideas. Check out and vote for your favorite idea by October 8.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monarch Butterfly Tagging Event

Monarch butterflies migrate through Wichita Falls in their way to Mexico. This year the butterflies seem to be passing further to the west of us in large numbers; we aren't having the large numbers we normally do so far. For the past few years Master Naturalists have been taggin ghte butterflies to help learn more about their migration. This is a chance to learn more about monarchs in an up-close-and-personal way.

The Rolling Plains chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists is hosting a Monarch Butterfly tagging event in Lake Wichita Park on Monday, September 28 and Tuesday, September 29 beginning at 6:00 PM until dusk. We will set up near the parking lot at the entrance at the end of Fairway Blvd. Bring the kids; we'll have nets.

If you want to learn more about monarchs try Monarch Watch at It's a great site.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Sit October 11

The annual Wichita Falls Big Sit will be held Sunday, October 11, from sunrise until we get tired and go home (usually by noon.) We gather behind Wild Bird Rescue on what we optimistically call "the peninsula."

The Big Sit is a nationwide event (although some international groups are now taking part)--so groups all sit on the same day. This is a lazy birder event as the rules require that participants have to sit inside a 17-ft circle and count birds from inside that area. Groups compete for having the birdiest site. Most groups are a little more competitive than we are and start in the dark; end in the dark. We are out for the portion of the day that yields the most birds.

This event is sponsored by the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club. It is free and open to the public. You don't have to know anything about birds to take part--there are plenty of experienced birders on hand. This is a come and go, so if you are not inclined to be up and functional at sunrise, come a little later in the morning (although you will miss some great sights.)

Dress appropriately (there is almost always a breeze off the water.) I advise layers as you will likely shed them as the morning warms. Also bring a lawn chair, your binoculars, a field guide, bug spray if you need it, and whatever you want to drink.We have had some excellent birding mornings in the past, so come on down! By the way, check out the video on the BirdWatchers' Digest website about the event.

Good birding!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Congratulations to Our Friends In Norman, OK

Norman, OK is about the same size as Wichita Falls, TX. One of the organizations there is the Norman Sustainability Network which is a coalition of organizations promoting a sustainable community. Mother Earth News recently recognized Norman as one of 11 great places--what an achievement! Which then makes me think, "Why Not Wichita Falls????" Certainly, if they can do it, there isn't a very good reason for us not to be able to make great progress in the area of sustainability.

Walk for Farm Animals

Even if we eat meat (and I do), I think we all want to believe those animals lived a good life before they were killed and processed for food. Unfortunately, that is not always (or even likely) the case. Joanna Bonnheim is supporting a local Walk for Farm Animals to bring attention to the poor conditions many food animals endure. She sent me the following information:

Because you are a fellow animal-advocate,

I want to invite you to take part in an special opportunity to help animals coming up soon in Wichita Falls. In celebration of World Farm Animals Day, we're holding a Walk for Farm Animals on Saturday, October 10th at 10:00AM. All proceeds will go to benefit a great animal rescue organization, Farm Sanctuary, which is working to end the suffering and abuse of animals raised for food. You can learn more about this organization at, and you can register for the Walk at

This will be our second annual Walk, and last year was quite a success. I'm hoping that this year will be even better! Please come out and join us in raising awareness for this massive, yet often-forgotten population. Meet new friends and old while re-affirming your commitment to animals large and small. Celebrate the humane advances we have made in the animal industry. You, too, can be a voice for the voiceless!

What: Walk for Farm Animals
Where: Beginning at Sikes Lake, the intersection of Midwestern Pkwy. and Louis J. Rodriguez Drive
When: Saturday, October 10th, 10:00 AM (registration at 9:00AM)
Who: All who care about the welfare of farm animals!

Be sure to pre-register so that you will receive your Walk for Farm Animals t-shirt in time for the big day. And please forward this email far and wide to anyone you think may be interested!

Thank you for all that you do!
~Joanna Bonnheim

If you would like more information, you can contact Joanna by email at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monarch Tagging Event Coming Soon

The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists tag monarch butterflies each year to help study this creature's migration. We enjoy it a lot, but thought this year we would add a public tagging event in a city park to help the public learn more about monarchs. We'll have a display with information, butterfly nets for children to help catch butterflies, and the tags and paperwork. This will not only help children learn more about monarchs but also introduce them to scientific method in a very basic way.

This will be a short-notice event, based upon when the monarchs arrive in good numbers in Wichita Falls. We are seeing a few butterflies already and should have large numbers passing through within the next few weeks. Since the butterflies haven't given us their travel itinerary and weather is never certain, we will probably make a date decision 2 - 3 days in advance of the event. We plan to tag in Lake Wichita park, near Murphy's Mound where the willows (and consequently, butterflies) are plentiful. I will post as soon as I have a date. I am just providing a heads up to get the event on your radar.

The Master Naturalists will also do some limited tagging at the EcoFair at River Bend Nature Center on October 3, so you can also plan to be there. I don't know what time the tagging will happen, and it is likely the butterflies will already be caught for the demonstration.

Don't Forget NPSOT Symposium Coming Up

The Native Plant Society of Texas is planning to hold their symposium in Wichita Falls this year. The Symposium will be October 15 - 17, with a number of lectures, social events and field trips. Unfortunately, the dates conflict with a "must attend" conference for me, but I plan to attend some of the lectures on Saturday when I get home.

You can register online or if you prefer to register by mail, contact Martha at River Bend (940-767-0843) or Paul Dowlearn at Wichita Valley (940-696-3082). Both have hard copy registration information. You can attend the entire conference for $120 if you register by October 9 (this includes several meals and printed proceedings) or if, like me, you want to attend only the lectures, it's only $10. What a deal.

We're lucky to be able to have such an event in Wichita Falls.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Texas Invaders

I attended the Texas Invaders training yesterday at River Bend Nature Center, sponsored by the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists. What a great time! We spent most of the day outside, learning more about invasive plant species and how to document them. In addition to many of the local Texas Master Naturalists, we had some of the Master Gardeners and Native Plant Society folks attending as well.

The purpose is to help learn more about the spread or invasive plant species in Texas. If you weren't able to attend the training, you can still become a members of the Rolling Plains Invaders satellite group by taking the online training at and signing up. I know the Rolling Plains Master Naturalists will have some field trips, but this is also something you can do on your own. You can also sign up for a monthly newsletter to learn more about invasives of all types at this website.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When the Right is Right

I knew it would happen as soon as I saw the report in the paper that a study proved eating meat contributes more to climate change than driving an SUV. Within a couple of days, the conservative talking heads on Fox News started talkng about the hypocritical liberal environmentalists. Glenn Beck yelled that when an environmentalist talks to you about driving an SUV instead of a hybrid to ask if they are a vegan; if not, just tell them to "shut their pie hole."

Whether you like or dislike the way the sentiment was expressed, in many ways the Right is right on this one. I'm not a vegan myself. From a moralistic view, I don't really have a problem with eating other animals--I have too much education in biology for that (if you look around, there are darn few animals that don't eat other living things in order to live.) At the same time, what made sense when there were a few million people makes much less sense now there are over 6 billion, and I am trying to reduce the amount of meat prepared and eaten in this house (for goodness sakes, don't tell my husband that--Mr. Meat will keel over!)

That is part of the reason I volunteered to put together the Meat-Less Cookbook for the Sierra Club to be available at the EcoFair. Even if one isn't ready to go completely vegan, we can all make little changes in our diets that collectively can have huge consequences for the environment. So even if you aren't ready to make an all-out commitment to eat plants only, how about one meal a week for now and perhaps a day a week later, and then work your way forward from there?

Sierra Club/EcoFair Planning Meeting

For those interested, the Red River Sierra Club will meet Tuesday, September 8 at 7PM at the Olive Garden. The meeting agenda includes: Cookbook, Booth at the EcoFair, upcoming hike and more. No RSVP required--just be there.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Learn About Invasive Species

The Rolling Plains Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists is hosting a full day training on invasive species on Saturday, September 19, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM at River Bend Nature Center.

The intent of the workshop is to train volunteers for the Texas Invaders citizen science program. The class is $10, which covers the cost of materials. Spaces are limited so call River Bend if you are interested in taking part or contact the President of the Rolling Plains TMN, Lila Arnold at Participants will learn how to identify common invasive species and how to report them to the Invaders program. Participants should bring a sack lunch. There will be some field work on the grounds at River Bend Nature Center, so dress for the weather. Since it will probably still be hot on this date, you may also want to bring extra drinking water, although River Bend does have water fountains.

Many thanks to River Bend for providing the location for this training.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recycling in Wichita Falls

I received an email yesterday from a newcomer to Wichita Falls asking about recycling. We do not have (yet) a curbside recycling program, but there are many opportunities available if you are willing to work a little.

Any organic items can be placed in your yard waste container. That includes paper, cardboard, and garbage. Yes, it costs you $3 per month to have this extra container, but you can also pick up free compost from the city three times a year. Personally, I think the city should charge extra to those who don't set aside compostables and therefore have more trash--I probably set out my regular trash every fourth pick up.

If you want to recycle plastics, things are less easy. If you have access to Sheppard AFB, you can take your plastics to the recycling center there. You can also take them to Wal-Mart--they have containers for plastic bottles and plastic bags there.

For more information about recycling in Wichita Falls, you can call me for a (large) poster published by the Clean and Green committee. You can also download a brochure published by the League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls and the Rolling Plains Group of the Lonestar Sierra Club (once you click on the link, scroll down to the publications section and click the recycling brochure.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Next Meeting of the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club

The next meeting of the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club is Tuesday, August 18, 7 PM at the NALC Building on Southwest Parkway (next to Wichita Valley Landscaping.)

I will be doing the program on pollinators. We will (briefly) talk about birds as pollinators, but the majority of the time, we'll be talking bees and other insect pollinators and their conservation. I will have a list of plants and other information about helping these important critters.

I also have the food detail--I am thinking of testing a few of the recipes we'll be including in the EcoFair Meat-less Cookbook by the Sierra Club.

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


We're looking for vendors, sponsors and speakers. If interested, call River Bend Nature Center at 940-767-0843.

Upcoming Classes

I received my Horticulture Newsletter from Tara McKnight at the County Extension Office and there are two upcoming events of interest.

One way we can live more sustainably is to grow some of our own food. The extension office is offering a FREE workshop on fall gardening on August 20. Here is the information from the newsletter:

Fall Vegetable Gardening
Date: August 20th, Thursday
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Cost: Free
Location: MPEC, Room 8
Call our office to RSVP (so we can make sure we have enough handouts) at 716-8610. This course will cover: location of your garden, soil prep, weed control, insects, diseases, what to plant, mulching, watering and composting. If you have ever thought about starting a fall garden or already have one and are interested in learning more, this will be a great class for you.

Also, the next compost giveaway is coming up to help get that fall garden in shape. The only bad thing is this is the same day as the EcoFair--we must deconflict schedules better!!!!

City of Wichita Falls Compost Giveaway
Date: October 3rd, Saturday
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Location: Wylie Road Landfill-(West of Wichita Falls)
Cost: Free to Wichita Falls Residents who pay the $3 charge for the green recycle bins
*Must be a resident of Wichita Falls and have the $3 charge show up on your water bill. Bring your current water bill to the landfill in order to receive the compost. Bring a tarp! Must cover and tarp load before you leave the landfill.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Upcoming Pollinators Program

I will be presenting a program on pollinators at the next North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club meeting at 7:00 PM on August 18. The meeting will be at the NALC building on Southwest Parkway (next to Wichita Valley Landscaping.)

We'll be talking about the importance and conservation of pollinators. If you're interested in this topic and can't attend the meeting, I suggest the Pollinator's Home Page and the Xerces pollinator conservation page.

Monday, August 3, 2009

EcoFair Planning Continuing

The EcoFair planning is still under way. Reserve the date now: October 3, 9:00 - 4:00 at River Bend. If you are interested in helping plan the event, contact River Bend Nature Center.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Business Sustainability

I came across an article today on Chloregy on"5 Ways to Create a Socially Responsible and Profitable Company." I think every business owner should read it.

When I started my own company, I decided I would spend a percentage of revenue on certain social/environmental programs in the Wichita Falls community (currently 2%.) No matter how small your company, you can do good things for the community. You don't have to choose cash; you can choose other ways to give back. For example, in a recent business newsletter, I talked about developing employee leadership skills and recommended encouraging employees to get involved in non-profit boards and volunteer activities.

The trick is deciding what your company's focus should be and the best way your company can help the community while helping the company achieve its business objectives. There is no reason the two cannot go hand in hand.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Well, I haven't killed my worms yet. I checked this morning when I added some egg shells and the worms were very happily munching on a banana peel I left in there earlier in the week. And no smell.

My oregano and basil are having a hard time on the back porch with the heat. I may have to bring them in the house. My thyme and parsley are not doing much of anything. But we'll see.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Buy Local

Part of a sustainability lifestyle means to help build a sustainable community. A key component of this effort is to buy local.

"Local" is subjective, but generally means that individuals in the local community own at least the majority share of a business and is located within a certain, defined distance of the community it serves. When we were working the EcoFair, we defined "local" as within 100 miles. The distance depends a lot upon what is available.

According to Green Business Practices for Dummies (which I highly recommend if you are a business owner looking to improve your sustainability), a localized economy generally has the following characteristics:

  • Local ownership
  • Direct control
  • Regional sourcing

Why buy local?

  • Small businesses are the largest employer in America
  • Local businesses are owned by people vested in the community--more likely to stay in the community and feel part of its future
  • Hometown entrepreneurs contribute up to 2.5 times as much to local nonprofits as chain stores
  • About 45% of moeny spent at a local business stays in the community compared to 14% spent at a big-box store
  • Unique shops and services are part of what brings tourist dollars to the community
  • Local businesses often hire employees with better product knowledge and more interest in getting to know the customers

Does that mean I never shop at Wal-Mart, Target, or Office Depot? No, but I do consciously decide to try to find local businesses who provide the products I need. I wish I could find goods actually made in our local area--that has been more difficult.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


OK, I'm going to do it. I tried years ago and was unable to start a successful worm colony for my kitchen waste, but I am going to give it another shot. It doesn't look like rocket science. I just have to remember to monitor the water.

I will have to hide the bin from hubby (he is a little squeamish), but that shouldn't be difficult. I had to put my meal worm colonies in my closet when I had them at home--that should work for this as well.

Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Native?

I try to encourage people to plant native in their yards, but it is often hard to prove that this is better for the local wildlife.

Last year at the Texas Master Naturalist annual meeting, I found a book, Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas Tallamy. This book provides actual data to show the difference between the number of species supported by native plants versus invasives. The author lives further east, so many of his examples are from the eastern US; however, the principles are the same.

For example, there are about 80 species of oak trees in the US. It has been documented that these oak trees support 517 species of butterfly. Willow support 456. Conversely, he documents that even trees that have been in the US for many years, don't support near the number of species of native plants, nor the number of species they supported in their original homeland. So, for example, although Clematis vitalba has been in North America for 100 years, it supports only one species of herbivore here (versus 40 species in its homeland.) Even Phragmites australis, which has been in North America for over 300 years, supports only 5 species of herbivore in the US, versus 170 species in its native land.

The book provides suggested plantings for various areas of the country and also a list of plants to encourage butterflies and moths.

A very interesting book with lots of photos; well worth buying.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Humane Eggs

Egg production is ugly business for most chickens that supply our supermarkets. But due to pressure from consumers, more humane growing methods are becoming more popular. Unfortunately, we don't always know what the labels on the egg cartons mean. So if you don't have a local source of eggs and know where your eggs are coming from, here is a short primer on egg carton lingo and what it means to the chicken.

Traditional egg production facilities mean life in a very small cage for most hens. However, if you see the terms "free range," "free roaming," or "cage free" the hens can walk around, flap their wings, and preen. Hens are probably kept in a large flock in open warehouses.

"Free range" or "free roaming" means chickens have access to the outside. However, what access to the outside means is ambiguous. It can mean that outside access is limited and on dirt or concrete.

"Cage free" does not mean the birds have had access to the outside.

If the carton says "certified humane" it means the birds were raised in a manner that meets certification requirements of Humane Farm Animal Care. Laying hens must be uncaged and have access to perches, nest boxes and dust-bathing areas. Flock density is limited but birds are not required to have access to the outdoors. Beak trimming is allowed; debeaking is not. Starvation to induce molting is not permitted.

Many pay a lot more for "certified organic" eggs. This means the birds must be fed organic, vegetarian feed and cannot be dosed with antibiotics. Birds cannot be caged. However, birds may be debeaked and starved to induce molting. The amount of outdoor access to the birds is not clearly defined and on many organic farms, birds may have access only to a small concrete yard.

"Omega 3" eggs are also quite pricey. All eggs have omega-3 fatty acids in small amounts. Omega-3 can be increased in eggs by feeding flaxseed, fish oil or alfalfa meal. If we're lucky, the grower will choose instead to increase omega-3 through allowing the birds to forage on lawn or pasture.

Although not on the carton, when you open the egg, the brighter orange the yolk, the more carotenoids the egg contains.

We need to encourage pastured egg and chicken production. Pastured eggs contain 10% less fat, 34% less cholesterol, 40% more Vitamin A and 4 times the amount of omega-3. Pastured chicken meat contains 21% less fat and 50% more Vitamin A than the USDA standard.

I'm going to snoop around and see what I can find in the local area. Anyone have any good sources?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Curbside Recycling

Unfortunately, I didn't know until yesterday AM that Samantha McMahen was going back to the City Council this morning to present a petition on curbside recycling to the Council. I think we could have had a larger group there with a little more notice. However, there were several citizens there and both Samantha and Kelly Maestas gave short presentations.

If you want to increase the opportunities to recycle in Wichita Falls, it is important to make your views known to your Council member. Contact information is on the City of Wichita Falls website.

Involvement and persistance are key to getting things done by government.

In the meantime, the newest edition of the Red River Sierra Club/League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls recycling brochure is available on line.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Too Much Stuff?

If you have something you no longer need and either couldn't get rid of it during a garage sale (or don't want to expend the time and energy to host a garage sale), consider giving the item to one of the charity thrift stores in town or post it on the Wichita Falls Freecycle network.

Donating the items to a charity thrift store is a good way to help charities you care about to make money for their organization. Goodwill, First Step and Faith Mission all have thrift stores (which are also good places to find used stuff at a reasonable price--my purse is a $3 find from the Goodwill store.)

On Freecycle, you don't have to worry about getting your stuff to one of the thrift stores (Although some will pick up items.) And the person getting the item is getting it free. So check it out--you do have to register to post or look at items.

This is a great way to reuse items instead of throwing them in the landfill and to save money.

Rolling Plains Sierra Club Vegetarian Cookbook

At our last meeting, the Sierra Club decided to put together a small cookbook of vegetarian recipes to sell at the EcoFair in October. It is not intended as a fundraiser (although we sure don't want to lose money), but more as a way to educate the community on improving their diet through eating less meat.

If you have a family favorite recipe, then send it to me by email at

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Kitchen Herbs

I usually have a couple of pots of herbs in the kitchen window, but when my last basil was gone, I got sidetracked and didn't replant. I have been wanting fresh herbs for weeks to cook with and haven't had any. Fresh herbs at the supermarket are pricey and who knows what they have been sprayed with!

I finally went to Wichita Valley for some seeds. They didn't have much in the way of seeds at this time of the year, although I did pick up packets of thyme and parsley. I bought basil and oregano plants.

I feel guilty that I didn't plant more basil months ago, but there you go. Things happen. I am looking forward to some bruschetta and some insalata caprese this coming week to use some of the basil I bought. I'll be watching for some seeds to plant in the fall.

I also planted my thyme and parsley and will be watching for the sprouts soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Like Butterflies?

Like butterflies? If so, come to the Butterfly Count tomorrow, June 27, 8:00 AM at Lake Arrowhead State Park.

You don't have to know anything about butterflies--this is a good chance to learn some of the more common species. Hosted by the Rolling Plains chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, the count helps supply information concerning the health of butterfly populations in the United States.

You will be able to enter the park for free if you indicate you are with the Master Naturalists. The group, headed by Terry McKee, will be meeting just inside the main gate. There is a charge of $3 per person to support the North American Butterfly Association in compiling and maintaining the data. Bring water, bug spray and if you have them, a butterfly net and butterfly field guide.

While you're on the NABA website, look around for great information on planting for butterflies.

I have attended these counts in the past, and they are fun. Unfortunately, I can't be there tomorrow. A person can only do so many things in a weekend and Saturday is my day at Wild Bird Rescue.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TV Takeback Programs

I get a regular e-newsletter from Green America that has some good information. One of the articles this issue is on TV takeback programs. Here is the link to the report. It isn't great, but better than last year, so progress is being made.

There are a lot of great resources on this site--I suggest making it a favorite on your internet browser. Here's an extra from the website: 13 Ways to Go Green and Save Money.

Social Entrepreneurship

I had never heard the term "social entrepreneur" until this morning when I was reading the newest issue of CSRWire. Don't know if I was just not paying attention before (hey--it happens!) or this was really the first time I have read the term.

According to Ashoka, a social entrepreneur is a person with an innovative solution to society's most pressing social problems. They act as change agents for society. One of the interests areas is the environment and on that page, there is a discussion of changing economic incentives. There was a program on KCCU this morning on this approach to climate change--to make renewable energy a better economic value that other forms of energy, such as coal. It was interesting, although I can of course, not find a link to the story on the NPR Facebook page (usually I can.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Save the Date! NPSOT Symposium in October

I'll post more detailed information when I get it, but if you are interested in native plants, you may want to attend the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) Symposium that will be held right here in Wichita Falls, October 15 - October 18. I will be at another conference on the 15th, but I am going to try to make at least part of the activities.

Thanks to Paul Dowlearn for the reminder.

Sunshine Natural Foods

Sunshine Foods has been a long-time favorite for organic and natural food in Wichita Falls. Before the major grocery chains began to carry a lot of natural and organic foods, this was about the only place in town to get these products. They are also the only restaurant that has organic food on the menu and vegetarian selections. They also have meat dishes.

It has been a long time since I went to Sunshine as the last couple of times haven't been impressive in terms of food quality and selection on the shelves. However, the point is to encourage businesses that support sustainable living, so I decided to go back today to check out lunch. I'm glad I did. Lunch was good. I decided on the chicken soup with whole grain roll, since I wasn't starving (although I did pick up an oatmeal raisin cookie to go--it was supposed to be my afternoon snack, but it didn't last that long. No willpower.) I did overhear some folks who came in behind me who had never been to the restaurant before--let's help Sunshine by spreading the word. I will go more often.

I did notice going in that they are now offering organic produce AT COST. I am not sure how they can afford to do that, but good for them. They don't have a large selection of produce, but perhaps if more people come in, they will in the future. You can also purchase local raw honey by the pound--just turn on the spigot and fill your choice of container. The shelves were better stocked than they were at times in the past. Although many of the products are available in local grocery stores, some are not.

I have been disappointed that Sunshine Foods has not been a vendor at the EcoFair in the past--perhaps they will get involved this year. I hope so.

My favorite is the bakery. They always have some fresh organic bread and cookies, both of which are soft points with me.

Green Workplace Workshop

As advertised, I attended a Green Workplace workshop sponsored by Benchmark last week. It was a good introduction to the topic and we all received another United Supermarkets cloth shopping bag (you can't have too many of those) as well as some handouts on water conservation and other tidbits. They also gave out workplace posters with 10 very simple ways to green the workplace. As they promised, there wasn't much in the way of advertising (of course, there was a little, but that's to be expected.)

Although fairly elementary, I did pick up some things I didn't know about. If you use a lot of batteries in your workplace or home, then The Big Green Box is an option. Yes, it costs, but considering the weight of batteries, the cost probably about covers shipping. The box can also be used for recycling some e-waste. We don't have a lot of options for that in Wichita Falls.

I have also been looking at web conferencing options and Benchmark uses DimDim as a free option for small groups (less than 20). I can see this as a good alternative for small businesses and non-profits to keep travel costs down (and reduce carbon emissions.)

Thanks, Joel, for the invite and Janet Jackson for the presentation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interested in Water Habitats?

The following is the text of an e-vite I received today:

Red River Stakeholders:

The SARP Community Watershed Project is coming to Wichita Falls the week of June 29th. As a stakeholder in the waters, the aquatic resources, and the use of the land, you are invited to participate.

In case you have not already read about the project, please look over the information provided below.


Tuesday, June 30th from 3 – 4:30 PM in Room 178, Dillard College of Business Administration, Midwestern State University.

Please read below (or the attached brochure Note: since I cannot attach the brochure, please contact me for a copy--I can email it--Penny) for more information and forward this email to others who are engaged and informed about the river basins and the resources they provide. We will continue to collect input and information through the middle of August 2009.

What is the SARP Community Watershed Project? The SARP Community Watershed Project seeks to find out what key stakeholders in the Sabine and Red River basins know and care about—specifically with regard to aquatic resources. Aquatic resources are the fish and other species which make up the diverse ecosystems found in our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. SARP (see below) is an alliance of the 14 southeastern states, some federal agencies, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, and others focused on preserving the benefits we receive from healthy fisheries and aquatic ecosystems. The Watershed Project brings a range of interests together to bring a diversity of local perspectives and knowledge into the planning process.

The guiding document for SARP is the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan (SAHP) (Note: I can also email this to you--Penny), which sets targets and strategies for conservation. 34% of North American fish species and 90% of the native mussel species designated as endangered, threatened, or of special concern are found in the Southeast. Read on to see how you can communicate your knowledge and concerns to SARP and its partners as they work to turn this around.

Who is SARP? The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) is an alliance working to “restore aquatic resources including habitats throughout the Southeast, for the continuing benefit, use, and enjoyment of the American people.” SARP focuses on six key issue areas of greatest concern and interest to the Southeast
· Public Use: Increase recreational fishing and other sustainable uses of aquatic resources by the public.
· Fishery Mitigation: Provide high quality angling opportunities at water development projects.
· Imperiled Fish & Aquatic Species Recovery: Reduce the number of imperiled species in the Southeast.
· Inter-jurisdictional Fisheries: Protect, conserve, and restore inter-jurisdictional fisheries in the Southeast.
· Aquatic Habitat Conservation: Appropriate biological, chemical and physical integrity to support healthy functional communities for aquatic habitats.
· Aquatic Nuisance Species: Prevent and control the impact of invasive species on the ecological, economic and societal values of the Southeast.

Our Targeted Stakeholder Categories – If you are engaged and informed on issues that are relevant to the project , we need to hear from you.

Water supply management (human)
Water supply management (environmental)
Water quality management
Land use planning
Real Estate
Economic Development
Fishing, recreational
Fishing, commercial
Conservation advocacy
Natural resource management
Oil & Gas
Policy, Regulation and Law
Friends of [the lake]

Get Involved Stakeholder meetings. Join a live, in-person discussion and help us nail down local issues and priorities. See the enclosed flyer for meetings scheduled for your area (Note: again, call me for a copy--Penny).

The Stakeholder Survey. Tell us what you know about issues relevant to aquatic resources by filling out a convenient, online survey. Go to or email (this page goes live by June 22nd.)

Your contributions to the Watershed Project can take two forms: #1—Express your knowledge and priorities by participating in stakeholder meetings and our online survey.
· What you have experienced and what you care about.
· Local issues and priorities.
· Aquatic ecosystems and populations you know to be under stress.
· Conservation efforts planned, ongoing, or completed.

#2-Direct us to relevant work — studies, reports, databases.
· Bring it up in the survey.
· Email it to me at

We extend our sincere thanks to the Dillard College of Business Administration for hosting this meeting, to Penny Miller for making those arrangements, as well as to the many people who have helped in reaching others with a stake in aquatic resources.

The SARP Community Watershed Project is conducted by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation through a grant from the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. Learn more about the Foundation on our website at

Thanks, Mike Smith
Project Manager
Gulf of Mexico Foundation
361-882-3939 office
361-563-3406 mobile
361-882-1262 fax

Reusable Bag Sanitation

I really think this should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway. If you are using cloth bags for grocery shopping (and I am sure everyone reading this is), it is important to wash them on occasion. A report from Canada illustrates that bad things can happen when bags are not washed. However, note that the study was conducted and distributed by plastics manufacturers, so there is some bias (and when you read some of the recommendations, it becomes obvious.)

That being said, the information about contamination of bags is valid and should be a concern.

I wash my bags regularly--usually because the minute I carry them in the house, dog and cat hair jump onto them and they just look like they need washing. But we should wash the bags on a regular basis and especially if anything leaks in them or they get wet in the rain.

A blog at has some good pointers:

1. Wash your reusable bags or disinfect them frequently. Leaving them in hot cars with food
ick on them is going to breed germs and bacteria...which leads to,
2. Purchase and use better quality bags that are made from canvas or other washable fabrics.
3. If you have meat, fish or veggies, bag them separately.
4. Anything that leaks should be in its own bag and if that bag gets wet, it should be washed or
dried thoroughly before reuse.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Planning for Sustainability

When I started my company (Venture HRO, LLC), I thought about what I could do to ensure the company would do its part in corporate social responsibility, to include sustainability. Again at the annual meeting this past April, the company policy was reviewed and expanded--from the types of office supplies to be used, reducing/eliminating/recycling waste, and work arrangements for future employees to permit flexible work arrangements.

Mine is still a small company, but my feeling was that these principles and policies needed to be in place immediately, so we keep focus on these principles as we grow, rather than as an afterthought.

What is your company doing?

Help EcoFair

If you have been to the EcoFair the past two years, you know it is a fun and educational event. The next Ecofair will be October 3, so save the date now.

If you have ideas for vendors, speakers or sponsors, please contact River Bend and pass on the information.

Look for a page/group on Facebook soon.

Don't Forget EcoFair Meeting Tonight!

If you are interested in EcoFair 2009 on October 3, please attend a planning meeting tonight at 7 PM at River Bend Nature Center. Bring your ideas, potential vendors, speakers, etc.

See you there!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Top 10 Myths About Sustainability

I was doing some research for my presentation on sustainability on Wednesday and came across this article from Scientific American, "Top 10 Myths About Sustainability," that I thought was a good introduction to the concept for everyone. I find that we tend to throw around words and assume we are all talking about the same thing, but that isn't always the case.

Another good article (that I chose in part because of the reference to zebra mussels) is "Being Green 11 Environmentally Friendly Habits." I am going to be doing a mussel watch this Sunday and part of our purpose is to look for zebra mussels--thank goodness we haven't found any in our area yet.


New Resources Added

I added some blogs to the blog list. One I find exciting is the Norman Sustainability Network. I am going to try to find a contact to see what we can learn from them since they are so close.

I also added a couple of blogs of individuals who are trying to change the way they live--I thought they may provide ideas and encouragement to the rest of us. I know I have a house bigger than I need and a truck that uses too much gas. I don't pay as much attention as I should to the things I eat and the things I buy. I will probably rebel if I try to do too much at one time, but small changes add up. So what small steps are you taking (or considering) to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Worksmart by Going Green

Joel White with Benchmark gave me a flyer today for a 1-hour complimentary workshop they are sponsoring on June 18. I have been assured this is NOT a sales presentation. Here is the pertinent information on the event:

Title: Worksmart by Going Green

Description: Businesses play a key role in implementing smart, goal-oriented "green practices." Come and discover effective green practices that can help your office reduce costs, improve efficiency, and drive innovation--all of which add tremendous value to the bottom line.

Date: 18 June

Time: 10:00 am or 1:30 pm

Location: Benchmark Office, 900 8th Street, Suite 112 (Hamilton Building)

To RSVP: Call 940-691-1043

I plan to attend the morning session to learn more.

River Bend Education Program

Peter Loos, Chapter Liaison with the Native Plant Society of Texas, will be presenting a program, "The 10 Ecoregions of Texas," Friday, June 12, 7:00 PM. $3 for the public; free to River Bend members.

Unfortunately, the League of Women Voters has a board meeting/pot luck that same evening, so I doubt I will make it, but here's hoping for a large turnout.

Thanks to Paul Dowlearn of Wichita Valley for the heads up. Check out Wichita Valley's new website as well.

Curbside Recycling

Talk about a controversial issue!

A number of people and organizations have been advocating a curbside recycling program for some time. The League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls has been lobbying for a curbside program since 1998. Last year, two young people (Samantha McMahen and Heather Vasquez) started a petition requesting the city begin a curbside recycling program and spoke to the City Council (as did I, representing the League). The room was full of interested citizens. I understand from Samantha she is getting ready to go back to deliver a stack of signed petitions to the Council--Samantha--let us know when you are going and we'll try to get the word out for support!

The city has an organics recycling program for items that can be made into compost. Recently, the City of Wichita Falls has started charging residents $3 per month to pick up organic waste in recycling (although I can throw it in my trash at no charge.) This past week in the Times Record News, there was an article that the organic recycling program is in danger due to residents placing non-compostible items such as plastic and aluminum cans in the organics container. I thought it was just ignorance among those using the containers, but someone at the Sierra Club meeting said that some had told her they were doing it as a form of protest. If they put other recyclable items in the compost bin, then the City would get the message that they should have a curbside recycling for aluminum cans and plastic. Unfortuately, that is not the message the Sanitation Department is getting.

Get a grip, people. Let's do this part right. We're diverting a large percentage of potential refuse from the landfill. We can continue to work on the rest. We don't want to go backwards on this.

EcoFair Planning Underway

River Bend is planning the annual EcoFair for October 3, 2009. If you are interested in helping plan this year's event, please attend the meeting on Monday, June 15, 7:00 PM at River Bend. If you have questions, please contact Samantha McMahen, 940-767-0843 or

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How About a Vegetarian Restaurant?

One of the things we talked about at the Sierra Club meeting is the need for a good vegetarian restaurant, preferably emphasizing local, organic produce. Right now, that would be a tough sell as it is not easy (perhaps impossible) to find locally grown, organic produce.

There is very little in the way of vegetarian fare in the local restaurants, and certainly nothing organic. Sunshine Foods has a small lunch selection. The food is okay, but nothing to write home about.

I could see an argument for having a portion of the menu with grass fed, organic beef and other meat items, to encourage more people to try the restaurant and sample vegetarian fare.

Please, one of you restaurant owners or restaurant owner wannabe's, how about giving this a try? (Or if you don't want to go too far out on the proverbial limb, how about adding more vegetarian choices to your current menu? Of course, the dishes would have to be more orginal than a side dinner salad with iceberg lettuce.)

Getting Started

Last night I attended a meeting of the Red River Sierra Club (note, the group page has a lot of broken links.) We're a small group, but we exchanged a lot of ideas and information. When I left, I remembered a thought I had some months ago about starting a website that focused on green topics in the Wichita Falls area, in an attempt to help those who are trying to live a healthier, sustainable lifestyle connect to others with similar interests. I am not quite ready to take on that project yet--I am still trying to get my business website updated. But in the meantime, I thought a blog would be useful in at least spreading what I hear about and allowing others with similar interests to interact.

I have two related blogs that I have listed in the blog list to the side. I also added a couple of other local blogs that may be of interest. The bird blogs are not necessarily a spot-on match, but I find people who are interested in green topics often appreciate nature as well.

Send me:
Links to other related blogs
Reviews and links to good books and articles
Upcoming events
Forums, meetings, and workshops of sustainable living products
Businesses with related products or services

I am looking forward to encouraging a more sustainable and healthier Wichita Falls.