Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Zero Population Growth...

Say what? Oh yeah, I went there. This one is for my peeps (leslie, I'm winking at you!)...

So, ground rules and basic important statements:

  • I am not--in any way--telling people what they should/should not do.
  • I merely trying to foster an interesting and important discussion.
  • I am NOT an expert on this topic. I am posting my initial thoughts, but am positive that there will be many points which others think of that I have let me know what I miss.
  • I know many fantastic parents of larger families (with 4+ children)--I am in NO way saying that they shouldn't have had their kids. I am not criticizing them in any way. Again--this topic is to spur healthy discussion NOT to offend anyone.
  • I also know an increasing number of couples who have chosen not to have any children...and they are happy fulfilled individuals.
  • I absolutely welcome comments to this post, so feel free to join in the discussion as long as it is in a respectful manner.

What is Zero Population Growth?...Well, it has a longer explanation--but I'm condensing it down to the bare bones: Birth rate equals death rate. There are a lot of factors that make up or effect both of these rates. Education, economy, health care...are just a few of the many factors.

So why am I even mentioning the concept of zero population growth? You can only fit so many nails in a piece of wood before it splits into a bazillion splinters...the same concept is true of the Earth and how many people it can hold/sustain. In 1999, our planet passed the 6 BILLION person mark. By 2050, we are expected to top 9 billion...and China is NOT predicted to be the most populated country at that time! India is currently hot on China's heals and by that time is predicted to overtake China's population. Have you compared the land mass of China to that of India lately? Go do it right now...I'll really I have time...don't lie to didn't check...fine, but you're only hurting yourself by not looking it up... China is WAY larger than India...and India is going to be the most populous country? I don't mean to be an Alarmist Annie, but that doesn't sound like a good thing.

Let's start with the will we as a planet feed everyone? People are already starving to death...should we just add a couple more billion people then? This is a point of debate as many believe that we produce enough food on the planet to feed everyone--we just aren't able to get the food to the needy people due to politics, economy, etc. Regardless, no one can dispute the fact that people are starving everyday. Next...water...clean, potable water...where are we going to get it? In America and Canada we turn on our faucets and let it flow, but in Africa and other parts of the world--people travel miles to bring back drinkable/usable water every single day. Most of the Earth might be made up of water, but most of that water is salt water. Desalination is costly--not just monetarily but also due to the energy/resources it takes to desalinate the water. Third basic point--how do we dispose of the human waste? According to an article I read today on, handling waste and the public health issues of not properly handling waste is the biggest problem that we will face in rapidly growing urban areas in the developing world. This means a huge potential for the spread of disease. A fourth point would be the drain on resources worldwide...wood for furniture, metal for tools, coal/wood/whatever for cooking and heating, cotton/hemp for clothing, etc. More people means more drain on these resources...prices skyrocket...resources become scarce.

So what do we do to stop this runaway train? Well...some people think that zero population growth is the answer or at least part of the answer. That means birth control would need to be made accessible--possibly free--especially to the poor. It's not fair/right to say "no money for birth control, no sex" can't make having sex or having children a right exclusive to the rich. Education...if I've quoted School House Rock once, I've quoted it a thousand times "Knowledge is Power"! The old wives' tales need to be put to rest. You CAN get pregnant when you're breastfeeding. You CAN get pregnant the first time you have sex. Taking a bath immediately after sex will NOT keep you from getting pregnant...etc.

Now I'm really going into some touchy territory...maybe some people should choose not to have biological children at all... Many thousands of children all over the world are in orphanages and foster care...they need parents...they need protection, love, care, education...basically they need a real chance at survival. A man I work with just became a first-time grandparent when his son and daughter-in-law traveled to Vietnam to adopt a beautiful baby girl...not because they couldn't have biological children, but because they felt it was the right choice for them to adopt. Step-parenting is another way to become a parent...My husband is not my daughters' "biological father", but he is EVERY bit their father. He gets upset when anyone dares to mention that they "aren't his real kids". He and I have chosen not to have biological children together, but he doesn't feel as if he is "missing out" on anything. He is just as much of a parent as I fact, sometimes he is a far better one! Other people may choose not to become parents at all--and that is perfectly acceptable too! Although having a child can be wonderful--it is not for everyone. I highly respect those people who are honest enough to say "No, I don't think becoming a parent is right for me" for whatever reason.

I'm sure that I'm missing a whole bunch of good points and great information that should have made it into this post...I've been ruminating over this topic and trying to get this post written for almost a week now...finally, I just sat down and pounded out what was in the forefront of my brain...After re-reading what I've written, I now realize that I've almost exclusively addressed controlling the birth rate and really haven't touched on the death rate at all. The two need to be equal to achieve zero population growth. However, I do not advocate war, mass killings, fatal epidemics, smoking or poor health that pretty much leaves me with the concept of controlling the birth rate as it (in my mind) is by far the most humane option.

Well, am I just some wacko nut case with a weird birth control fetish?...Does any of this make sense to anyone besides myself?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Klean Kanteen Wrap-up

Yeah, I know everyone's tired of hearing about this...but it's bugging me--big time. I sent a follow-up e-mail to Klean Kanteen to ask them if the potential steel fragments they mentioned in their previous e-mail to me would cause any health risks. This is their reply:

The stainless on stainless friction may lead to a small amount of stainless residue getting into your beverage after a prolonged period of time. We have done testing of screwing and unscrewing the caps thousands of times on a dry bottle, and didn’t find any residue at the bottom of the bottle. This was basically just a precaution that we made because we had a large customer of ours point out this possibility to us.

The polypropylene on stainless will not cause the same type of friction as the plastic is more forgiving and won’t break apart like the stainless might.

I don't really know what to make of all of this...they did plenty of testing and never had a problem...which leads me to believe that this was primarily a cost cutting measure that they readily adopted when they thought they had a good enough reason to...

I know that some people are able to buy the lids and the bottles separately, but the only way I'm able to buy Klean Kanteens in my area is via the internet. The bottle comes directly from the company's website now with an all plastic cap--you have to PAY EXTRA for a stainless steel & plastic cap if you don't want the plastic touching your drink. Prior to January of this year, the Kanteens came with a stainless steel cap at no extra charge. Well, I'll shut up about this now...I know after 3 posts about it, people must be tired of it. I just hate to see a good product that I used and a company I respected...go down this path.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's true...maybe I'm not quite so crazy as I originally thought...

A couple of posts ago, I asked if anyone else had noticed that Klean Kanteen had switched from stainless steel (with a little bit of plastic) caps to all polypropylene (fancy plastic) caps...although no one responded in the affirmative at that time, I e-mailed the company to inquire about it.

Guess what? I wasn't crazy nor was I making up's true. I received a reply from the company today. Here it is:

Thank You for your email and your support of Klean Kanteen!

This all polypropylene cap change was made on Jan. 1st for 3 different reasons:

1) The continual rising costs of stainless steel, and our desire to keep our bottle prices at the current price levels. This change keeps our cap prices down and allows us to do this.
2) The stainless on stainless threading of our bottles and caps. Many customers have voiced concern that over time small amounts of stainless residue are getting into their drinks from the screwing and unscrewing of these caps.
3) The noise that is made from the screwing and unscrewing of the stainless caps. This is not a big concern of ours, but customers do complain about it.

If you have any further questions please contact me via the info below.

Chris Carlson
Awareness Representative

One planet, one you! pondering point #2 from the letter above...has anyone else encountered this? Does anyone have knowledge of stainless steel that could address this theory? I had already guessed prior to receiving the response that financial reasons were coming into play here... The noise of the lid never really bothered me... But I find the whole "small amounts of stainless steel residue" to be very curious...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More thoughts on water...

If you didn't catch it yet today (and you probably already have)...No Impact Man had a post on the "water issue". You can read it here:

I highly recommend reading the comments on his post as well. Sharon from Casaubon's Book posted a very intelligent idea about people implementing composting toilets instead of eliminating our waste into water that is eventually turned back into drinking water.

Let me be clear that I'm not advocating anyone stop taking their necessary medications. My daughters will not be stopping their meds anytime soon. However...(and don't you just love 'howevers'?)...a lot of the pharmaceuticals found in the water supply were not even prescription medications. Caffeine, ibuprofen (aka Advil/Motrin, etc.) and acetaminophen (aka Tylenol, etc.) are over-the-counter meds that you can buy at any supermarket, pharmacy and convenience store. And what about the antibiotics that were found? And the hormones from birth control pills that were found in the water supply? Are those 100% necessary pharmaceuticals?...yes and no. We definitely need antibiotics to fight bacterial infections and birth control for obvious reasons...but I think we can all agree that antibiotics are prescribed/used FAR more often than they need to be or should be. And...there are other good options for birth control as well.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: Do we really need to pop a pill for every little ache or pain? And isn't it a medical fact that antibiotics are meant for bacterial infections not viruses? Do we really need to have 5 cups of coffee...or are 2 cups sufficient? Do we need the venti, ultra-mega-huge cup or is the standard 8 oz. cup that our grandparents used sufficient? With the explosion of coffee houses, fast food restaurants (that offer soda more readily than water) and energy drinks (which are almost entirely caffeine and high fructose corn syrup)...we have made the consumption of caffeine our new national past time!

In my mind, it all goes back to the same thing...moderation, moderation, moderation. I do not need to drink 4 Mountain Dews a day! I like my caffeine as well as the next person...believe me...I do. But maybe I need to re-think my caffeine consumption... I will still use pain relievers for severe headaches, but maybe I need to re-think what constitutes a severe headache...

Between the oceans full of plastic debris and the country's water system full of trace amounts of is time to re-think what we are doing...on every every facet of our lives. That's it...that's my new mantra. It just hit me like a ton of bricks as I typed it. My own little "epiphany"...

It is time to re-think what we are doing...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Did anyone else catch this?...

Prescription drugs in our drinking water? Really? Yuck! And...I noticed from the map linked to the article that this applies to MY state specifically. Double yuck! My area is not as bad as some of the others, but it just makes me think "Dude, what the hell have we done?" We are paying the price for our past thoughtless actions...not cool...

AND...did anyone else notice on the Klean Kanteen website that they have started selling their water bottles with all-plastic caps and are charging EXTRA for stainless steel caps now? When did that happen? That is not cool. I have had such high respect for their I'm kind of thrown for a loop. Why backtrack like that? I sent them an e-mail inquiring as to why they chose to do this. If/when I get a response...I'll post it here.

This is not ducky folks...not ducky at all...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Honey, I'm home!...

Where the heck have I been? Oh, you know...around...(manic child got a 3 day out-of-school suspension...I had to meet with the admin of her school and take her to far more doctor's/counseling appointments than I'd like to...honestly)...but I won't bore you with the details...and you know what the "kicker" in all of this is? I had just signed up for a Stress Less Challenge on Chile Chews blog! That actually made me have to enjoy the humor of these kinds of things!

However, never being one to pass up a double meaning...I found a very interesting local grower/supplier of honey! It was started and is still run by two cardiologists who work at the same medical center that I do. They are married to each other and have 3 children. Each of the children is responsible for their own wildflower garden in different areas around town and each garden is unique...therefore making the batches of honey different. Not only do they sell honey, but they also make lotions and some amazing smelling soap using the honey. As a matter of fact, I always used to stop and smell the soap (don't judge me) when I was in the "organic" section of my local market...but I never bought it because I thought it was probably trucked in from California or China or Mexico...someplace far, far away...if I would have stopped long enough to investigate it, I would have found out that it is made right here in Minnesota! If you want to check out their website (and see some beautiful pictures of their wildflower gardens):

So you know what this means...I can buy the soap from now on and the honey! It's all very cool.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Make your own laundry detergent...I do!

I've been making my own laundry detergent for almost a year now. I don't even know how or why I started exactly...I'm pretty sure it had something to do with hearing that it was better for the environment. When I realized that it would save me oodles of money I was sold on it. I used to pay $15 for a huge bottle of Cheer every 2-3 weeks. Now I spend approximately $11 every 3-4 months...pretty darn exciting even if I do say so myself!

I found several recipes out on the internet, so I took the main ingredients found in most of them and came up with this:

1 cup grated Fels Naptha
1/2 cup Washing Soda--not to be confused with Baking Soda which is different and should not be substituted.
1/2 cup Borax
1/4 cup Oxy Clean Crystals/Powder (totally optional)

I mix it all together in a container and use 2 Tablespoons per large load of laundry (1 Tablespoon for a medium or small load, which is far less guilt or pressure here...). I only wash in cold water, so I put the homemade laundry detergent in first and run the water a little to dissolve it a bit.

I typically make it up in bigger batches than what I listed though. Honestly, I take the recipe times 7 and make a big batch all at once. It doesn't have an overpowering smell at all. The clothes come out smelling clean...that's about it. I haven't noticed any fading of colors to speak of...I don't find myself re-washing any clothes. I'm able to find all of these "ingredients" at my local grocery store...if you can't, I can let you know what the ISBN numbers are and you could see if they'd order them for you.

I've given samples to my mom, sister and mother-in-law. They all think it works great. My mother-in-law even went so far as to bundle it up in cute cloth packages and now sells it at her local grower's market alongside her famous homemade fudge. And I'm not bitter at all that she is making money off my detergent recipe while I'm not allowed to know her fudge recipe...not bitter at all...nope not me...I'm very grateful to have shared with her while not even receiving one shred of acknowledgement for giving the recipe to her...I'm completely at peace with the whole issue...(may the "secret ingredient" in her beloved fudge be the first fatality of food shortages and global warming)...just call me Ms. Zen...I'm so happy for her!

Anyways, so I figure if I can make the stuff up and religiously use it for a whole year...then anyone can do it. I don't have a creative, artsy fartsy bone in my body... Buttering bread is serious cooking as far as I'm concerned and vacuuming (just the living room) is considered "cleaning all day" me--anyone can handle this one.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bright Spot for the Winter Time Blues

Even up here in Minnesota where it is so stinkin' cold your thermometer breaks...we have a winter farmer's market. It only runs from 9-Noon on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, but at least we have one! I shamefully admit that I had never been to it until this morning. I didn't know what to expect from it (nothing grows in the snow/ice) but was pleasantly surprised. It is THE place to buy your organic beef, pork, lamb and chicken if you are of the meat-eating persuasion. They of course had local free range eggs, local honey, apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, jams/jellies, baked goods and cheese. My family picked up some eggs, ground beef and bacon.

On the way home from the farmer's market we stopped by our local market and picked up...for the first time ever...milk in a glass bottle. I know...I know...I'm behind the rest of the class on this one...everyone else is already doing it...but I haven't been. I've been buying local milk in a plastic jug... But better late than never, right? I can't wait to try it! I hope it's super yummy...(cough)...oh by the's chocolate milk...(cough, cough)....

Anyways, this excursion was a much needed bright spot in the dim happenings of our home life lately...things with my youngest have escalated to gigantic proportions, much of which I have not touched on here. Folks, it's been I cried for 3 hours straight yesterday bad.

So thank goodness that this was the first Saturday of the month so that we could go to the farmer's market! And thank goodness that my husband remembered and recommended it! I had totally forgotten about it. I can't wait to go again. It has even got my husband and I talking about buying 1/4 or 1/2 a side of beef from our favorite seller at the market. That would be wonderful...hopefully we can turn this idea into reality. That would be super cool.

What have you all been up to? Sit down and let's chat awhile... We've got a lot of catching up to do...and you look fabulous, by the way...