Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"LOST" Fast

About ready to end your fast from LOST episodes? Someone has seen Season Five and here's his juicy review. And yes, thanks, I realize LOST has nothing to do with vacation rental special rates, travel deals or healthy living. But its my blog and many guests are rabid fans, so I get to blather on about LOST being the best mini-vacation deal going.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bloomin' Wonderful Resolutions-- Dana's Five W's

What's your green resolution? The holidays brought a sea of appliances, electronics, packaging, and gift cards into my relatives homes and left me awash with mild shock about how my world is filled with plastic--even if I do carry my own shopping bags and gave up trash bags in 1988. Noodling on how to take it easy on me and momma nature in 2009 produced five simple things I can do that have big impact. I sometimes need mnemonics to remember things, so these are my "Five W's."

1. Wallet. No lectures about spending on lattes, I'm talking about the 10 billion gift cards, library cards, ID cards, membership cards, and other PVC cards that add 75 million pounds of plastic to our waste stream every year. Inspired by the cashier at Home Depot who is collecting thousands of gift cards to be recycled at her register, along with a Starbucks employee who drops cards off by the bag full--in 2009, I’m going to ask businesses if they use Earthworks recycled cards. And I will recylce my used and expired cards by mailing them to Earthworks.

Send your PVC cards to:

Earthworks System, LLC33200 Bainbridge Road, Suite Esolon, OH 44139

2. Water. Yeah, you know about plastic water bottles filling the dumps and possibly leaching toxins into our bodies, so I'm not going to go over that again. I'm concerned about my water filtration system using plastic parts. By mid-year my water filtration supplier promises plastic-free water filtration products will be available and if his molds don't work, I intend to research ones that do.

3. Wash. Research cleaning with a steam cleaner. Judy Garbutt, co-owner of a green cleaning company in St. Augustine, cleans floors, tiles and tubs with a steamer. Eliminates mold, germs, and doesn't use toxic cleaners. She recommends the EuroFlex SC, available on for less than $100. Does it use more water than mopping? Add to electricity use? More research on the wonder cleaner forthcoming.

4. Wear. I'm going to save money and energy drying my clothes and linens using the clothes line more and the dryer less. It saves money on the second-biggest electricity using appliance in my home (frig is first) and cuts down on fabric softener (full of toxins and expensive!).

5. Worry Less. In 2008, I eliminated rental cars on my travels by ride sharing, walking, and using public transportation. It wasn't easy. I have lots of luggage. I'm usually on a tight schedule. I have the tendency to be overly responsible, which can create anxiety.

On a trip to attend a wedding, I borrowed my mother's hybrid and was terrified something would happen to it while I was driving. Not the mood I wanted to be in for celebrating nuptuals. On a trip to Sedona, the shuttle ride from Phoenix to Sedona added three hours to an already long drive. That wasn't easy on my back and I was car sick. But it was cool how many people were amazed that I didn't have a car. It seemed incomprehensible to people that a successful person would walk when they could drive. Americans love their cars.

This resolution is to make greening my travel less stressful this year than it was in 2008--worry-free. See if I'm able to come up with anything when I share my green travel resolutions in January.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Blue Fire Scrub Jays

By Guest Blogger, Fran Palmeri

Known for their friendly and inquisitive nature and bright blue color, the scrub jay reminds me of fire. At Oscar Scherer State Park, they often “drop in” -I’ll be engrossed photographing a wildflower and a bird will land on my head. But that's not where the fire starts.

The jays risk being picked off by predators like hawks and only feel comfortable nesting in dense thickets of tiny scrub oaks that are only about eight feet tall. They live in cooperative family groups. Posted on top of a tree, one acts as a sentry warning of danger. Young birds help raise new members of the family. Scrub jays eat the small acorns of the oaks and cache them for future use. One bird can bury up to 1,500 acorns a season.

This is where fire comes in. Scrubby oak flatwoods depend on fire to renourish the soil and open the area to sunlight, which promotes new growth of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs --and scrub oaks from the acorns the jays buried. In the days before housing developments and office complexes, lightning did the job, but today land managers must start prescribed burns.

At first, burning horrified me but I learned that in times of fire, animals escape harm by taking shelter in underground burrows or flyomg to safety. When I saw the green explosion of growth in the days and months following a burn, I was convinced fire did more good than harm. No fire, no scrub oaks, no scrub jays.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thoughtful Travel

"Traveling eco-friendly is not about giving up luxury, it's about traveling more thoughtfully," said actress and author Mariel Hemingway. "By travelling greener we not only enjoy this world's beautiful destinations, but also help preserve them for people to enjoy for years to come."

Traveling green doesn't have to cost more, staying in green vacation rentals can save you cash, protect your health, and reduce your impact on the environment. The long-term benefits of reducing your exposure to toxins from plastics and standard building materials can save you even more as health care costs rise.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Real Florida Springs


Hot and cold running water. Millions and millions of gallons of it every day. Florida has over 700 springs, more than any other comparable area in the world. Thirty-three of them are first magnitude, which means that each produces more than 65 million gallons of water a day.

Over the ages, people have been drawn to Florida’s springs, mesmerized by the color and clarity of the water. For ten thousand years, they were gathering places for native peoples. When Europeans came, they became playgrounds for the well-to-do. Now they’re popular recreational areas for all of us.

You can be a kid again in these places. Cast-off in an inner tube. Let the water carry you through a lush green world. Put on goggles and tour a beautiful ecosystem. Be adventurous and scuba dive hundreds of feet into an underwater world.

At Rainbow Springs I sit by the water’s edge and imagine the wooly mammoth coming down to drink.

More of Fran's Favorite Photos will appear on this blog throughout 2009. Fran and her fab photos may be reached at FranPalmeri at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dana's Top Five Travel Ooohs and Aaahs

1. Don’t Go There, Top 10 Worst Travel Spots
2. Global Lost and Found, ever leave behind a phone, laptop, or MP#? This service helps you retrieve your electronics, a must have for world travelers.
3. Moon Struck, photo blog by Paul Rutowski (the striking photo above).
4. No more bottled water. Hyatt switched to filtered water in their restaurants.
5. First Tracks for Skiing! Taos goes green with 100% renewable electricity sources and more.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Real Florida Wild Cats

Photo & Text by Guest Blogger, Fran Palmeri,
Wildlife Advocate & Nature Photographer

What I like most about this photo is that the bobcat is in habitat—scrubby flatwoods to be exact. It’s taken me three years to capture him on digital but not nearly as long to appreciate the Scrub, the “Plain Jane” of Florida’s natural communities. Early settlers despised the Scrub but coveted the sandy land because it was good for raising cattle and growing citrus so they chopped and burned their way through scruffy saw palmetto and little scrubby oaks to set up a homestead. Today less than five percent remains.

This cat lives in the Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey, Florida. According to her daughter, Anna, Elsa Scherer Burroughs was a “real naturalist loving the land, the birds and all the animals” and was “adamant that her land be turned into a park to remain natural and unspoiled.” She bequeathed her 400-acre estate in Osprey to the state in the 1950s and asked that it be named after her father Oscar Scherer, a successful New York industrialist.

The evening I took this photo, I felt fortunate to be hiking there. Lucky me! Lucky bobcat!

Fran and her wondrous photos may be reached at FranPalmeri at

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top Five for Greening Your Holidays

Reminder: I do guilt-free. You already have enough on your plate this season with money being tight and all the extra socializing without me preaching to you about greening your Christmas. These are just a few things to make you feel good and maybe do a little good for the environment, but only as the icing on the cake.

1. ReGift. See why the second time around can really be the charm. Click this to read the article.

2. Sing. It changes your brain chemistry in healthy ways so you can make good decisions about protecting your health and the planet’s. Click here to listen to the Gnostic Choir singing songs to connect us.

3. Focus. Forget multitasking, it creates mistakes. Click here to read the article.

4. Get Real. A real tree, that is, from a local tree farmer. Skip the toxins in artificial trees or trees shipped from out of state and sprayed with harmful paint. Check my December blog post for details.

5. Put Some Green In Your Pocket. And save energy at the same time with the new tax credits that go into effect January 2009. Click here to read the article.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Spa-aahhhs--Easy on You and the Environment

If you own a spa or spend time in one on vacation, you know the relief it brings for stress, back or neck problems, injuries, or arthritis. But with the soak comes chemicals--mainstream spa products contain deadly chlorine and pesticides--not so nice for your skin, lungs or draining into Mother Nature. And if you're chemically sensitive like me, spas can trigger hives or asthma.

There is an alternative, a natural enzyme product in use for over 20 years. We use it in our vacation rental tubs and find it works for three months with no itchy skin, burning eyes, or smells. Again,I don't take money for writing about products, I want to stay objective. I'm not getting paid to write this or when you buy product and this isn't multi-level marketing.

I've spent some time getting to know the Nature Safe Spa distributor, Burt
and here's what he's shared with me about environmentally friendly spas:

"After retirement I moved to the beautiful mountains of Virginia, however my life changed after a devastating car accident. My doctor recommended a spa for pain relief and a natural muscle relaxant. The spa helped me manage my pain. But I hated having to test the water so often and having to remember when to add another chemical. My skin reacted to the harsh chemicals, but I continued using the spa because I didn’t realize I had any other choice.

Hydrotherapy, which comes from a good spa or hot tub, is one of the best pain and stress relievers out there. I personally believe it is one of the best kept secrets for those who could really use hydrotherapy. There is comfort in being in a spa and enjoying all the benefits without the itching, smell and knowledge that you’re soaking in a chemical soup.

I was so sold on the wonderful benefits of my hot tub, that I started selling them in a local spa store. During the next five years, I was introduced to The Natural Hot Tub Company Water Treatment & Conditioner. I found I could use my spa daily without testing or adding anything to the water. I didn’t have to take a shower after soaking and there was no chemical smell. My skin was soft and I stopped having rashes. We started selling the Water Treatment at the store where I worked and the customers who tried it were as amazed as I at the results and ease of use.

I also had the great fortune of having hundreds of customers using this water treatment as well, and the privilege of speaking to the doctor who invented it sometimes on a weekly basis. He was a wealth of knowledge regarding the product which I was able to pass on this information to my customers. I learned a lot about spas and spa treatment programs during this time and this is by far the best product I have seen or used. That’s why I became a distributor and decided to start this website, so I could share this product with everyone.

One of the many things I learned while selling spas and hot tubs is you probably will have a hard time finding this product in retail outlets. The reason is simple! Most retailers believe this product will negatively affect their chemical sales. That is somewhat correct. However, the No. 1 reason people decide not to buy a spa is maintenance. While it is true that a spa actually is virtually maintenance free, the traditional spa water treatment is usually an everyday procedure. First, checking the water for chlorine or bromine levels, then pH and alkalinity, then adding some chemical every other day at least and adding another chemical for metal content or a clarifier. Also when you consider most people do not drain their spas but once or twice a year, this chemical build-up is enormous.

Then we drain our spas into our ground water system which pollutes our environment. With this Water Treatment & Conditioner, you add one bottle every three months and that’s it. I personally add an all-natural clarifier, Sea-Klear®, once per week just as I get out of my tub. Clean the filter once per week which you should do, no matter what you use as a water treatment. I also use a small amount (1/2 tsp) of Spa Chlorine Granules when necessary and leave my cover off to 'gas' it out."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Electronics and Computers for the Holidays: What to do with the old ones

New stuff under the tree can mean old stuff in the landfill. Electronics and computers contain hazardous materials. If you replace old equipment with new ones this holiday, why not consider these recycling options?

Recycling Kit from Think Green From Home. Simply fill the box they send to you and return, they take care of the rest. They also take CFLs.

EPAs ecycling tips and links.

Ten Tips for Donating a Computer.

Ideas for recycling phones, iPods, TVs at Yahoo Green.

Apple, Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Depot, and Staples all have e-waste recycling programs for items bought at their stores. Details vary, so check the retailer's website or call customer service before you bring in a pile of junk.

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Time, Less Stuff

Luxury isn't about stuff, having "stuff" means pollution, trash, uneccessary death of wildlife and sacred animals. The very bags for our "stuff" ruin the luxury of our personal and planetary health. These videos make the case: Less plastic, more life.