Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rebel Dishwater Gardener

After studying up on climate change (from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to NASA’s climate data), Dan and I have no doubt that climate change is happening and that we must do something about it. But it is such a hot button issue for so many people, that I have steered clear of blogging about it. I felt I could do more good blogging about our journey from a consumer lifestyle to a more sustainable one (fits and starts and all). But since Trump took office, everything we’ve worked towards is under siege. So I’m rebelling the only way I know how, by stepping up our water harvesting efforts and starting a new blog. I’ve never been much for the news, but with Trump’s daily assaults on the environment, I have to stay on top of it. I’ve become a sort of “desktop activist” – answering calls to action against the daily attacks on our water sources, air, wildlife, forests… and reposting them.

We are in the process of installing passive rainwater harvesting features in our yard.  But until we can get that and a laundry-to-landscape system finished (and finally get some rain!), we are using dishwater to irrigate four new desert trees and a tiny garden by the house (above).
We will dig out the red gravel to make a catchment basin.
The greywater from our outdoor washing machine will irrigate fig trees there. 
It can be sort of a pain, but it is also my solace.  It forces me to get outside during the loveliest time of the day when the birds twitter away as they raid our compost pile. It is such a joy to see our little garden growing. It makes my day! 

Our future edible forest! The baby desert trees are watered with the "clean water."
We will be planting drought tolerant, edible moringa trees in the catchment basin when it is done! 
I don’t pretend to be an expert gardener. You can probably teach me! Dan and I are still experimenting with different techniques in sustainable, low-water gardening. But I’m happy to share what we’re learning along the way.

"Clean water?" Yep! Coffee grounds go in there!  Plants love it! 
We are having to re-learn how to do the dishes. We have two plastic water basins – one for “clean water” and one for soapy dishwater.  

We rinse off produce and cutting boards (immediately after cutting produce) into the clean basin. Our plants love the broccoli water left in the steaming pan and the black water from the French press. 

The "clean water" goes to my little garden first, then the startup trees. The dirty (chunkiest) dish water goes to dampen the compost pit.  (I use low sodium dish-washing soap,)

It’s not always easy. Sometimes Dan and I bicker on the best way to do it. (I don’t like food fragments, grease, or cooking oil in the soapy water…) But we are finding ways to solve the problems (like having the dog lick the greasy pan or soaking the pan separately and dumping that water directly into the compost rather than into the dishwater.)

Finally found a sustainable job for Pooh...

Sure, it's a challenge retraining my teen boys to save water by washing dishes by hand  - or at least opening the door while I carry out the dirty dishwater! Sure, it's awkward opening the door with a basin full of water!  But there are always solutions... 

I think it’s worth it. Many thanks to all the people who are conserving water and irrigating their yards with rainwater or greywater. We are making a difference! That’s why Tucson Water offers up to $2000 in rebates for rainwater harvesting.

I understand not everyone has the time or energy to carry out dishwater, but we can all be more conscious of how much water we use and find ways to conserve water (like turning off the water while we suds up in the shower or while brushing our teeth. We can landscape with desert plants that don’t require watering, or install a high-efficiency toilet.) We can all be rebel water savers in our own way. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

From one mother to another, my letter to Ivanka Trump

Good news! According to, the Trump administration has delayed its decision about the Paris Climate Agreement. A meeting about the deal that was scheduled for this Tuesday between key administration officials was cancelled, and the President’s Press Secretary said the decision will be made at the end of this month. This shows that the global outcry by other heads of state, business leaders, scientists and regular people like us is working.

The more pressure we can apply between now and the end of May, the better. Sharing the petition to keep the pressure on would be a big help -- click here to share on Facebook and here to tweet.

When I heard that Ivanka Trump had been put in charge of the Paris Climate Agreement,  I tried to contact Ivanka by phone to ask her to encourage her father to honor our deal. The volunteer operator suggested that I write her. Wanna join me?

Ms. Ivanka Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
NW, Washington, DC 20500

Here's my letter for inspiration:

Dear Ms. Ivanka Trump,

I’m writing to you as a fellow mother. My husband and I live in Tucson, Arizona where we volunteer with Watershed Management Group to restore the ground water and rivers that have been depleted from a 20 year drought. Why do we do this? Because we want our children and all children to have access to clean water. The water we drink is currently pumped 330 miles uphill from the Colorado River. The pumps are powered by a huge, dirty coal powered plant. A growing number of children, including my own son, suffer from asthma. I believe it is caused by the pollution created by the coal plants. We live in the desert, so there is an abundant supply of sunlight year around. So there is no reason to keep these antiquated dirty coal powered plants going - especially since solar creates more higher paying, long term jobs than the rest of the fossil fuel industries combined! We should be leading the world in transitioning to clean energy.

Since I've been in Tucson, our yearly high has gone up from 107 to 117 degrees. Talking about getting out of the frying pan and into the fire! It will only get worse if we keep on extracting fossil fuels from our most vulnerable regions and don’t protect our forests and woodlands. We need trees to breathe! I want my children to be able to enjoy our incredible national parks and monuments without toxic black clouds hanging over them.

You have been given a great opportunity and responsibility. You can improve the future for your children and for all our children by championing the Paris Climate Agreement. The scientific consensus is that climate change is happening and is affected by human activity. Your father’s policies are making it worse! Please, honor our word and work with the other countries who also signed the Paris Climate Agreement – so we can leave an inhabitable planet for our children.

Thank you,

Jana Segal

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Oppose TEP's Anti-Solar Proposal!

Here we go AGAIN! Dan and I wrote statements last time around!  Time to pick up our signs and fight this again!

Make your voice heard at the Arizona Corporation Commission now and in person on June 26th. Time is running out to speak out against TEP's attack on solar.

 posting sign last time
TEP is proposing an additional $25 to $30 in monthly charges for new solar customers, in addition to a reduction in the export credit for solar energy.

This monthly charge would be based on the size of a customer’s solar system: $3.50 per kilowatt installed. The average customer has a 7 kilowatt system, or $24.50 a month, plus TEP has proposed doubling a meter fee, from $2.05 today to $4.32. This proposal is in addition to implementing a December 2016 decision by the Arizona Corporation Commission to eliminate net metering for solar customers, which alone will greatly impact solar customer savings and, ultimately, solar jobs.

If approved, TEP's solar penalty would:

*Limit Arizonans' ability to choose solar energy.
*Ignore the compromise set forth by the Arizona Corporation Commission in the Value of Solar decision last December.
*Punish solar customers with high, unjustified charges.
*Send a clear signal to the growing solar industry that Arizona is closed for business.
*Reward TEP for attacking customer choice and competition.

Contact the Arizona Corporation Commission

1. Send your comment to the ACC.

Regulators need to hear from you!

Click this link to comment via the ACC website.

Please reference these docket numbers when submitting comments to the Arizona Corporation Commission:


2. Ask your representatives to take a stand!

Ask local Tucson leaders to represent you and speak out.

Click this link to email your City Council and find your state representative here.

3. Attend the Public Hearing | Save the Date, June 26th!

And spread the word.