Wild Birds and Flu Panic

No need to grab your shotgun and blast that plague-carrying pest when you see a sparrow passing overhead. Experts say that there is little proof that wild birds can spread the deadly strain of avian flu that you’ve heard about in the press lately.

In a meeting of the International Waterbird Society in Taiwan, scientists confirmed that the greatest threat of the H5N1 strain of the bird flu is from poultry, not wild birds. While there is plenty of proof that poultry such as chickens can spread the disease, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that doves, sparrows, etc. spread the disease. There have been a lot of rumors to this effect recently but as usual, paranoia and panic can often reign over common sense and science.

Natural Insect Repellent for Environmentally-Friendly Gardening

Garlic Barrier is a great option for the organic or natural gardener. It is super-concentrated and works to repel a variety of insects from your precious vegetable or ornamental crops. Their website includes a list of insects that Garlic Barrier repels.

Just one gallon of this product will cover over 10 acres of row crops or 5 acres of fruit orchards. If you’re worried about your crops tasting and smelling like garlic, not to worry. They claim that the smell goes away in less than one hour after being applied.

It also works on your lawn, and does not pose a health threat to your family or your pets.

Healthy UV Ray Protection with Specialty Hats

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While skin cancer caused by UVA and UVB rays is a constant threat, some chemicals found in common sunscreens can also be a threat to your health. These include: PABA, Dioxybenzone, Oxybenzone, and Titanium Dioxide. (See this article for more information)

Using a hat and protective clothing is also an excellent option for protecting your skin without potentially harmful or irritating sunscreens. Landplanfran sells specialty hats that are designed to protect you from cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays with the highest Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating possible. They are also available with specialty sweatbands to keep the sweat out of your eyes. A great idea for folks who spend a lot of time outside, such as gardeners, hikers, etc.

Smaller is Better, The Not So Big House

Sarah’s New Book

Sarah Susanka is the author of an important book on home design titled The Not So Big House (Taunton Press, 1998) which was found on the list of the top five best sellers on Amazon.com’s Home and Garden books for two years. Since then, she’s authored numerous books expanding on her philosophy that “bigger homes are not better homes.”

Her latest book, Home By Design was published in 2004 to much critical praise. I discovered her books just this year and really appreciate her pioneering work to “build better, not bigger.”

In the United States, big houses, big cars, and big food are often considered our life’s goals. However, Sarah convincingly writes that comfort and happiness, not to mention energy conservation, can be found in small, well-designed homes.

Since her debut in 1998, Sarah has gotten a lot of attention from the press, with appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Charlie Rose. Articles about her work have also appeared in USA Today and the Boston Globe Magazine.

To find out more about her work, check out her website.

Buy Nothing Day: Hey, What Did You Buy?

The Friday after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day, in which many Americans (and others throughout the world) mount a sort of protest to the rampant consumerism of the X-mas season by refusing to buy useless crap. While this is a great idea, I’d like to propose an alternative.

If you’re just burning to go out and buy something after Thanksgiving, why not celebrate “Buy Local Day,” “Buy Natural Day” or “Buy Organic Day.” Hell, let?s face it, Americans love to shop, but instead of not spending your money this day or giving your money to some chain store, why not stimulate your local economy or encourage environmentally friendly businesses by buying some of their products. If you’re just itching to spend your money, consider supporting a local artist or artisan, or buying from a small local business, or shopping at your local co-operative supermarket, or at your local farmer’s market.

There are lots of good ways to spend your money without supporting the corporations that run our daily lives.

Info on Buy Nothing Day has also appeared in the following blogs:

Treehugger, and The Gristmill.