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Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink


It always starts with the planting of a seed, however small. Many years ago, a close family friend planted such a seed in my normalized brain. At the time, I heard it (even though he may not have thought so) and it fell into one of the crevasses of my brain. Several years later, a different friend shared another piece of wisdom along the same lines and it nuzzled in next to the first morsel.

Time moseyed along, my mind slowly gathering more bits and pieces in that little but growing crevasse… and then, Flint!—followed very quickly by The Water Protectors. Still, I sat in my supposedly safe little world where my husband and I fetched our water in 2 and 3-gallon jugs from a neighboring town that we deemed to be more carefully treating the drinking water.

A quick sidestep takes us to recent treatments by a chiropractor due to our being in a minor car accident. We’ve had quite a bit of back and forth with him about our various beliefs and findings, each sharing tidbits new to the other. During one such visit, imagine our shock when he proclaimed that we should never use the very water we had been fetching (without his knowing that we were already partaking). “That city fluoridates their water.”

You might guess our car ride home was full of questioning conversation. As soon as we could, both my husband and I were sitting side by side, eye-deep in research. While he was chasing down the fluoride pathway, finding great articles like the one I quote below, I was busy tracing tangential trails about chlorine and chloramine (also detailed below).

That particularly noteworthy article about fluoride has the catchy title, 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation. It contains such points as:

• The chemicals used for the fluoridation of water are considered to be hazardous waste.
• The fluoride dose cannot be controlled for each individual.

• Fluoride deficiency” is not responsible for any disease.

• Many symptoms of arthritis can be traced to fluoride.

• Fluoride’s toxic effects seem more prominent in minority children.

• Bottle-fed infants receive the highest fluoride doses.

Believe it or not, those aren’t even the scariest parts. I’ll leave it to you to don your hazardous gear and trudge through the rest. It might just scare the bejeebies out of you! However, read on… once you get past the next bit, I do offer up hope and solution—at least for some of us.


My pathway took me to several articles about the chlorination of our water supplies. One morsel (below) grabbed my attention as soon as I saw it because I often smell the chlorine while I shower. The ingestion part hadn’t bothered me because I believed our “good” water (you know, those fetched bottles with the fluoride in it) didn’t have much left because it always sits for a few days before consumption.

Well, holy moly and color me misinformed! It seems many places use chlorine gas and/or  chloramine, a liquid that is much easier for them to handle. And, chloramine does not evaporate or settle out.

One post I read quotes a source stating, “… the combination of what your skin absorbs and your lungs inhale during a 10-minute shower is greater than the amount you would ingest drinking eight glasses of water from the same tap.”

I understand that disinfectants are a necessary evil. I don’t believe that most locales are doing anything other than continuing to follow traditional practices in the most cost-effective ways. However, that doesn’t mean that we—the uninformed public—need to continue to suffer the will of others.

What can we do? This gets a mite tricky since there are so many variants. Obviously, it’s tougher for citizens without sufficient income and people in multiplex housing situations. That’s where all of us can use our voices (and postcards) to help educate our politicians and community workers so we can find better solutions.  Let’s all become Water Protectors!

On a more individual basis, for those who are able, we can add whole-house carbon filtration systems to lift out all that chlorine and chloramine (among other things) and Reverse Osmosis units to remove the fluoride (and more). The relief and satisfaction that comes from knowing that we’re neither inhaling chlorine nor ingesting a host of other detrimental extras is more than worth the cost to us. As a bonus, the improved taste is marked in our case.

If you’re less able to make larger changes, get something smaller in the meantime. Save up for the bigger solution, while using a smaller countertop unit. Even the smallest fix can move you and your body in a healthier direction.

Moral of the story: Plant seeds everywhere, eventually they sprout. Speak up and speak out. Let’s change that title to Water, Water Everywhere for All of Us to Drink!


Photos by Blythe Pelham and Carly Hosford-Israel

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page

Minimizing the Use of Disposable Dishes

plastic cups holder

Disposable dishes are a bad deal all around. They are unsustainable, negatively affecting both the environment and your pocket; they are flimsy and uncomfortable to handle, apt to being turned over by a gust of wind or squashed by an elbow. Ideally, I’d never let them into the house, but convenience trumps all, and sometimes I end up reaching for a plastic plate to serve a snack, or let my kids take disposable cups for their drink, because all our cups somehow ended up in the pile of dirty dishes in the sink (I assure you I have no idea how this happened).

Furthermore, in our area we sometimes suffer from water shortages that may last for days on end. When the tap isn’t flowing and I have no idea when I’m next going to have the chance to wash the dishes, I reach for the stash of disposables with a pang of guilt, but also with a feeling of resignation. It’s just too much for me to watch the sink pile up and up without knowing when it’s going to be relieved.

Nevertheless, I have devised strategies to using less disposable plates, cups and utensils that work for us. The first and most obvious would be to buy less of them, and make sure they are reserved for such water-less emergencies as I mentioned above. Also, it makes sense to buy the flimsiest, least convenient sort, to make the use of them less tempting.

Another method is to keep disposable plates and cups well out of sight. When my husband bought a disposable cup holder and placed it on the kitchen counter, declaring it would be convenient, I declared it’s a bad idea. Of course it would be convenient! But we don’t want it to be. When the disposables are stashed away in some dark recesses of the pantry-shelves, they are less likely to be found and used – it’s handier to quickly wash up a cup or two than go looking for those plastic or Styrofoam ones.

Yet another nifty little strategy is penalizing yourself and your family for using disposable utensils. Set aside a little coin-box where tiny fines can be paid for using disposables. It may sound funny, but it works. Even insignificant sums raise our awareness of how many disposable dishes we use, and make us think twice before reaching for a plastic cup.

Biodegradable Plates, Cups and Utensils

There are also disposable utensils that are eco-friendly and bio-degradable, or even compostable. They are more expensive, that’s true, but they exist (though, in all fairness, I must say they can only be found in specialized stores around here). It’s a fair option for picnics, trips, or hosting large numbers of people.

Finally, it’s possible to get more use out of disposable utensils by using them more than once before recycling. This kind of defies the definition of disposable, I know, but if not actually very dirty, with a quick rinse or shaking out of crumbs a disposable cup or plate can actually be used more than once, either for eating or serving food or for other purposes. A nearly-clean disposable plate can be used for children’s art or starting seeds between folds of moist paper towels. A once-used disposable cup can hold water for washing brushes while water coloring, or serve as a miniature earth pot for seedlings.

Ideally, I’d rather not have any disposable kitchen utensils in the house at all. But as so far they are a necessity (or deemed so by everyone else in the family) I try to make the best of it by using them as little as possible, and making the most out of those I do use.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Senior Homesteading Health Benefits

Hairy Woodpecker

Lasting Life Lesson

I learned a lesson at a young age that has carried throughout my life. That lesson was that being outdoors in fresh air and sunshine accompanied by physical activity is healthy living and can benefit a person over both the short and long run. As a child I always seemed to be coming down with some sickness or ailment but when I turned 12 years old things changed. Up until 12 years of age I spent far too much time indoors. I would play outdoors with neighborhood friends but when we got tired we would sit in the shade of a tree or on someone's porch and idle away the time. That all changed when I bought a rather large paper route from our local newspaper.

Delivering Newspapers

As a newspaper boy with around 125 customers I was thrust into another world. I would get up on Sunday before dawn and walk about 1/4 mile to get my newspapers at the drop point. I would then have to fold them and stuff them into carrying pouches with a shoulder straps where I could then carry them to my customers. Some days when the newspapers were thick I would have to make two or more trips to get my papers before I even started to deliver them. Week days I would have to go straight from school to my paper route.  

Inclement Weather

I soon found out that being a paperboy was very hard work and required commitment and stamina. It was also 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year in all kinds of weather. I was outside far more than usual and in all types of weather. It didn’t matter if I was sweating, cold, drenched in rain, blown by wind or walking through snow;  I was delivering newspapers in all kinds of weather. After about two years of delivering newspapers, collecting subscription fees, and riding my bicycle across town to turn in my collections I realized that I was not as sick as I was before I had my paper route. I was more muscular and healthy.

Healthy Lifestyle

Having had a newspaper route for 5 years kept me fit and more healthy.  It was an unforeseen benefit from being outside in all kinds of weather plus the exercise. This discovery has remained with me throughout my life. Even when I was office bound I made time to be outside as much as I could and supplemented being outside with physical exercise.  

Health Benefits Carry Over

Now in my senior years I still reap the benefits from being outdoors as much as possible and doing a lot of physical work. Homesteading in the mountains requires a lot of shoveling snow in the winter, cutting, splitting, stacking and hauling firewood (9-12 cords per year) and all the ancillary requirements to live as we do. I’m now in my mid-seventies and other than a few sore muscles on occasion I continue to amaze our doctor each year when I go in for a wellness checkup.


As I witness my friends and family who for the most part have a more sedentary lifestyle it is even more clear that outdoor activity plus exercise is vital to good health. With the exception of rare injuries I can’t recall the last time I was sick. I have had asthma my entire life and even that is better when I spend more time outdoors. In my senior years I have observed that my friends who for the most part have had more relaxed lifestyles have increased  illnesses and diseases and seem to be taking numerous medications to correct these problems. Twenty years ago when we moved to our remote location I once again discovered that being outdoors routinely coupled with physical activity enhanced my general health.

Early Habits

It has been my personal observation over the years that fresh air, good water, active lifestyle and exercise are the components that make for a more healthy life even as we get older. Reflecting back I am so grateful that I had that paper route when I was younger as it prepared me for many things in life but mostly it equipped me for a healthy lifestyle that has enabled me to better cope now that I am in my senior years.

Down But Not Out

As a senior that doesn’t mean that I can work outside like a 50 year old. I have my aches and pains plus I work slower and with better preparation. Years of work has taken its toll on my body but I am still able to work and love to spend as much of my time outdoors as I can. My body is wearing down but neither my body or spirit is wearing out because I have prepared it well up to this point of my life. Clearly I will not be able to endure this lifestyle forever; modifications will have to be made and I may have to consider a simpler and more age friendly lifestyle in the future. I dread that day but for now I’m enjoying the wonderful outdoors, fresh air and work involved in maintaining our lifestyle.

Now Is The Time

When is it too late to engage in a more healthy lifestyle? Anytime is good but I personally believe the earlier we begin the easier it is to establish those good habits that will carry through to the senior years. Mountain living is a very demanding environment and if we had serious health issues it might be hard or impossible to live as we do. We do not know what tomorrow will bring but today is a good day to go outside and breathe the fresh air, have a drink of pure water and enjoy life.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their homesteading experiences go to:  Bruce and Carol live in the Sangre de Christo mountains at 9,800 feet elevation in their small cabin with their four German Shepherd Dogs. You can read all of Bruce's blog posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Manifesting Our Own Destinies in Tandem with Mother Earth


Due to queries for more information about my MOOD Bowls—Manifesting Our Own Destinies—I have put together some Sets for sale. While deciding what elements to include, it struck me that each one coming to me connected somehow to our Mother Earth. This, of course, excited me and added just one more layer of importance.

The bowls themselves are crafted of clay that originated in the soils beneath our feet and speaks to me of the firm ground that yields such bountiful nourishment for us all. If we garden, most of us don’t particularly love the clay we come across in our work outdoors. How perfect is it that those pesky bits of clay find their way into our ceramic endeavors for practical use?

My bowls are also crafted with the help of the gourds I love to grow. I carefully add a spiral of life to each bowl, giving a nod to the interconnectedness of all the living things we walk among and the way we often come upon ourselves as we travel the journey.

I wrote about the trees included in the Sets in an earlier blog postTheir connection with our planet is very direct and obvious since they created from crystals. An added layer of connection with these trees is that each gemstone is affixed by a friend who lives on her earth-friendly farm not far from me.

The sweetgrass has so much meaning to me that it’s difficult to fully explain. I’m thrilled that my bed has multiplied in size several times over since it was planted from three small starts several years ago. During last year’s scuffle with the VillageI remodeled my sweetgrass bed so it’s free to spread in all directions at will (see photo below).

You know that I’ll be cheering it on all season long. I’m serious when I say such things. I honestly do cheer my plants on and shower them with gratitude and blessing as they work their hardest to thrive and grow. Because I view my sweetgrass as especially sacred, I also spend time thanking the Creator and Mother Earth for helping it multiply.


Throughout harvest and beyond, I utter blessings and set intention for the sweetgrass, hoping that it will help whoever becomes its keeper. This lovely, sweet-smelling grass is such a pleasure to work with and comes with such pure intentions that I can’t help but find a peaceful solitude during each of my interactions. It’s easy for me to reach a meditative state when spending time with this amazing part of the earth.

The photo below shows one cutting of our sweetgrass drying on the altars in our Sacred Fire Circle. I harvest my sweetgrass like this 2-3 times a year. After sitting out in the sun (where it curls neatly into long, tube-like strands), I wrap it in newspaper and take it indoors for future use. Two of the other photos show the dried pile before separation and the two piles of grass after being picked through.

If you look closely at the larger pile in the photo, you can see errant leaves from our river birch along with volunteer (other types of) grass. This part of the process involves removing the ephemera (which goes into the compost pile), separating the strands that originally grew together in one shoot and dividing the grass into groups of long and short pieces. The longer strands will be used for sweetgrass baskets or arting, the shorter become my mini-braids or are burnt in ritual.

The sweetgrass is briefly soaked in warm water so that it’s pliable enough to use without breakage. If the water is too hot or the length of time soaked is too long, the grass will turn prematurely brown. After soaking, another cull takes place. Those sneaky non-sweetgrass blades show themselves more obviously as do the weaker pieces of sweetgrass.

During the process of braiding, the intentional blessings become more specific. I thank the Creator and Mother Earth once again for their gift of this wonderful resource. Then I pray for positive support and guidance for whoever becomes its keeper. My requests are broad and general in scope but specific in intention.

In these times more than ever, I believe in the importance of willfully active and positive intention. As I mentioned above, everything in these MOOD Sets is connected in some way with Mother Earth. I am honored to be able to offer this way for others to bring about those things they wish to manifest in their own lives.


Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe , and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Win an Interview with Your Sustainability Hero (with Free Webinar: ‘How to Get a Job in Sustainability’)


One of the coolest features of modern life is the ability — in principle — to reach out and talk with anyone who inspires you. With the uncertainty brought on by the election, we are all looking both for great ideas and to strengthen our networks. I will be talking more about power networking and other career advising strategies in a free, one-hour webinar on How to Get A Job in Sustainability on February 16, 2017, at 6pm Eastern. But in the meantime, here is a special opportunity for MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers to help you talk to your heroes.

Sustainable Business Fridays

Sustainable Business Fridays is a podcast run by students in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability. Over the last four years, our students have hosted dozens of in-depth conversations with pioneers in corporate sustainability, social entrepreneurship and creative not-for-profit solutions.

To recruit interview guests, we ask the students to reach out to the person in the world doing the work they most admire, and ask them to come on the show. The students not only have a great conversation, they also have the chance to begin building their “power network”, starting with their top hero.

Coming up this spring are podcasts featuring, among others, Alan Savory (Holistic Management); Fereshteh Forough (Code to Inspire); Karen Overton (Recycle A Bicycle); and John Meyerson (Years of Living Dangerously).

Submit Your Dream Interview Ideas!

So here’s an offer to MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers: Submit your interview ideas to us here, and we will choose at random, one guest host for our Sustainable Business Friday podcast show this spring. We need your entries by midnight on February 15, 2017.

Katie Elman, the Bard MBA student who hosts and produces the podcast, says that it is “a way to make connections you can’t make by cold calling or sending a connection request via LinkedIn. I see that, in some cases, conversations started during the podcast continue after the recording stops.”

Despite the changes in Washington, and also because of them, our collective work building sustainable business has become even more important. Tune in to Sustainable Business Fridays for ideas and inspiration.And then enter to win a chance to talk directly and in-depth with your hero. Guest-host our podcast and strengthen your power network.

Register for ‘How to Get a Job in Sustainability’

For more career advice, join our free webinar, “How to Get a Job in Sustainability” on February 16, 2017, at 6pm Eastern. I will outline different sustainability career directions, evaluate the impact of President Trump on sustainability jobs, discuss grad school and continuing education options (including school now / school later), and provide listeners with a tailored concrete job search strategy.

The webinar includes 20 minutes of Q&A to address individual career questions. I look forward to talking with you soon.

Dr. Eban Goodstein is an economist and Director of Bard’s low-residency MBA in Sustainability in New York City. He also directs the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, offering MS Degrees in Environmental Policy and Climate Science and Policy. Subscribe to Sustainable Business Fridays here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Thoughts on the Value of Wildlife and Wild Places


To me, this is a hard question. Determining the value of wildlife and wild places is something that has gone undefined and continues to be undefined. It is relatively easy to place value on every day objects such as a cup of coffee or a car, even placing value on housing is significantly easier then something like wildlife. This issue is constantly debated — it is like we are engaged in a constant tug of war battle with no end in sight.

The ability to take a walk down to the river in a stunning valley and have the opportunity to cross paths with a passing tmber wolf or grizzly bear, or hear the bugle of an elk echo though the ghostly pine flats, is something hard to place a value on. This experience to some is priceless, to connect and share a moment with our neighbors is a fundamental experience in which the purest feelings and emotions are felt: excitement, fear, respect, wonder are experienced at once.

To see wildlife and share a fleeting moment is prized by many outdoor enthusiasts, but is it necessary for one to directly experience wildlife and wild places to place high value on it.


Should wilderness be valued just for the sake of wilderness or does wilderness have to be visited to be enjoyed? Herein lies a common conflict: If we can not explore a wilderness, does it have value?

In my opinion, wilderness in the truest form should have the highest value. It is in this environment where the land and her inhabitants are free to show their true characteristics uninterrupted by our development and judgments. A world without wilderness is a world without wonder, the ability to dream about untouched wilderness and run into untamed wildlife is a dream had by many young children. Without this dream, what will come of our wild animals?

Randy Haviland is a wildlife biologist from British Columbia, Canada, as a hunter he has extreme passion for the wilderness and the wildlife that call it home. By teaching how hunting can provide the highest quality of food available, Randy encourages people to challenge their former notions of hunting and look at it not as simply killing, but the process required for supplying your family with top-quality food. Find him at, on Facebook and Instagram. Read all of Randy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Republic Recycling Services: One of Las Vegas’ Most Interesting Free Attractions

Las Vegas is known for some of the best entertainment options in the world. Now, there is a very different free attraction sure to please and educate those who take the time to explore the world of automation and recycling.

Most Americans have heard it’s important to recycle, yet few know how to do it properly. With the opening of Republic Services recycling center in northwest Las Vegas, visitors will get useful information how to recycle properly. This secret world is revealed as you step inside the Learning Center overlooking the floor of a cavernous building. This Willy Wonka-like factory churns out up to two million pounds of paper, plastic, glass and aluminum per day. All of these products have a chance for a new life thanks to state-of-the-art technology at work.


Opened in December of 2015, this fun factory of machines-versus-waste is a modern marvel. Nowhere else in North America can tourists, school children, and other interested citizens view this mysterious process. Once visitors arrive in the Learning Center several educational displays tell the story of what happens here and how to recycle more efficiently at home. A live-feed set of three TV screens show the action not visible from the Learning Center.

 Repulics Learning Center

For hands on fun there is a Real recycling truck cab in the room. In this cab kids of all ages can sit in an authentic Republic Services truck seat grasping the steering wheel or the joystick that controls the boom in a full-sized truck. All the switches, gauges, and doodads are real. They even included the horn in the truck until too many kids honked too often driving the staff next door a bit crazy. The solution was to pull the fuse, rendering the horn silent.

Debunking Recycling Myths and Mysteries

I thought I knew a lot about proper recycling but learned even more from my visit. There are so many myths about recycling in our single-stream age. I learned how combining certain containers in your home recycling can render them useless. When well intentioned consumers put steel cans, paper and aluminum in a large plastic container, like a gallon sized pretzel jar, the result is trash. It turns out that when this combined mix hits the compactor in the truck it traps the other products inside the gallon sized jar making it too time consuming for the workers to separate.


Some of the key points I picked up at the Learning Center are:

• Tin baking containers and aluminum foil are recyclable
• Flower vases and mason jars are recyclable
• Leaving lids on plastic containers is okay if they too are plastic
• Republic’s Vegas plant is the biggest recycling operation in North America
• 75 percent of the building was constructed with recycled metal
• Managers can use a tablet to control most every machine in the complex whether they are onsite or offsite
• 1776 solar panels on the roof provide 15-20% of the complex electricity
• Recycled plastics become, backpacks, carpeting, furniture, shoes and several other new products.
• Recycled glass becomes asphalt aggregate for roads, flooring, home insulation, etc
• Even electric power cords and extension cords can be recycled

Toward the end of my visit general manager Len Christopher took me to the catwalk leading to another glass-walled room. In this other room, I could see virtually the whole inside of the complex. I saw conveyor belts full of plastic being “blast sorted” into separate conveyor belts. I saw tons of cardboard bundled for transport to a processing facility, and workers on a manual sorting line separating items the automatic sorters missed.


It’s encouraging to see this modern technological complex helping us remain a sustainable culture. It’s obvious that more at-home and businesses recycling is needed. Without increased recycling we would be facing a tremendous amount of trash pilling up in landfills for future generations to deal with. It is also vital that consumers learn to buy these recycled products to insure a bright future for our world. Thanks to Republic Services the future looks good.

Kurt Jacobsohas been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.