Tuesday, April 24, 2007

bright dinner & lighting ideas


The longer days feel luxurious, never-ending. It would be nice to bring some of that brightness indoors!

But first, what’s for dinner? It’s never too early in the day to start thinking about the main family meal. Along with the first new spinach at the farmers’ market, one of spring’s bright spots is the first lobster of the season. On the sustainability index, Maine or New England lobster (with the claws) gets a “good” (but not “best”) rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, www.mbayaq.org
as a population not currently overfished.

Want to know what’s sustainably fished in your part of the country? The Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has printable regional fish species wallet cards. Perfect for enlivening dinner conversations!

Although these mighty crustaceans do contain moderate mercury (a nervous-system toxin that can cause birth defects and learning problems), the Natural Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org
says lobster can be safely eaten up to six times a month—but that, alas, would be unsustainable for our budget. Plus, given the precarious balance of the oceans, it seems a bit much.

For an easy lobster pasta recipe, see http://greenmangreenerpenny.blogspot.com/

Night Brights

I just bought a four-pack of Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) for $7.97 at Home Depot, www.homedepot.com. That’s a good price for these energy-saving bulbs, which do initially cost more than incandescents, but hey, prices are dropping--a couple of years ago one CFL could run you $11. Plus, over its lifetime(an average 10,000 hours compared with 1,000 hours for an incandescent), a CFL will save you at least 50% in electricity costs and 55 lbs. of atmosphere-warming CO2 emissions. Home Depot’s come with a 9-year warranty. The bulb fits nicely into my goose-necked desk lamp and, true to its name, provides a “soft white” light that’s easy on my eyes.

CFLs do, however, contain small amounts of mercury and so when they do give up the ghost they should be disposed of as hazardous waste. Some Home Depot stores take back CFLs for recycling, as do all Ikea stores, www.ikea.com
For safe disposal sites in your zip code, see www.earth911.org or www.lamprecycle.com

Day Lighting

Window washing lets the sun light your interiors by day, saving on electricity and the global warming emissions from coal-burning power plants. Choose white-vinegar based products free of toxic, eye-watering ammonia. I’ve stuck with the first I tried, Earth Friendly Window Kleener,www.ecos.com,800-335-3267, but similar least-toxic ingredients are contained in Ecover Glass & Surface Cleaner www.ecover.com, 800-449-4925 and Seventh Generation Glass & Surface Cleanerwww.seventhgeneration.com,802-658-377.

Or, mix your own window/glass cleaner with a few drops of dish soap and a quarter cup of white vinegar in a quart of water.

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