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What To Do With That Extra Watermelon

Summer is watermelon season! But unless you’re slicing for a crowd, an entire watermelon can be hard to use. It’s no fun looking in your fridge five days later and finding half of a large, over-ripe watermelon taking up valuable real estate. That might be one reason supermarkets sell all those pre-sliced chunks in plastic containers. But why not skip the plastic and slice into a fresh watermelon instead? Serve whatever you’ll eat that day, and cut and freeze the rest in a mason jar. Having watermelon chunks in the freezer is a summer staple in our house. Frozen watermelon makes delicious blended drinks or a hydrating antioxidant-filled treat as is. It may even help reduce muscle soreness after a workout! Here are some great uses for frozen watermelon: -Freeze chunks on reusable chopsticks for an alternative to popsicles -Add frozen chunks to margaritas -Blend with a little lime juice and water for a refreshing summer spritzer -Toss into smoothies to sweeten them -Make watermelon sorbet by processing frozen watermelon in a food processor -Freezing Food You Suspect You Won’t Finish Is A Great Way To Reduce Food Waste When it’s clear that we’re going to have more food than we’ll eat I’ll often freeze half immediately after preparing it. Once food has been on the table freezing it is less appealing, and it often gets stuck in our fridge. Sometimes that works great, sometimes we get tired of eating leftovers and food goes to waste. But having a batch of three bean chili in the freezer that I can pull out on a rainy day, or a dozen oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? That’s when leftovers are awesome. That and watermelon margaritas, of course.

State Legislature Wrap-Up: What Happened to Environmental Bills?

With great disappointment, we offer an update on the fate of some environmental provisions during the 2017-18 state legislative session, which ended on July 31. We expected our State Legislature to act with vision and courage in the face of disastrous effects of climate change unfolding daily, world-wide — catastrophic wildfires, dangerous storms, record-breaking temperatures, animal die-offs, rising sea levels. They did not. Sadly, the House shot down the appropriately ambitious legislation that passed in the Senate. We saw no leadership or sense of urgency from the governor, who might have influenced the House to act boldly. In the end, only a modest clean energy bill was enacted (H.4857) — a bill that is not commensurate with the climate crisis we face and that includes a shocking provision that allows trash incineration to be defined as a source of clean, renewable energy. To quote State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), “There is a serious problem with democracy in Massachusetts, when the voices of tens of thousands of concerned residents and climate change activists, and dozens of clean energy advocacy groups, are ignored. The battle is not just in DC, it’s here, too.” So — before we review the results — we want to urge you to VOTE this fall in the primary elections on September 4 and the general election on November 6. We have an important race for governor coming up, as well as other state and federal elections. Find candidates who will stand up and fight for our planet and our future — instead of those who step back and stay silent. Go to candidate forums, ask tough questions, and then ask your friends and family to vote with you. We can’t count on national leadership right now, so let’s make sure officials at every level of state and local government are ready to take action on environmental issues.  Click here to let us know you plan to vote on September 4 and November 6 and we will send you a reminder! Here is a quick round-up of a few key environmental measures we were tracking during this session, followed by links for more details: Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS): The is the state requirement that specifies the percentage of electricity that utility companies must obtain from qualified renewable energy sources. Under current law, the RPS is 13% and it increases at the rate of only 1% each year. The new law raises the rate of increase to 2% a year starting in 2020, but reduces it back to 1% by 2030. At this level of increase, Massachusetts will fall behind the 2030 RPS mandates of California, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and many others. It also means that Massachusetts will reach an RPS of only 36% by 2030, and a 56% by 2050. We note with gratitude that Wellesley’s State Representative Alice Peisch supported a House amendment that would have raised the RPS increase to 3%, but House leadership ultimately forced the withdrawal of that amendment. Gas Leaks: The clean energy bill that passed included provisions that would require utility companies to provide more information about gas leaks to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). The new law defines how utility companies should measure “lost and unaccounted” for gas — which is the difference between the amount of gas purchased by the gas company and the amount that is actually delivered to customers or used by the gas company in its operations. Utility companies must also identify and measure the sources and locations of the lost and unaccounted for gas. The new law also allows the DPU to grant waivers for the development of innovative projects that reduce lost and unaccounted for gas in order to reduce the cost to ratepayers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Methane from gas leaks is at least 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.) State Senator Cynthia Creem (who represents Wellesley Precincts A, C, D, E, and H) was a strong advocate for action on gas leaks.  Plastic Bags: The House blocked a state-wide bill passed by the Senate that would have banned single-use plastic bags. More than 80 cities and towns in Massachusetts — including Wellesley — have bylaws banning the bags. The state bill would have created a uniform regulation that was intended to reduce plastic litter and the hazard that plastic bags pose to animals and our environment. Both State Rep. Alice Peisch and State Senator Cynthia Creem have supported plastic bag bans in the past. For more information: Click here for a summary from Massachusetts Sierra Club. Click here for a summary from the Climate Action Business Association. Click here for a summary from the Conservation Law Foundation. And click here to let us know you plan to vote on September 4 and November 6 so we can send you a reminder!

Response to the New York Times Article: Losing Earth

Some of you may have read the recent article in New York Times Magazine titled Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. For anyone who hasn’t, it paints a pretty bleak picture of where global warming stands now, and candidly explains some devastating predictions about our future on this planet. It was hard to read. You should read it. I was flooded with a mix of emotions after I finished, including despair, nihilism, and a waning interest in ever having grandchildren when I pictured what their Earth will look like. Underneath it was a surge of hopelessness that made me wonder why I’m writing blog posts about Meatless Mondays and reducing our plastic consumption when the Earth is doomed anyway. But then I remembered the joy I feel when my husband and I have an afternoon together. Or the surge of emotion when our children have a perfect day at the beach, riding waves into the shore, grandparents staying for dinner. The delight of a dinner out with friends where camaraderie and laughter make it one of those nights you just remember. And it reminds me that even an extra day is worth fighting for. Reading the article, it seems likely a 2 degree, 3 degree, 4 degree change is inevitable. That doesn’t give us the license to speed it up.  It makes it even more imperative that we do what we can to slow it down. To hold off the spread of the flooding and the heat waves as long as we can. To hope that we can rewrite this narrative, yes, but to acknowledge that even when the outcome doesn’t seem promising, we can and must do whatever we can to hold the line. I speak of joyful memories and the belief that they’re worth fighting for, but the other side of the coin is acknowledging that climate change causes real human and animal suffering. When we look for ways to live and vote more responsibly, we reduce the harm we’re causing and accelerate global warming a little less. So I choose to keep doing what I can, and when it feels futile, I think about the beauty of a single sea turtle getting to bask a little while longer in the sunshine because I pulled a plastic bag out of the ocean. And it helps me keep going.

Hey 18+ Year Olds

  Is every eligible voter in your household registered to vote?     Voting with the environment in mind is one of the easiest and most effective ways to to be green. Let’s get out the vote and make a change in the world! August 15 is the deadline to register to vote in the next election (which is the September 4th primary).   We are encouraging everyone to vote, including all students (18 years old and up) in your household. If you have a current Massachusetts Driver’s License or State ID, you can register to vote here.  Otherwise, you can print out and mail in the registration form here, or register to vote in person at Wellesley Town Hall.   If you have students who will be away during the elections, they can apply for an Absentee Ballot.  August 31st is the deadline for applying for an Absentee Ballot for next election (September 4).  Your students can apply for an Absentee Ballot at the same time they register to vote. Absentee Ballots also work for those who know they will be out of town on election day, are physically disabled or have religious objections to the date. An Absentee Ballot can even be applied for by a member of the voter’s family!   So, if your registered college student is already out of town, you can have an Absentee Ballot sent to him or her by completing and submitting the form here. An Absentee Ballot will be mailed to the voter the same day the Town Clerk receives the signed request. Absentee requests may be filed at any time prior to the election, up until noon the day prior. Ballots will be mailed beginning 21 days prior to the election. If you require the Absentee Ballot to be mailed out of Wellesley please allow sufficient time for mailing in both directions (generally allow 10 mailing days for a ballot to go out of Wellesley and be returned, domestically). Voters may apply for an absentee ballot in person and vote at the same time, if ballots are available.  Absentee Ballots cannot be hand carried out of the office. Absentee ballots must be received in the Clerk’s office on or before the close of the polls on election day (September 4), so be sure to remind your college student to complete and return them on time!

Its Hot Out There!

Extremely hot days (and extremely cold days) put a strain on the energy grid, causing utility companies to turn to dirty fossil fuels, like coal and oil, to meet this “peak demand.” And, in order to be reliable, utilities must build enough infrastructure to meet this peak, even if peak demand is not reached most days. All this means higher rates for you (up to 10 times higher on peak days!) and more carbon pollution for the planet. With just a simple text or email alert, Shave the Peak empowers residential electricity consumers to unite for affordable electricity and a low-carbon future. Each member of this growing community is committed to reducing electricity usage at home on days when skyrocketing overall demand is met by the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuels, or “peak days.” These actions advocate forward-thinking policies that can transform our electric grid. To sign up for these peak demand “alerts” simply go to massenergy.org and sign up. It will take less than a minute to do your part. Or learn more at a free webinar on August 7, at either 1:00 or 7:00 pm, sponsored by the non-profit Mass. Energy Consumers Alliance.

Stop one of the Worst Plastic Polluters is “Styrofoam” (Polystyrene)

In response to community demands, many companies from Starbucks to Alaska Airlines, as well as local shops in our community have pledged to reduce plastic waste. Let your favorite spots know that their customers care about protecting our ocean — especially from one of the worst plastic polluters, “Styrofoam”  — and ask them to pledge to stop using harmful single-use plastics. Help your local eatery be the next one by simply downloading this letter, printing, signing and dropping it off at local businesses where you shop! Click here to take action. Write one yourself as well.

Make Your Own Rain Barrel Workshop TOMORROW

Help your garden beat the heat this summer! Make-your-own rain barrel adapter kits from the Rain Barrel Depot are available for $25 through tomorrow — July 31st. Reserve your kit now on CRWA’s page here! A recycled syrup drum courtesy of Coca Cola’s Needham facility and weather-proof paint are included with each kit. CRWA will be hosting a workshop at their office from 6-7 pm on Tuesday, July 31st for anyone who would like to receive instruction for assembling a rain barrel. Anyone who is unable to attend the workshop will be welcome to pick up materials from CRWA’s office in Weston during our regular business hours.  

In Praise of In-Person Shopping

I did a lot of online shopping after my kids were born, and I admit there were some major perks. No lines, open twenty-four-seven, and no listening to my toddler scream to get out of the stroller so they could try to escape out from under the dressing room door. You have access to more inventory, more price-comparisons, and you can try things on in the privacy of your own home. But I’ve recently fallen back in love with in-person shopping. I’M MORE LIKELY TO BUY CLOTHES I LOVE WHEN I SHOP IN PERSON Being able to touch fabrics and try things on in the store means I’m more likely to buy items I love, not just clothes I like or that aren’t worth the hassle of returning. That means I’m more satisfied when I open my closet door to get dressed for the day or for an event, which means I’m less likely to go shopping again soon. (This is good because I would rather spend free time elsewhere.) I DON’T HAVE TO BREAK DOWN BOXES AND THROW AWAY BAGS I bring a large tote bag to carry around my purchases, and when I get home all that I have to throw away are the tags. (And yes, the paper part is recyclable.) Beyond the environmental impact of having items shipped to my house in plastic packaging (that Wellesley no longer recycles), it’s also less hassle. SPEAKING OF HASSLE — I MAKE FEWER RETURNS Because I’ve tried things on! How magical. I’m not being facetious, processing returns was my least favorite part of online shopping. Going home with only things that fit well and look good is amazing. IT’S EASIER TO BUY IN OUTFITS If I’m looking for shirts that will go with a specific pair of dress pants, I’ll wear those pants to the store. If I wonder how something would look with jeans, I can grab a pair in the store to try on with the item I might purchase. Buying with outfits in mind helps me build a functional wardrobe which helps me buy less overall, saving money and reducing my environmental impact at the same time. IT’S A GOOD LESSON FOR THE KIDS I usually don’t bring my 6 and 7 year old, but I try to sometimes, because I think it helps build their patience. (Ok, maybe mine too.) And I’m bringing them more and more to select their own clothing. I want them to have agency in choosing their own clothes so they can have smaller wardrobes filled just with clothes they love, too. BUYING QUALITY SECOND HAND IS EASIEST IN PERSON I’m not great at buying second-hand yet, but the best way to do that is in person where you can see a garment, inspect it for signs of wear, and make sure it fits. Buying vintage is one of the most environmental things you can do, but even if you’re not quite there yet, buying just clothes you love and wearing them for a long time can have a great impact on your clothes’ footprint!

Students, Commuters, Everyone- Check Out New $1/hr. Bikes!

Need to get into town quickly from school or get home from the train?  Now you can easily grab a dock-less Ant Bike and ride it wherever you need to go in Wellesley.  Find where the signature green bikes are in town on the app, ride it where you need to go, and simply leave it in a “legal” spot for only $1 an hour. Learn more here.

DIY: DEET-FREE Mosquito & Tick Spray

Thanks for the tip Charles! Looking for a DEET free way to keep mosquitos and ticks away? Charles found this formula while in the Dominican and says it works, smells great and oils last for many years. Give it a try: What you need: – Peppermint essential oil – Geranium essential oil – Lemon essential oil – Eucalyptus essential oil – Citronella essential oil – Lavender essential oil – 4oz glass spray bottle How to do it: – Fill the bottle with water – Add 20 drops of each essential oil – Shake and spray yourself as needed

3 Things You Can Do

Go pesticide free!

Take the pledge not to poison your yard, and put your pin on the map of pesticide-free homes HERE

Get clean electricity!

Wellesley residents can get clean, renewable electricity through our Municipal Light Plant with the same great service. Find out how HERE

Find and fix gas leaks!

There are over 200 ‘natural gas’ leaks all over Wellesley. Find where the nearest leaks to you are and what you can do about them HERE