ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Raising Awareness

When I began to find my feet...I worked for an organization called Citizens for a Better Environment, (CBE) That was in the mid-to-late eighties. The way Eco-education was taking place back then was for an army of canvassers to descend on neighborhoods across three states, raising donations, educating the public about salient environmental conditions that existed in their area, and doing something about it in state politics. We acted as a watchdog organization and funded environmental research. It was CBE who first documented the application rate per acre of most "popular" lawn chemicals was an order of magnitude more than typical application rates when the same chemicals were used in conventional agricultural practice. Learning that a typical suburb is far more damaging than the typical local farmer focuses attention and energy to where it will do the most good. I talked to over one-hundred thousand folks over the years, about 80-100 per night, now, 100,000 could access my pitch on a given morning before breakfast.

"Hi, I'm Tony, with Citizens for a Better Environment." Sometimes, especially if I went into the same neighborhood year after year, I would know that folks "knew" me and would just say CBE. We offered to let them sign a support statement, even if they did not want to donate, it went something like...We the undersigned support and encourage CBE and it's ongoing programs of public education, research, political and legal representation to protect our land, air and water resources. While the person was reading, I would say, painfully SLOWLY, "We're on our annual fundraiser and count on your support."

By watching their eyes, you would know when they stopped reading and I would continue at regular speed after that. With my readers, I cannot see your eyes, so continuing at pace, it would go something like..."We helped draft statewide groundwater protection laws that enable your well to be tested free if your neighbor has contamination issues. Good sense regulations designed to protect public health." Or, "We defended our right in court, to clean air when a local utility attempted to build a thousand foot stack rather than clean up their emissions, which would have just spewed their dangerous fumes over a larger area. This in turn allowed the generators to run more efficiently, reducing the emissions at their source, saving on maintenance costs & down time, ultimately saving money." We had about thirty of these sorts of issues that we could speak on cogently, from tighter restrictions on dry cleaners and print shops (frequent offenders contributing carcinogenic solvent emissions), to our first-ever Clean Sweep, which allowed homeowners and renters to drop off household hazardous wastes for proper disposal. Sometimes, I would ask if the person had a specific concern and be able to tell them about our efforts on "their" issue. The actions of hundreds of people each night, giving five or ten dollars, perhaps a few giving fifty or a hundred funded a Quarterly "Review" which was our way of staying current with members.It detailed current research, up and coming policy changes and specific ways that the public could participate.

However we share what we have learned, raising awareness is a lifelong duty that we all have to one another. We can see what not educating others can lead to...

To reach out more successfully, I encourage everyone to learn about the Environmetal Working Group. They are making available a lot of research about products that some of us use every day and their relative risk to health and the environment. If you want a more comprehensive understanding of climate change, check out this source of info.

If you want to continue to hear about what ECO-Tours of Wisconsin is doing to create a carbon negative society, stay tuned and donate.

Other sources for information on herbs for health, healing the rift between humankind and the planet and survival in an age of mass destruction can be found at any of my blogs, or I am also available for consulting services. Contact me through snail mail at: 1445 Porlier street Green Bay, Wisconsin 54301-3334 USA or by e-mail

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Red Envelope

It is said that the ancient herbalists and feng shui masters, the shamen of their time would leave red envelopes with their clients so that when payment was made, the money would not be attributable to any specific person. The entire community being healthier was the real reward anyway, but it helped to pay the bills. I have been saved from the edge of death by a shaman and there is really no way to put a dollar amount on how she has given me a new chance at life. Doctors had written me off. I would give my life for her, but in dollars how can one levy a price?

I prefer to work for the red envelope because my healing work is also mostly rewarded by the great feeling of planting trees, educating folks about how to live more lightly and at a higher standard of living at less cost (waste). Even the feeling of benefiting a community that will continue on through generations, these things all feel great, but they don't pay the rent. If you would like a red envelope, please send a request to Tony C. Saladino 522 Acreview Dr. De Pere Wisconsin 54115 USA

Sunday, July 20, 2014

One Giant Leap For Humankind

Finally, something that works, is in the public domain and is within the reach of every

I too have been working to inform others about biochar. I am not sure if commercializing it is going to be the answer though. Time will tell and I have been wrong before about many things, but to maintain integrity in my biochar production system, I use as little petrochemical  (fossil) fuel as possible when making my char and look forward to a time that I can afford to build a larger retort, make useful energy from the syngas driven off during the charring process and help close the loop with organic and locally available feedstocks. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ECO-Logy of Mind

We have all been born, bred and presented with a particular benchmark in human history. Our physical bodies will reap a bitter harvest from this sad fact. Never before has the Earth been burdened with the levels of, or types of contaminants that our ecosphere now holds. Every medium of transmission to humans has some level of contamination, the soils upon which we grow our food, the food itself, our water and even the air we breathe has the potential to make us sick. Lest one get the idea that I'm all gloom and doom here, I wish to turn this into a hopeful message. Our awareness and mental state  allow us to set a course through this current state of affairs toward a more or less benign one. If we add to our mental maps, the areas which are the most contaminated, we can design our lives to minimize risk, etc. Our choices lie outside the realm of pure physicality. On the whole, decisions take place in our heads, (being nothing more than electron traces through brain tissue.) The actions that take place due to those decisions are what have traction in the physical realm. sitting around thinking good thoughts is not enough, you have to "prime the pump" as it were to get anything out of your existence. When we know that our every decision can have external effects, and when we begin to understand the nature of these affects, we can begin to build a rational response to the threat that we pose to our own survival as a species.

If we stop investigating externalities, (the hidden costs of our actions) we can continue living in denial and profess that there are no problems, no consensus, no evidence that our impacts are both global and threatening to our species. We have had science (the new religion on the block) that our way of life is a detriment to other species for nearly a century. Rather than excuses, if there are humans to remember us, don't we want them to remember us as valiant, triumphant even? Is it a crime to think of our age as the solvers of the biggest crisis humanity has ever known? I'm perhaps naive, but in my country, we have a history that includes whatever folks said "you cannot do...", we have done. We created "manifest destiny" to imply that native people had better get out of our way. We drove a transcontinental railway through the Rocky Mountains, then two more, strung several trans-Atlantic cables, kept the nation together in spite of Secessionists, heck we shot guys to the Moon and successfully retrieved them. So, here is my proposal...create no waste. Try it for an hour, then a day. I tried to do it and it changed my life. Live like every other (naturally occurring) organism on the planet.

Zero Waste is most often a concept for humans, but it needs to become the rule. I would like to list just a few ways to eliminate, or drastically reduce waste, but it is worthy of a lifelong quest to try to live sustainably through this practice no matter what the advertizing desire creating media would have you believe. (Keep in mind, no one is paying me to say this.) We grow our own vegetables in soil that we built from scratch (Other than fallout from the atmosphere, there are no toxic chemicals present in our garden beds.) and put up what we cannot consume immediately in jars. Aside from occasionally breaking a jar or retiring a tired lid, we only have recyclable waste and virtually none of that compared to getting most of our food from the grocery. For every trip to the store we can avoid, it reduces air emissions of carbon and noxious compounds. Indeed, on another level, it reduces the need for exploiting oil shale deposits in Canada as well, so as you can see, the external costs could be pushed beyond the ability of many to fathom. The carbon footprint of an organic carrot, grown from saved seed, eaten in the same backyard garden in which it was grown approaches zero. Therefore, eating them becomes an act of resistance.

When one contaminant alone, fly ash from coal-fired electric generating stations in the US of A, are causing about the same amount of disease and premature death as adding 100,000 new smokers to our population each year,  the combined affects of hundreds of unregulated compounds, must contribute substantially to illness and premature death. It may be hard to draw direct cause and effect lines of evidence implicating any specific compound responsible for our cancers, our heart disease, our kidney failure or our liver damage, but the combined cocktail certainly cannot be defended as an aid to staying healthy. How we adapt to and change our physical surroundings can only be understood through concentrated mental effort. I learned recently that pound for pound, the brain consumes more calories than any muscle in our body. However, to get it to use calories, you have to use your brain. Go figure. The time has come to see ourselves as agents of change, either for good or ill and we have a historical record of which undertakings create balance and harmony with the natural ecosystem and what leads to destruction and poisoning of it. These are not hypothetical threats, they are a real and present danger that we must learn to step back from, analyze, and determine are the very real costs worth the true price.

This week I lost another friend to cancer. Over the years his life had been repeatedly disrupted by several types and kinds of cancer, the first time being when he was a very young child. Up until the last time I spoke with him, he still believed that being born within a mile of a nuclear facility had nothing to do with his cancer, nor did he believe that any of his other cancers were caused by the radioactivity which he was routinely exposed to during the many years that he spent growing up within sight of the facility. The public relations campaign that has surrounded the nuclear industry consistently downplays the fact that leakage is par for the course and ignores the fact that there is no safe dose of radioactivity. That is why the atmosphere of Earth and the Van Allen Belts are essential to our survival. It is also why arbitrarily raising the "acceptable" levels of radiation that we allow people to be exposed to is not only irresponsible but indefensible. The negotiations between what science knows and what is economically expedient have always erred on the side of commerce over human health. But when we understand this, we need to let it be an impetus for us to change our behavior.

The interactions of millions of discreet ideas, concepts and awarenesses combine to create the landscape of our minds. The three pound instrument we can our brain has the power to guide us in new directions, but we will only make change if our understanding of where we are includes a strong enough reason to change. As long as we feel that we need or deserve the burden of an eco-catastrophe, or early death as penance for screwing up the planet, no change can occur. As long as we allow vast swaths of nature to be turned into dumping grounds for poison, we will continue to reap death and mayhem as the unintended costs of business as usual or what the corporados deem to be "just business". I think that we are beginning to understand the real meanings of those words.