Green Hero:  Alisa Phoenix

Alisa arranges her life to live as sustainably as possible.  She surveys her life and asks, “Is there a way to achieve this more in accord with the earth’s cycles?”  Why is she devoted to living sustainably?  Growing up in California and Colorado, her family’s habits were founded on self-sufficiency that included vegetables from their own garden and recycling clothing. Her interest in global warming came later when she saw studies of CO2 trapped in polar ice. These showed the obvious connection between greenhouse gases and the Earth’s warming.  Looking more closely at her own life, she increased her efforts to live sustainably.

In feeding her household, Alisa has experimented extensively with desert gardening and preserving produce through canning, freezing, fermenting, or drying. What cannot be eaten or preserved she uses for compost.  Anything that decomposes can be composted.  Realizing that conventional cat litter isn’t compostable, after looking at possible alternatives, she chose pine fuel pellets.  They decompose well. Her cat adapted well to the change.  She composts for two years, uses that compost in the garden over the following year while she begins a fresh supply. Her family has raised hens for five years to produce eggs (which are available at UUCP).  Junk mail isn’t wasted, but shredded for use in the hens’ nests, and for composting.

Energy usage is paramount.  She looked at several options then decided on solar-electric panels. Alisa has investigated systems that operate even when the electrical grid goes down, including nontoxic systems that use saltwater batteries. Because air-conditioning is required only in the hottest summer months, at other times a whole-house evaporative cooler, installed in a window, works well along with additional window fans.

For transportation, she realized that her old car uses fewer resources than would manufacturing a new, fuel-efficient car.  In addition, she rides her bicycle with pannier baskets for grocery shopping and also uses an amazing mode of transportation for us in modern America….walking.

She looks constantly for new ideas. Among other things, the bathroom shower has a drain that routes gray-water into the garden. She avoids plastic items whenever reasonable and makes purchases at thrift stores extensively, reducing the amount of packaging.  A reverse-osmosis system purifies her tap water and improves the taste.   Lemons from their tree become lemonade. Cut up pieces of washable fabric become handkerchiefs. For information about safer personal care and home products, Alisa recommends Environmental Working Group’s website .   For more information about her own quest, and the philosophy that underpins it, see her new blog:

Alisa believes that although the changes she makes in her life and home may be small when viewed in perspective of the world’s overall environmental crisis, in order to make changes we must change the way we think.  “As we do differently, we begin to think differently.  Those around us will take notice, and they, too, will gradually change their thinking and doing.”