Saturday, February 25, 2017

Repurpose and Upscale: I'm on Overwhelm


The first rule in "recycling" is not to buy the product in the first place. You reduce what you want or think you need. The next thing is to reuse before you recylce. Reusing can mean repurposing or upcycling. Repurposing means adapting anything for a different use - an old ladder into a book shelf, pottery shards as garden plant identifiers. Upcycling is reusing a product in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original - an old television or radio console into a wet bar, turning the old Pearl brewery into San Antonio to the upscale Emma Hotel . . . or turning some old historical buildings in El Paso to apartments and commercial properties.

OK. You aren't going to go into the business of development and some of the repurposing or upcycling ideas are just not what you have in mind for your Charlotte's decor. You might just not be into arts and crafts. However, I bet there are so many things that you can upcycle or repurpose. You don't even have to be the creative type. Just Google "upcycle" or "upcycling" and "repurpose" or "repurposing". Visit sites. Click on the Images tab. You'll get a number of ideas.

Be sure to visit Instructables. Check out Upcycle That on Facebook. Of course there is also Pinterest with tens of thousands of ideas.

Repurposing or upcycling are ways we can make some lifestyle changes that are enviornmentally-friendly.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Repair Cafés and the Friday Video

My friend, David Ochoa, emailed me a link to a New York Times story about repair cafés. Please do read it HERE. He suggested that the old Boy Scout Lodge on Trowbridge might just be the perfect place and stated that a repair café "may be a perfect idea for utilizing this building and enhancing quality of life activities as well as teaching people how to recycle/re-purpose household items." It certainly would be preferable to our consumer lifestyle of buy, throwaway, buy more. (I just remembered that as a child I would tell my parents to "go to the store and buy more." The consumer culture was already being imprinted on my mind.)

In an earlier blog post I wrote that we could either be "spectator" environmentalists and moan about the policies of the current administration, or we could make some real changes in our lives. I said: "The next four years gives each of us the opportunity to examine our own lifestyles and see what changes that we can make personally that are more environmentally friendly and ecologically and socially just." 

One of the things that we can do is to take David Ochoa's advice and look at having a repair café in El Paso. There is a rich resource in an online site - the Repair Café. Please visit it.

I have been told that the El Paso Library system is looking into sponsoring such a place. That doesn't surprise me because Dionne Mack, the woman who oversees our library department among other things, is quite the visionary and the facilitator of visions. Check out the Seed Libraries program. I have cabbage and greens and carrots growing now in my garden from seeds I obtained from the library.

Gardening, repairing - great ways to make our lifestyles less wasteful and far more enjoyable.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Go Birding!

Northern Shoveler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society recently did some birding at the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park. Here is what they saw:

Eared Grebe
Great Egret
Northern Pintail
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Cinnamon Teal
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Copper's Hawk
Red-tail Hawk
Merlin ( Prairie Female )
American Kestrel
American Coot
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Eastern Phoebe
Black Phoebe
Chihuahuan Raven
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Curve-billed Thrasher
Yellow-rumped Warbler
White-crowned Sparrow
Lincoln Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow-headed Blackbird
House Finch

That's a pretty impressive list of birds. I want to make two points: first, birding is fun. There is something about being able to identify a species that is, in and of itself, rewarding. Next, well, birders "bird" together. It's social. 

My second point is this: at first glance most of us just see dry desert and mountains. Unless we go outside and spend some time, we don't see just how much life that there is. And, there is something about discovering life that makes our place special, valuable, irreplaceable - a treasure to love and protect. Identifying different bird species helps us to see the bounty of our desert and mountains. 

I remember the first time that I ever went birding. I was a Junior in High School. My friend, who came from a family of birders, took me to the levee in the Mission Valley - an ecosystem much like the Bosque. It isn't there any longer. We channelized the river and built an ugly wall. The first bird that I ever identified was an American Avocet.

Contact the El Paso/Trans Pecos Audubon Society or just email Get on their emailing list and learn about upcoming birding adventures. Attend their meetings - there's the social thing again. Also educational. Along with local outings, they go into New Mexico and Arizona and see some very pretty places and meet some pretty interesting birds. (Did I mention that another thing that makes birding fun is the travel - together?)

Part of learning about and loving our desert home is to meet life in all of its splendid forms and certainly birds are some of the most splendid species around.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Friday Video on Saturday: Our Generation Is Changing Energy

Wow! A month's hiatus. Well, I'm back and you can expect more on elpasonaturally. To begin here is a video on the importance of solar energy. If you get elpasonaturally by email, you may not be able to see it; so, go to Please also visit