Paul Jackson Joins the Earth Train Production Team

Paul Jackson has joined The Earth Train team to help spread the green living message. Paul is a writer with a background in commercial radio, including tours as News Director, Program Director and Operations Manager at music and news/talk stations across the country ranging from tiny markets in Eastern Utah to big markets like Dallas. “I’m excited about joining the production team,” Paul says from his Dallas home overlooking a lawn that has sadly not survived the Texas summer. “It’s a great opportunity to help spread the green and sustainable livin message.”

Show for July 9, 2011

After plummeting all through 2010, new housing starts appear to be on the rebound. Of course we’re not out of the woods yet, and many families entering the home building process are looking for ways to maximize their budget, stretching their dollars further to get the most home for their money. This week’s show features Andrea Ridout’s discussion with Sara Susanka, the author of “The Not So Big House”. The visionary architect’s home designs are getting smaller and smaller, but provide better value as they integrate with the green lifestyle. Check out her web site at

To continue with our theme of building green, Andrea Ridout also talks with Don Ferrier, the National Association of Home Builder’s Green Builder Advocate of the year. Don’s passion for sustainable construction has been coursing through his veins since the early 80’s. Representing the 3rd generation of the Ferrier Companies, Don is no stranger to construction. He is a true visionary of energy efficiency, sustainable construction techniques, and travels across the US educating & guiding those within the industry & beyond on its inherent benefits. You can learn more about Ferrier Custom Homes at

Ashton Ritchie of the Scott’s Miracle-Gro Company has some great tips for helping your lawn survive the summer. Among the tips: don’t water so often and let your grass grow a little longer! There are great tools available to help you become a better gardener at

Green Tips for Renters

Going green isn’t just for homeowners…even in an apartment you can save some green and do something good for the environment. Even small steps are steps, and can be made in a small space.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

You’ve probably heard a lot about Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. Switching to CFL’s can make a real difference in your energy consumption…CFL’s are typically more efficient and can use about 75% less energy for the same light output as conventional incandescent bulbs.

They also last much longer than traditional light bulbs and so you reduce waste and energy consumption by using it longer. Since light bulb replacement is usually the tenant’s responsibility anyway, CFLs are an easy way to make a real change.

One caveat however…CFL’s contain trace amounts of mercury and should be disposed of properly.

Eliminating Phantom Loads

Many devices use electricity even when they are off. The phenomenon is whispered in hushed tones, going by appropriately ominous names like leaking electricity, idle current, vampire power, vampire draw or phantom load. Some sources say power wasted by phantom loads account for up to 40% of your electric bill. Even if the actual amount of electricity wasted is far less, wouldn’t it be better not to waste any at all?

There are devices out there, like the Kill-a-watt and WattsOn monitors that  can help you identify potential savings. Once you determine which appliances are leaking electricity, something as simple as a surge protector or power strip may provide the solution…plug everything into power strips and turn off your TV, DVD, stereo, and cell phone charger with a single switch.

Stop Those Drafts!

Seal your home as tight as possible. You’ll probably need permission from your landlord before adding or replacing weatherstripping, but it’s worth asking about. $50 should be sufficient to improve an apartment or even a small home, and the savings over time will pay for your investment while reducing the load on other resources.


Composting is another pillar of resource conservation. Food waste and other compostable materials make up a significant percentage of the US municipal solid waste stream. Instead of sending that waste to a landfill turn it in to compost instead! Not only do you reduce waste, if you have house plants or window box gardens you know how valuable compost is.

Check out the NatureMill automatic composter. It uses a little power, but even their entry level model can handle up to 80 pounds of compostable material each month, with little or no odor or mess…it even mixes itself so you simply reap the benefits of composting.

You can even build your own apartment sized composter once you have a nice crop of compost, use it for that sad houseplant in the corner, the potted bush on the deck, your flower pots or windowsill herb garden. Offer it up on Craigslist as fertilizer…it can go to a good use while it reduces the load on our landfills.

Change Your Air Filters

If your landlord doesn’t regularly replace heater and air conditioner air filters, consider taking the 5 minutes to do it yourself. For a small investment…even good filters will only cost you $20 or less and will help your a/c system work more efficiently.

Water Conservation

While you work on saving electricity, don’t forget to save water too. Get a luxury low-flow shower head. Efficient shower heads can provide you with the same tingly shower experience with far less water per minute than conventional shower heads, saving water and energy. The right shower head can save up to nearly 4,000 gallons of water per year.

Only run full loads in the dishwasher and the laundry washing machine. It costs the same amount of energy to power these machines if you have a 1/2 load or a full one– so wait a couple of days to make sure you have a full load.

Finally, put aerators in your faucets. They can save water as well as take some of the pressure off your water heater.

NIH Study Links Environment and Autism

A study supported by the National Institutes of Health has found that environmental factors may influence susceptibility to autism more than genetic factors. The study analyzed a large sample of twins drawn from the general population as well as incorporating the latest standards in diagnosing autism. The study is leading to additional research to determine if autism may be traceable, in part, to environmental exposures early during pregnancy. Possible culprits are chemical pollutants, especially pesticides and metals. Even more reasons to protect and clean up the environment.  More on the report can be found here.

UN Calls for Green Funding

Could a new U-N report lead to increased funding for green technology? “The World Economic and Social Survey 2011,” published recently by the U-N Department of Economic and Social Affairs calls for investments of at least $1.9 trillion per year.

Check out the report’s aggressive timetable to achieve what it calls a “great green technological transformation” within the next 40 years here.

Artichoke and Red Pepper Dip

Artichoke and Red Pepper Dip

This can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to bake it.


1 8-ounce jar marinated artichokes, liquid drained, minced

1 small can chopped green chilies

1 small can chopped red peppers

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup salsa

Fresh black pepper to taste

2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Mix all of the ingredients together then spoon the mixture onto a large ovenproof platter.

Bake until bubbly and lightly brown on top, approximately 15 minutes.

Serve with crackers or corn chips.

Makes 3 cups

5/28 Radio Show: Organic Farming, an Organic Restaurant and more

This week hosts Andrea Ridout and Dan “The Solar Man” Lepinski are all about organics. Guests include a fabulous farmer from California, a clever chef/sea captain from Maine, and a cute and Kozy restaurant owner from Texas. Bon appétit!

 Listen to the full show here

        Serendipity Farms CSA vegetable box

Jamie Collins, co-founder and owner of Serendipity Farms

Today we are talking about organic farming and cooking, and here to kick things off is Jamie Collins, who farms out in California just south of San Jose. Serendipity Farms is completely organic — something that makes Jamie infinitely proud and her customers infinitely grateful.



Schooner J&E Riggin under sail by Elizabeth PoissonAnnie Mahle, co-owner, co-captain and chef of the schooner  J. & E. Riggin

Last year Andrea had the pleasure of taking a trip on the J. & E. Riggin, a historic 115-foot sailboat that launches out of Rockland, Maine. The boat specializes in cruises around breathtaking Penobscot Bay — and if that isn’t cool enough, it is also eco-friendly. The crew composts, uses mostly wind power, and cooks three meals a day for 30 people on a vintage, cast-iron woodstove.


Nic Pavageaux, co-owner and chef of Kozy Kitchen restaurant

 From New York City to Los Angeles, organic and gluten-free restaurants are popping up, answering the call for healthier, eco-conscious dining. We visit today with Nic Pavageaux, co-founder of a delightful diner in Dallas, Texas. At Kozy, organic food is not only an everyday encounter, but a necessity.



Project of the Week: Make Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Dip

 Appetizers improve any get-together, and here to share one of her (and her passengers’) favorites is Annie Mahle of the J. & E. Riggin.

5/21 Radio Show: Raising Goats and Making Cheese

Andrea and Dan get “cheesy” today as they cover a wide range of fun topics, including goats, cheese … and goat cheese! Plus they’ll share a fun Project of the Week; Make Your Own Goat Cheese!

Listen to the full show here

From Literary Agent to Goat Farmer

 Angela Miller is a prominent literary agent in New York who decided to buy a goat farm and become a cheese maker in Vermont. Hear her inspiring story and find out how Consider Bardwell Farm has changed her life.


 Vermont Artisan Cheese


A Master Cheese Maker

Peter Dixon makes artisan cheese at Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vt. Learn all about the cheeses that have been featured on the menus of some of the finest restaurants in the country and won several prestigious awards from the American Cheese Society.



Project of the Week: Make Goat Cheese!

 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Senior Associate Editor Tabitha Alterman will show you how to make simple, delicious goat cheese at home.

5/14 Radio Show: Home inspections and energy efficiency with guest host, Reggie Marston, The House PI

This week Andrea Ridout welcomes a guest host, Reggie Marston, The House PI in the Washington DC area and his special guests who chat all about the home inspection process and energy efficiency.

 Listen to the full show here

The House P I is a radio show all about houses that airs on Wednesdays 2:00 PM – throughout Northern VA and around the globe on WEBR . Reggie Marston is the host and a popular local home inspector.

Common Sources of Air Leaks


Reggie’s guests were Gary Graff, owner of ProEnergy Consultants in Vienna, VA., , and Tom Ward, Performance Home Contracting Manager for Southland Insulators in Manassas, VA., . They discussed the importance of energy efficiency, home energy audits, air sealing and insulation. Tom and his group from Southland recently were part of a contest sponsored by a local television station and won the contest by reducing the energy usage of a home by 57%.

Backyard Chicken Basics

A listener recently requested that we do a special show all about chickens – and we aim to please. This week, Andrea RidoutGRIT March-April 2011 Cover and Dan Lepinski talk to Hank Will, editor in chief of GRIT magazine, who may just inspire you to raise some backyard chickens. Hank relates how he first became interested in chickens himself, thoughts on proper feeding and care, and ideas on how to get chicks for your new flock. Later in the show, Hank will suggest tips on making a chicken brooder to keep chicks warm for the first few weeks of life. Visit Grit magazine online here.

Last year in Dallas, Texas – A Peep at the Coops was one of the most successful backyard chicken coop tours in the country. Our hosts for today, Andrea Ridout and Dan Lepinski, visit with the original tour organizer, Chere Hickock, to discuss the ease of keeping chickens, ideas on coop construction, and common city “livestock” codes and issues with municipalities. The Peep at the Coops tour was scheduled for Sunday, May 1 but has been postponed until May 22 due to “fowl” weather. Visit here for updates on this year’s tour.

Music for the show this month is being provided by John Henry Holthus, a Kansas-based musician.