Monthly Archives: January 2008

Two very different Hawaii trips

This weekend, Anna C. of the blog BYOTalk and I will both be in Hawaii. I’ll be in Waikiki kicking back for a few days visiting my parents and getting my blowdryer fixed. No big deal. I’ll continue to blog while I’m away, and I’ll be back on Tuesday.

Anna, on the other hand, will be joining the crew of the Alguita oceanographic research vessel in Hilo for a month-long trip to the North Pacific Gyre to study marine debris concentrations. This is the area of the “Pacific Garbage Patch,” which I’m sure most of you have heard about by now. (If not, please read the article, Plastic Ocean.)

This will be the 8th voyage for the Alguita, and this time the crew plans to “venture further west than ever before, investigating possible concentrations North of Hawaii, and just East of the International Date Line. It may be that the areas of the North Pacific Gyre with the highest concentrations of marine debris have yet… Read the rest

Living in a material world

The holiday season has been over for several weeks now. And for several weeks, I’ve been contemplating the complaint we seem to hear every year from social critics bemoaning the rampant materialism of our culture. People, they say, care more about buying new things than they do about caring for each other and the planet. These critics decry the commercialism of Christmas. And while I agree that our society has become dangerously acquisitive, I’m wondering if the solution isn’t for people to become more materialistic rather than less.

If we really were materialistic, wouldn’t we care more for the materials of the world than we do? Wouldn’t we spend more time enjoying the material things that we already have rather than mindlessly consuming more? Wouldn’t we place a higher value on each item with which we come into contact, considering where it’s been and where it will end up when we’re finished… Read the rest

Naughty kitties pass the test, as does our drinking water!

I was surprised how easily the kitties went into the box two weeks ago. The blue plastic box that I got from a very nice person on Freecycle. They were so quiet in there, I had to check a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t imagined putting them in. Good thing they get along with each other. We will need to get another cat carrier for when they are bigger and can’t both be stuffed into the same box. Freecycle or Craigslist. No new plastic for these cats!

So we went to the vet and got shots and blood drawn. Well, they did. I just felt their pain from a distance. And today we got the results. No toxoplasma gondii for these babies. Their poop is certified flushable, as is their litter! And pregnant women are safe in my house. Hurray! We’re still using the Swheatscoop litter, although I’m not crazy about the smell. I do sprinkle baking soda into it to absorb odors. I’ve heard that pine litter is good. But I really do want something that’s… Read the rest

Week 30 Results: .8 oz. of plastic waste

Before I show you this week’s tally, I thought I would give you an idea of what I’ve been hoarding since June 17, 2007. This is all the non-recyclable stuff I’ve collected through last week. Click to see a larger image:

The awful truth is that all the stuff on the blue plastic sheet, including the blue plastic sheet, was acquired AFTER I started this project. All the stuff on the carpet around me are things I already had that I used up. This has been a real learning experience. When I started out, I had no idea how to eliminate plastic and I ended up with a lot more than I intended to.

I feel like 2008 is a new beginning. I have a better idea of what I’m doing and why avoiding plastic is a much better alternative than recycling it. Which is why this year, as I said previously, I’ll be saving all the recyclables too. There are still plastic items I can’t do without, like prescription bottles (which can’t be refilled in California.… Read the rest

Purrfect Pet Toys

We’ve been finding all kinds of plastic-free toys for the kitties to play with, both store-bought and homemade, and have also discovered a really wonderful online small business selling natural pet supplies. So here goes…I discovered Purrfectplay.com at the San Francisco Green Festival in November. Purrfectplay.com is owned and run by Pam Wheelock, who describes herself as having “always been outside the main stream and a *greenie* long before it was a movement.” The company makes natural fiber toys for dogs and cats, such as catnip mice and wool balls, as well as other small pet accessories. All the products are made by homeworkers in Indiana and Detroit.

As the Purrfectplay web site says:

Purrfectplay is run simply. We are dedicated to producing wonderful pet products crafted exclusively from organic, chemical free, and fair-trade materials. We are members of Co-op America and the Organic Trade AssociationRead the rest

Week 29 Results: 2.6 oz. of plastic. Making a change.

This past Friday, I attended a planning meeting for Green Sangha’s 2008 Rethinking Plastics campaign. At that meeting, one of the members showed us some video footage of what happens to the plastic recycling that we put into our curbside bins. I knew that most of our plastic was shipped to China, but until seeing this heartbreaking video, I didn’t think much more about it. Please watch this short clip from Britain’s Sky News and then see how you feel about recycling plastic:

Click here to view the video on Youtube.

Yes, this story focuses on Britain’s plastic waste. But in the U.S., we also ship most of our plastic to China, causing health problems and pollution in our attempts to be “green.”

Since I started this project, I have tallied all of my plastic waste, recycling those items that are accepted in Oakland, SF, or Daly City, and holding onto the rest. From now on, I’m going to hold onto ALL of it, recyclable… Read the rest

Hand lotion. Is it for the bees?

Have you ever wondered how honey is harvested from beehives? This fall, Michael and I got to find out firsthand while visiting our friends, Jerry and Mea, at Draper Farms in San Anselmo.

The hives are wooden frames with beeswax starter cells. The bees fill the cells with honey and, as each cell fills up, cap them with their own beeswax. When the hives are full of honey and ready to harvest, the beeswax caps are removed from both sides of the frame with an electric heated knife. This was the first part of our demonstration. The hives had already been gathered into the barn prior to our arrival and the bees sent on to create new hives.

Next the frames are placed into a centrifuge, where they will be spun to extract the honey. The honey flies out from the combs onto the sides of the centrifuge and then runs down the walls and out a spigot into a waiting bucket.

We all got to take home a jar of raw honey. Mmmmmm… but my question was what happens to all the leftover beeswax.… Read the rest