Archive for November, 2008

November 12, 2008

What is Local? Expanding the Definition

The topic of this month’s APLS Carnival is “buying local,” which seems to be an important factor in the sustainability movement. In the SF Bay Area, we have year-round farmer’s markets where local producers bring us their fresh crops all year. So for someone attempting to live plastic-free, it’s not hard to add “buying local” to the mix.

Except when it is hard.

Several months ago, I asked your opinion about which was better environmentally — plastic-wrapped local cheese or waxed plastic-free cheese from Ireland. And surprisingly, most of you voted for the Irish cheese, saying that regardless of plastic, it’s probably just better.

So it seems that some folks make exceptions to the local rule when it comes to foods from “expert” regions of the world. But I have a few more exceptions and redefinitions to add to the mix. I get that buying local is better for the environment because… Read the rest

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November 10, 2008

Voices of the Plastic-Free Blogosphere, Part 2

Two weeks ago, I spotlighted eight bloggers who have taken the challenge to reduce plastic in their lives and have been blogging about it. Here are the next eight voices helping to spread the word through the blogosphere. Thanks to blogger Greeen Sheeep, the newest Posse member, for the above image. Enjoy.

Plastic-Free Bloggers (blogs primarily dealing with plastic)

Bring Your Own. Anna Cummins is a plastic-free warrior. Not only has she visited the North Pacific Gyre on the oceanographic research vessel Alguita with her fiance Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Captain Charles Moore’s team, she also travels the country speaking out about the issue of plastics in the marine environment and is planning a bike tour from Vancouver to Mexico to spread the word. She sent me the following image which illustrates the central point of this blog: our fish are filling up with plastic. If we don’t change our ways, fake plastic ones may be all we have left!… Read the rest

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November 10, 2008

More sad plastic news. Plus Year 2, Week 21 Results: .05 oz of plastic waste.

The format of this post will be a little different from most of my weekly tallies because I want to emphasize three stories in the news this week which illustrate more of the problems with plastic and plastic recycling.

First: I learned from JessTrev of The Green Phone Booth (via Twitter) that one of the few plastics we had thought was fairly safe might not be so. Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have found chemicals leaching from polypropylene (#5 plastic), the type of plastic used for many, many food uses, including yogurt tubs and laptop lunch containers, which parents purchase as an alternative to disposable food containers for children. Preserve toothbrushes (the kind I use) are also made from recycled polypropylene.

Not enough is know at this time about the two chemicals found to leach from the plastic, quaternary ammonium biocides and oleamide, to determine whether or not the leaching poses health risks, but Rebecca Sutton,… Read the rest

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November 6, 2008

Obama’s f—ing lightbulbs

The highlights of Newsweek’s Special Election Project, released yesterday, include this unsettling tidbit:
The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that's green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”… Read the rest

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November 6, 2008

Thank you, Santa Sabina!

Back in May, I sent a letter to the Santa Sabina retreat center, where I have spent many beautiful silent weekends resting in stillness. My letter asked them to please find alternatives to the antibacterial soaps and synthetic air fresheners they had recently begun providing for the use of their guests.

A few weeks later, I received a beautiful card and note assuring me that the center had switched to more environmentally-friendly products. This past weekend, during another retreat, I was able to confirm first-hand that not only had they indeed made those specific changes, but were also working on ways to encourage their guests to be more aware of their environmental impact.

Entering the main doors, I encountered this cute little setup next to the water fountain. It’s actually not so hard to fill the bottle right from the fountain, but I guess they felt they’d make it as easy and obvious as possible.

Upstairs in the large linen closet,… Read the rest

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November 5, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama,

As I write to you this day after the most exciting election in my 43 years, I want to thank you. You have inspired not only the people of the United States but of the entire world. You weave a beautiful story of hope for people who have become tired and cynical and jaded by political rhetoric.

Here are some of my hopes.

I hope that while we’re talking of “restoring prosperity” and “putting our people back to work” we’re also working to change the fundamental basis on which prosperity is measured. Is the American Dream the pursuit of newer and bigger houses and cars and the latest gadgets? Higher consumption of the earth’s resources? Is that what healing the economy means?

Or can we change our language to encourage deeper American values? Voluntary simplicity? Sustainable living? Connections among people over material wealth? The world cannot afford for us to continue trashing the planet as we have been.… Read the rest

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November 3, 2008

Year 2, Week 20 Results: 4.0 oz of plastic waste.

Oy! Too much plastic this week. You’d think that I wouldn’t have brought back plastic from a meditation retreat. And you would be wrong.

Here’s the tally:

Plastic items used this week but acquired before the plastic project began:

1 expired Chase VISA card. Wondering if these cards will be biodegradable eventually. Like some gift cards these days. Or renewable without having to destroy the old card?

And the new plastic waste:

1 big World’s Best Cat Litter bag. We went back to SwheatScoop this week, even though I don’t really like it, to save the plastic. And then Soots, who seemed to have grown out of the habit, pooped on the floor. *Sigh* I think little kitty likes the World’s Best Cat Litter better. I tried explaining to him about plastic, but he didn’t understand because he’s… you know… a cat. Also, the corn litter just smells better. Maybe we’ll try mixing the two kinds and … Read the rest

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