Do you know your neighbors? Annie Leonard, creator of the viral video The Story of Stuff thinks you should. In fact, she thinks it’s the number one thing we can do to take back our power as citizens and solve our environmental problems. In this interview, she explains why, and insists that all of us need to be comfortable with speaking up and letting our voices be heard.
I sat down with Annie in her office in Berkeley two weeks ago, just before the launch of her new book, appropriately titled, The Story of Stuff for a conversation with the woman who has inspired millions around the globe. If you happen not to be one of those millions because you haven’t yet seen the video, please take twenty minutes out of your day to watch it. Annie is intense, engaging, and explains where all our “stuff” comes from and how it affects us in a way that powerful in its simplicity.
Some analysts say we have less leisure time than any time since feudal… Read the rest
August 11, 2008
5391 Three Notched Road
Crozet, VA 22932
Dear Music Today:
I am returning to you this plastic padded mailer in which I received my ticket for the Outside Lands concert. I am trying very hard to reduce my plastic consumption and overall waste, and while I appreciate your wanting to get my ticket to me safely, I do believe that this package is a bit too much protection. My paper ticket is certainly not going to break during shipment.
I feel very strongly that care for our environment depends upon both sellers to reduce the amount of packaging and shipping materials they use and consumers to choose products with the least packaging. While shopping, I bring my own reusable bags to avoid taking disposables. I also carry tap water in a reusable bottle to avoid plastic bottle waste and bring my own containers for take-out food.
Plastic, as I’m sure you know, is made from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable.… Read the rest
June 13, 2008
Citra Solv, LLC
PO Box 2597
Danbury, CT 06813-2597
Dear Steve & Melissa,
I purchased a box of CitraSuds natural laundry detergent today at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, CA. I am always on the lookout for environmentally safe products and was happy to learn that your laundry powder is biodegradable and contains no chlorine bleach or synthetic perfumes or dyes. I was also happy to read on the box that the package is made from 100% recycled paper.
However, after opening the box, I was disappointed to find a plastic measuring scoop. While I realize the scoop may be made out of recycled plastic, the fact is that it is not biodegradable and cannot be further recycled — not where I live anyway. Therefore, I am returning the scoop to you in the hopes that you can find a use for it. I don’t need it, and most of the people I know do not need a brand new scoop each time we buy a box of detergent.
There is another brand of laundry soap, Ecover, which… Read the rest
This past week, I panicked when I discovered that the tubing used in my new Multi-Pure counter top water filter system, which I bought in place of the Brita we had been using, is made from virgin PVC.
As I wrote on October 29, I was already somewhat disenchanted with Multi-Pure because of the volume of plastic bubble wrap in which the unit and filter cartridge were wrapped. But it wasn’t until the unit was installed and working that I actually read the fine print and discovered the more serious problem of PVC used in the product itself.
When I called Multi-Pure to address this issue, I was told that the tubing had been tested by NSF and found not to leach anything harmful into the water. However, the rep was unable to confirm whether phthalates such as DEHP, the chemicals that are the biggest worry, were included in the list of possible contaminants for which to be tested. But regardless of whether or not this particular tubing is leaching anything harmful… Read the rest
The San Francisco Green Festival was somewhat of a sanctuary after my dismal visit to the bay on Friday. It was huge, HUGE! I went intending to browse and gather information. I ended up with a backpack and tote bag full of stuff but almost zero plastic. (I’ll tell you about the one bit of plastic I’ll be sending back at the end of this post.)
Anyway, after walking a couple of miles to the festival from the wharf, I was starving and headed directly for the food court, where I was happy to see that all the offerings were organic, the tableware was compostable, and the water was piped into a water station rather than served in plastic bottles. I had a tasty veggie wrap and salad from Back to Earth Organic Caterers and filled up my own Klean Kanteen at the water station. Instead of taking their disposable napkins and compostable cutlery, I used my own cloth napkin and To-Go-Ware utensils.
I was also heartened to see many waste stations at convenient intervals… Read the rest
You’ve heard of paying it forward? This post is about sending it back. And no, I’m not talking about that mean thing that sport fishermen do. I’m referring to unwanted plastic that shows up my my doorstep unsolicited. I’ve decided that in addition to e-mailing or sending a letter to the company, I’m just going to ship it right back to them! So here are a few things I’ve sent back this week:
As many of you know, I’ve been having no luck finding plastic-free cheddar cheese here in the Bay Area. (And no, I haven’t found a deli that will wrap it in plain paper that is not lined with plastic.) Yet cheese is one of the few things I’m not willing to give up. So I decided that I would put my eco-energy into purchasing good quality local organic cheese from happy cows that graze on pasture, rather than hormones, antibiotics, and corn (organic or not); and allow it to be one of my few plastic indulgences. That said,… Read the rest
As much as we try to avoid buying new things in order to “step lightly on the planet,” we can still be tempted by shiny, new gadgets. Especially when they are promoted by flashy eco web sites. We shouldn’t let go of our critical thinking skills just because we happen to be browsing a site called Treehugger.com. But that’s exactly what happened to me when I ordered a free sample of the Magic Stapler based on this Treehugger review. Even though the thing is made out of plastic, my curiosity got the better of me, and I bit.
The “stapler” operates without any staples at all, cutting a hole into the paper, forming a tab which is folded back and through a slit. The idea is similar to the way we used to attach papers in school when we didn’t have a stapler handy by tearing some tabs into the top of the pages and folding them over. Except that method was free and required only our hands, whereas this method requires a jazzy plastic… Read the rest