I’ve been away from blogging and social media for a few months, needing time to recuperate from the onslaught of attention-grabbing, anxiety-inducing posts that had hijacked my “news” feeds. Taking a break to be in silence for a while helps. So do walks along the red dirt trails or the rocky coastline of Moloka’i, Hawaii.
In the end of March, I went on my annual silent meditation retreat to the center of the center of the center. (The retreat center is in the middle of Moloka’i, which is the middle of the Hawaiian Island chain, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.) It just so happened that the week of my retreat was the same week as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s first statewide beach cleanup event. And the cleanup event planned for the island of Moloka’i happened to be scheduled on our only day “off” from silent meditation. There’s more serendipity in how I even found out about… Read the rest
For four long years, I ate only a vegetarian diet, and the only meat I bought was for our cats (who are obligate carnivores.) In fact, I wrote a very reasoned and heartfelt blog post about why I decided to become a vegetarian. But while my heart and mind loved the idea of being a vegetarian, my body didn’t.
Two years ago, I started doing accounting for a family-owned, local, sustainable Bay Area meat and restaurant company. For the first six months, I remained a vegetarian, despite being surrounded by meat. And when I say “meat,” I mean whole animal carcasses brought in from local farms to be processed by the skilled butchers at our company. Somehow, seeing the actual animals and knowing where they came from made it easier to consider eating meat again. And one night at work, exhausted and hungry, I went ahead and ate some organic, pastured, heritage turkey leftover from the holidays. And I noticed that… Read the rest
Do you have a hard time letting go of things because they might be useful one day? Are you reluctant to give away your old plastic kitchenware for fear that someone else will be harmed by it? Or that they won’t dispose of it properly when they’re done with it? Do you resist tossing things into the recycle bin because you know the truth about what happens to most of our plastic recycling, and it’s not pretty? Do you feel compelled to bring home items left on the street even if you have no immediate use for them?
Are you turning your own home into a landfill?
The plastic in my attic.
These are questions many environmentalists deal with. Ever since June of 2007 when I put a bag under my kitchen table and vowed to acquire no new plastic, I’ve been collecting my plastic waste. And one day, a friend of mine looked at my boxes of years of collected plastic and said, “You know Beth, they have a word for this behavior, and it starts with… Read the rest
When I give talks, one question people frequently ask is whether it costs more money to go plastic-free. My answer: a few things cost more initially, but in general, I save money living this way. In fact, I was thinking about adding a whole section to my plastic-free presentation about ways to save money. But I haven’t done it because I got to thinking… is that actually a good strategy? Or could it backfire? I’ll explain what I mean later in this post. I’d love to get your feedback. But first, yes, there really are ways to save money. Here are just a few…
Plastic-Free Ways to Save Money
A really good quality water bottle made from stainless steel or glass might be a bit pricey, but I save money in the long run because bottled water actually costs more per gallon than gasoline! A 32-pack of Aquafina is $35 today on Amazon, which means I would make back the cost of a Klean Kanteen water bottle in about… Read the rest
On Blog Action Day, bloggers around the world all post articles on a single topic. This year, the topic is human rights, and as I sit here typing (or Swyping) this post into my Android mobile phone, I’m acutely aware that having a smartphone is very definitely NOT a human right. (Okay, this is going to be one of those weird, winding, philosophical posts that may not end up where we think it will. Let’s just see where it goes, okay?) So yes, human rights. But first, let me explain why I bought this phone.… Read the rest
Tuesday morning, I met up with Daniella Russo, executive director of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, for breakfast at her hotel, the Hyatt Place near the Austin Convention Center. Here’s a photo of Daniella’s breakfast:
From a distance, the dishes look like ceramic and glass, right? Nope. All plastic. Even the mug meant to hold hot coffee… plastic.… Read the rest
Okay, before you read my ice cream rant, please sign the petition asking Trader Joe’s to reduce its plastic produce packaging. After my own produce packaging rant last year, I didn’t have time to start a campaign, but luckily others at the Plastic Pollution Coalition did!
Okay… the ice cream…
Usually, my home ice cream consumption looks something like this…… Read the rest
Aloha. I’m writing this post high above the Pacific Ocean on my way to Hawaii. I’m thinking about how I’m increasing my carbon footprint this month with so much travelling. And I’m also thinking about the carbon footprint of Burning Man. This will be my final Burning Man post for the year, and hopefully it will be a good one. (I didn’t go to bed last night, so we’ll see what comes through my index finger as I Swype the screen on my Android phone.)
Burning Man is all about burning carbon. During the week, people erect beautiful wooden sculptures that they’ve spent all year constructing…
only to burn them a few days later. … Read the rest
This will be my penultimate Burning Man post for the year. I think. (I have one more in mind, but who knows if I’ll get a burning desire to say even more after that? Or less?)
I have a discussion question for you, but first, a little background and lots of pictures. (I don’t think there is any nudity in these photos, but let me know if you see some and I’ll remove it. This blog is rated PG even if my life isn’t always.)
Reducing our plastic footprint was the theme of the Earth Guardians camp this year. Toward that end, we had Annie’s plastic footprint sculpture…
I gave two talks on plastic-free living on and off the playa…
Karima from the Plastic Pollution Coalition was there, taking pictures and working on quantifying Burning Man’s plastic footprint.
So was my friend Tracey whom I camped with last year and who had worked very hard to deplastify her business.
Several people came up to me during the week who … Read the rest
Dear Lotus Foods:
My husband and I used our old rice cooker a lot. We used it so much, that we burned out the fuse and had to replace it. I was pretty stoked about being able to fix our appliance and make it last longer instead of tossing it out. So recently, when the connection between the machine and the power cord started to get loose (and we had to lay something heavy on the power cord to keep the machine from cutting off each time we used it), I told Michael that I was going to see if I could fix it again. But Michael’s reply surprised me. This time he said, “Why don’t we just recycle it and get a new stainless steel one?”
Repair vs. Recycle
See, there is a trade off sometimes. It may be gentler on the planet to fix things and make them last as long as possible rather than replacing them when they break. But if the old things are made of materials that might possibly be toxic to our health (plastic containers, for example,… Read the rest