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@Nathalie  Just wanted to offer KUDOS for saving a bike from the landfill. I just bought a used mountain bike today for virtually nothing, and have spent the day researching how to rebuild the wheel hubs, so I'm completely on the same wavelength. I've never done it before, but after watching a handful of videos, I'm sure I can figure it out.

I just want to offer encouragement for tackling this repair yourself instead of calling in the men. You can do this! Testosterone is NOT a prerequisite for bike repair! Actually, lots of local bike shops (especially independently owned ones) offer clinics on various aspects of bike repair, so you might want to check around. One in my area even has free basic bike maintenance classes exclusively for women. 

Wenches with Wrenches!! You can do it!! :-)

6 months ago on Learning How to Fix a Broken Zipper Saved My Plastic Backpack

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@BethTerry  Ha! Well, I can't honestly claim that environmentalism was my main motivation for keeping the thing. When it comes right down to it, I'm just cheap, and it kills me to toss anything that might have some shred of use left in it. 

Trust me, this personality trait is a double-edged sword! I just spent the evening sewing yet ANOTHER patch into the butt of what was my favorite pair of jeans until a few years ago, and is now my favorite pair of cut-offs. I should probably just let the damn things rest in peace, but I just can't bear to part with them... I've only had them about 10 years. Of course, I did buy them used. Seriously, the time is fast approaching when the only part of the original things that will be left is the zipper! Of course, now that I know how to repair zippers... Oh heaven help me! :-)

6 months ago on Learning How to Fix a Broken Zipper Saved My Plastic Backpack

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Love this post! Believe it or not, I'm still using my blue nylon JanSport backpack that I got in Jr. High. That would make it um... 35 years old? Yes, it's plastic, but I've certainly kept it out of the landfill!

6 months ago on Learning How to Fix a Broken Zipper Saved My Plastic Backpack

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OK... I'm not trying to be the voice of dissent here, but after what is referred to around here as "The Great Pea Soup Disaster of 2003" I've been a tad bit afraid of pressure cookers. Now, I was using an old model - one inherited from my grandmother... and nothing really terrible happened - the lead plug did blow - so as long as you don't count coating the entire kitchen (floor, ceiling, walls, windows, and every knob, switch, handle and light fixture) with a fine spray of pea soup "terrible"...

Anyhow, word to the wise - if you're using a pressure cooker, and the thing suddenly stops making its little hissing noise, it means that SOMETHING IS WRONG, and you should go remove it from the heat instead of just sitting there like an idiot in the other room futzing on the computer thinking to yourself "oh, that's nice - it's not so noisy anymore."

Just sayin'...

7 months ago on Pressure Cooker Beans - Almost As Convenient as Canned but Without the BPA

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@abzarndt  With feelin'...

7 months, 1 week ago on Is It Cheating to Stock up on Restaurant Burritos?

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Totally in touch with this emotion right now - in fact I just wrote a long rambling guilt post about my most recent eco-sins. The conversation that it generated gave me some food for thought. 

The reality is that what we as individuals do is much less important than what "everybody" does. So a big portion of our job as environmentalists is to try to encourage and inspire other people to follow our lead.

But when we cross the line from responsible living to self-imposed misery, I think we do more harm than good to our own cause. If the picture we paint is one of deprivation and suffering for the sake being more "righteous" we're pretty likely to turn people off from wanting to join us - and we're even likely to give ammunition to folks who oppose our views.

Sustainability has to be sustainable for the people too. And people have to live within the realities of the societies that surround them.

That doesn't mean we should give up, but it does mean that we should give ourselves a break when it comes to eco-perfectionism. If everybody on earth lived 1% more sustainably it would have vastly more impact than a few of us hanging ourselves on a sustainably harvested, organically grown, locally produced, plastic-free cross.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Is It Cheating to Stock up on Restaurant Burritos?

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Wow Beth... you are totally knocking my socks off! My wool socks that is!

I struggle to find natural fibers that are suitable for cycling. I have a pile of base layers, and cycling jerseys that I bought used so I figure that's OK - at least better, but you're totally right about the stink! So I finally broke down and bought a SmartWool base layer last fall and it totally ROCKS! Anyhow, I'm sure you don't quite have to worry about freezing your rear off to the degree that I do here in Denver - especially since one gets a LOT colder on a bike than running because you're moving fast - so it's like riding in a 20mph wind even when there is no wind. 

All that being said... have you considered merino wool? It's totally my new favorite fabric - not itchy or scratchy at all, and they make it in a variety of thicknesses. I know that Ibex and Smartwool both make tights and knickers. I think there's probably some spandex in the mix, but it might be worth considering. I've grown to totally depend on my merino wool socks and I wear them year round for cycling. SOOOO much more comfortable than cotton. Anyhow, they do make merino wool tank tops and summer stuff, so I think it doesn't get to hot.

I have yet to find anything wind and waterproof in a natural fiber though. Maybe something made with oilcloth could work, but it would probably have to be custom made since I sincerely doubt there's any commercial cycling wear made from it. So I have purchased a few new items that were synthetic - cycling shoes, wind/rain jacket, warm winter cycling jacket with wind-stop fabric, cycling gloves, and - of course - cycling shorts which are worn without underwear - that's where I draw the line on used clothing! I'd LOVE to hear any thoughts you might have on those areas.

And my other big win was that I found a cage that fits my kleen kanteen water bottle so I don't have to use the plastic ones anymore. Woo Hoo!

Anyhow, sorry to blather. Keep up the amazing work, you're an inspiration in so many ways!

8 months ago on Running with Less Plastic, Part 1

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@BethTerry @EcoCatLady p.s. Scrambled eggs are a fantastic substitute for ground beef in most recipes. They are my go-to food when I'm cooking for CatMan (who is still a vegetarian.)

9 months ago on Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?

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@BethTerry @EcoCatLady Hey Beth... I actually was a vegetarian until a year or two ago - I had to give it up because a combination of food allergies and sensitivities took soy, most nuts, seeds and legumes, as well as fermented foods off the table - which made it pretty much impossible to get enough protein as a vegetarian! 


But, when I initially lost the weight I was a veggie - though I still ate eggs & dairy. Of course, my diet back then was full of processed meat substitutes which I'm not sure I'd recommend even if they didn't come wrapped in plastic. I'm also not wild about soy because it tends to slow down the thyroid gland, which makes losing weight all the more difficult.


Have you ever tried seitan? I think it's basically wheat gluten - but it's a good vegetarian source of protein. It generally comes in plastic, but an Asian grocery store might have it in bulk - I've also heard it isn't hard to make. Other tricks I had back in my veggie days included adding whey or rice protein to things like bread & oatmeal to give them more protein. 


Anyhow, best of luck with this - I'm pullin' for you!

9 months ago on Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?

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Hey Beth - I hear you about the chocolate covered everything in those bulk bins... DANGER ZONE!!!

Anyhow, I just wrote a post about how I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off for the past 20 years. I'm not sure it has much to do with eco-living, except that running most of my errands on foot or bike is a big part of my program.  I am decidedly NOT a numbers person, but if you're curious about what worked for me, here's a link:

http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/2014/01/how-i-lost-40-pounds-and-kept-most-of.html

Best of luck in your journey!

xoxoxo,

Cat

9 months, 1 week ago on Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?

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Thanks for this review. As a fellow sensitive stiffer, I think I'll pass on the beeswax. But I totally agree about the bowl with a plate on top - works great! For the freezer I generally use either waxed paper or foil with a rubber band around the edge. Not zero-waste, but at least no plastic.

10 months ago on Can Beeswax Cloth Wraps Replace Plastic Cling Wrap?

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@BethTerry @EcoCatLady Oooooo La La! :-)

10 months, 3 weeks ago on A Tale of Two Plastic-Free Salad Spinners

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Ha! Very interesting... and I love the photos! I've never actually owned a salad spinner. I generally just put it in a colander with a dish towel on top and shake like crazy. But maybe I'll give the cloth bag a try. Probably wouldn't work too well when it's below freezing outside though... Maybe I'll reserve that experiment for warmer weather! :-)

10 months, 3 weeks ago on A Tale of Two Plastic-Free Salad Spinners

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I think the key to getting people to change their behavior is to stop trying to appeal to the do-gooder impulse and to focus more on the enlightened self-interest aspect of making better decisions. I was raised as your typical fast food eating, chemical product using, plastic wrapped American. The further I get from that lifestyle the more I've come to loathe it... but it's not for lofty do-gooder reasons, it's because I've come to feel that the highly marketed typical choices are inferior to the "real thing." 

The catch-22 here is that I think it requires removing oneself from the hype and the over-stimulation of all of the phony products to be able to realize that the real thing is actually better. I think we've trained our taste buds to accept the toxic soup as good tasting - but once you get away from it for a while, all of those artificial flavors and scents stop seeming yummy and start to taste and smell remarkably, well... artificial! And none of that even touches on the obvious health benefits of making better choices. I won't drink bottled water, but it's only partially because of the environmental impact of the stuff... I just think that it tastes like plastic!

Anyhow, that's my take.

11 months, 1 week ago on Thinking About Toothpaste at a Meditation Retreat

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Well, my solution to the ice cream dilemma is to just not buy it for home consumption. Truth be told, this has nothing to do with plastic or packaging, and everything to do with self control - an area in which I am sorely lacking! If I buy a quart of ice cream, I'm gonna eat the whole thing. Maybe not all in one sitting, but no way that sucker makes it a week in my home. So, if I really, REALLY have to have ice cream, I go to the ice cream parlor and do it right. That way it really feels like a treat, and I don't have to worry about losing the inevitable self control battle when I hear the siren song calling from the freezer! :-)

1 year ago on Another Trader Joe's Rant. This Time It's Ice Cream.

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Thanks for this review! If I ever decide to get another blender I think this will be it! For the moment though, I'm very happy that I decluttered mine and replaced it with an immersion stick blender instead. It's SOOOOO much easier for soups and sauces, which is the main thing I use it for. I've made a few smoothies right in the glass with it too, but you do have to leave some space at the top (ask me how I know...)

p.s. So glad to finally learn what Burning Man is... here I thought it was some sort of sunscreen protest! :-) BTW, what do you do about sunscreen? Is there a plastic free option available?

1 year, 1 month ago on Why I Love My Blender

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Am I the only person who has no earthly idea what "Burning Man" is? I'm gather this is some sort of festival? Can somebody help out the ignorant?

1 year, 1 month ago on Plastic-Free Burning Man -- The List, Part 2

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Yup, all false. 

In terms of what I'm going to change... I know you're probably talking about personal lifestyle changes, but instead I decided to write to my city councilman asking him to support a proposed five cent fee on all disposable grocery bags here in Denver. If I can influence that legislation even in a small way, it will do much more than any personal changes I might be able to make. And, I might make some repairs to a few of my reusable grocery bags too!

1 year, 5 months ago on Win a Plastic-Free Book! Take the Quiz & Make a Pledge

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@Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator @EcoCatLady Holy Moly! What a riot! It does look like fun, but I think I'd still be afraid of coming down wrong - of course I'm terrified of roller blades for the same reason!

Anyhow, welcome! I look forward to future banter! 

1 year, 6 months ago on Meet Ericka, My New Intern!

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@Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Ha! It didn't register with me that they were made of plastic... but what are they? They look like some sort of bizarre pogo-stick shoe contraption... Like blade runner feet for people who actually still have both legs? Anyhow... is it a fitness thing? I'm dying to know. Looks like a sprained ankle to me! :-)

1 year, 6 months ago on Meet Ericka, My New Intern!

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I don't have a brilliant solution, but I have a similar issue with jars and other food storage containers. I garden in the summer and then freeze the surplus for use throughout the year. So I have a big collection of mason jars as well as Pyrex and stainless steel containers for freezing.

 

Problem is that when the freezer is full I have a devil of a time finding a free jar or container for anything, but as I eat through the year's harvest I end up with so many containers that there's no place to put them all! For the moment I've reserved an entire shelf in the basement storage room just for jars & other freezer containers, and it helps - but there's still more schlepping of containers up and down the stairs than I would like.

1 year, 8 months ago on Beware the Reusable Bag Monster

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OMG, I'm totally seething with jealousy over your bag collection. I fear mine are much more um... tattered than yours appear. Pretty much all of my canvas ones are stained and/or frayed - of course I've owned most of them for 20+ years - seriously, I've got one from a food co-op that's changed ownership and names about 5 times since the bag was born. And pretty much all of the freebie plastic ones have been mended several times and patched with duct tape.

 

I've even managed to wear out my favorite Haida whale canvas bag. Seriously, the handles are more than 50% gone because they're so frayed, the thing is stained beyond all recognition (despite repeated washings,) and the beautiful Haida whale on the front is almost unrecognizable.... but it's my FAVORITE! I've been trying to decide if I should try to repair it or just let it go on to it's next incarnation in the rag bag (snif, snif.)

 

That's not to say that I don't probably have more bags than I actually "need," but the truth is I'm still searching for the perfect canvas bag. - One with a square bottom and a firm piece of cardboard or particle board that makes for easier packing of heavy items, and with the little loop to hold it open in the bagging rack. I'm sure such a creature exists, but I might have to actually buy one, and that totally goes against my nature. Perhaps I'll try to modify some of the ones that seldom get used before I go acquire something new. I know! I'll steal the handles from one of the yucky ones and sew them onto my beloved Haida whale bag!

 

Perhaps you should organize a national reusable bag giveaway day or something like that. 

1 year, 8 months ago on Beware the Reusable Bag Monster

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Hi Amy,

 

To be honest, I just did a Google image search for "cat tree" and that one came up. I think it's called the "Contemporary Cat Corner." Looks like you can buy it on this site: http://www.therefinedfeline.com/catemporary-cat-tower-shelf.htm

 

That's all I know!

:-)

Cat 

1 year, 9 months ago on How to Make a Cat Climbing Tree Without Buying Any New Plastic Materials

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Thank you so much for this post Beth. For some reason it is immensely comforting to learn that even a stalwart like you can feel depressed and overwhelmed by the intractable nature of what we're up against. I've always been a bit of a "glass half full" kind of girl, and I fear it's all too easy for me to slide into the depths of despair and cynicism. (I read the book "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas several years ago and it sent me into a tailspin that took years to get out of.)

 

And even though eco-perfectionism is not something that will ever be in my future, you've inspired me to make changes that I had never even contemplated before reading your blog. 

 

In the end I think we have to be kind to ourselves and realize that none of us can ever "do enough" to change these problems on our own. But we can keep the faith, and keep encouraging others to change, and who knows which person will end up being the "hundredth monkey."

1 year, 10 months ago on The End of the World is Coming and I'm Still not Buying New Plastic

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 @Catladytoo  @EcoCatLady  @BethTerry I have nothing but the deepest appreciation for our military. My father, my boyfriend and both of my grandfathers are veterans. It's the military industrial complex that I have a problem with.

1 year, 10 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?

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 @BethTerry "...if its waterproof, by definition, it won't break down in the ocean" a conundrum indeed.

 

You know, here's what I keep thinking. Not sure this is completely relevant or not, but I have an older brother who was, by all accounts, the most brilliant scientific mind our high school ever produced. He went off to MIT and then UC Berkeley for graduate work, and eventually he, like so many other "brilliant" science types, got funneled into the defense industry.

 

He went in that direction partially out of his own interest in all things military, but also because that's where the money and the opportunity was. It was the defense contractors who were offering big research grants, scholarships and support, so inevitably, that's where so many of our country's scientific types gravitate. 

 

After 20 years in that environment, he's become a right-wing conservative who thinks global warming is a hoax and that democrats are socialists hell bent on destroying the country - because in his world, any cuts to the defense budget are tantamount to treason. But he wasn't like that when he was younger.

 

I guess I just keep thinking that if we could find some way to harness our country's scientific minds to work toward finding ways to help people rather than kill them, we'd all be so much better off. Perhaps this contest is a step in that direction.

1 year, 10 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?

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 @BethTerry Ha! You are so diplomatic, Beth... you could have just said "Stop hijacking my post you nimrods!"

 

How about some sort of inexpensive waterproof material constructed from carbon that has been captured from the atmosphere? That wouldn't bee too hard, would it? :-)

1 year, 10 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?

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 @thecloudwalkingowl I hear you. But I think that the cultural change is already underway. Women generally want fewer kids, especially wealthier women. And the truth is that most developed countries already have falling birth rates - which would be falling much quicker if women (especially poor women) had better access to birth control.

 

The bigger issue is in the developing world, where the economic and social systems are set up to require huge families. These also tend to be places where women have very little power or say over their own lives, and bodies. 

 

It just seems like we'd get a lot farther by empowering poor women to limit their family size than by cajoling a few rich people into having fewer kids.

1 year, 10 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?

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 @thecloudwalkingowl In terms of the children thing... while I totally agree that there are too many people on this planet, I actually don't think that encouraging people not to reproduce is necessary. If we could just make birth control readily available to everyone who wants it, the problem would pretty much take care of itself. I read recently that fully 50% of the pregnancies in the USA are unplanned.... FIFTY PERCENT!! In a country as "advanced" as ours?!? Imagine what that number is in places without the resources that we have.

 

I say if you're concerned about population, then work to make birth control available to everyone who wants it. Imagine if every pregnancy were planned and every child were wanted. Environmental concerns aside, it would be an earth shattering change.

1 year, 10 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?

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I guess I'm sort of a pragmatic cynic when it comes to these big picture sorts of questions. As long as plastic is cheap and easy, people will continue to use it ("people" meaning both consumers and corporations - corporations are people after all - sorry, couldn't resist.) The only way to curb the plastic problem is to somehow include the environmental cost in it's sale & production. Until that happens there won't be any real motivation to develop and/or adopt better alternatives. 

 

Of course, I have no idea how to get the cost of plastic to reflect the true cost to our world, but I tend to believe this is mostly a political problem, not a technical one.

1 year, 10 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?

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Hi Condo Blues,

 

I'm in the same boat with meat... and since I'm incredibly cheap I often buy giant 10 pound bags of chicken leg quarters. Usually what I do is to cook it all at once and then freeze the cooked meat in smaller portions. It's still easy to add to a recipe once cooked - easier most times. I use Pyrex containers and haven't had any problems with freezer burn, even though there is certainly some air around the cooked meat. Maybe the key is how long you have to store it, or freezer temperature or something? I dunno.

 

For the record, I'm not against buying in larger packages to save money even if you end up having no option but to repackage in plastic. My point was simply that Ziploc's claim that they are a somehow being "green" by encouraging people to repackage in their product is um.... "factually challenged."

 

Also, I was mostly thinking of the bulk foods aisle - it sorta drives me crazy to see people filling new plastic bags with beans and rice etc and somehow thinking that's "greener" than buying the stuff that's already packaged in it's own plastic bag. It just makes no sense to me. And don't EVEN get me started about the "pre-packaged" bulk foods in those plastic clam-shell containers. It just seems oxymoronic to me.

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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 @urbanwoodswalker  @Joyfully Green  @bloodsdesire  All good points. If you want to get really pissed off, go read about the history of can & bottle deposits in this country. Remember the whole Keep America Beautiful thing with the crying Indian? Turns out it was all funded by the beverage industry in an effort to make people think that litter was caused by "litterbugs" who didn't pick up their trash rather than by corporations who fill the world with their disposable crap. They fought "bottle bills" across the country which required deposits on the return of cans & bottles and these days such things are almost unheard of. Grrrrrrr....

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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 @BethTerry  @SarahKathrynSchumm  @bloodsdesire OK... since I clearly don't understand how these nested comments work, I'll say that this is a reply to blooddesire's comment. I just wanted to say that I heartily second Beth's comments about stuff being ubiquitous. If you just re-use the packaging that your food arrives in you'll probably have enough. My parents are children of the depression and they save & re-purpose EVERYTHING. Seriously, they sent me home from Thanksgiving dinner with leftovers wrapped up in an old cereal bag & a peanut butter jar. (Picking the pieces of Chex off of the cranberry bread proved to be not worth the effort - I considered it a bonus crunchy coating.)

 

That being said, I totally understand the "I'm overwhelmed" sentiment expressed in your comment. I've been there and I totally know what it's like when every penny is spoken for - and then some. I guess that's why I never approach these things as trying to be "greener," I just look for places where what's good for me & what's good for the planet intersect. I consider it to be a grand game of outsmarting the system. Of course, I consider living on very little money to be the same sort of thing. 

 

I'm not sure that helps in your current situation, but in general I just think that it's best not to approach this as a guilt ridden moralistic thing. If going non-disposable feels like an overwhelming task right now, then don't do it. But if you happen to have a day when you're not overwhelmed, and feel like washing and saving that peanut butter jar, you might enjoy the feeling of not having to spend some of your hard-earned money on some company's stupid plastic crap.

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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 @urbanwoodswalker  @Joyfully Green  @bloodsdesire 

 

p.s. this was meant as a reply to urbanwoodswalker's comment above about  crafting a message that works with "normal people." Apparently I don't quite understand how these nested comments work!

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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 @urbanwoodswalker  @EcoCatLady  @Joyfully Green  @bloodsdesire Those are good points, and I guess I didn't realize that statement would sound so "unbelievable." I didn't say to to sound "greener than thou" which is an attitude that irks me to no end. I'm just incredibly cheap and lazy and have found that with a very few exceptions, non-disposable makes my life easier. Back when I used disposable stuff I'd always worry about running out, and to be honest, I totally HATE both shopping and taking out the trash, so anything that cuts down on either of those horrible tasks is worth it's weight in gold.

 

I totally see your point, I guess I just wish there was some way to convince people that living green really is easier... or at least to see the lazy person's point of view on this stuff.

 

BTW - I too have a crazy older brother who thinks global warming is a hoax and that all this green stuff is nonsense. What makes it even sadder is that he has a PhD in physics! He really should know better. I guess all those years of working in the defense industry have taken their toll. Anyhow, I applaud your willingness to argue with your brother over these issues. I'm at the point where I just change the subject with mine because I can't take the battles anymore!

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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@Joyfully Green@urbanwoodswalker@bloodsdesire

Eee Gads, Y'all! Not sure how all this relates to my comments but here are my thoughts.

 

As a person who lives on under $20K annually, I probably qualify as "poor" and I do live in one of Denver's poorest neighborhoods. Of course, I prefer to think of my lifestyle as "simple" but anyhow, here is my perspective.

 

I think that while people with fewer economic resources generally don't buy "green" products, in general they probably have less overall environmental impact simply because they can't afford to consume the same amount as their wealthier counterparts. 

 

In my neighborhood kids walk to school and play outdoors, people walk to the store, most folks shop at the discount grocery which makes you pay for bags, so most people just use the cardboard boxes that the store provides. People bike and take public transportation because many can't afford cars. Buying used and/or dumpster diving is the norm, and when things break people generally at least try to repair them - and often have to do without because they can't afford to replace whatever it was that broke. They live in MUCH smaller homes than rich folk do, and just generally have less stuff.

 

Of course, economic resources are a different thing from a culture of environmentalism. When people here start to "move up" they're very quick to buy SUV's & pickup trucks, huge televisions and other things that would make most "greenies" shudder.

 

I think that the key to the ziploc question is to get people of all income brackets to realize that with a very few exceptions, disposable goods are neither cheaper, easier, nor more convenient. You don't need to spend a lot of money to acquire reusable containers - you can just do what I do and save glass jars that food comes packaged in - or pick up some items for a few dollars at a garage sale or thrift store.

 

That's my 2 cents!

 

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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p.s. My 1,2,3's were in no way related to your 1,2,3 questions... I was just rambling

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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Oy!!!

 

Well, first thoughts: 

 

1) I was told once (god knows where) that ziplock bags cannot be recycled because the plastic in the zipper is a different kind from the plastic of the bag, so the only way you can put them in the grocery store recycle bin is to cut off the zipper. Anybody know if that's true or not? And what about those bags that grapes come in that actually have a colored hard plastic doo-dad that zips the bag shut? Can those be recycled er... downcycled?

 

2) I really, don't understand how buying in bulk is any greener if you just put it in a plastic bag... I mean doesn't it all come out equal whether the bag comes separate from the food or is packaged in it to begin with? Help me out here. And then there's the bigger issue that the bulk foods probably arrived at the store wrapped in plastic to begin with... but let's not even go there for the moment.

 

3) There are no words to describe the degree to which I HATE washing plastic bags. Switching to glass and ceramic containers in my kitchen has made my life SOOOO much easier!

 

OK... but in terms of how to support "small steps" I honestly haven't got a clue. I saw something once about people who were marketing organic yogurt to Walmart. They were getting tons of shit from their green friends, but they made a good point that by selling their product through Walmart, the total amount of organic yogurt that was being consumed was vastly bigger than what could have been accomplished by selling it through farmer's markets etc.

 

So I dunno. I guess on some level I think any step in a green direction is a good thing, but this whole ziplock thing seems pretty iffy to me.

1 year, 10 months ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?

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Ha! I used to have a "green blog" but I had to give it up because it was making me totally crazy! (Well, that plus the fact that a group of Realtors in Florida tried to sue me because they had trademarked one of the words I used in my blog name - not kidding.) Anyhow, I started to feel guilty for EVERYTHING I did! Even exhaling CO2 felt like an eco-crime! 

 

I fear the swath of eco-sins in my wake is deep and wide. Where to start? Well... I caved in and bought chocolate for the trick-or-treaters... Hershey's kisses & Reese's peanut butter cups - pretty sure they weren't  made with ethical chocolate. But they were wrapped in foil instead of plastic - does that make up for the dozen of them that I scarfed? Didn't think so...

 

My comfort food of choice is SpaghettiOs - terrible, I know. It's funny, most people's comfort foods are things their mom's made, mine is the only food I could prepare for myself as a child. Wonder what that says about me...

 

But the worst is probably the Finish Powerball Tabs. They're terrible... each one individually wrapped in plastic. But here's the thing... they WORK! I get to just toss the dishes into the dishwasher with NO pre-rinsing (even baked on cheese) and my life-long battle with the dishes has finally come to an end. It's been months and I still do a "happy dance" in the kitchen each time I pop one of them in the dishwasher.

 

I guess on some level I think it's all a balancing act. We each do what we can, and work to "move the center" more to the green side.

1 year, 11 months ago on Confession of an Anti-Plastic Activist Caught Red-Handed With a BPA-Lined Can

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 @ElizabethB  @BethTerry Well, I'm heartened to learn that they are at least getting used! :-)

 

I use the "no poo" method too - although I had to modify it a bit to deal with the particulars of my hair and our really hard water. Here's my ridiculously long and detailed post about it in case you have a few hours to kill. ;)

 

http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/2012/02/secrets-to-my-no-poo-success.html

2 years ago on Luxury Hotel Says No to Single-Sized Shampoo Bottles

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OK... I know... locking bulk shampoo bottles!

2 years ago on Luxury Hotel Says No to Single-Sized Shampoo Bottles

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I understand your concern, but the fact is that the world just isn't a clean place. The average desktop computer contains 400 times the amount of bacteria as the average toilet seat. http://www.center4research.org/2010/04/are-there-more-bacteria-on-computer-keyboards-than-toilet-seats/ 

 

I guess I just think that the fear of microbes thing is a bit overblown.

2 years ago on Luxury Hotel Says No to Single-Sized Shampoo Bottles

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 @BethTerry Sigh. I suppose that shouldn't surprise me since people steal meaningless crap like ashtrays from hotels. I wonder how much of the "psychology of free" comes into effect here. I mean, just thinking about the example of the touring musicians - clearly they didn't actually have a use for all of the freebies that they collected, or else they wouldn't have been showing up at school giving away grocery sacks full of the stuff. I just wonder how much of that sort of thing gets tossed in the garbage when people realize that they'll never use it. But it was FREE, so they had to take it, right?

 

Anyhow, I guess that's all just one more reason that bulk products are a good idea.

2 years ago on Luxury Hotel Says No to Single-Sized Shampoo Bottles

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Certainly a step in the right direction. When I used to run a music school, many of our teachers would tour all summer and they would come home with grocery sacks full of that sort of stuff. Since musicians tend to be "financially challenged" none of the product ever went to waste, but the containers sure are wasteful.

 

I haven't stayed in a hotel in MANY years, but my strategy was to always just leave that stuff undisturbed and unopened in hopes that they'd just leave it for the next guest. I hope they didn't just toss it.

 

But this brings me to an interesting question... do people really use that stuff? Perhaps I'm just overly fussy about personal care products (world's most allergic human and all) but even before I gave up shampoo I was very particular about which brands I'd use, so I'd never even consider using some random hotel shampoo or soap. I don't suppose there are any studies on this sort of thing, but I just wonder how many people actually find that sort of freebie to be necessary... maybe it's different now that you can't carry liquids on planes (did I mention it's been a LONG time...) Just curious what other people think.

2 years ago on Luxury Hotel Says No to Single-Sized Shampoo Bottles

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Well, I have to say that I have very mixed feelings about the personal action thing - not that I don't practice it or anything, it's just that the futility of it all becomes very apparent once you do start trying. I mean, there is simply no way (short of ceasing to exist) to live without having an environmental impact - and I'm always stuck feeling like I'm trying to choose the lesser of about a zillion evils.

 

Current conundrum - stick with the wheat kitty litter that comes in a paper bag, or switch to the walnut shell variety that comes in plastic. Probably an easy choice for you since your focus is plastic, but if you look at the bigger environmental picture it becomes much fuzzier. Walnut shells are a waste product while the wheat must be grown and harvested specifically for the litter. So the wheat carries a much bigger footprint in terms of fertilizers, pesticides, and environmental cost of production. AAARRRGGG!!! And this is only one of about a million similar choices. It just makes me want to pull my hair out.

 

And of course, the vast majority of people never even think about any of it - and really, how can we expect them to? It's just crazy that we live in a world where one must put oneself at a financial disadvantage in order to live in a sustainable way. As long as the system is set up that way we're sunk.

 

So ultimately I think that personal choices are good in that they tend to raise awareness, but awareness only goes so far when the economic realities set in. The part that I can't figure out is that if such a big percentage of the population really is concerned about these issues, why is our government so out of step with the people? Actually, strike that - it's not that hard to figure out... it's money - pure and simple. 

 

Anyhow, when I think about this stuff too long I start to get really depressed. The forces we're up against are so huge, and so powerful, and so entrenched. And in my heart of hearts I figure this is all a self-limiting problem anyhow, because humans are quickly altering the planet to such a degree that there's no way it's gonna be able to sustain us for many more generations. I mean the feedback loops are already kicking in, the arctic is melting and belching methane, and part of me just wonders what the point is...

 

OK... sorry to leave a bummer comment - it's just where I inevitably end up anymore whenever I start to think about these sorts of questions. Anybody got any cures for eco-despair?

2 years ago on Annie Leonard: Don't Just "Be the Change." Make Change!

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Ha! My first thought was: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. - glad I'm not the only die hard Trekkie out there.

 

I don't know what to think about this idea... when I first heard of it a while back it was in the context of manufacturing tools to be used by astronauts on the space station - you know, where getting something you need would be a major project. Certainly would have simplified things on Apollo 13.

 

But in normal day to day life... I dunno. Can these things actually replicate the functionality of stuff or just the shape of it? If they could come up with a way that you could put the old stuff back into the machine to be made into new stuff then I'd be all for it - but I have a hard time imagining that. 

2 years, 2 months ago on 3-D Printing: Inspiring Creativity or Just Proliferating More Plastic Crap?

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"live life" that is... I suppose one could try to "life life" but I'm not exactly sure how! :-)

2 years, 2 months ago on Starbucks Trash: Behind the Scenes

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Plus... and I promise I'll stop ranting soon... I fail to understand why we need multi-national corporations to provide us with something as basic as a coffee house. In my mind, a coffee house is (or should be) the quintessential small, locally owned, neighborhood run business. 

 

Clearly, I am in the minority on this one (as I am on most topics that have to do with popular culture,) and that's pretty much what I would expect. I just chafe against the idea that EVERYTHING must be commercialized and corporatized. Maybe I was just born in the wrong century.

2 years, 2 months ago on Starbucks Trash: Behind the Scenes

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I TOTALLY support having places where people can congregate, it's the whole "take-out" coffee aspect that just mystifies me. I just don't understand why people want to life life "on the run."

2 years, 2 months ago on Starbucks Trash: Behind the Scenes

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 @Our Red House My thoughts exactly! And I agree that their coffee tastes terrible!

2 years, 3 months ago on Starbucks Trash: Behind the Scenes

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