Posts filed under ‘consumption’

How to: Get shit-free ground beef

butcher'sPhoto by David Chief.

Here is step by step guide to getting shit-free ground beef.

  1. Go to an organic butcher or a good butcher that sells organic meat
  2. Choose a large chunk of a cheap cut of organic beef and/or pork
  3. Ask the butcher to grind it for you
  4. Separate in batches
  5. Cook or freeze the same day.

And voilá! Shit-Free!

This is because:

  1. This story was in the NYT this week.ground meat
  2. Feedlot cattle goes into ‘processing’ covered in shit. That’s because they live covered in shit.
  3. Organic grass-fed cows, by their very nature, don’t spend their lives covered in shit, hence, there will be less or no shit in their meat.
  4. There have been countless USDA recalls of ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 (read: shit) Most of them after the meat has been eaten.
  5. E. coli O157:H7 exists because of factory farming methods. They have created the problem by feeding grain to cows and made it worse by giving them antibiotics.
  6. Ground meat has a natural shelf-life of 24h. The fact that you can buy it in the supermarket with a month of shelf-life is just wrong.
  7. Carbon monoxide keeps meat looking fresh and perky even after weeks of its sell by date. You could be buying spoiled meat and never know it by the looks of it.
  8. I am a traditionalist. I think cows should live in the field, that meat should be bought at the butcher’s and ground right in front of you.

PS: I don’t really know why I am posting this, since I am already 95% vegetarian by now. And I think you should be too.

December 10, 2007 at 2:51 pm 16 comments

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing

Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day (aka Black Friday Consumerism Disaster) in US and Canada, whick for me and international ClosetReaders, is on Saturday the 24th.

So here is my appeal to you. Buy Nothing! Think about the impact your consumption has on the worlds resources. Think before you buy useless shit no one wants anyway.

But most importantly, go out and have fun. Do stuff that doesn’t involve spending money to feed the capitalist establishment. You’ll be much happier, really.

And now, to the ‘pull the ember to my sardine’ part of this post, here is what what’s going down here in Wageningen, NL. I have joined the local hippy crowd in organizing Buy Nothing Day activities. We are setting up a living room in the main market square, with live music, free tea (maybe even coffee if we’re lucky), free hugs, free shop, traditional games, board games, newspapers, massages (maybe), professional portraits, and workshops.

The goal is to try to lure passersby away from consumerism with happy activities that don’t involve consuming, the key word in this being ‘happy’, seeing that HappyJMA Wageningen is organizing.

You can also revisit this post, where I shared with you guys a video about Wageningen Buy Nothing Day in 2006.

So today, my message to you is: Be happy. And buy nothing!

Ps: I also wrote a post about BND for Celsias. Check it out for the hilarious adbusters tv spots.

November 22, 2007 at 5:56 pm 2 comments

Eco-friendly is…

..not being a dumbass. Once you decide to care for the environment, being a dumbass is probably the biggest obstacle in your way. Oh how I envy organized people who’s head is firmly set on their shoulders.

Example: Since I started this blog, I have been very careful to turn everything off from the plug, the phone chargers,  laptop adapters and even the modem/router. I turned the water heater temperature down and have been zealously turning the lights off. And puff. One dumbass moment and its all gone (cough left cough iron cough on cough).

I can’t even begin to count how many umbrellas, sunglasses, pens, books and even various types of clothes, scarves, gloves belts and hats. I have lost during my short life. They could probably fill a whole lost and found room with all the stuff I’ve lost.

Being a dumbass is bad for the environment. My advice to you: don’t be like me.

*I continue to promise*

August 29, 2007 at 6:37 pm 5 comments

Good news and bad news

Bad news first-  Looks like the Brits are all about globally warming us all with their outdoor patio heaters… If you ask me, this has got to be one of the most absurd inventions ever created by man. “It’s a heater… for outside!” I mean COME ON! Apparently, smokers need to stay warm.

What’s the good news you might ask? Well, if you look carefully at this article in Celsias,  you might notice that its written by a certain someone that you may or may not know as the Closet Environmentalist 😀 That’s right! I got a job!!!

But worry not, I will not neglect the Closet Environmentalist… (Or at least not anymore than its already been neglected :D). So first of all, take a good look at Celsias because it’s a great site, and I’ll be sure to let you know when you can read some fab new posts by yours truly over there 😉

July 26, 2007 at 2:14 pm 7 comments

Tip: Minimal Packaging Please

mail

So I just discovered The Worsted Witch blog, and digging through the archives found this really great suggestion I just had to share here. If you shop online but are frustrated by all the unnecessary bubble wrap and evil Styrofoam peanuts they stuff with your package and almost certain flood of catalogs and junk mail to follow, here is what to do. When placing your online order, you can leave a note saying something like this:

 

“Please use minimal and recycled packaging. Kindly do not include any catalogs, inserts, fliers, shrink-wrap, bubble wrap, packing confetti, plastic “pillows,” or Styrofoam peanuts. (You can use crumpled up newspaper if padding is necessary.) Please do not include me in any mailing lists or exchange lists you may have. Thank you! “

Thank you to The Worsted Witch for the original wording. I only wish I had used this when I was ordering my Diva Cup and my Reusable Bags stuff. Duh. But now I know better.

No guarantees they will actually listen to you, but there is always hope. And there is also a better chance that they will eventually respond to popular demand of eco-friendlier packaging.

If you still end up with foam peanuts lying around, Treehugger for example has suggested that they can be brought back to packaging stores. If there is a mailing service in your area, you could also take them the packing boxes, as well as the peanuts and bubble wrap. And if you are crafty, you can always use the peanuts to make a bean bag. Although I imagine that would be quite a stash of peanuts you would need 😉

Photo by Miskan on Flickr.

July 23, 2007 at 10:00 am 16 comments

Ceci n’est pas un Post.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

Haha… just kidding. Yes it is. I have just been away for such a long time I reached the point of not knowing how to start a post… Sad.

So I tried to put the blog on hold while I focus more on finishing my thesis, but this seems to work even worse than before. It seems that the more time I don’t write the worse my writer’s block gets. So I guess I am back to blogging, and will try to keep up with more regular posting from now on. Doesn’t it always seem like the more we get done, the more we are able to do? Although, the opposite is usually more noticeable. Whenever I don’t do work, I am not able to do anything else because I feel like I should be doing work. I don’t do work, but I also don’t do other things I have to do, and I especially don’t do things I like doing. But now I am trying to reverse this tendency. Get back on the horse I guess.

Anyway, let’s move on to what I actually wanted to talk about today. I went to Germany last weekend. And yes, the sad part is that I have been meaning to talk about this all week, and only now was I able to overcome the Block.

I have mentioned before that I have a really had time keeping up with my best green intentions when I am out of my element. And so it was once again. I was visiting family for a whole weekend and I my biggest achievement was refusing the bottled water everyone was insistingly offering me. And indeed, I won that battle but lost the war. These Germans really do put up a fight, I didn’t even stand a chance. It wasn’t just the fact that I had meat shoved down my throat 3 times a day. It was more than that. It was experiencing a lifestyle that seems so distant now, and so capitally opposed to everything I stand for. It is hard to face the facts. How can something that means so much to me be so insignificant to everyone else?

But the worst indignity was still to come. Never mind the meat, the overpackaging, the bottled beverages, the fake food, the obliviousness to the our food values. The most frustrating part of the weekend was on the train ride back. That was the last drop. After that I was fuming so much I thought my head was going to explode. But why don’t I tell you about it and you will see what I mean.

There was a restaurant wagon on the train. I brought my own lunch wrapped in my nifty little wrap’n’mat. I had my handy little travel mug. So I thought, ‘why don’t I go over to the restaurant car and fetch myself some cappuccino’. Surely they would have a proper coffee machine, capable of pouring out cappuccinos into peoples mugs! And that’s because the Dutch had me spoiled. Their standard coffee machines are able to produce a half-decent cappuccino. And I was innocent enough to believe that the Germans would live up to their neighbors standards. But no. That’s not how it went.

When I did get to the train bar, I asked for my cappuccino, presented my mug and was very clear to demand that my cappuccino be served in my mug. But before I could realize what was happening and scream “Nein! Nein!”, the guy was opening a little plastic sachet and pouring some powder into a paper cup. At this point, I again indicated to the guy that I wanted my cappuccino in my cup and not a disposable one, with still some hope left that the sachet and the paper cup were destined for someone else. The guy only seemed to ignore me. And then what? And this is the part that left me perplex. I told the guy again that I wanted the cappuccino in MY cup. And to my horror, the guy nodded and then proceeded to fill the paper cup containing the sachet of gross cappuccino powder with boiling water and then pouring it into my cup!!! I was mortified!

It was then I realized that the guy thought it was his duty to measure my cappuccino with the standard paper cup to be absolutely sure that I was going to get the EXACT amount of cappuccino powder and hot water that I am allowed, and not a sip more. But the most revolting part to me is that the guy was only measuring hot water. The powder was already precisely measured because it came out of a sachet. So tell me. How &@#$% square do you have to be to measure HOT WATER???

And now I am going to end this post abruptly because I am so pissed off at Germans that I fear I might say something less politically correct about them. The End.

July 13, 2007 at 12:49 pm 9 comments

Reusable Vacuum Bags

cloth vacuum bagsSo, ok, I know I said I wasn’t going to buy anymore ‘things for the house’. But I went on my usual Wednesday shopping round, and stopped by Action because I was looking to buy some cheap gardening containers. I know that I shouldn’t be shopping at Action, because their stuff is just so ridiculously cheap that there is no doubt they are enslaving little Chinese children to make it. I mean, there is just no other rational explanation for why they can sell stuff so cheap.

But anyway, I didn’t find the flower pots, but I couldn’t resist getting a reusable vacuum bag. I mean, it was ONLY 1E!!! Who can resist that? And I just thought the idea was so funny that I thought I just had to try it out!

This picture gives a pretty good idea of what I got. The material is really crappy synthetic nylon type, with a zipper at the bottom to throw out the trash. The little white circle has is a sticker which you glue to the cardboard fitting that you take of your regular bags. That’s why the box claims it is a Universal vacuum bag. What I didn’t manage to figure out was what the hell the round thing with the sticker is attached to the opening with a Velcro. Anyone?

So I still have to try out if this thing actually works, and then I’ll get back to you. It looks promising, but for that price you can understand why I will have to see it to believe it before I can say anything about how it works. Clearly, not something for the prone to asthma to try 😀

The picture from here, where they are happy to sell them to you for 9,99$. Can’t be sure if it’s the same thing though. Has anyone heard of these?

———————————-

Edit:Duh! I figured out what the Velcro was for. Is pretty clever, actually! You leave the cardboard attachment in the vacuum and just take off the bag to empty it, and attach it with Velcro! That’s obvious! I can be pretty dim sometimes, huh?

June 20, 2007 at 5:05 pm 10 comments

Price perception and the organic (and local).

I have this theory for a while now and I am now going to share it with you guys. and you can tell me if it makes sense or not. It all started with an observation of my patterns of ‘going out on the town’ in a relatively unfamiliar city.

Say, we go to Amsterdam for a weekend. We are quite broke as always, but despite the fact, we go out for dinner and look for a place for an after dinner drink, that hopefully will not rip us off. We pass a bar, and it looks nice, if only a little bit on the fancy side. And, inevitability, the conversation goes something like this:

“Hey, this place looks nice, wanna go inside?”

“Hmm, I don’t know, it looks kinda expensive, I don’t think we can afford it”

And then what happens? We go somewhere else, that looks more like the kinda place we can afford (i. e. hole in the wall). And we end up paying 3 euros for a beer in a crappy looking hole in the wall.

And after this happened one or two times, I developed a new philosophy. This one more satisfactory, and it goes something like this:

“We are in Amsterdam. Gonna get ripped off no matter what we do. So we might as well enjoy it and go to the nice looking place we wanted to go in the first place. I’m sure it won’t rip you off any worse that the others”.

So then I started noticing this little theory applied to other things as well. Like, here in Wageningen, we had this really crappy looking supermarket, the kinda place you don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes in, just get the milk and get out before this place steals your soul. And the strange thing is, this place got a reputation of being cheap. But the fact is, when you actually compared the prices of the same products, it was even more expensive than the nice looking supermarket!

We as consumers are subject to a hell of a lot of manipulation. Why do you think all the prices are always $9.95 and not $10? Never $10. I know, rationally, that $9.95 is really 10$. But for some reason, it just seems a whole lot better than $10, huh? Why you go to the supermarket and buy something for $4.95 and next week it is on SALE, for ONLY $5.45!!! And yet, we still buy (into) this crap!

So, I wonder, even though there is no doubt that most local and organic things are, in fact, more expensive than their conventional counterparts (like the 8E/kg bell pepper), how much of the price difference is real, and how much is just in out heads?

I have, just recently, seen the lettuce heads at the organic market stand for 1E a piece, picked that same morning in Wageningen. In the supermarket, they have them imported from Spain, who knows when and how, for E1,5o! And the 8E/kg bell pepper seems expensive, right? That’s about E1,5 a piece. What if I tell you that about the same time I saw single overpackaged bell peppers trucked in from the Kingdom of Far Far Away at the supermarket at guess how much? That’s right, E1.50. And let’s not forget that said peppers rank at #3 of most evil vegetables in pesticide residue.

I’m not saying this is always the case. It’s true, about 70% of the times (my guesstimate), local and organic is more expensive. But it is also fresher, tastier and pesticide free! Isn’t that worth paying for?

Just because you buy something at ‘Cheap’o’market’ doesn’t mean that it is actually cheaper! I am just making a case for the fact that supermarkets are not actually the cheapest places to buy food, despite what they want you to think.

I’m just saying. Go to the farmer’s market. I bet you will find plenty of local (and sometimes organic as well, with or without certification), cheaper than at Cheap’o’market. Don’t just assume that it’s more expensive and therefore you can’t afford it. Do some research first, and actually compare it. Even better, look into the possibility of buying directly from farms in your area.

On a personal note, I am now going to look into the possibility of buying cherries and strawberries and other fruit from farms just on the edge of town. Yesterday I noticed them from the bus. They had a little barrack by the side of the road with a painted sign saying ‘Cherries for sale’. I bet ya that’s the cheapest I’ll find here in town. And if they are not organic, who cares? They are local, which is cool too.

The point is, you are going to get ripped off no matter what you do. So might as well enjoy it, and get what you really want, and not go for the inferior alternative just because your perception is tricking you into thinking it’s cheaper 😀

Yummy photo by CAZASCO on Flickr.

June 16, 2007 at 2:58 pm 13 comments

Reusable Bags (and bottles and mugs)

I am not much of an online shopper. I have, on occasion, spent numerous hours on Ebay trying to find fashionable vintage shoes, but never succeeded in spending a single Euro. As I said before, I’m kind of old-fashioned. I compulsively examine all my potential purchases. I poke them, twist them around, smell them, check for the ‘best before’ date, check for suspicious ingredients. So you can imagine the limitations online shopping has for someone like me.

But yes, finally, a while back I successfully placed my first ever online order. It’s been a while that I actually bought anything for myself (or the house), so now it seems that green accessories is the only shopping therapy I can get. So I went over to Reusable Bags, and got myself some shiny new things.

Here’s what I got:

reusable bags

A Kleen Kanteen water bottle, a stainless steel commuter mug (the lid is not on the picture), a couple of Wrap’N’Mats and a few produce bags.

The Kleen Kanteen bottle is pretty cool. It’s a lighter than I expected. Of course it’s heavier than a plastic bottle, but it’s not so noticeable. The only thing I don’t like about it is that when you are drinking from it you have to press this tiny little rubber thingy on the lid to let out the air. That’s not so great, actually. It’s not very comfortable little button to press, for once, and second, the sound of the air sipping out of the bottle can be…well… a little embarrassing, if you are on a crowded bus for example. But that’s something I can live with.

The mug is not exactly what I expected when I ordered it. The size is pretty handy, and the lid is pretty good. You can easily transport hot coffee in it and not worry about spilling. The little annoyance with it is that it doesn’t have the little hole to sip from when the lid is closed. I have seen other cups with a little sliding system that magically uncovers a little hole to sip your coffee through the lid. And I really wanted a little sipping hole 😦 *snif*

The ecobags produce bags are pretty much what you can expect. I am still going through a pile of paper bags I got so I only really used them to buy the said produce once. And the lady at the organic store called my bags ‘funny’. I’m cool with ‘funny’. Better than ‘wacko hippie’ I say.

I’m still a little ambiguous about the Wrap’N’Mats. I mean, they are pretty handy, and do their job pretty well. But. When I first unpacked them, the ‘new shower curtain’ smell was pretty nasty. And they are not even made with PVC, rather they claim to use PEVA, PVC’s less evil twin. Whatever the case may be, I rinsed them best I could and hung them outside on the clothes line to air out. It’s ok now. But I still have my suspicions. Something that smells that fowl can’t be so great in a tight embrace with your cheese sarnies. Oh and if you are wondering why I got the extra-cheesy ‘environmental’ print you see in the picture… Well, it was a hole 2 bucks cheaper than the ‘adult’ versions. And I’m a cheap-ass, what can I say.

Overall, I’m rationalizing that the $50 I spend on all this crap is so totally worth it, but hmm… deep down, I think internet shopping really isn’t my thing. I don’t know if I would have bought some of that stuff if I was allowed to thoroughly examine it like I would have liked.

And yeah, Reusable Bags people… you are welcome to send me free stuff now. I have promoted you plenty over here…

June 10, 2007 at 11:47 pm 7 comments

Your friendly neighbourhood Closet Environmentalist

(I can’t believe I managed to spell that properly, but spellcheck says I did)

Hi there folks. Please excuse me if you are expecting a serious post, but as it happens, writing that monster-post on recycling left me kind of drained out. This post is going to serve 2 purposes:

  1. tooting my own horn 😀

  2. answering Lori’s questions about that recycling post (scroll down if you really can’t wait!)

No, sadly, the Carnival of the Green is not being hosted here. For that, you will have to wait until March 3rd 2008. But, my recycling post is being featured on the Carnival, this week being hosted on Groxie, and has made an appearance on a few other  blogs.

Here are the big news. I finally decided to, literally, put my money where my mouth is, and get my very own domain name. From now on, www.closetenvironmentalist.com is up and running!  And I even made sure to register it at Dreamhost, who proclaims to be green on the account of buying Renewable Energy Credits and Carbon Credits. Better than most, I say.

So now I have two options, and as I mentioned in my last post, that is a problem. Should I have my new domain as the blog’s address, or stick to the old one? I am hesitating because if I change, I will loose my precious technocrati number (22 and growing!) and pretty much start from scratch. That would mean that I have to work a lot more to write some more awesome posts to get my old rating back 😀 Then of course, I will have to ask you folks who link to me to update your blogroll with the new address. So considering all the facts, what should I do? Comment, comment, help me out! (I was even trying to make a little poll, Crunchy Chicken style, but turns out WordPress will not let me 😦

And now, for our little Q & A:

Q: What happens to, say, milk and soda containers that have the twist-off lids that, when twisted off, leave a little ring around the container? Do they get tossed? Should we remove the rings? (I do, a lot of the time.)

A: Well, I never do actually, I admit it. That is considered a ‘residual contaminant’, which is acceptable to some extent. So, no, they don;’t get tossed. It is better that you remove it, yes, because the quality of the material is better if the plastic is more ‘pure’. BUT. Most plastic is downcycled, which means for example, when you recycle soda bottles they are turned into garden pots or fleece stuff. So it really is up to you. If you feel like ripping them off, rip away!

Q: What about plastic containers that have a plastic label shrink-wrapped around them? Are we supposed to be removing that label as well? (Again, I have been, just to be safe.)

A: Ok, I’m not quite sure what shrink wrapped is. You mean, like the label of a coke bottle? If it comes of easily then it doesn’t hurt to take it off. But I don’t think leaving the label on is basis for rejection.

Q: Do you think it would be more worthwhile to buy peanut butter in glass jars, so that more of them would be recycled? (I fall into the category of “have been wasting my dish soap cleaning peanut butter jars”.)

A: Yes, definitely. You don’t even have to clean it as well. Just rinse it off. It doesn’t matter if glass is still greasy, because the high temperatures take care of it.

Q: What about broken window (or picture frame) glass? I’ve heard this can’t be put in either? True?

A: True. Broken window glass is a big no-no.

Q: What about the plastic bags from cereal boxes? Or the bags with the “ziploc” type zipper that you can get with everything from pet foods to organic sugar?

A: Cereal plastic bags, and other UPOs (Unidentifyable Plastic Objects) –  depends if your local recycling takes all kinds of plastics or just #1 and #2. If it’s the former, then you can, if it’s the latter, then you can only put in plastics that are identified as such. In this case, they will discard all other kinds anyway. Ziploc bags – are made of nice plastic #1 PET. Yes you can recycle them. But why don’t you reuse them first, to store veggies or herbs or what have you? 😉 If they are clean, you can reuse them. If you can’t reuse them because they are greasy then you can’t recycle them either.

Satisfied?

By the way, while I was digging for answers to these questions, I found this little game. Are you aware? Check it out.

June 4, 2007 at 8:30 pm 4 comments

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