Posts filed under ‘environment’

O look! Could it be? A post!

new yorkYou get the idea.

IT IS! That’s right, It’s Alive, folks. Sort of.

I really should put up an “warning: irregular posting” disclaimer. But that would just give me one more thing to procrastinate, so I better stay put.

If you must know, I had, of course, a perfectly good reason for my absence. I was visiting the distant shores of Uncle Sam. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve been back for 3 weeks now.The truth is, I actually started writing this 2 weeks ago, so at that time I had a perfectly valid excuse for being out of commission – I was jetlagged and had cold. In the meantime, I had to edit and re-edit this paragraph over and over because my old excuse is so outdated now.

First of all, let me tell you people, your toilets SUCK! Seriously. Gross toilet water close that close to my toosh makes me very uncomfortable. And what’s up with the toilet stall gap? You know, if I’m going to use the toilet in a public place, I would really appreciate some privacy! I mean, drop your lipstick and you know all my business. Not cool!

Anyway, where was I… oh right. So on this trip I got to see 2 more states, Michigan and New York. That brings up my total of visited states to a nice round number of …… 3 (Went to Florida Keys last year).

So while I only spent a few days in Michigan, I can say I “saw” it, mostly because  2 of them were spent driving up and down the state, which looking back was kinda stoopid. But yeah, I am not the best planner out there, and notoriously suck at being a tourist. Early starts are definitely not my thing.

After that I spent 2 weeks in New York, waking up late and being a bad tourist all around- I didn’t go ice skating, I didn’t see the statue of Liberty, I didn’t climb the Empire State, and I only made it to one museum (the Guggenheim). It was still pretty awesome, despite the bad-tourist guilt.

I even attempted some shopping. Mostly, failed. All I have to show for is a new red sweater and some thrift store pants. Despite the fact I keep telling myself I have to stop buying red sweaters. Every time I attempt shopping I end up buying a red sweater (and that’s it). It’s my fall back plan, if nothing else, there is always a red sweater I like. I’m really starting to get on my own nerves with this red sweater thing. Is there such a thing as red sweater rehab? If there is, I’ll sign up right now!

But anyway. I tried to be a good vegetarian (but not a perfect one). My slips included some mercury-laced sushi and a Starbucks bacon & egg sammich laced with better-not-think-about-it. I am not proud of it. It think that broke both of my survival rules (that I stick to because the American “food” industry freaks me out).

  1. All animal products must be organic.
  2. All corn and soy must be organic.

But yes, you got me. I was going to Starbucks. I have to admit they won me over with the organic milk. But then they went and burst my bubble by discontinuing it. Bastards. Then I discovered that you can ask for soy milk and soy milk is organic and actually drinkable. Even in cappuccinos.

Then I discovered that the American idea of cappuccino slightly differs from my pre-conceived Euro-notions: espresso, hot milk and milk foam. Starbucks thinks its ALL about the milk foam. Literally. No milk. Just foam. And you guys know I take my cappuccinos very seriously. So I developed a routine where after I deliver the stainless mug, I go over to the barista and ask to ease up on the foam.

That usually coincides with me being annoyed at the fact they are still wasting a disposable cup for my coffee IN SPITE my very specific cup instructions. Although on one occasion I did encounter a barista that was also annoyed at all the cup wasting behavior. Not that that changed anything. I hope she gets promoted and brings on a smackdown on cup-wasting.

On the up side, I was very happy to see I wasn’t the only freak with a mug. Although it seemed much more common and accepted in Michigan. You would think New York is where all the eco-hipsters are.

And you guys would be proud of how good I got refusing plastic bags. I’m an almost professional bag-refuser. The trick is to announce it early and clearly, before they scan your groceries or while they are folding your red sweater er… clothing item.

And well, that’s all for the travel report. Sorry I didn’t post a touristy picture of my self in front of a landmark. In a red sweater. I’m such a lame tourist I didn’t even take any pictures. Although I lugged my camera across an ocean and even got a new lens for Christmas. So Hiro Nakamura will just have to do. How do you guys even put up with me?

February 5, 2008 at 11:03 pm 9 comments

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

Another reason to eat organic

There is a very good multipart article about GMOs on Celsias, which I strongly advise you to read. It explains very well what GMOs are and why you should be afraid of them. I’ve been freaking about it, since I’ll be visiting the US myself pretty soon.

For my part, there ain’t no way I’m eating that shit. Which, here in Europe is no problem because of mandatory labeling. Now, for those of you who live in the US, that’s not exactly so.Your government decided that you have no right to refuse to eat GMOs, even if you wish to do so.

Since 1/2 of all soy, and 1/3 of all corn in the US is genetically modified, and those two are in everything, you can bet your treehugging ass you’re eating it, whether you like it or not.

So, if I were you, I would stick to organic cereal, organic tofu, and if you must eat processed food, stick to the organic versions. Because the organic standard is the only guarantee you have today that you are not eating GMOs.

And keep in mind that corn is most frequently found as HFCS (which you should avoid on its own, because its nasty), and soy, besides obvious things like tofu, soy milk and soy sauce, and in less obvious things like chocolate, baked goods and all kinds of processed food.

And of course, soy and corn are pretty much the bulk of industrial animal feed these days, but I know ya’ll are either vegetarian or eat organic meat only, so thats not an issue. Right? RIGHT?

So go on and read John Robbins’ articles, Part I and Part II and decide for yourself.

December 9, 2007 at 1:23 am 4 comments

Living in Hippie Town

DroevendaalPhoto by Hedwig. And that’s not really our garden, its common space. And that’s not really my house either. And the stage was for a party.

So, remember a while back I told you guys I was moving out of my apartment? I even promised to tell you more about my new place… Yeah, I know I also hinted that my posting might become more regular, and we’ve seen how that turned out 😀 Well, here I am, keeping yet another overdue promise.

After more than a year cohabitating with ClosetBoyfriend, I’m back to living in student housing for a few months. And, believe it or not, its actually been a step forward in terms of greenness. All because I was lucky enough to end up in a house where everyone was already pretty green by my own standards, in a wonderful place called Droevendaal.

The house itself is a sort of a bungalow with a garden, in a little student complex of sorts. The toilets and washing machine use rainwater, and we use green electricity. But probably the main factor that makes us green is the strong communal component in our house. We eat together everyday and all the food is shared. Oh, and there is a strict vegetarian policy, which accounts for the fact that I only ate meat one time since I’ve lived here (at that conference).

But our eating habits also mean that we have an extremely high food turnover, which means food never goes bad and we get by with one very small fridge (the under the counter kind) for the 6 of us. And its enough! (And yeah, this surprised me too. So if you think you really need a ice-cube spitting monster for your family of four, really, let me assure you that you don’t.)

And this probably has something to do with the fact that our 6 person household only uses around 4200 KWh per year. Compared to 4600 KWh of the average European household and 11.200 KWh of the average American household (note that the average household typically consists of 3 or 4 people).

We have a compost bin in the garden, and though we don’t have anything growing right now, we still have a sizable stash of homemade jam in the pantry from this summer’s berries. But I have to say, my favorite thing is that, for the most part, my housemates are pretty committed to eating organic and that’s just such a relief I don’t have to persuade them, or, alternatively, always do the shopping myself.

Although, sometimes, I still like to grace the most dedicated vegetarians among them with horror stories of cow pus in their non-bio yogurt or baby cow stomachs in their non-bio cheese. Just to keep them motivated 😀

We also have 2 house cats that satisfy my cat-loving needs. One of them is really old and I swear, he’s the ugliest little feline creature I have ever seen. The other one is cute and slutty and likes to hang out in my room. Would be cuter if it wasn’t for the daily dead mouse in our kitchen. I lovingly refer to them as ‘the ugly one’ and ‘the slutty one’.

So there you have it, my new house. I quite like it here and that goes a long way towards enduring the absence of ClosetBoyfriend.

Ps: I think I’ll still add a some pictures to this post, so if you want to see just how ugly the ‘ugly one’ is, check back later this week.

December 3, 2007 at 2:58 am 4 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

The hand that rocks the Cradle to Cradle

Michael Braungart

Welcome back ClosetReaders, and please excuse me for the punny title… it was just too much to resist. I know its been a long time, but once again I will throw myself at your feet and beg for your indulgence. Oh Gods of Blogdom, please accept this post as my humble offering to thee.

So anyway. Exactly 2 weeks ago I went to the Cradle to Cradle conference in Maastricht making use of my press privileges (true story). Believe it or not, I have press privileges, which basically means I get to go for free and have the undisputed right to harass anyone (which I did). Haha, suckas!

You can read my official version of the events at Celsias (which also came out today, in case you think I’m, like, holding out on you or something). So if you read that, you will know that Michael Braungart was presenting. I got to harass him too, with my annoying little “practical” questions and poorly thought through opinions. He’s a good sport though, fun to harass.

As this here is the unofficial version of the events, I might as well tell you that greenwash is everywhere and this was no exception (You know who you are, Mr. Greenport Shanghai).

In other news, it was at this conference that I ate my first piece of meat in over one month. It was organic chicken, if you are wondering. It was tasty. *sigh*

And now, to conclude is style, I’ll share with you the wonderful things I learned at this conference:

  • Mattel is the evil.
  • If possible, industrial composting is preferable to home composting.
  • And composting paper tissues and napkins and what not is probably a bad idea because of chlorine and dioxins.
  • You can take the girl out of engineering school but you can’t take the engineer out of the girl. Metaphors are lost on this one.
  • The only reason people go to conferences is to pull the ember to their sardine (don’t you just love Portuguese expressions?)
  • Law of networking: the amount of asses you need to kiss is inversely proportional to your position in the food chain. (as you can imagine student bloggers rank pretty low there)
  • Inversely, your position in the food chain is directly proportional to the amount of people standing in line to kiss your ass (Braungart=long line)
  • If you don’t have business cards because you’re a (broke) small fish, at least pretend like its on purpose. Write your name on a pretty piece of cardboard and say that’s for environmental reasons. Not that I know anyone who would do this *whistles and looks around*
  • If you want to see a conference for free you should walk in and announce you are covering the event for the *insert name of the conference here* blog. And act like you belong.

Just one last thing. As we all know, when it rains it pours, and today you can read not one, not two but three! posts written by yours truly:

Enjoy!

November 16, 2007 at 4:10 pm 3 comments

Wal-Mart, Tesco roasted on Celsias

Hiya,

Just to let you know I have a new post on Celsias (a nice one, that even has those things, whatcha cal’em, opinions, yeah, and facts too, facts are cool.).

So if you are in the mood for a barbecue, head on over there and watch me roast some Mega-Corps.

And feel free to show your support with some diggs or reddits or stumbles and what have you 😉

World’s Largest Companies Exert Pressure on Supply Chains

October 24, 2007 at 1:55 pm 1 comment

Why you should dry clothes inside out

Ok, so this is not exactly Part II of ‘Green Clothes’. Rather, consider it as an example and a cautionary tale.

What happens to a T-shirt when you leave it “drying” in the sun for 2 weeks? (and it falls and sits there all crumpled and no one bothers to pick it up)

T-shirt

Thats what happens. So dry inside out. Not too long. And don’t be a dumbass.

And yes, part II is coming soon.

October 17, 2007 at 4:50 pm 5 comments

Blogroll update

I decided to clean up my blogroll. I’m removing some older links to make space for new ones. I apologize to those people who’s links I am removing. I want to add some new things and I don’t want my blogroll to grow unreasonably long, so I decided to remove the blogs that haven’t been active in a long time or that have strayed from the environmental theme. Sorry. (Activist Mommy, if you’re out there, I’ll add you back when your blog gets back online. Let me know.)

Check out the new additions:

Apt – Furnishing her apartment in an aptly eco fashion.

Conserve Plastic Bags – plastic bag awareness.

Ockham’s Razor – Clare says she is the lazyst environmentalyst.

Organic Picks – green products and reviews, organic but not only.

Tiny Choices – because we make them every day.

Green LA Girl – long overdue.

Oh, and thanks to Michelle from Conserve Plastic Bags for tagging me with the 8 random things (or was it facts?) meme. Since I already did 7 of them, I’ll just add one more:

*drum roll please*

8. I used to be kind of metal chick. My favorite band used to be these guys. Army boots, skirts, all black, the whole shebang. Fortunately, I outgrew this phase, but in a way it still shows because my color palette still goes from pink to black including various shades of purple and red.

*crowd freezes in shock*

So anyway, I’m tagging all of the above mentioned blogs. Except Michelle because she already did it. I hope you guys read this blog because I feel too lazy to go leave comments about this.

October 16, 2007 at 4:56 pm 6 comments

Why I’m NOT doing Blog Action Day

Ok, dearest readers. You might find it strange that talk about Blog Action Day has been going around for some time now, and I haven’t been promoting it, or even mentioning it. That’s because I’m not doing Blog Action Day.

Blog Action Day is supposed to go something like this:

  1. Write something about the environment.
  2. Donate the day’s blog revenue.

That’s great. Except:

  1. This is an Environmental Blog. ALL my posts are about the frikin’ Environment. On this blog, Blog Action Day is everyday!
  2. I don’t have any revenue.

And more:

  • I’ve always had trouble doing something just because everyone is doing it. This is why I hate those songs you hear in clubs that dictate the choreography, “put your hands up” and so on.
  • I fail to see what, exactly, is Blog Action Day trying to achieve. Is this supposed to be like Bloggy Live Earth or something? So everyone writes about the environment for one day. “Imagine what could happen”. I’ll tell you what will happen. Nothing. Just like after Live Earth.

So please excuse me if I sit this one out.

October 15, 2007 at 3:31 pm 10 comments

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