Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Sweat is never going to make athletic shoes.

Neither will they make underwear, which is the other thing that's difficult to get used (and impossible to get used to the idea of getting used). I wrote No Sweat and asked them to make athletic shoes and underwear and they wrote back to politely decline and to try to convince me that what I really want is yoga pants. That was two, three years ago. I still don't want yoga pants and No Sweat still doesn't make athletic shoes or underwear.

Here's why I no longer care:

Because it occurred to me that even with a conscientious manufacturer, buying a new item is usually worse for the environment than buying a recycled item. Of course there are lots of exceptions to this. Like if we're talking a 40-year-old fridge vs a new ozone-friendly fridge where just plugging the older item in is equivalent to going out and shooting pandas. But shoes? Definitely better to re-use. I started having recourse to the ninety trillion pairs sitting in Goodwills all over the nation because everybody's squeamish about used shoes. I have not bought new shoes since the one pair of No Sweats I bought a few years ago. My feet show no signs of putrefaction, and I have more shoes in more styles than Imelda. All for a tiny fraction of what new-shoe-buyers spend, plus I'm not encouraging manufacturers to add to the apparel glut and I'm keeping my truckloads of reclaimed shoes out of the landfill and the garbage gyres for, well, given my attitude to shoes, probably the rest of my life. Win, win, win!

So if I want underwear, I try to be extra nice to all the talented seamstresses I know who make underwear out of old T-shirts. If I want athletic shoes, I look and look and look until I find them used. I have also revisited the notion that athletic shoes are necessary in the first place. After all, what did basketballers play in back when basketball was invented? Chuck Taylors. What do the winningest Olympic track stars win their medals in? Their bare dang feet. I think it's just possible that Nike's success is related more to hype than to a decline in injury rates caused by their $98 shoes. If there are any peer-reviewed studies in feet science that say that encasing your feet in a wad of foam prevents injury or improves performance, I want to know who funded the studies. I do not buy it. In every sense of the phrase.

Meanwhile here is Jack Nicholson in 1978 showing off the car that, if we lived in a more awesome world, we would all be driving past the grocery story, where we of course never go.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Rant on Bathing and Water Consumption

Okay, I'm not a radical environmentalist or even someone who is aggressively trying to find ways to conserve. I do think, however, that we consume way too much of our resources in daily ablutions. When did we start believing that we have to bathe every day? The average American uses 17-24 gallons per shower or bath as per the Water Education Foundation website for kids (and this is based in California so, you know, it's like the movie Chinatown and everything). That's a freakin' lot of water! Look, if you don't work in a coal mine or on a farm or in a sewer (for added irony) don't bathe every day! I know that's hard in some climates like the tropical ones where you feel like a big ball of spit after 5 minutes outside and in desparate need of cleanliness, but I think we can all stand your stinkiness for the sake of saving little over 20 gallons per day. Twenty gallons! That would give drinking water to an entire village in Africa for, like, a month, for Jiminy Christmas!

Okay, can't give up the shower/day? I do 2 different things depending on the level of stinkiness I am up against (and I have a fairly high tolerance for not bathing):
1. I just wash my hair over the tub or in the kitchen sink with the sprayer (if said sink is clean of dishes, which is almost never), turning off the water in between latherings and rinsings, or
2. I get in the shower, wet down, wash my hair really quick and then apply conditioner, turn off the water, soap up and shave, and then rinse all off to squeaky clean-ness as fast as I can. I've heard this referred to as a Navy shower (well, without the shampoo and conditioner mess).

If you want more tips and info on ways to conserve water, there's a handy tip sheet here from The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating together and everything.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Energy Efficiency PSA - Fridge

Hey, is there a problem with your fridge? You bet! You've got a hog coming out of your icemaker! I don't think this is really an energy conservation problem as much as a fish and wildlife issue.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Whew! I love my child and a one-day Bataan-style death march through an undisclosed theme park in the middle of August was proof positive. The environment seemed way more frenetic and louder than usual -- within 5 minutes of passing into the main hub I screamed at the old man, "Why is it so dang loud???!" to which my old man yelled back, "because loud equals fun!" We purchased so much plastic crap that I feel like I have to buy a TerraPass to compensate for all of the manufacturing pollution that was probably produced to make it, not to mention the plastic utensils we used and threw away.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Okay, here is my really last rant before signing off until we get back. This is a website to get an overview of back to basics type stuff. Go to New American Dream. This is mostly a consumer action website, but their motto is "More Fun, Less Stuff" (that's on a bumper sticker, too).
Here is my last screed before me and the old man do our parental duty and take our progeny to a certain theme park in reward for learning how to poop on the potty. I know, TMI. This is a busy week with kids starting school and bigger kids about to start school, so things are plodding yet hectic. But, here is my tip for a happy, stress-free life:

Bake your own bread!

It is so easy and fun (for those who are private area to the wall with stuff to do I would even venture to suggest a bread machine) and people really like warm, fresh bread thrust at them when they appear at your door to help you reinstall your toilet. But I digress.

For those who have never made bread or are of the above condition of being too busy to even think about it, here is a starter recipe to try and the name says it all: Outrageously Easy BIG Bread. Can you think of a bread better suited to our frantic lives? I've made bread for years and years and I'm here to tell you this is indeed the easiest recipe for bread that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. When you go on the website and start poking around in their recipes, you will find this recipe is the most fabulously popular of all the bread recipes (and there are some tasty looking recipes, let me tell you). So that should tell you something about how easy and great this recipe is. Thanks to B. for putting me on this track to outrageously easy big bread. BTW, her suggestion is to use bread flour (white or wheat) when making this recipe and even 100% whole wheat bread will be big and puffy.

If you find the time to make it, there is nothing better than kneading bread to get your stress level under control, and the feeling of accomplishment when it comes out of your oven smelling all good and looking all brown and big will be a real ego boost, I promise.

Okay, haven't sold you yet on baking your own bread. Then, go to your local bakery and buy bread that someone has lovingly fashioned for you and don't forget to bring your own towel or bread bag to wrap your lovely bread-thing in.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

If an up-and-coming first world nation bans Coke and Pepsi, what's next? And it's not a religious thing or anything -- there's bug spray up in that mess! And I'm not talking about spray coming from a bug, I'm talking about the spray that makes the bugs die!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here's a bag on e-Bay that looks like the one I used to carry around, except that mine was pink and the size of a Volkswagon. It should be possible to use the same technique used to create the "boho" nightmare I used to have to make a permanent shopping bag out of plastic carrier bags. Cut bags into strips, twist the strips together into a long rope, coil the rope and use monofilament to stitch it into a roughly tote-shaped item. Then braid up some shoulder straps out of the same noisome material. A bag like this would be ugly, but not significantly uglier than plastic carrier bags are in their original state, and we none of us feel self conscious dragging those around. More importantly a bag like this has the potential to turn the act of shopping from a guilt-inducing drag to a positive experience, almost a balm for the soul. Not only would the shopper not be adding plastic to the garbage gyres, those Texas-sized masses of plastic out in the ocean that kill a million birds and "about 100,000 seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, other marine mammals and sea turtles" every year; but the shopper would be, at least for a time, removing plastic from uncontrolled sea landfills. Even if in, say, forty or fifty years our shopper shuffles off this mortal coil and her beloved bag made from bags somehow fails to sell at her estate sale and gets thrown away, and even if it escapes the garbage truck and ends up in the street, from whence it washes into a storm drain and thence into a creek that flows into a river that washes it out to sea, even in this worst-case scenario, if a sea turtle were to come across 100 carrier bags bound into the shape of an 80s-era shoulder bag, the turtle would hardly try to eat the item. Such a tote would be far too retroboho hippyfabulous to resemble a jellyfish, and in any case it would be too big to fit into a turtle's mouth. He or she would paddle gently away.

What the world is doing with plastic bags:
the other
not to mention
and finally,
This is the cutest thing I ever saw in my entire life OMG what if there was a Hello Kitty one!

PS: Don't forget to stay out of the grocery store.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Crocheted grocery bag shoes!

G. has been looking up some simply scrumptious sites about crocheting things with plastic grocery bags. I tooled around for a moment on Google but found nothing -- except, this lovely crocheted hat. You can get the directions here. Maybe G d G will create a quick post about the ways people from far-off lands are able to use old grocery bags because, man, we're drowning in them here.
In case you were wondering what to do with that old sweater you found in a thrift store but when you took it home discovered it had a stain on it:

Wonder Girl Knits: July 2005

After you're finished unraveling it and dyeing it with kool-aid, then you can teach yourself to knit:

Hello Knitty Learn to Knit Video Instruction

Okay, here's another reason to make your own clothes or clothes for all your friends and fam -- RFID chips--you know, the-no-bigger-than-a-grain-of-rice electronic devices used to control inventory but also a handy way to keep track of people. People were up in arms because Benetton was putting RFID chips in their clothing and three years later they're everywhere! Consumer Reports Online has a pretty basic article on the technology, and as soon as you read that Wal-Wart is telling their vendors to use the microcircuitry then it becomes just plain Orwellian. Two years ago, Wired online reported on a company who has created a tag to block scans of RFID tags -- the company, RSA Security, has an extensive section of its website devoted to RFID technology here and I wonder if they'll follow through with making this technology available to consumers.
The link to this photo and the blog it came from is Spychips RFID Blog.

Friday, August 04, 2006

While I don't want this to become a blog about crap (although, inevitably and without any coaxing, could inexorably become such), there was one last thought before the weekend that I wanted to impart. It comes from a passage I just read in the canonical text of the Zen school I belong to.

And Now, Your Moment of Zen...

Master un Mun: "Dry shit on a stick"
In many old chinese temples, the monks compost human and animal waste together for several weeks before using them as fertilizer in the gardens. The wastes have to compost together for a long time to eliminate toxic poisons. The monks pee and defectate in large buckets placed under wooden benches, and sometime during the day collect the wastes for composting. A long, flat paddle is used to mix the wastes together with ashes and remove them from the buckets. At the end of the day, the stick would be left leaning in the sun near the outhouse to dry. Then one day, the great Zen Master Un Mun had just relieved himself, and was walking out of the privy adjusting his pants. At that moment, a monk approached him and said, "What is Buddha?" While he was being asked this question, the Zen master's eyes simply happened to catch sight of the long shit-stick, leaning against the wall drying in the sun. "Dry shit on a stick!" Un Mun replied, and continued on his way. In that moment, the Zen master's mind was only dry shit on a stick. Dry shit on a stick was his whole mind.
-From The Compass of Zen by Zen Master Seung Sahn

The World's Healthiest Foods

Okay, here's the site that everyone should be going to:

The World's Healthiest Foods

And then when you're done exploring this great site, buy the book which is about the size and weight of the Cleveland Yellow Pages. I saw it today during a playdate at "B's" house and witnessed its hugeiosity and found out that, get this, it is not organized a-z foods but by which foods are most nutritionally dense. Can you dig it? So things like mushrooms and olives come before things like rutabagas and carrots. It also has a groovy section on what "organic" means for fruits and vegetables as well as for meat.
I found another item on Metafilter that has to be related to environmentalism somehow, I just know it! Maybe it's, like, because of global warming or styrofoam or something. Anyway, it shows you why I love Metafilter (aka... the Hive Mind):

Where are the birds? Shouldn't they be having a feast out there?I suspect that quite the reverse has happened; that they overwhelmed the birds, covered the nests and are feasting on the young.Speaking of which... why are all those bikes there? Wouldn't children normally be riding them?...My god.

(Click where it says, "Parts of Sweden are overrun by caterpillars," wait, then scroll down to see... the bikes. You won't forget it!)
Hey, guess what? Edna signed on and is ready to do some serious bloggity blogging! Let's give her a big, warm, AE hug, huh? And, since she is the namer of this blog, it would be appropriate and right for Edna to give us the skinny on what accidental environmentalism is all about. We need structure! A framework from which to build this shining city in the ecoblogosphereosystem.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'll Have the Blue Petri Plate Special, Please
Delicious G is on the right track -- now let's take it over the top! Can you imagine buying a delicious, juicy steak that was raised in a petri dish? Neither can I! Thanks, Doctor Awesome!
I hate that I'm such a blog hog, but I keep running across stuff. Today, appropriately enough, I'm gonna blog about hog.

Somebody e-mailed me the latest hog op/ed from The New York Times Select. I'm not "select," so normally I can't read anything graced with orange logos in The New York Times, but for some reason when I clicked on the link I found out I'm getting a free 14-day trial! So I can read Bob Herbert's column about how Smithfield Foods is a big union buster.

Not that this was much of a shock, since I read Fast Food Nation (that is not an Amazon link, btw, I'm done with those) and since I once lived in Iowa, home of many pigs and many people from Mexico brought there to process pigs. Iowa was good to me, what with all the awesome Mexican restaurants. Iowa is not so good to its meat packing plant workers and its pigs.

Temple Grandin has fascinating things to say about pigs and ominous things to say about how their breeding and confinement affects not only them but the quality of our nation's pork. So does Harper's. (If you don't want to buy the May 2006 Harper's, you can read the article here by signing up for a FREE TRIAL!)

And if you already used up your 14-day NYTselect period and you don't want to buy any books today or sign up for any FREE TRIALS, you can read this short piece about a lady who thinks Smithfield Foods is causing her house to disintegrate.

Want to know how to keep your money out of the pockets of mean ol' union bustin', homewreckin' Smithfield Foods and avoid eating watery, icky pork from discontented pigs, all in one simple step? Okay, then, here it is:

Stay out of the grocery store!

A Porkalicious Blip:
Today's blip is a recipe! Take one (1) strip bacon from a pig who knew how to live right. Cut it into little bacon shavings (cross-wise, not lengthwise so they're like an inch long and half a centimeter wide). Put same in big cast iron pan on lowish heat and cook them to a frazzle. (Don't burn them, but do cook 'em good.) While the bacon sizzles, cut up a whole ton (I don't really worry about the amount, I just cook whatever I happen to have--if there's more squash, it'll be less bacony, if less squash, more bacony) of yellow squash (the crookneck ones, not the ones that look like little flying saucers) from the farmers' market or your backyard or your neighbors' backyard. Cut your yellow squash into very thin rounds. If you have a Benriner you can make short work of this. Put the squash in your salad spinner in layers, salting each layer. Put the salad spinner over a big bowl. You want the water to drain out of the squash into the bowl, so salt liberally. Now cut up onions. Depending on how much you like onions, use anywhere from one part onion, four parts squash all the way up to a 1-1 ratio of onion to squash. The bacon should be about done now, so throw in the onion. While the onion cooks, squeeze the water out of the squash with your hands. Maintaining the salad spinner-over-bowl configuration, spin the rest of the water out of the squash. Don't just throw out the squash water. It's got all kinda squash nutrients in it! Pour it in a cup and put the cup in the fridge. Put the squash in with the rest of the stuff and cook cook cook until it's all sweet and bacony delish. It might need a little more salt--it's supposed to be pretty salty. It will definitely need a ton of black pepper. Serve piping hot.
What To Do About Our Crap:
This is in answer to G's commentary the other day. I think we should all consider the possibility of using composting toilets! I tried to suggest this to my old man last year and he immediately rejected (unfairly, I think) the idea of pooping into a bucket. Hey, you know, I wonder if Wikipedia has an entry about composting toilets...I'm going to check...Oh my gosh! It does! And you can look at it here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oh, hey, here's another thing that sucks:

Turns out there's "a virulent pox on the world's oceans.",0,6670018,full.story

It seems that the weird, ancient wannabes that preceeded all us multicellular cool kids are making a comeback. They're laying seige to the oceans, killing off fish and seals and what not and making life hell for fisherfolk the world over.

The L.A. Times says, Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. And what can unchecked jellyfish lead to? Try nuclear power plant malfunction!

The L.A. Times says, We're pushing the oceans back to the dawn of evolution.

The L.A. Times says... look, I'm sorry, I know I'm going overboard with the splash quotes no pun intended, but the whole article is a dang splash quote. And I'm not doing that thing where you take the most incendiary paragraph and split it up into nine separate splash quotes. I am telling you there is enough freakish one-celled-organism mayhem out there to provide a solid three or four pages of pure D horror! And the worst part? At the top of the article, in little bitty words, it says... part one!

Look at this:
"It's like acid," Tanner said. "I couldn't believe it. It kept pulling the skin off."

and this:
"We checked this 20 times. It was mind-boggling. It was like 'The Blob.' "

and this:
"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars. "At nighttime, you can feel them burning. I tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked."

and this:
we are witnessing "the rise of slime."

Well, gol! Say, why's all that stuff happening, anyhow?

Well, continues the ever helpful L.A. Times, 'cause Industrial society is overdosing the oceans with basic nutrients — the nitrogen, carbon, iron and phosphorous compounds that curl out of smokestacks and tailpipes, wash into the sea from fertilized lawns and cropland, seep out of septic tanks and gush from sewer pipes.

So if after all my cut'n'paste slavery you still want to skip the article, basically the story goes like this: we took all the cool stuff out of the ocean and ate it, and then we crapped in the ocean. Now there's no more cool stuff in the ocean and all the creepy stuff in the ocean is getting fat off our crap.

What can we do about our crap? Maybe nothing. If we don't see a reason to do anything about it, nothing for sure. Maybe we'll just go on crapping until we crap ourselves out. But if we do want to do something, it's at least possible we may be able to reduce our output enough to make a slight difference.

How? Well, one way to reduce your load of crap is to stop supporting corporate agriculture. Don't buy food unless you know who grew it and unless you trust that they grew it right. It's a simple and appealing maxim: buy from people you're pretty sure won't throw crap in the sea. More simple and appealing yet,

Stay out of the grocery store.

Today's Blip!
A good book to read is The Ethical Gourmet. Read the fish section so that you'll know what species we're gorging on to the detriment of ourselves and to the benefit of the rising tide of slime.
It's Hard Out Here For A Journo*
I just saw this really disturbing story about a journo/activista, Josh Wolf, who was just sent to FEDERAL prison because he refused to turn over video tape to a judge investigating alleged arson (attempt to burn a police car) that occured during an anarchist demonstration on July 8, 2005. Not just Journo Jail, not even "Double Jail", but FEDERAL PRISON:
And here's a link to the video that he has published online:
What exactly are the limits of what courts can request of journalists? Where are the lines being drawn? The judge, William Alsup, after the hearing (in which Wolf was found in contempt) had this to say:
Every person, from the president of the United States down to you and me, has to give information to the grand jury if the grand jury wants it.
And he's right because the shield laws for jounalists in California do not apply to Federal cases (the police car is federal property because the city police receive federal funds).
Here is a Wikipedia link about Freedom of the Press (in case you were wondering).

What I want to know is, does the tape Wolf took actually show a police car being burned? If it does, should he turn it over or still refuse? Okay, here's my take on this: Videotaping your stupid anarchist pals attempting to shove a burning mattress under a police car is just plain stupid. You start the tape after the mattress is under the car and your friends are safely ensconced in the next county, okay? If you're going to be a g-d d'd anarchist activist journo at least have the sense to not implicate your friends. Also, if you're going to be on the other end of the camera and you are a naive anarchist activist protesting the G8 summit, here is a short list of things you should not do:
1. Throw things at businesses.
2. Throw things belonging to businesses into the street.
3. Break into businesses and steal things.
You see, following just these three things (and I could go on and on about things you shouldn't do at a protest march) will make your experience, and the experience of those around you, less hellish in the long run. Because, even though you are a 20 year old anarchist activist who hates corporations and/or massive government invading every facet of your life (and who doesn't?), doing the above three things will not only possibly land you in jail, but also enrage the businesses large and small and cause them to cement in their minds a very good reason why anarchist activists should be eradicated. Do you see the logic, idiot 20 year old anarchist activist? If you act like an a-hole in public (instead of in the privacy of your own commune, like lots of other rational folks do) people will naturally conclude that YOU ARE AN A-HOLE and deserve to be locked away.
And, if you are a anarchist activist journo who happens to be taping your friends being a-holes in public (are you getting tired of me saying "a-hole" instead of "asshole" yet? My posts are clean, okay?) then you will not only be locked away, but put in FEDERAL PRISON when you try to do your ethical journalistic duty by not revealing your sources -- in effect, living up to the ideal of Freedom of the Press which supposedly the first amendment guarantees for you and me.
The frightening lesson here, kids, is that unless you are just as devious and mean-spirited as the people who wish to jail and suppress your kind because you are essentially right about a lot of things, you will be neutralized.
Boy, I love being able to rant and only provide the least amount of anectdotal evidence I possibly can. Ain't America great?

*With apologies to all those who previously called a moratorium on play-ons related to the Three 6 Mafia fiasco by a similar name.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Delicious G is in the Haus! Hooray! We have a new blogger in the eco-blogosphereosystem! Girlfriend, this blog is your blog. Now, if Edna would get here...
Hi! I'm Blogging! I'm a Blogger! Wheeee, Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog! ( Bloggity Blog Blog!

Welcome one and all to... a Blog! From the desk of... a Blogger!

Today and perhaps forevermore, I, a Blogger, shall be Blogging about:

How You Can Stay out of the Grocery Store (and the Drug Store)

My first Blog that I am Blogging will be Blogged:

The First Day of Your All New Life not Spent in the Grocery Store
First off, why would you not want to spend any time in the grocery store ever? Well, because it sucks at the grocery store.

Secondly, why all the white space, random caps and annoying enthusiasm in my Blog? It's because I'm a new Blogger. New to the Blog lifeway. I may calm down with this stuff presently: we'll just have to see what kind of Blogger of Blogs I turn out to Blog. I know one thing though: Don't dog my Blog or I'll flog your clog. (Please refer to the above hyperlink.)

Thirdly, now that I'm well underway with my new Blog, I'll begin with a tip for how to stay out of the grocery store. But except I don't want to call it a "tip." This is a Blog, so advisory nuggets herein should be called Blips.

Blip One:
Luckily, there are other places to buy food besides the grocery store. These include: farmers' markets. Roadside vegetable stands. Farms. People you know at work who raise backyard flocks and will bring eggs to you at the office. Weird, off-the-grid outlets like the Friday meat sale at the meat lab at the local land grant university. The new bakery that opened up right in the neighborhood thank God finally.

Others? Surely you can think of something. Can't? At a loss? Go here:

Bye! Blog a little Blog of me!

PS: Okay, technically I didn't "start" this Blog so every time I Blogged "my Blog" or "my new Blog" up there it was "inaccurate," or "totally obnoxious" or whatever the tech-y terminology is. What. Everrr! New to the lifeway! GOOJF!

PPS: The new HABA produits sont wondrous fair. Also, this Blogger would like to take the opportunity right now to give a big shout out for the produits de the sewing machine of a certain talented seamstress. Basically I'm saying that if a certain somebody has made a dark promise to use up all her previously purchased fabric before taking another trip to Joanne's, I know a certain somebody else who happens to be a real fan of fabric and who can always use a thing or two made out of, say for instance... fabric. Quelle coincidence jolie!