Monday, December 29, 2008
In the meanwhile, while swearing to never open that container and just let it go, I was given another compost container at the Sustainability Fest at the Hwy 441 farmer's market a couple of months ago. It's pretty awesome -- it's a small, black bucket with lid and handy handle for skipping with it to the compost bin (see photo). And I vowed to make good on my commitment to composting by emptying this one out more often. And I've been fairly good about that.
In fact, I just dumped BOTH containers in the compost bin mere moments ago. What?! you gasp, BOTH containers? Yes. And the four-month sealed container was as awful and disgusting as I had imagined, and more so. But I did it -- the stink from the container was too strange to describe -- I think maybe the smell of soil from the Graveyard of the Damned would be an apt comparison. And really old, smelly socks.
Man, I hope I didn't kill the compost with that crud. Also spoke with Sharon the other night who is an awesome composter (she keeps her compost bin in the freezer) and said I should be wetting my compost down more. I think I understood this intuitively but kind of hoped the measly rainfall we've had would compensate. So, after I'm over the revulsion of emptying out The Forgotten Compost Container I'll go back outside and wet it down some.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Afterlife, an aid for the grieving process in a technologically mediated culture. It used to be featured on our website but after we came clean about the tooth implant we didn't want people to think that this project was of the same nature. We're collaborating with scientists and attempting to offer the service for real. Basically creating a microbial battery from the energy of a loved one that may then be used to power a range of electronic products.
This has Adbusters written all over it, but it was enticing enough for me to do some further digging on microbial batteries, and these are apparently already in use. Bestview blogspot blog has a summary of research done at UMass on a microbial battery that generates electricity from organic matter using bacterium called Rhodoferax ferrireducens. These "iron breathers" were placed in an enclosed container with a sugar solution and graphite and deposited protons which turned into current on the exposed end of the electrode. Funded by the Defense Department (of course), the applications include use as a way to generate electricity for low-power antennaes in areas where electricity might not be readily available. I like how Dr. Best, the author of Bestview, makes the distinction between the microbial battery and ethanol, stating, "instead of using organic matter to make a fuel, the battery...converts organic matter directly into electricity." This seems to take a step or two out of the costly and resource conuming process currently used to make ethanol.
The next hit on good old Google was a How Stuff Works article on the "Beer battery." Foster's brewery in Australia installed technology to use microbial batteries to generate a small amount of electricity and clean waste water. In the US, the New Belgium brewery in Colorado has been using this technology in addition to other green technologies in its brewing:
While the brewery uses wind power for most of its power needs (about 85 percent), the methane gas from the waste-water clean-up kicks in the remaining 15 percent.
And the HSW article says the brewery saves 3k on its monthly energy bills. Fascinating stuff.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
It was dang cold at the farmer's market this morning and didn't have any bags -- I had washed some the night before but did not have the chance to Bedazzle the labels on, so we made do with the ones we had. I also noticed that the remodeled laundry bag DG talks about in her dispatch from last week, was gone today! Bought some oranges from the lovely Erika-of-the-sweet-and-tasty-citrus who is back at the market with her dad and "reporting for duty" as Need-a-Bag? Project Associate for the duration of the season. Welcome back, Erika! I was about to get scurvy from lack of citrus.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
While I was recovering from turning in a thesis draft in the wee hours of Saturday morning, DG shouldered the Need-a-Bag? project responsibilities and provided this dispatch from the 441 Farmer's Market:
The market was deeeaaaad today. Farmer John had some greens that looked excellento, and the shrimp guy was there, and the tomatoes people. I got some tomatoes to make sauce with, and some kumquats and some pecans (pecans are excellent at the moment—now is the time to invest in pecans for your family's needs). Other than those few vendors and the standards—the Flour Pot, etc., the place was denuded. And customers? Don't make me laugh: there were no such. We put out 12 new bags and I retired the tired old black vinyl atrocity that has been hanging on the fence since spring. Goodbye, old soldier. And a sorryass little burlap affair that has been there, I think, since day one. Sorry, blueboy: your hour has arrived.
All the new bags have BeDaZzLeD labels. It's like Prince designed them. It's like the Farmar is Xanadu. Everyone should be required to wear oldstyle rollerskates and hotpants to shop there.
There was a laundry bag that I remodled to be even less useful by cutting off its mesh top and fashioning it into some useless handles and bedazzling them to the ripstop body. Useless as it is, it's been bedazzled so hard, I don't see how anyone can resist it. I put it in the far back area so that only the most discerning customers will see it. The T-totes are holding their own. In that they remain stolidly on the fence, unmolested. They are above the fray. T-totes. Above it. What will we find after the nuclear winter? Nothing but T-totes and cockroaches.
We may rationally accept that continuing to use the world's resources at our current rate--that living our amazingly high life--is unsustainable. We may, in our rational brains, believe that our car culture, our air-conditioned life, our mall fantasies, are sapping our planet. But in our hearts we fear that any real change would plunge us into a world of poverty, disease, ignorance--that it's either our life in all its detail or a grim, short, narrow life (123).
The job, it's a job of balancing needs and potentials. If you only work on the big issues, you're far from the people. If you only work on the daily needs, you don't do anything fundamental. You have to understand you are responsible for the hope of people, their hope for change.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Here is a snippet from today's NY Times article by Michael M. Grynbaum:
Nikki Nicely, 19, wanted a television — a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen, to be exact, on sale for $798, marked down from $1,000, and available for a limited time in the wee hours of Friday morning at the Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio.
So, at 4:40 a.m., when a fellow shopper tried to pry away the box she had been guarding for an hour, Ms. Nicely did not play nice. She jumped onto the man’s back and began to pound his shoulders, screaming, “That’s my TV! That’s my TV!”
A police officer and security guard intervened but not before Ms. Nicely took an elbow in the face. Still, when the dust settled, she had her hand on the box. “That’s right,” she cried as the man walked away. “This here is my TV!”
ROAR! Nikki wasn't being Nicely, she was being Nastly. And she kicked ass, too. Why do these things always happen at Wal-Mart?
So, anyway, I was reading the online Mother Jones articles -- I posted last week sometime about an article on different sources of carbon emissions and the ways to reduce them. And there was this new one called "O Say Can You Buy?" about how the writer spent a week trying to buy nothing but American-made products. Talk about futile exercises to prove a point. Yes, yes, we're lame because we don't manufacture and produce as much of our own stuff as we used to.
Got the pic from Funkyunk -- Busta is getting his plasma TV, yo.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thought I'd get the jump on letting three weeks go by before updating on the project -- so, Nyeh! Nyeh! procrastination sprite!
Monday, November 17, 2008
The article, written by Steve Aquino and Gary Moskowitz, states that "we could trim the nation's ghg footprint by almost 30 percent over the next 25 years by getting business to invest in efficient cars, appliances, and buildings as well as cleaner energy, with incentives including tax credits, subsidies, offsets, and fewer 'regulatory hurdles.'"
But that's the problem. We need to use less of these appliances, build less, and regulate more. tax credits are fine for industries that need to have made these changes to cleaner, more efficient methods of production, but subsidies? I'm tired of mollycoddling industry who have their corporate heads so far up their asses they can't think beyond making a ton of money at the expense of the environment.
The problem with GM is a case and point: they were so worried about shareholder investments and the huge markup they were getting on gas-guzzling SUV's that they forgot that the time to start making more fuel-efficient cars was 10 years ago. Now the U.S. is bailing them out and not because we want to, but because millions of jobs are at stake if the U.S. auto industry goes under.
Okay, going back to my thesis, now...
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.
It has been three weeks since I've updated on the Need-a-Bag? Project, and that's because there really hasn't been much to report. Also, I've been running over-time with school projects -- this is the final push, folks, and I have got to graduate this semester. I'm afraid to think what will happen to this blog when I go to graduate school...!
Anyway, all it seems I have time for these days is reading and commenting on other people's blogs (reading and commenting take a lot less time than coming up with original content). So, here's where I've been dwelling when not swirling with papers and projects:
Yecats Gniwe -- the ever intrepid Need-a-Bag? Project Associate bag putter-awayer, Stace, reports on a Saturday in the hinterlands beyond the Gainesville reality limits in "Saturday of Serenity and Strangeness."
Nom, nom, nom! -- you'll see why a woman and her homemade mayonnaise cannot be parted when you read "another mayo triumph." Obama sun symbolism alert!
Gee-ville Deals -- Bren has another fabulous day fattening her family's larder in these depressed economic times in "Olive you, Publix." A shrewd commenter notes that "olive you" sounds like the bark of a dog attempting to say "I love you," as evidenced in the many America's Funniest Home Videos we have as videographic proof. Bren agrees and...well, great minds think alike!
SAME HAT! SAME HAT! -- the blog's proprietor is issuing #1 of Electric Ant zine -- I think it has something to do with manga and the people who are obsessed with it. I have no idea what they're talking about, but I'm getting my copy!
That's it for now -- if you have news of note (eco or the exact opposite) in your blog, drop me a line at email@example.com
The new ridealong set up with trailer for hauling groceries. There's a new Schwinn in the house...-- hey, get out of the way, son, you're blocking the view!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
A few months ago (when I was foot-loose and fancy-free; that has sadly ended) I posted about making a Melita-style filter using fancy cheese cloth and some old bias tape I had lying around. Boy, I wish I had more time to sew stuff, because I'd make that Nom, nom, nom! person a filter.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It was a little busier today at the farmer's market. It is a nice thing to see. Because DG and the old man went to the FOL book sale at early o' clock, DJ was enlisted to help with Need-a-Bag? this morning. He was a great help! When we had gotten to the bottom of the bin he noticed there were all these plastic bags and was like, "if you're trying to discourage people from using plastic bags, why do you have this pile of plastic bags." Good point, son, now let's change the subject!
We also got a bag back! And we also got another bag! And, it was not even Jean who donated it! I think this is the beginning of stage two -- people are realizing that we will do this every weekend and are not hoarding bags. Hooray!
Stace said that when she and her husband went to collect bags later that morning there were 7 left on the fence. We probably had close to 20 out there, so business is picking up.
This weekend also marked the first usage of the new fabric labels. I was unable to get the paper backing off so sewed the whole thing on a couple of cloth bags before leaving for the market. It takes way more time to tack the label on the bag with a few stitches at each corner than slapping on a paper label, but I think it will be worth it in the long run because it will wear better and last longer than the paper labels after repeated washings.
The fact remains, though, that sewing the labels onto each bag will be more labor-intensive, something that Need-a-Bag? Project Associates do not need to be messing with. That is why I propose a concerted effort to find a Bedazzler at a garage sale or thrift shop for attaching the labels. They'll be securely attached and they'll be all shiny and pretty.
Top Photo: The Need-a-Bag? Project's first corporate sponsorship. They thought they were being all smart by taking the "?" off, and they didn't put the web address for the AE blog like I asked, either! Feh.
Got the photo of the Bedazzler from AsSeenonTVGuys.com
Saturday, October 18, 2008
First, the 5-gallon bucket is dang heavy and, unfortunately for me, the old man had already gone to bed. Bend the knees, that's my advice.
Anyway, my first impressions are good -- they give you a tablespoon scoop taped to the top of the bucket -- the bucket is type 2 plastic so entirely recyclable.
Update: I've used Charlie's soap for 3 loads and it is working very nicely. It essentially works like the petroleum-based detergents I've been using up until now, so at least it's not under-performing. The laundry also smells fresh, like it's been line-dried. I'm so going to miss that sharp, weird, synthetic flower smell but I have to get beyond that.
Here's a link to the babysashanmom blog that has lots of good information and links -- mostly pertaining to washing diapers with Charlie's soap, but all of the information is directly relative to other clothing.
Promise! Will try Charlie's Soap immediately! In fact, I have a load of laundry sitting right next to me. I think I have to rinse the washer tub with vinegar to get all of the scum off from those nasty, un-eco-friendly detergents, so will commence to do that now. I promise! Here I go...wait, oh, a new email just came in...
Anyway, here is a post from about a year ago on where to find a farmer's market near you, and also on the Japanese phenomenon, Chisan Chisou. Also, here's a post about foodsheds.
If you want some direct info about where to find a CSA near you, go here.
Swiped the photo from the Slate article
Monday, October 13, 2008
Got the pic from The Daily Ping...raise your hand if you remember Dynamite...
Sunday, October 12, 2008
It was very misty at the farmer's market Saturday morning, and it looked like another weekend of low turnout. However, I've been noticing more of a variety of items for sale. I got some squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Starting today I'm going to try a new technique, preparing food on Sunday for some of the week, so we're not relying on frozen pizzas and take-out for most of it.
The market is melting, after all, and I'm going to have to live by my wits more. Maybe I should take the advice of my friend, Bren, and start using coupons and savings clubs to make ends meet. It's hard for me to spend that much mental energy on that form of money saving, but I might have to try!
Anyway, with the squash and zucchini I'm going to make no-noodle lasagna as per my friend's new dietary regimen that I'm trying for three months, to cut simple carbs and sugars from my life. Giving up bagels and M&M's is going to be hard, I'm afraid.
Anyway, we didn't put out new bags but we still had some from weeks ago. They're starting to get smaller in number so after the farmer's market we went to a few yard sales and started buying more of them up. DG even got some super deals.
Start looking for our new labels, as well. We've developed a new spiel to put on our labels, which will now be made from printable, sew-in fabric. Here's what the blurb now says:
The Need-a-Bag? Project provides free, clean, reusable shopping bags to Farmers Market shoppers. Please take as many bags as you need. Whenever they start to pile up at home, bring them by and toss them in our drop box so that we can wash and re-circulate them.
For more information and updates on the project, please go to:
Thank you for supporting Need-a-Bag? and enjoy your shopping day!
Short, sweet, and to the point -- bring the bags back at some point, why don't you?! I apologize for getting testy and realize it is our fault for not making that point in the beginning; maybe now we can start phase two of the project, encouraging people to perpetuate the project's mission by allowing the bags to circulate and by beginning projects at their own farmers markets.
Like, we need someone for the Wednesday downtown market and if anyone wants to monitor and organize the project at that market we would help in any way we could, short of actually doing the work of being there every Wednesday. That's your job, soon-to-be-named Need-a-Bag? Project Pioneer!
"Men want to be him; women just want to touch him" -- quote and pic from Gator Envy
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
So, it's just me, right? There's just something I find grating in this type of urban professional and I'm the only one, right? My friend, Hil, never has these problems. But she's different because her dad used to build bicycles in Indiana, Breaking Away Land. So all the mechanics think she's cool. Pah.
So, anyway, all the snotty, arrogant bike mechanics in town should all move to Copenhagen, since there's apparently a dearth of them in that town.
Update: I've chilled out about bike mechanics after an evening's contemplation. I like to rant first and think later, because that's just how I roll. Also, I had the opportunity to talk with bicycle guru, Frog, who compared the bike culture in Hogtown to the record store culture in Hogtown. It was like religious epiphany (much like many of my conversations with Frog) and it suddenly all crystallized for me! The same hipper-than-thou mentality is at work. Thank goodness it's just that and something I'm not grasping about popular culture. Whew.
Got the cool poster pic from Copenhagenize [the planet]: Life in the World's Cycling Capital
Because, as usual, I haven't updated in 2 weeks because there was not much love happening at the farmer's market last week. This week, however, I noticed more items. Perhaps the produce famine is beginning to abate. This made me think that perhaps DG and I should get back on our game, so we did the whole shebang -- put out signs, put out all of the bags we had (including the 2 bags we brought), drop box, etc. It looked like the Need-a-Bag? project Saturdays of old. I hope Stace had more fun today, as official Need-a-Bag project associate and putter-awayer, putting away a whole ton of stuff instead of the paltry couple of bags left on the fence by the end of the market day. Yay! More work!
Also, DG sent out an email to her work associates, after someone sent an eco tip about remembering to bring your reusable bags to the market -- also, it was saying that you didn't have to buy the bags they have at the supermarket, now, you could use bags you already have. That's a major leap in conciousness in our consumer-driven culture.
So, here's the letter DG sent:
Dear concerned colleagues*:
I’ve been trying to do this but I can never remember to bring the blasted bags!
a familiar source of shopping stress? If so, please take heart: there is an organization dedicating to eradicating URBIS (unused reusable bag irritation syndrome). It’s called Need-a-Bag? and it can help you!
If you have a bunch of those re-usable bags piling up unused in a closet somewhere and causing annoyance or guilt feelings, please bring them to the farmers’ market on Saturday any time from 8:30 AM to 11 AM, and drop them in the Need-a-Bag? dropbox. We will launder them and put them in circulation.
Furthermore, if you happen to forget your re-usable shopping bags when you shop at the Saturday morning farmers’ market, you need not go home with plastic bags because Need-a-Bag? is supplying clean, donated or thrifted, re-usable shopping bags free to all interested farmers’ market shoppers.
Consider spreading the relief to more venues by starting a Need-a-Bag? franchise of your own! (The Wednesday downtown farmers’ market? The plantation* market? The* supermarket?) Contact information and the latest installment of the story of the project so far are here: http://
Yours for guilt-free shopping,
I like how she made up a new acronym, URBIS (Unused Reusable Bag Irritation Syndrome) to aptly describe that feeling of "d'oh!" when you get to the market and realize you've forgotten your bags. It rivals my own, "eco-fatigue," to describe how saving the earth can be a pain in the butt sometimes, and make you sleepy.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We've gotten a bit better this week, in the midst of a produce famine at that farmer's market. We actually got there a little bit before the opening bell, with just enough time to put out the paltry 3 bags we had with us. We had so many left over bags that I didn't bother to put them all out. I feel like we are beginning our stockpile for the late season rush. The weather was beautiful, the musicians were making lovely music, and all was well with the world, actually, except for the paucity of produce.
Last week (and my apologies for getting around to just now to report on it) we put out 4 bags, but Need-a-Bag's intrepid put-er-away-er, Stace, reports that there were 7 bags left out when she came by to put things away. So, some lovely person gave the project 3 bags while we weren't looking, especially given that we were about 10 minutes late after the opening bell! Thank you anonymous (but probably Jean :)) person who gave the project some lovely new bags! I'm still thinking about that Tower of London bag and hoping that it found a good home!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
When I got home with the milk I started having second thoughts. First of all, the milk is full fat unless you take the cream out -- I just wasn't sure how DJ would cotton to this after drinking 2% most of his young life.
The test came this afternoon, when I made DJ a turkey sandwich and he wanted some chocolate milk to go along with it. When I started pouring the milk the cream starting glopping into the cup, so I ended up using a strainer and putting the cream back into the jug. DJ did not have anything to say about the milk at all, and drank it all.
At about $4.25 for a half-gallon, it's maybe a little more expensive than any of the non-local organic brands at Publix. I'm willing to pay that little extra for grass-fed cow's milk that comes from a dairy about 70 miles from where I live.
Here's a link to Slow Food Tallahassee that has a blog post about Kurtz and Sons Dairy that explains the stuff better than I can.
We were very late getting to the market and when we arrived it had already opened. We brought the shopping bags I had purchased from Publix and Target and the two Etsy bags designed by Eng by Nik. She has started sending us her bag seconds and we waited until I could photograph them to put them on the fence. One got snatched up pretty quickly -- they're lovely, big bags just perfect for reusing because they are sturdy. I hope it found a good home and whoever got it enjoys the hand-written card by Nik explaining its imperfections and the pen with her business info on it. It's stuff like that that causes me to want to buy more single-producer items, because craftspeople like Nik care about their products and how they are received.
As you can see from the above photo, the lady who usually sells plants and shrubs was not present today, as many of the regulars were missing because of low turn-out. The one thing I have found, though, from this lack of customers, is that the people who do remain are less busy and more accessible to talk to. The fellow DG bought her chantrell mushrooms from, for instance, was able to stand around for a couple of minutes and tell us about how hard it is for him to find them and how happy he gets when he does, saying, "you can hear me yelling and jumping up and down in the woods when I come across them."
We also ran into Jean who was waiting to help some people get set up and she agreed to be our keynote speaker at the Need-a-Bag? Project first anniversay banquet. She is a wonderful conversationalist so I know it will be an excellent 5-10 minute discussion on the topic of her choice! As we talked with her two of the regular farmers came up and told Jean that they didn't have anything to sell because the recent deluge from Fay had submerged their crops. When Jean expressed sympathy that they would have to start over, the woman said, "well, that's what you do when you're a farmer, you're always starting over."
Including the Eng by Nik bags, we put out 7 bags. We didn't even bother putting out the signs, or the drop box. I've sent out an email to the Need-a-Bag? Project Associates, hoping to rally them into helping to construct Totey the Tote Bag before Halloween. I've been crazy busy as has everyone who has stated their wish to see this part of the project come to fruition -- I hope we can pull it off!
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Here's a great way to remember to bring our reusable bags into Publix every time you shop. Just place this cling inside your car's windshield (on the edge so it won't interfere with visibility) and it will remind you.What I want to know is how a 1x2-inch window cling is going to cause a blind spot, and how will it remind me to bring my bags, after I get into the car and am rolling down my street? You think I'm going to turn around? Ha!
Here's what happened: DG and I did our weekly weigh-in for this weight loss challenge we signed up for, and then ran a bunch of errands. At Publix (my stop, because DG would not be caught in a Publix, much less be caught buying anything in one), DG saw that I was buying a Publix reusable bag for my purchases and we got into a debate that went something like this:
DG: (alarmed) Why are you buying that?
ME: (somewhat sheepish) This is my new strategy for giving totes to the Need-a-Bag? Project. You know, I told you that, you were fine with that...
DG: Not if you're just buying them when you don't need to.
ME: What? I need them...I have purchases...
DG: I could easily carry your frozen pizza and 12-pack of seltzer!
And on an on, down the express check-out line, until we reached the cashier. She was alert to DG's distress and offered me one of these stickers, so I would no longer forget my bags.
I'm thinking more and more that my new approach is wrong-headed, and I should just budget time to go thrifting. I'm so time-management oriented these days, with two classes and senior thesis hours, so maybe I'll do that tomorrow, and forget this stupid idea...
Monday, September 01, 2008
Dang. Anyway, Stace sent back positive reports of her first outing as Need-a-Bag? project putter-away-er and also sent this link to a Wall Street Journal article on the first Slow Food Movement Festival, held in San Francisco. The thing I liked about the article was that it featured a speech given by Wendell Berry, who I very much admire for his steadfast principles to sustainable ecology, crunchy outside and delicious, curmudgeonly center.
The only experience DG and I have had so far with the Slow Food Movement as it stands in the Gainesville area was when we totally skanked the Gainesville Slow Food table at the quarterly festival at the farmer's market, which also marked the introduction of the Need-a-Bag? Project almost one year ago. Ah, memories...
In honor of Labor Day, the Slow Food Movement, and Wendell Berry, I (finally) planted the loofah vines I got from Farmer John's table at Ward's. I need to work in some lighter soil but threw a couple of handfuls of compost (purchased, unfortunately) to get them started. We'll probably get some rain bands from Gustav (unfortunately, others are getting more rain than us). David from across the street said they'll take over the yard -- If they do, I welcome the intrusion in a spot that's not seeing much cultivation action; I'm just hoping they make it past my rough housing with them to get them into their appointed spots by the bamboo-pole teepee I made for them.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
You might have noticed that there was no update for the Need-a-Bag? Project on 08.23.08, last Saturday. You might think I'm being a lazy blogger, and you would be right any other weekend. This particular weekend, however, the farmer's market was closed because of Tropical Storm Fay. Fay rolled through our part of the state and sent many scurrying for cover, including farmer's market sellers and buyers. They closed the market as a last-minute decision and it was a good one; unfortunately no one got any love from us, as a result. Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Stace also didn't get to do her first weekend of putting-away-ing, but I'm sure she was busy making sure her husband and cats were on higher ground.
So this weekend we were back, but I'm here to ask the musical question, What's the Point? There was almost no one selling, and what they were selling was stuff like okra, which I know with a 99.999% certainty that any okra would rot in my crisper. DG is about living on ditch weeds and eggs at this point, but she was there.
And, I forgot to mention how many totes we put out today, because I cannot remember. Dang, I hate when I forget to count them. Some of them were in DG's car and then I had my two, stupid Publix totes to sling on the fence. I think it was something like six, not counting mine. We also kept back the Eng by Nik designer totes because I could not properly photograph them as I did not have my camera.
We got a lovely surprise, though, from our Need-a-Bag Guardian Angel Jean, who brought us a fabulous tote with the Tower of London on it, it was so awesome. And she told us that a friend of hers who runs estate sales is going to give us all the tote bags she comes across! What a great thing!
And Jean, without the fabulous friends and sunny disposition, is also just light-years ahead of us in getting the totes for cheap. When DG and I started hunting thrift stores and garage sales for tote bags, we agreed we wouldn't spend more than one dollar on any single tote bag, and we have largely stuck to our guns on that point. Jean, however, gets them, like, five for a dollar, and whoever she buys them from probably throws in a Tiffany lamp or something. That's how saavy she is.
So, a big Need-a-Bag? Project THANK YOU to Jean for helping us. Looking forward to honoring you properly at the First Annual Need-a-Bag? Project Banquet, coming to a pizza shed near you in October.
I, on the other hand, have begun what I consider an unsavory practice and I wish I could stop but right now it's the only way I'm contributing any tote bags to the project. I've been buying the tote bags many grocery and chain stores are selling for 1 dollar instead of using plastic, bringing my own bags, or just putting them in the car from the cart. Target, for instance, has these kind of cute wallet-sized totes that unfold into a good-sized tote bag. I bought two of those today and then got two more bags at Publix during our midday shopping trip. The ones at Publix are these huge totes that have flat bottoms and they are a lot easier to pack than the old canvas ones they used to sell. The one pictured to the left is what they look like.
Anyway, I've been buying these and giving them to the project immediately afterwards. So, while technically they are only 1-dollar they are not used, except if you count them being used once by me to tote bananas and white bread to home. DG doesn't seem bothered by it but I'm feeling a little uneasy.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Anyway, before I fell back off the wagon into Old Spice usage once again, I decided to try the baking soda/corn starch mixture Tracy of the (sadly) now defunct blog, The Glom Shelter, suggested when I started on this journey. She also adds essential oils to hers, so I added a few drops of my favorite Paloma Picasso dupe from SaveonScents and mixed it around. I think I've come up with something I can live with, actually, because I smell really good even if I'm sweating like a donkey.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Recently, I got a comment on a post I did about a year ago about Arm & Hammer Essentials, and I used the comment in a post that talked about optical brighteners. Apparently, even something that, on first blush, looked ec0-friendly and cheap, contains petroleum products in the form of optical brighteners which are derived from benzene. Benzene is bad for people and bad for our water ecosystems.
Anyway, contained in the comments for that post, my friend Brenda gives the link to Charlie's Soap. Bren used to own her own cloth diaper business, and was (and still is) slavishly dedicated to providing information that matters to people, whether it be about the best way to cloth diaper your child, or the cheapest way to feed your family. By the way, be sure to catch her blog, Gainesville Deals -- it is chock-full o'ways to feed your family for less and is probably applicable even to people outside of our food-feeding range.
So, again, anyway, Charlie's Soap was one of those little-known products that Brenda happened upon in her searches for the best soap to use to wash cloth diapers. It is biodegradable -- here is a pullout from their research page, under the "Biodegradable" heading:
To qualify as biodegradable, a substance must be 80% degraded in 28 days. Charlie's Soap degraded over 97% in soil in 28 days and is certified safe for use in small lakes and streams.
Here's another factoid from their Products page:
Our Laundry Powder is a revolutionary approach to laundry care. It does not cover up stains and odors with scents and brighteners - it really cleans. It is made with a unique blend of biodegradable coconut-based detergents and high-grade, completely soluble, Green River washing soda.
The fact that it is certified for use in small lakes and streams makes me think that this is okay stuff. I trust Brenda's judgement because she used this stuff with her kids' diapers. I'm going order the big, 5-gallon bucket of the dry powder, because it comes out to about 11-cents per load. A 2.5 quart bottle of Arm&Hammer Essentials with 41 loads for about $5.50 is 13-cents per load, so it's a little cheaper and the shipping is free for orders over $20 through the Charlie's Soap website.
If anyone in my area is interested in co-op'ing this with me, you can dig into my 5-gallon bucket for 11-cents per load and I'll throw in an old Oxy-clean bucket! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know -- I'll email you when it comes in!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
There were two reasons we restrained ourselves from putting out all of the bags yesterday; one, it was starting to rain, and the other reason is that we are in between bag put-er awayers. More to the point, our friend and Need-a-Bag? project associate, Erika-of-the-pretty-caladiums, is now Erika-I'm-Getting-Out-Of-Dodge-Until-December. She and her dad decided a couple of weeks ago that because things are getting soooo slow at the farmer's market (to paraphrase Erika, "we saw the tumbleweeds rolling through and decided it was time") to close up shop until their crops start coming in for December.
All that said, we couldn't let the market manager shoulder the responsibility of putting away the bags, so we asked Need-a-Bag? project associate-and-pinch-hitter, Stace, to take over until December and she graciously accepted the challenge! Thank you, Stace, for supporting the team! Rah! Rah!
There was also another reason for not putting out all the bags, besides inclement weather and lack of put-er awayer, one that is very exciting to report. Nik of Eng by Nik has become a Guardian Angel Need-a-Bag? project supporter, and is now sending us her tote bag seconds to put out at the farmer's market -- for free!!! Thank you so much Nik, this has been a real boon for the Need-a-Bag? project!
Next week, farmer's market customers, the real hard core customers like DG who come even if the only thing available to buy are ditch weeds, will have the pleasure of choosing from two Eng by Nik designer tote bags. Each tote has a postcard with a personal note from the designer describing the imperfection and includes care instructions and a complimentary Eng by Nik fine arts pen!
Check out Nik's Etsy shop here!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Oh, so anyway, I completely forgot to post about our N-A-B movements last weekend. The end. No, wait, I've got more. We put out 19 bags and, while we made a quick garage sale venture before going to the gym, we discovered who our secret benefactor was these past few weeks. It was none other than the farmer's market own Jeanne, and she has been getting them way cheaper than us, because she is way smarter. Thank you, Jeanne, for supporting this project! I've got more news about another important benefactor, but I will leave that until the next update, which will be about today's visit to the farmer's market.
It is getting to be a bit of a ghost town at the farmer's market, after almost 2 months of it being crazy busy. The third row of tables has pretty much disappeared. I think this will be a good time to start stockpiling bags for the autumn.
One last thing -- DG and I got together the week before last to make a whole stack of t-totes to hang on the fence (hence the large number of bags for this week's total). There was one strange, dress-like thing that was too long to be made into a t-tote, so we cut off the bottom, and from that I totally free-styled a tote bag. It's pretty cruddy, but I did it in about 5 minutes and with reinforced handle stitches it will carry a few sweet potatoes, believe me!
The photos from top to bottom: A typical bagline at the farmer's market each Saturday morning; close up of t-totes (from left to right); strange dress-like shift/t-tote, free style tote done by yours truly, spaghetti strap t-tote.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Then, the other day I had an epiphany. I already had the hankies, they were DJ's old diaper wipes when I did cloth diapers for about 5 minutes when he was a baby. These are really nice, organic flannel squares, serged all around. They're really sturdy, and are the perfect size. As you can see in the photo, I have them rolled up on one side and as I use them, I place them in the other compartment, and then from there I just dump the whole thing into the wash.
How am I doing with them? The results are mixed right now. Not being the season where I'm sniffling constantly, and I'm still reaching for toilet paper or napkins when I need to use a hankie. It's a habit I have to break, and I think as the winter comes and I start needing to use handkerchiefs, the true test of whether I can successfully switch from paper hankies to cloth will occur.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
I'm not a big fan of TreeHugger.com, because they contribute to the whole notion of saving the environment through buying more junk you don't really need, because it's "green" junk. But, having said that, they have a couple of really great pieces about the GPX2. The first is something they did in February titled "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Out of Sight, Out of Mind," that describes what it is very succinctly. One commenter even links to a Flickr photo of the GPX2 which is mind-blowing in size. Then, in April of this year, they did another article about the gyre, "VBS.tv Sails Out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," and had links to the videos. There are 12 episodes in all, and I encourage everyone to watch at least the first episode of "Garbage Island."
Photo is of VBS.tv correspondent Thomas Morton with the catch of the day -- plastic garbage-- via Treehugger.com