Saturday, February 28, 2009

Butt-hurt in the toilet paper discussion on DKos

I'm really glad Meteor Blades on DailyKos has been doing Green Diary Rescues. I subscribe to the Google Group for DailyKos Environmentalists -- It seems these worthy diaries would otherwise get buried in the abyss of the main focus of the site if it weren't for the Google Group. Maybe the green diaries need to be on a similar site to DKos, like KagroX has done by migrating to CongressMatters.

Anyway, I'm thankful to MB for the effort, and wanted to highlight two diaries that were highlighted in yesterday's rescue:

Don't Wipe Your Butt On My Forest...Thank You, by Detroit Mark is short on facts but long on anectdotal evidence -- I liked this diary because he talks about bidets, something I've goggled at once or twice but have absolutely no idea how to use. He talks about how to use them! Fascinating.

Wipe Your Tush And Save Trees At The Same Time, by BasharH is a lot more fact-y and goes over why using virgin paper products like Kleenex are so bad -- you destroy old growth forests in the process. Included is a link to a GreenPeace action letter you can send to Kimberly-Clark, entitled "Kimberly-Clark, Don't Blow Ancient Forests on Kleenex."

Here's a link to GreenPeace's Kleercut blog and action center which gives a lot of information (I also have a Kleercut link in the sidebar, as well, if you scroll down).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blog Round-up for February: Hogtown Edition

I haven't been trolling my favorite blogs lately, so thought I'd do a quick run-through of my peeps here in Title Town:

Nom, nom, nom!: NomX3 skoffs at the misgivings of those who would choose not use oxtails in their root-crop soups, in "Rootcrops part whateveritis, OXTAILS!" and speaks lovingly and foody-ingly about the wonders of beets and borscht. She puts another Obama reference in there, and tries to pass it off as the first off-topic reference, haha. She also needs to get on the stick and start blogging some new blogness or she's going to end up on my "in memoriam" list of blogs I've loved and lost.

Gee-ville Deals: If you live in town, Bren is the woman you want to know, not only because she is super-dooper good people, but because she knows how to food shop, y'all.

yecats gniwe: Stace refuses to be one of these old fogies who complains about their favorite songs being turned into covers, and lists for us (using one of those fancy-nancy techie tools on the interwebs) all the covers of one of her favorite songs, The Cure's "Just Like Heaven."

What We Need Is Here: This is a great blog and I truly apologize for not giving it the attention it deserves! Friend of the Need-a-Bag? Project, Kelli writes thoughtfully and soulfully on all things environmental and local, and takes on the truly interesting topic of graywater in, "Down the Toilet."

Wherein I make the case for cast iron skillets over teflon

About a year ago I made my first forays into using cast iron skillets in an effort to get away from non-stick pans (here's a link to that post, "The Cast Iron Skillet -- Nature's Teflon"). After a year, I've completely ceased using my non-stick pan and am thinking about getting a 10" iron skillet to complete my collection of 3 bears skillets -- it would be the mama skillet.

There is a certain satisfaction when you can slide sunny-side up eggs out of a cast iron skillet with a minimum of fuss, and I say to all those in the non-stick pan camp that it is much easier to use cast iron. Here's my bullet-list of points I'd like to make about why i heart cast iron skillets:

  • They cost less to buy new, and even less to buy used. You might have to take a bit of sandpaper to a used one, depending on how much it has rusted, but ultimately they will cost a third of what you would pay for a high-end non-stick coated pan.
  • They last longer. I've used the baby bear skillet off and on for over 10 years, whereas I've gone through about 3 non-stick pans in that same amount of time. Two of the pans eventually got scratches, one of them had the bejeezus burned out of it, making it completely unusuable. And, honestly, how many of us have used a non-stick pan even after it's gotten a scratch, full-well knowing that teeny-tiny microscopic flecks of coating would be leeching into food? I know I have, because the dang things cost so much money to replace.
  • You can use forks, metal spatulas, hunting knives, whatever you have on-hand to cook with when using a cast-iron skillet, whereas you have to use plastic or silicon with a non-stick pan. Actually, I've gotten around that by using bamboo rice paddles, but with mixed results.
  • Cast iron skillets give you the added bonus of a little bit of iron in everything you cook, whereas non-stick coatings have no nutritional value whatsoever (and I refer you to the second bullet-point to illustrate what you don't want in your food when cooking with non-stick pans).
  • If you read the post I wrote a year ago, Tracy left a great reason in the comments for not using Teflon or other non-stick coated skillets: Her birds are highly suseptible to the toxic fumes from an overheated non-stick pan.
To those who think, "oh, but all that grease you have to use with cast-iron skillets...." I say, "pshaw!" Once your pan is properly seasoned, you don't have to use much butter or oil at all to cook. And, who doesn't like butter?! Using good quality butter in your cooking is a small price to pay next to any negatives that come with using non-stick pans.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Workplace sustainability

Also (while I still have a few more minutes before flying back to work) have been taking stock of the sustainable practices in my workplace. The biggest one is paper recycling, something you would be irresponsible not to have in a library with the veritable mountain of paper students go through in copies. In my department the paper is not so much in printing and copying but with publications that get recycled when we no longer need them and the usual junk mail that accompanies our daily mail delivery.

Two of the women I work with have been doing neat, crafty things with old CD's and other items that would normally be discarded. I'll hopefully include more of these in another post, but wanted to show off the most functional of these.

The first photo is of one of the two towel holders they made for the main women's restroom on the first floor, and these come in handy when the custodians put in a new roll of paper towels and leave the old one for continued use by the side of the sink. The stack of CD's keeps the paper towels off the usually damp surface by the sinks, and ensures that the rolls won't just get tossed when they've absorbed too much water.

The second photo shows what the holder looks like without the roll. As you can (hopefully) see, the core is made from a wooden dowel with toilet paper holders that would normally get tossed after using. The whole thing is glue-gunned together, further demonstrating the almost magical abilities of this great invention. Thank you, inventor of the glue gun, and thank you, S. and D., for all your efforts at workplace sustainability!

Blog abandonment

I feel like I've been shirking my blogging responsibilities and thought I'd do a brief post to apologize for my lapse. My only excuses are the Seasonal Affective Whatchamahoosit I've been dealing with (S.A.W. for those in the know), and the fact that I've started a full-time job at another library on campus since graduation. This has been keeping me very busy and I still haven't found my groove yet, unfortunately. In fact, I'm posting now because I have a few spare minutes before I go back to work, having taken the morning off to go to a doctor's appt.

Wanted to point out that the campus library I'm working in now has the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification as a green building, and sorry the picture of the plaque is not clearer. Here are the U.S. Green Building Council's list of requirements to be given the LEED certification.

Need-a-Bag Project Update Februrary

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.

This has been my first post about Need-a-Bag? in a few weeks and my apologies. We've gotten some new donations and we thank everyone who works hard to keep us in bags! I didn't go to the market last weekend because I was sick but DG shouldered the responsibility and did her usual Saturday shopping. I'll be back this weekend, though!