Tuesday, July 31, 2007
And here's another question: What are the implications for stopping an increase in dumping pollutants into Lake Michigan? I'm guessing that the cost of gasoline will be affected if this permit is not granted. If this permit doesn't get passed, then maybe we'll have to pay even more money for gas. Imagine this: Would you be willing to pay $5/gallon for gasoline?
If I had to pay $5/gallon for gas, then it would alter my driving habits considerably. I already bike to work; well, my biking behavior would definitely increase. I would also think twice before hopping into car...I would ask myself if I really needed to drive to that destination and I would consider alternatives to driving to those locations. Maybe I would take the train to Chicago, as opposed to riding the bus. I would certainly drive less than I do now...no going to Saugatuck, which I'm driving to tomorrow!
Sure, I'm entertaining these questions now, but these questions would carry much more weight if the cost of gas were substantially raised. The gas issue also reminds me of Europeans, who are already accustomed to paying more for gas. So maybe it's about time we address how these issues (and implications) will affect our lifestyle behaviors.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Maybe, but not necessarily. It's all a matter of framing (and some creativity).
Here's an idea: What if Wildwood Foods got rid of those plastic fitments and redesigned their containers to be eco-friendly? They could even add an eco-friendly logo on their containers to promote this redesign. Better yet, Wildwood Foods could have a cute slogan telling customers how they're helping to save the environment by eliminating unnecessary waste in their packaging.
Ok, so let's say Wildwood redesigned their product to be 100% eco-friendly. And suppose you were at the supermarket wanting to buy soymilk. Would you buy the Wildwood brand that no longer has the plastic fitment, but endorses the protection of our oceans and planet with this eco-friendly container, OR would you go with Silk, the competitor brand that offers the convenience of having a plastic fitment on their containers?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Beth from fakeplasticfish.com recently asked me to write a letter to Wildwood, which is a company that sells organic goods. The purpose of writing this letter was to encourage Wildwood to stop using plastic fitments on their soymilk containers (you know, that plastic thingy that keeps milk fresh).
So I wrote this letter. To his credit, the President of Wildwood sent me a very courteous response on the same day. In his reply, he said that Wildwood has addressed the issue of waste on a broader level. For instance, Wildwood doesn't purchase soybeans from China, thus reducing their dependency on fuel.
Yet, based on his response, it was clear to me that this fitment issue was considered too trivial for Wildwood to address.
So I started asking myself, is this really a puny issue or is there something more? And that's when Beth told me about her concern regarding the effects of plastic waste on marine life. Wanting to know more about this issue, I've spent the last few days reading about the amount of plastic found in the Pacific Ocean. I learned, for instance, that there's six times more plastic than plankton in the Pacific, which is quite a disturbing statistic.
Anyway, if you have a moment, I hope you watch this 10 minute video that raises awareness on the amount of plastic waste found in our oceans.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Usually, an online store will include a special note (or comment) section in the order. If you see this option, you can leave a note like this one:
“Please use minimal and recycled packaging. Kindly do not include any catalogs, inserts, fliers, shrink-wrap, bubble wrap, packing confetti, plastic “pillows,” or Styrofoam peanuts. (You can use crumpled up newspaper if padding is necessary.) Please do not include me in any mailing lists or exchange lists you may have. Thank you!"
With this tip in mind, I went online to purchase an organic t-shirt from Mountains of the Moon. I was eagerly searching for that "special note" section on their online form, but you know what? They don't have one! Sheesh, just my luck. Well, hopefully I'll receive my shirt without frivolous packaging--they're an environmentally-conscious business after all! :0)
Monday, July 23, 2007
On Saturday, there was a press conference in Whiting, IN, where one of BP's oil refineries is located. Both Senator Dick Durbin and House Representative Rahm Emanuel have joined the campaign to protest against dumping more wastewater into Lake Michigan.
I'm so glad to hear this news; we need to have this level of support against a giant company like BP.
In addition, the Chicago Park District is asking folks to sign the "Save the Lake" petition. Wanting to sign this petition, but noticing there's not an online method to do so, I called Janis Taylor of the Chicago Park District. Janis told me it's ok to print the pdf file, sign my name, and fax it over to her. If you feel compelled to keep Lake Michigan clean, I encourage you to sign and fax this petition, too.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
But not me. I don't want to use non-renewable resources for handling pet waste. (Remember, plastic bags are made from polyethylene, which is originally made from crude oil and natural gas.) If we're going to use these non-renewable resources, shouldn't we use it for something more important than dog poo?
As an alternative, I use these Pooch Pick-Up bags instead. These poo bags are great because they're smaller than a plastic bag, making it less cumbersome to deal with. And most important, they're made from cornstarch, so the bags are biodegradable.
But here's the catch: At a recent compost seminar, I was advised not to compost my pet waste with my food scraps. So now what am I supposed to do? The solution is to create a compost pocket. This so-called "compost pocket" is basically a small hole for composting pet waste. I like this idea, but I'll have to ask my landlord if it's okay to dig a hole in her backyard for this purpose.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
So New Yorkers are going to look hot while shopping at Whole Foods. According to Anya Hindmarch, the designer of these bags, it's all about supply and demand. If people think there's a limited edition, they're going to want those bags even more.
What a savvy approach to raising awareness about this bag issue! I guess if a person doesn't care about the environmental and/or economic issues regarding the consumption of plastic bags, they may still change their old ways all in the name of fashion!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Surely, there are airports that offer recycling. And I do remember seeing recycling bins at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Wouldn't this be a boon to the recycling industry if they expanded their businesses at airports? And how about recycling those aluminum cans and water bottles on airplanes? Although it's perhaps difficult to conceive of a "green" airline, it would be a step in the right direction if airline companies recycled their cans, bottles, and newspapers. I actually thought Delta offered recycling, but I was disappointed when the flight attendant threw away my empty water bottle in the trash. Yep, that's right: I forgot to bring my SIGG travel bottle with me. Ah, my personal guilt trip continues....
Anyway, I did a quick search online and discovered a few airports that offer recycling:
- San Diego International Airport
- Salt Lake City Department of Airports
- Fort Lauderdale International Airport
- Portland International Airport
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
The EPA also provides a comprehensive overview on how to initiate a recycling program at "your" airport. Though I commend the EPA for providing this information, how reasonable is it to think an individual could really implement this program on their own? For starters, you would need "senior management support," a "recycling coordinator", a team of "green employees," and a host of materials and supplies. Might this information be better suited for recycling programs that wish to expand their business practices?
In the meantime, I've challenged myself to reduce my garbage footprint when traveling. Based on my recent experience, I suspect this will be a greater challenge than I had initially anticipated.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I'm a psychologist, clearly not a chemist, ecologist, nor a biologist, so perhaps these are silly questions to ask, but what does "treated wastewater" really mean?? How is this waste neutralized and how rigorous are these tests that measure treated wastewater? How often does IDEM evaluate the content of treated wastewater? Does treated wastewater have any deleterious effects on plants and animals?
I'm definitely going to read this document carefully; hopefully, I'll gain greater insight into this wastewater issue. If you have a moment to peruse this document, please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter. Oh, and any information you're able to send my way concerning what the heck "treated wastewater" really means is much appreciated. And thanks, Anonymous, for posting this document on the blog!! :0)
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I've also been feeling guilt recently. I know my carbon footprint has grown with all this traveling (i.e., driving, flying) and increased usage of disposable products (i.e., water bottles). But don't get me wrong; it hasn't been all doom & gloom....I've been using my resuable bags in Puerto Rico. And to be sure, I've received my fair share of weird looks for using these bags!! :0)
Anyway, this is a tough post to write. Who wants to consider these environmental issues while on vacation? And who wants to write about seeing eyesores while visiting a beautiful island? Not me. But there's no turning back now. I feel guilt because I see the world in an environmentally-conscious way. And though feeling this guilt is not fun, I wouldn't return to my former state of ignorance.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
One of several waterfalls in El Yunque:
Me making mofongo for the very first time:
And yes, the mofongo was mmm, mmm, GOOD!!
Saturday, July 07, 2007
All kidding aside, I'm actually quite optimistic about eating local foods in Puerto Rico. My grandmother Celia has chickens in her backyard (mmm...she makes the best egg sandwiches) and several trees that yield mangoes, avocados, and limes. There's also vendors on just about every street corner who sell quenepa (a fruit I've only had in PR), coconuts, papas rellenos, and other tasty treats. Really, the more I think about eating locally-produced, Puerto-Rican food, the more upbeat I am about meeting this Crunchy Challenge. If only I didn't sound like a gringa when I speak Spanish!!
Friday, July 06, 2007
For instance, my friend Sean and I walked everywhere because Philly's such a pedestrian-friendly city. And walking around Philly was like eye-candy. We saw murals by Isaiah Zagar, statues by Robert Indiana, and dozens of community gardens.
farmers' markets to frequent and restaurants that promoted locally-produced, organic foods on their menus.
Oh dear, what's not to love about Philly?
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Afterwards, we got down to business by first consulting The Redbook Cookbook, last published in 1971. The instructions to make Baked Chicken with Herb Gravy were straight-forward, thank goodness. We also sauteed the zucchini, squash, and swiss chard. Oh my goodness, just recalling our dinner makes me salivate!
Eating locally-grown, organic food tastes so, SO good!!
To pass this good cheer forward, I would also like to nominate the following blogs for raising public awareness about sustainability in the blogosphere:
Crunchy Chicken: "I'm a mother of two trying to reduce my impact on the environment. But mostly I'm just clucking around."
Leadership Class: "I am a 15-year-old living in Taihape, New Zealand. My intrests include playing sport, hanging out with friends and listening to music. My favourite subjects are English and Social Studies. If you have any suggestions or ideas or would like to share similar experiences with my class and I, it would be greatly appreciated if you left a comment, Thanks!"
Confessions of a Closet Environmentalist: "A couple of environmental minded students setting out to live sustainably on a student budget. This is a record of the struggle, the successes and the failures. Along the way, the attempt to fight the negative stereotypes of being an 'environmentalist'."
Monday, July 02, 2007