Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nature Red in Tooth & Claw

I live in the country, with animals domestic & wild. I have no vision of Nature as fluffy & sweet. I've witnessed a flock of chickens with their heads ripped off by raccoons. My husband was startled by-- and startled-- a bear this summer as he was walking out to get the mail. I've seen what my well-fed cats do to animals smaller & slower than they are.

I love the ocean, yet am terrified by what it can do--I've sat on the beach & heard later that two people drowned there that same day--rip tides.

So, it's clear that the very nature & meaning of Natural is somewhat problematic...and that's why this is my favorite quote of the year

Do you object to vaccination? You'd probably object even more to smallpox.

It's from this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by David P. Barash.

A really thoughtful discussion of our ideas of the meaning of Nature, & our connection to it, a& responsibility for it. Another excellent remark:

As beautiful as it is bountiful and awe-inspiring, life proceeds via the taking of life, and is therefore no less likely to be ugly, amoral, and awful. And we are stuck in it, up to our necks ... and more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Burger That Won't Die--Truth or Lie?

There's been tales of a 12 year old McDonald's burger passed along the internetz--and of course, I'm willing to believe the worst of McDonalds (aren't we all).

But J. Kenjii Lopez-Alt, being a scientist, wanted to test whether this was true --

Thus far, I haven't located a single source that treats this McDonald's hamburger phenomenon in this fashion. Instead, most rely on speculation, specious reasoning, and downright obtuseness to arrive at the conclusion that a McDonald's burger "is a chemical food[, with] absolutely no nutrition."

--and did so, brilliantly here--

His results are pretty interesting--I won't give them away, but, just a warning--don't eat the Big Mac you just found in a pocket--the plain burger's ok, though if you're desperate.....

(thanks to CanadianChick for this)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sun Chips Redux--forced to be less Green by customers.

Apparently the compostable, bidegradeable bags that Sun Chips are so proud of are TOO NOISY--so some FB Fans went to work to solve this terrible problem--guess it was hard to hear what Snooki is saying over the rustle of the bags--so good-by save the Earth.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Zombies & Grim Reapers Run for Life

just got this press release from the Yes Men--about my favorite ironically titled run--Dow's Run for the Water

April 19, 2010

Underattended "Run for Water" plagued by death, zombies, and dozens of "Dow spokesmen"; truth seems to run free

Video: Yes Men video coming soon here; other video here
Stills: Yes Men pictures coming soon here; numerous others here
Contact: Whitney Black (803)466-3786;

Brooklyn, NY -- Bucolic Prospect park in Brooklyn, NY played host to a bizarre spectacle on Sunday, as a dramatically under-attended Dow-sponsored "Run for Water" was infiltrated and turned upside down by hundreds of furious activists, including a hundred dressed as Dow spokespeople.

New Yorkers who came to the park expecting a light run followed by a free concert found themselves unwitting extras in a macabre and chaotic scene as runners keeled over dead, Dow-branded grim reapers chased participants, and a hundred fake Dow representatives harangued other protesters and and handed out literature that explained Dow's greenwashing program in frank detail.

The actions called attention to Dow's toxic legacy in places like India (the Bhopal Catastrophe), Vietnam (Agent Orange) and Midland Michigan (Dioxin Contamination), and to the absurdity of a company with serious water issues all over the world sponsoring the Live Earth Run For Water.

After race cancellations in London, Milan, Berlin, and Sweden, on-site Dow brand managers were in damage-control mode. But their job was made harder by the hundred fake "Dow" spokespeople who loudly but clumsily proclaimed Dow's position ("Our race! Our earth!" and "Run for water! Run for your life!"), spoke with many runners, screamed at the other protesters, passed out beautifully-produced literature, and all in all looked a whole lot better than the real Dow reps, who seemed eager to make themselves scarce.

"I don't know what's going on here," said Tracey Von Sloop, a Queens woman who attended the race. "All I know is these people are both crazy, and Dow is f*ing sick. I'm outta here."

The event was the latest blow to Dow's greenwashing efforts, the most visible element of which is the "Human Element" multi-media advertising campaign, one of the most expensive, and successful, marketing efforts in recent history. It even won an "Effie Award" for the most effective corporate advertising campaign in North America.

"Effective," perhaps -- but also completely misleading. To name just a few examples of Dow's water-related issues: Dow refuses to clean up the groundwater in Bhopal, India, site of the largest industrial disaster in human history, committed by Dow's fully-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide. As a result, children continue to be born there with debilitating birth defects. Dow has also dumped hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic chemical byproducts into wetlands of Louisiana, and has even poisoned its own backyard, leaving record levels of dioxins downriver from its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan.

"We thought it must be a joke when we first heard that Dow Chemical Company was sponsoring a run for clean water," said Yes Woman Whitney Black. "Sadly, it was not. One of the world's worst polluters trying to greenwash its image instead of taking responsibility for drinking water and ecosystems it has poisoned around the world? What an awfully unfunny way to start off Earth Week. We decided the event needed a little comic relief."

Irony was piled on irony throughout the race, which Dow absurdly claimed was going to be "the largest solutions-based initiative aimed at solving the global water crisis in history. At one point, organizers were caught on tape dramatically throwing out excess water left over because of an embarrassingly low turnout.

Groups organizing the action included the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, New York Whale and Dolphin Action League, the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, the Wetlands Activism Collective, Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, Kids For A Better Future, The Yes Men, and hundreds of assorted volunteers, activists and mischief makers.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jamie Oliver--very, very green

I knew who JO was, of course, but never watched him on tv until something I read about his new show piqued my interest. I absolutely love him, now--I've watched three episodes of Food Revolution online, & finally am going to be home on a Friday night so I can watch two eps tonight.

Of course, it's tv, and edited and plotted for the utmost drama, with a lot of show & tell, but he does come across as a genuinely kind person--so if he's not, I don't care--the show with the various not popular & getting into trouble teens was so wonderful, he's on my good list forever.

He's in the unhealthiest city in the US, Huntington, WV--and he's attempting to educate people about food & change the way that they eat. A very noble cause, and apparently a very difficult one.

He doesn't place the root cause of what Americans eat & why into much context beyond the local--with the exception of the school lunch program being circumscribed by Federal standards that calls a totally processed meal--hamburger, fries acceptable, and Jamie's baked chicken, and rice with veggies in it not acceptable.

But we can't ask him to do everything at once, can we? Let's just watch him, & perhaps get inspired to be more active in our communities on food issues.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Going Locavore--Not Really Green?

Students in a design and architecture course at the California College of the Arts had the assignment to track down the origin of all ingredients of a taco sold by Juan's Taco Truck, of Portrero Hill.

Over the fall semester, the class tracked the origin and destiny of each element in the production of a taco from Juan’s Taco Truck, generally found at the corner of 17th and Carolina streets in Potrero Hill. Each student chose an individual ingredient to follow, from the adobo seasoning to the aluminum foil wrapping and propane used in cooking.

There were quite a few surprises--

The students were surprised to find that several ingredients were produced locally, such as the salt, which had come from just south of San Francisco. The cheese, which appeared at Restaurant Depot as an in-house brand called Supremo Italiano, was actually from a company with 10 regional plants around the West that source ingredients and sell locally, despite their larger national brand.

Other ingredients had come from much further away. The various spices in the Adobo seasoning, for instance, had traveled a combined 15,000 miles. The avocados had traveled from Chile, home of the world’s largest avocado grower (a company that was said to produce 300 million fruit per year). The rice was imported from Thailand, despite an abundance of California-grown rice, and was packaged under an array of brand names. “The taco truck owner may have bought the bag with the Sombrero on it, while another shopper at Restaurant Depot might have bought the exact same rice with a Buddha on the package,” said Bela.

The results of the assignment are fascinating, and illustrate the complexity of our world economy, and the difficulties inherent in ascertaining whether a product is environmentally "good" or "bad"--in fact must make us question such labels.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dental Floss--one small step....

I was trolling for silly personal care products to post about, I admit it. And this came up--it seems to be about six bucks per package--hmmnn, a little pricey--but maybe it's worth the price.

GreenYour.Com had some reasons to go natural on the floss

Use natural dental floss

Dental floss may seem like an insignificant bathroom item, but the amount of dental floss sold in the US each year could span the distance from the earth to the moon and back four times![1] All that dental floss—from production to disposal—surely adds up to have a significant impact on the environment. Lessen your impact by choosing floss that is not coated with petroleum-derived and environmentally damaging chemicals and floss sold in minimal packaging.

What to look for when choosing a natural dental floss

The main component of most dental floss is nylon, a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum products. Petroleum is a non-sustainable resource, the extraction and production of which has had major detrimental impacts on the soil, ground water, surface water, and ecosystems of the United States and around the world. Alternative flosses are made of silk. Silk is a natural fiber with minimal manufacturing-related eco-impacts (think resource intensiveness, pollution, and waste), but is frowned upon by many pro-animal rights environmentalists.

Despite the lack of a clear eco-friendly alternative for the basic component of dental floss, you can still make your dental floss purchases more eco-friendly by looking for the following:

  • Avoid polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE): Some floss (most popularly Crest Glide) is coated with PTFE, an ingredient that also provides the coating in non-stick cookware. Concern over this substance, called Teflon in everyday use, surrounds a chemical used in its manufacture, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that PFOA is persistent in the environment and in the blood of the general US population. While the EPA does not currently recommend that consumers stop using products made with PFOA, it has called on companies to reduce facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals by 95 percent by 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content by 2015.[2]
  • Look for unwaxed or natural wax coatings: Conventional waxed floss is generally coated with petroleum-derived, synthetic wax. Natural floss manufacturers eschew synthetic ingredients in favor of natural (plant-based or beeswax) coatings and flavorings.
  • Choose dental floss with minimal and recyclable packaging: Many dental floss containers are made from plastic (there's that pesky petroleum component again). Some manufacturers have limited the amount of plastic needed in their packaging by using cardboard cases or skipping the blister wrap. When considering packaging options, less is more, and always recycle, no matter what type of packaging you choose.
  • Go cruelty-free: If you're concerned about animal byproducts and animal treatment, you'll want to avoid silk floss and floss coated with beeswax, and choose products that do not employ animal testing. Two organizations supply third-party verification of a company's cruelty-free and vegan product claims. Leaping BunnyBy looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo, you can rest assured that your dental floss does not contain animal-derived ingredients and its components were never tested on animals.

To me, the nylon may not be an issue--you'd have to do a cost analysis of water & energy usage to produce the different flosses, and I suspect nylon is probably not more costly overall than the other materials--of course the silk is just ridiculous--I'm ignoring that--the idea of using silk floss is kind of the Yoga version of , "Let them eat cake".

The two issues with real merit are:

The PTFE --don't like the sound of that--probably better to not use that--the idea of it in contact with gums is not attractive.

The packaging--yes--agree with that--I'd love to have one less plastic thingy to throw in the trash.

Ok, so let's look at the Cranberry Floss--

Cranberry Floss:

coated with pure unsweetened cranberry essence, which is removed during the action of flossing and deposited on the gums to help break up plaque.
the floss is spun in natural beeswax to help sliding through tight spaces.

I kind of like the cranberry stuff coating--that might be nice for your gums--but I'm unclear on the "spun in natural beeswax" what is spun? So you don't know what it's made of, not good--it may be silk as the other floss made by Radius is Natural Silk Floss. And the packaging is plastic--not good at all.

If you want to natural, I'd go with packaging, twice as much yardage, it's nylon, but whatever.