Archive for February, 2008

A New Neighborhood and an Old Friend

The “Green Blogs” link to your right popped up a few weeks ago without explanation- it’s a collection of recent headlines from a passel of blogs with ecoleanings, and it’s full of interesting stuff- a few project blogs like mine, but also updates from Grist and some environmental news sites. I am a recent addition to their feed, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the neighbors.

Our new “Craft” link is a dear friend’s etsy shop. If you haven’t run across it before, etsy is a marketplace for independent craftspeople- they sell clothing, jewelry, art, beads, stickers, books, paper- it’s overwhelming. Something for every price range and taste, and a large number of people create their art with found and recycled objects, and it’s got an option to only search items from local artists, for that extra sustainable touch. Shopping for specific items can be daunting, but it’s easy to find beauty with their random browsers. My friend designs jewelry with resin work and vintage beads, and it’s just lovely- she always did have good taste.

Hurrah for the handmade! Why it is so much easier to love something you’ve made, or someone made you, or someone just planned and was proud of and created? Emotional investments in things aren’t supposed to be that wholesome, but there’s a pride in work, and considered action that goes into making things that reminds us of so much more than a teapot. Or an earring. So you can cherish the thing for all the right reasons.

Motion, Sickness

The bulk of my move is finished. It was a bit of a nightmare, since I caught some sort of plague last Wednesday, only it wasn’t the quick violent death plague, it was the lingering hacking plague of delirious pain. As I recall, several of my excellent friends actually moved all my stuff- I remember is waving my arms in an attempt to help, and coughing. Then buying them pizza, and trying not to cough on it. But now I’m here, and my Black Death has subsided to a dull headache and scratchy throat, and I can begin my new practically carfree city life of small footprint living!

Except Alexandria won’t let me park my car for good until I get a parking pass, so I had to drive to work today, and I have to drive out to McLean tomorrow and prove I am being paid to work so I can sign my lease so I can prove I live in Alexandria (still) so I can park my car on the street. Then! Then I can live the carfree life!

I haven’t done the green “coming out” to my roommates yet. I think they suspect something- they’ve been warned I am bringing over my composter, so they have to have some idea. But I waited until I was alone to fish a bottle out of the trash to recycle today, and I assume it’s only a matter of time before I get all uppity about running a half load of dishes/laundry and not using drying racks or something.

I like my housemates very much, and I think this is an interesting fact about their living situation prior to my arrival: Between the three of them, they own 1 spoon, and 1 copy of Rock Band. Or at least, I’ve only found 1 spoon in two days of hunting. They’re all well-adjusted young professionals otherwise. I suppose if I bring my composter and silverware over at the same time, I could just sneak in the former and bide my time about it, since they’ll be so happy about being able to eat soup all at the same time finally?

Review: Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies

I’m at home sick today, and generally when I don’t feel well, I want Goldfish. The slightly salty, cheese cracker kind, specifically. I don’t have any, though. They taste best from the big cartons, like the 3-packs at Costco and the gigantic milk-type cartons will do (they start out good but get stale faster than the 3-packs), but I haven’t been to Costco recently, so. I did get a little box of pseudo-Goldfish yesterday, and I’ve had a few for comfort today instead, and I will review those for you.

I annies cheddar bunnieshave a box of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. They’re like goldfish, in that they are tiny baked cheese crackers, only they look like bunnies, and they are organic. Whole Foods is dangerous and fun, because their snack foods emit the siren call of organicity, and the have the haunting allure of fair tradicousness. This has led me to purchase items like organic pop tarts on several occasions that I am not entirely proud of, although I have determined that their organic poptarts actually taste good, like spices and fruit and flour, as opposed to like sugary cardboard, as a normal poptart does. Still, that is no reason to buy them, since pop tarts probably aren’t real food.

I digress. I bought the Cheddar Bunnies Tuesday due to 1/3 not having goldfish, 1/3 really wanting goldfish, and 1/3 being curious. They taste…fine. Cheesier than Goldfish, but without the necessary salty tang that pleases me. Also, the bunny shape is flat and too intricate, and richer (do I detect more butter?) than the simple baked cheese taste of the Goldfish. It lacks the simple bulbous fish body shape, the crunching of which hollow space is probably 25% of the enjoyment of the fish.

In terms of packaging, there aren’t that many bunnies in the box, compared to the glut of fish available at Costco. Buying a big box of fish is more efficient, waste-wise. The three-pack at Costco has a recyclable outside box and three plastic inner bags, and this has a tiny recyclable box of recycled cardboard, and a small plastic inner bag. Per bunny, I produce more waste that I would per fish.

On the upside, since the bunnies aren’t as tempting, I don’t eat too many of them and ruin my dinner.

Really, this is all a matter of taste- but if you like the salty, crunchy fish, you might not like Annie’s Organic attempts. I should go back to Costco to fulfill my true cheese cracker desires, but first, I should take some aspirin and go back to bed.

Progress: None

Except for the multicolored mold colony growing on my abandoned compost- they’re making great progress. It appears they’re about to progress from the agricultural age to the industrial age, though, so I should get all deus ex cleaning soon (wonder if they’ve invented literary traditions yet?).

So, when I said last week or so that all I needed to do was find some “live” dirt, I a) realized that here in DC, I have no dirt that I’m technically allowed to dig in, and b) started putting my life into boxes, limiting my time and energy to dress up like a ninja and dig a few handfuls out near the parking lot. Though actually, if I really wanted to be subtle about that, I should probably dress as a gardener.

I’m going to go ahead and declare this Compost Failure February. The stuff is gross enough that I just need to dump it, clean out the bin, and move it this weekend, then start over again.

Meanwhile, I haven’t had much time to put up some stuff, but here are a few quick links so I can get my blog on before I go set more things in more boxes.

1)The governor of Maryland is sponsoring a bill that would limit the state’s carbon emissions to 90% of something by 2050. That sounds nice, in the vaguest sense of nice. I heart lowering carbon emissions and all, but a bill that just says they should be lowered? All that is, is a bunch of dead trees and hot air. More concrete plans, please, MD legislature? I do wish to be impressed.

2)You know how those fashion industry types are all concerned about the planet and stuff, in between when they’re telling us to buy new clothing every 2-3 months? A show at the London Fashion week highlighted designers making ethically produced clothes– based on the principles of fair trade, sustainable fabrics and dyes, “timelessness”, and recycling fabrics. Estethica had hits and misses, (misses! har!), but most of their clothes were much more tastefully nice than the vast majority of fashion week freakiness. At their website you can look through the different designers and collections (I’ll highlight the ‘colouring changing knickers‘- my my. not exactly my ‘favourites’, but they have a certain cachet). It’s not exactly as sustainable as the Salvation Army, or making it yourself (with stuff from the Salvation Army!), but it’s better than fashion types usually do.

(get my blog on? argh. long day.)

How was your Valentine’s Day?

Mine was pretty good, thanks! The Gentleman Friend and I decided to do our celebrating tomorrow- we’re cooking together.  A movie may or may not be involved. Tonight, I can get ready for my construction site inspection (architecture school field trips are sweet) and munch on the loaf of bread the GF baked me earlier this week.

In honor of both the GF and the day, here’s an article on the more sustainable flower farms in Colombia (his country of extraction, more or less). They don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day so much- instead, Feb 14th is the “International Day of Flower Workers”, since about 100,000 Colombians grow about a billion dollars worth of flowers for export every year. A new program called “Floraverde” is providing these flower farms with a chance to certify themselves in social standards for their workers and environmental standards for their growing operation- and it’s catching on. They’re still working on the whole right to organize labor thing, but over 40% of their farms are now certified with the program since 2003, or are in the process of certification.

I’m excited about the Valentine’s Day when my Gentleman Friend can buy me flowers and know that he’s buying a product that wasn’t grown with dangerous chemical pesticides, and wasn’t transported long distances to him by dirty fuels, and the proceeds of which purchase go back to be invested with the people who produced them in the first place, to help grow everybody’s economy. For now, I’m happier without them. Well, ok, sometimes they do help when he’s got some explaining to do, but still.

Let me know how sustainably yours went!

Party On, Potomac Primary People

Hey, Virginia, Maryland, and denizens of DC! Somebody wants to hear what you’ve got to say. Go vote today. It counts.

UPDATE: I voted today, and it was totally awesome. You should try it.

The Vicinity of My Head

From recently inside my head, two quick follow-ups, then a review of external bits:

First, still on the fence about buying into Valentine’s day? Reuter’s has a dampening article on the child labor and human trafficking that go into producing much of the world’s cocoa, harsh chemicals dumped on roses and inhaled by farm workers, and those crazy war diamonds. Get off the fence and try something else! If the dear heart’s heart is set on chocolate, check out fair trade chocolate options. (My head? It is now salivating.)

Second, Mike Bloomberg is chastising the US government for promoting corn ethanol as a viable fuel. Sure, it’s interesting because I talked about it yesterday (sensing a pattern in this post?), but Bloomberg has also been flirting with running for president this year. Fred Thompson has already shown us the pitfalls of merely flirting with the idea, though, and the rash (yes, rash) of interesting primary action will probably make late entries into the race less interesting by comparison. But the loud green mayor of NY seems to want to make his voice heard on the national stage, and if he’s got a message like this, let’s hear some more.

Finally, let us turn our heads to my shampoo (masculine types are dismissed, unless they’re looking for tips on how to smell not so, well, dude-like).

avalon organics shampooI’ve been trying out a few ecofriendly shampoos, and it’s been a rough process. Literally. Whole Foods brand grapefruit shampoo and conditioner left my hair feeling unwashed and unconditioned. Plus, they smell sickly-sweet. Avalon Organics has a Lavender shampoo and conditioner that smell good- like real lavender, not the fake lavender scent. Their shampoo takes a lot of work to lather (it’s not my water’s fault) and their conditioner, while promising to nourish, leaves my hair brittle even when I let it sit a while. If you like the smell, the lack of animal testing, and the “100% vegetarian ingredients”, give the shampoo a try and avoid the conditioner- though the latter might work better for you if your hair is short or oily.

trader joes conditionerReally, though, you can skip the other two brands altogether and check out Trader Joe’s store brand. Their conditioner actually conditions– and I’ve got long, curly, slightly dry hair, so that’s a tough proposition. It’s $2 a bottle, smells fantastic, wasn’t tested on animals, and it’s got mostly organic ingredients. It does contain a couple parabens, which haven’t been proven to cause breast cancer in anything. Natural health people add an ominous “yet” to that statement. Avalon Organics consciously avoids them, but hey: Avalon Organics hasn’t produced a working conditioner yet, so. I’ll keep testing. (If you can’t wait for me to come up with another suggestion, try the comments at Green as a Thistle‘s similar post.)

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