Archive for September, 2008

zero waste, a girl can dream

September 30, 2008

If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.

Pete Seeger

from “If It Can’t Be Reduced”
off his new album “At 89
taken verbatim from a
Berkeley, CA city council resolution

more about our emptied oceans

September 30, 2008

It seems like a challenging task to demonstrate how vast our negative impact on the oceans is. Most obviously because, when we look out at an open sea, we can’t see below the surface.

Randy Olson, documentarian and one-time marine biologist, shows us how depleted the oceans have become in a one minute video. He simply compares the observations of two ocean voyages 50 years apart. Pretty compelling stuff.

Read the NYT blog about it here.

Related post
fin, finito, bye bye fishies

tracing the backstory of stuff

September 29, 2008

When we buy something new we usually know only a few elements of its backstory. We know where it is was “made” and where we are buying it. We might even know a little bit about what it’s made from by the label. But the origin and impact of the materials and the process of making the product is mostly a mystery to us.

[Image: brianinsanfran]

There are few examples of transparency in the manufacturing of goods. Patagonia stands out as one company with a policy of openness. And while they are by today’s standards a shining example of sustainability, they are not without their flaws. They bare all in the Footprint Chronicles, where the user can trace the backstory of a Patagonia product. The good and bad aspects of production are highlighted, as well as where the company thinks they need to improve. There’s even an opportunity for you to let them know what you think about their efforts.

Read more about Becoming Better Backstory Detectives at WorldChanging.

You can get Patagonia products at Amazon, REI, and Patagonia.

hot bread kitchen

September 28, 2008

I don’t know how they do it, but this stuff is good. Hot Bread Kitchen, based in Long Island City, bakes up some delicious granola. It’s not too sweet, with crunchy almonds and pepitas, plump raisins, and just the right amount of flavor. I just had some with juicy peaches from the farmer’s market and almond milk. A great way to start a rainy Sunday, or any day really.

Hot Bread Kitchen also makes yummy crispy lavash breads topped with zaatar, sesame, or poppy seeds. They’re great with cheese, hummus, or even naked.

I haven’t tried their focaccia breads or corn tortillas, but I’m guessing they’re just as great as the granola and lavash.

Of course, all of their ingredients are organic and local (or I wouldn’t be telling you about them!).

Where can I get these tasty baked goods?
Hot Bread Kitchen, in keeping with the eat local philosophy, is [mostly] only available in NY. (Sorry to tease all of you outside NY!) You can find the purveyors of their goods on their site.

Hot Bread Kitchen, in addition to being a great bakery, is helping to preserve the culinary traditions of different cultures from around the world. At the heart of their business is support for women who’ve immigrated to the US — empowering them through jobs and providing ESL classes.

ecofest nyc 2008

September 27, 2008

Tomorrow at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, ECOFEST will kick off its 20th year of providing the public with free info on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

This year’s ECOFEST will include an eco-friendly fashion show, musical performances, product demonstrations and alternative energy vehicle displays.

ECOFEST is organized and produced by the West Side Cultural Center in New York.

Learn more and watch ECOFEST’s public service announcement delivered by Pete Seeger (who I’m going to see today!).

get a light, give a light

September 26, 2008

I love when I know a product is both useful and philanthropic. Like SunNight Solar’s BOGO flashlight. It’s solar-powered, water resistant, and durable. And for every flashlight purchased, one is given to someone in need in a developing nation.

Here are some technical specs:

  • Charges in 8-10 hours and provides 6-8 hours of illumination
  • Provides enough light to perform nighttime activities with 6 super bright LEDs
  • Powered by 3, standard NiCd AA, rechargeable, and replaceable batteries
  • Will last up to 1000 cycles of powering
  • Water resistant

Buy one, give one. You can get one in orange or pink.

maggie’s nuts and nellie’s balls

September 25, 2008

Hey, keep it clean!
We’re talking laundry here.

Maggie’s Soap Nuts

Wait a minute. Nuts that clean laundry? Well, almost — the nut in this case is actually the dried fruit of the Chinese soapberry tree. The fruit contains saponin, a natural cleaner that’s been in use for millenia.

Soap nuts contain no additional ingredients (just nuts!). And if used in cold water, they can be re-used multiple times before discarding (you can throw ’em in your compost pile!). Your box of nuts also includes a cotton wash sack and a pair of seed earrings made by Balinese artisans. Read all the FAQs about Maggie’s Soap Nuts here.

Get a 50-load box of soap nuts here.

Eco-bonus: In suffering rural economies Soapberry trees are cut down and sold as lumber and firewood to feed hungry families. Maggie’s Pure Land reserves the Soapberry harvest years in advance, providing families with guaranteed income from living Soapberry trees.

Nellie’s Dryerballs

I came across Nellie’s Dryerballs on a website the other day and I can’t keep my mind off of them. These nubby little things actually reduce dryer time by up to 25% while acting as a chemical-free fabric softener. They also reduce lint and wrinkles as they speed up the drying process. Oh, and they have a two-year manufacturer’s guarantee. I need to get some of these!

UPDATE: I’m not sure I’d recommend these, now that I know they are made of PVC. I also don’t know if I’d recommend tennis balls, because of the potential for residual smell on your clothes. But I just found these wool dryer balls on Apartment Therapy, and a DIY version here.

(Surprisingly, Maggie and Nellie are not in cahoots.)

sip, sip, aaah

September 25, 2008

There’s something so comforting about a warm, spicy cup of tea on an overcast day. Right now I’m sipping one of my favorites, Red Chai Masala from Organic India. It’s caffeine-free and has rooibos (aka, African red bush) tea, which I’ve read has more antioxidants than green tea.

Organic India has a whole line of Tulsi teas — green, peppermint, honey chamomile, lemon ginger, and more — that all contain Tulsi or holy basil. Tulsi is considered “The Queen of Herbs” in India for its healing properties, like immune system support and stress relief.

Organic India is dedicated to organic and sustainable farming practices and promoting healthy, conscious living. Learn more about their philosphies here.

You can get Tulsi tea here.

The position of human beings will improve to the extent that they behave with humility towards others.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

(Oh, I just sipped the last drop. Gonna brew some more!)

pete seeger, this saturday at BBG

September 24, 2008

[Image: Annie Liebovitz]

Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer, activist, and lover of everyone on the planet, is headlining the Chile Pepper Fiesta this Saturday (9/27) at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He’ll be accompanied by his son, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, and blues guitarist Guy Davis.

There’s also a full day of activities planned, including more musical performances, cooking demonstrations, tastings, and tours. The $8 admission to the garden gets you access to all the fun.

Learn more about the Fiesta at BBG’s site.

Learn more about Clearwater, the environmental advocacy group co-founded by Pete Seeger.

non-toxic non-stick

September 24, 2008

Nonstick pans are generally safe if you use them with care. But they do contain certain chemicals that, if the conditions are just right, can cause serious health problems.

When cooking with conventional nonstick, be sure to use plastic, wooden, or silicone utensils. Metal utensils create flaking, so chips can end up in your food. Also, according to Consumer Reports, flaking can lead to uneven heating, which in turn may elicit toxic fumes.

If polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or most commonly Teflon) is heated too high (over 500° F), the coating releases hazardous fumes. One of the chemicals used to make nonstick coating, called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals and could also be dangerous to humans, according to Consumer Reports. PFOA is also found in the blood of 95% of the US population.

The fumes from overheated Teflon have been known to kill pet birds and produce flu-like symptoms in humans — so be sure to keep your bird out of the kitchen, keep your kitchen well-ventilated, or replace your pans.

[Source: Environmental Working Group]

This is where Starfrit’s Eco Chef Pans come in handy. They don’t contain Teflon — what gives them their nonsticking power is a chemical-free ceramic powder called Ceram-ECO. Made from natural resources, Ceram-ECO also retains heat better than Teflon. The Eco Chef Pans are also supposedly easy to clean (just don’t put them in the dishwasher).

What makes these pans even more eco-friendly is that they’re made from 99% recycled aluminum.

You can get a whole 9-piece set for $149.99 at Amazon.

[inspired by CNET]