Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

my plastic obsession confession

July 6, 2011

UPDATE: All of the plastic bits were claimed by a budding fashion designer, Sarah, who will make plastic couture with them. I’m so excited to have found someone who’s going to put all of my trashy treasures to use!

I’ve admitted this before, but I think I’ve lapsed into denial for a spell. Here’s my confession: I can’t throw plastic away. Mainly because I’m fully aware there is no “away.” Away is a hole in the ground in the best case scenario, and in the worst, away is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (there’s also a North Atlantic version, though it seems to get less press) and perhaps eventually our bodies (by way of the fish who are eating the plastic thinking it’s smaller fish or plankton). I think of the harmless creatures who end up living with and consuming this eternal flotsam. How can I discard all of these plastic bits that inevitably end up in my home in seemingly benign ways? Surely I won’t stop buying glass bottles of olive oil (with a plastic cap) or milk (with plastic cap), or stop buying plants (that come in plastic starter pots). And so I collect.

{bucket o’ plastic}

obsession #6

My collection started back when I had a regular day job and still drank coffee. I started thinking about my daily cup and the plastic (#6 polystyrene, or PS) lid that kept hot java from spilling on me or my computer. I thought about how just little old me was using up at least 250 of these plastic lids a year (now think of all of the people in the office, in the building, on the block, in the city, &c). For some time, instead of bringing my own travel mug, I continued to utilize this “free” paper cup and plastic lid as my vessel. And I began collecting. But then I quit my job and coffee along with it. To freelance gigs, I’d bring my own mug and tea. Though I still had that collection sitting in a box at home…

{PS. i hate you. yes, i’m talking to you, smiley plastic bear!}


what doesn’t get trashed, gets stashed

The #6 obsession was just the beginning. Plastic tabs from bread bags, bottle caps, grocery store vegetable conveyances – it all became fair game. Whatever bits of plastic I can’t recycle now get stashed in what has been deemed the crap closet, aka The Library of Trash (we are blessed with abundant closet space). The intention with the collection was to create something, a sculpture perhaps, that would heighten public awareness to the plastic pollution problem. My inspiration was an image that is deeply embedded in my psyche, encouraging my obsession to thrive: a dead albatross, stomach cut open to reveal about a half a pound of plastic bits.

{tragedy as a source of inspiration}


obsessions are obstructive

The collection sits and grows. And although my library of trash has proved useful for other projects, this sculpture I dreamed up has not come to be. I’ve decided it’s time to move on and find a new home for all the petroleum-derived bits & pieces. I know it will never really have a rightful home because it will outlast us by many millennia (no known organism has been found to degrade #6 plastic – move over Iron Age, the Plastic Age will live on in infamy!). But I imagine it will make a good material for kids’ art projects or might make a fellow trash artist happy for a while. I’m posting it on Craigslist, Freecycle, Krrb, Facebook, Twitter & right here. Any takers?

{polystyrene comes in many forms}

{#3 plastic, aka, PVC, polyvinyl chloride. another plastic i love to hate}

{this sticker is likely made of vinyl}

{i bring this form of polystyrene to the local postal shop for reuse}

{i’ll reuse some of these as packing material}

{it’s hard for me not to picture some kind of sea creature caught up in these nets}

For more about how to avoid the dangers of plastic & other toxins, check out Plastic Albatross.

related posts:

when will demand for virgin resources be exhausted?

revisiting the 3 Rs


wear wool and win

November 6, 2008

Does the idea of wool underwear make you itch? It shouldn’t if it’s deliciously soft merino wool from New Zealand. The only thing high performance, machine-washable, and eco-friendly merino wool clothing from Icebreaker will have you itching to do is hop the next plane to New Zealand to meet the sheep who wear this wool full time.

And a contest from Icebreaker is giving you the chance to do just that. Here’s how it works:

1. Get yourself an Icebreaker garment. Find its unique Baacode (that’s not a typo!). This tag will trace all of the steps of manufacture (see step 3).

2. Type in your Baacode number in the box provided on the site.

(If you can’t find a Baacode on your garment, you can use their demo Baacode: 213C3F390.)

3. Watch as your Icebreaker will be traced back through the supply chain — from animal welfare to the way the fabric was sewn together — to its birthplace in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

An entry form will pop up once your Baacode has been traced. Then just submit your details and you’ll be in the draw to win a trip to a merino ranch in New Zealand!

Icebreaker is the real deal
Learn more about their commitment to sustainability.

You can get Icebreaker at these retailers.

new york times covers proposition 2:

October 26, 2008

support for humane farm animal treatment

[Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.
Image: Michael Kelley for The New York Times]

In the Barnyard Strategist, Maggie Jones for the New York Times details all sides of the story on Proposition 2 — the measure that will provide farm animals with an incremental improvement in their living conditions.

Proposition 2, co-sponsored by the Humane Society and Farm Sanctuary, the biggest farm-animal-rights group in the United States, focuses on what are considered the worst animal-confinement systems in factory farms. The ballot initiative, which voters will decide on Nov. 4, requires that by 2015 farm animals be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. In effect that translates into a ban on the two-foot-wide crates that tightly confine pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal — a space so small that they can’t turn around. And it would eliminate so-called battery cages where four or more hens share a space about the size of a file drawer.

Read the rest.

The election is almost 1 week away!

But you still have time to help.

All I’m asking is that you help me reach my goal of having 20 friends donate $20 each to help 20 million animals. So far, 4 friends have showed their support.

Please click on the graphic below to donate to my $20/20 Campaign.

help me end inhumane factory farm practices

October 22, 2008

On Election Day in November, people in California will have the chance to vote on a commonsense measure that will help animals suffering inside factory farms. These animals are crammed into cages and crates so small that they can’t even turn around, lie down, or stretch their limbs. Proposition 2 will give them these basic freedoms.

If passed, Prop 2 is expected to have a huge impact on reforming factory farming practices nationwide — which is why you don’t need to live in California to help. It’s also why the agribusiness industry is spending millions to fight this reasonable reform, making it critical that animal protection advocates raise money needed to reach voters.

So what I’m asking is that you join me in reaching my goal of having 20 friends donate $20 each to help 20 million animals. Will you join me, and help me reach my goal?

This is a very important cause to me, so thank you — from me, and the animals!

The election is less than 2 weeks away!

Please click on the graphic below to donate to my $20/20 Campaign.

Please watch the following video from Jennifer Fearing, campaign manager for YES! on Prop 2:

banksy dolittle

October 17, 2008

Instead of talking to the animals, he talks for them. Today, I took a look at British street artist Banksy’s latest statement at The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill (7th Ave South btwn West 4th and Bleecker). Animal testing, commodity meat, fur, and general animal exploitation all demonstrated in a fun animatronic medium. Now through October 31st.

Baby McNuggets

Cat? No coat.

Fishy sticks

Thirsty dog

Monkey pawrn

Bunny beauty
(I found it interesting that he chose Orly nail polish, which is NOT tested on animals. Though there is also a Revlon polish on that bunny’s bureau.)

bill niman and his goats (!!!)

October 16, 2008

Bill Niman is going back to his roots. He walked away from Niman Ranch — and even his name — after disagreements with new management over protocols in animal treatment. (I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat Niman Ranch anymore, I’ll have to do some more research on this one.)

[Image: Chad Case for The New York Times]

This time, he’s focusing on goats. I love goats, but I’m not sure I can eat one. They’re almost like dogs in my mind. But if they’re humanely raised (ie, able to live a healthy life, doing the things that goats like to do) I guess the practice of farming them for meat is okay with me. I don’t know Mr. Niman, but I think I can trust that he takes good care of his goats. And his vegetarian wife probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Read the NY Times article about Niman and his goats.

Check out some picture I took recently at the Central Park Zoo:

storm king

October 14, 2008

Last Friday I went with a couple of friends to Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY (about an hour north of the GW bridge). The weather couldn’t have been better. The sun was shining, it was cool in the shade and cozy in the sun.

Fall is the perfect time — as the leaves are changing — to explore the sprawling 500-acre landscape where art intersects nature. I was sad to learn that the art center is closed to the public from November to April. I would love to come back in the Winter to see how the views change through the seasons.

Here are a few of the sculptures on view, the way that I saw them.

Alexander Calder The Arch
We speculated as to what inspired this. I say it’s an elephant, a friend says it’s a cat with an arched back, a ship coming in to harbor. Whatever it is it was imposing, and magnificent.

Alexander Liberman Adonai

I just love how the color of the steel matches the leaves of this tree.

Sol Lewitt Five Modular Units
From this angle, it looks like the trees downhill from the sculpture are actually placed inside the cubes.

Ionic columns
These were salvaged from Danskammer, a mansion built in 1834 that overlooked the Hudson, north of Newburgh.

Hey Mr. Grasshopper!
(Click on me for more detail)

Mark Di Suvero Mon Père, Mon Père
Di Suvero created this in memory of his father. To me it looks like a piece of farm equipment, fitting right in with the once agricultural landscape.

A pastoral scene
This land was farmed for over 200 years, before Hudson Valley farming became difficult to sustain on the scale it once was. Later in the last century, the fields became overrun with invasive plants. Today, native long grasses and wildflowers have been reincorporated into the fields, adding depth to the scenery and contributing to the beauty of the sculptures.

Richard Serra Schunnemunk Fork

I’m a big Serra fan, but I’m more familiar with his gigantic twisted pieces of steel that tower over you like a Hokusai wave. This “fork” took a while to get a hold of me. There were four of these pieces of steel jutting out of the farmland. I really like the way the metal weathers, the pits that emerge. The smooth reflections cast are surprising for such a matte surface.

[Hey Mr. Spider!]

Turkey vulture
This was all I could think of while watching this bird soar above, “Old turkey buzzard… Old turkey buzzard. Fly-ing, flying high” (If you watch David Letterman, you might know this tune).

Menashe Kadishman Suspended
What the? This thing freaked me out big time. It really screws with your perception of depth and balance. My friends had the audioguide, so they learned this seemingly impossible sculpture has counterweights that go underground to support it. After the demystification, we felt comfortable enough to stand under it.

I highly recommend a visit to Storm King. I may even be going back before it closes for the Winter.

happy re-birthday prospect park zoo!

October 7, 2008

Prospect Park Zoo is celebrating its 15th birthday this year, but its history is pretty rich. It started as a menagerie in the late 1800s, housing various animals, probably not in the most humane way.

[Image: Prospect Park, Menagerie c.1900]

In 1935, following the Central Park Zoo’s example, it reopened as a zoo.

Sadly, the Prospect Park Zoo closed in 1987 after a tragic incident.

The zoo reopened in 1993 under the management of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and has been thriving ever since. I’m lucky enough to have the zoo right in my backyard (well, close enough).

So the zoo is celebrating their birthday in some unique ways. Like giving presents to baboons. Maybe it’s a bit ridiculous to give baboons gifts, but they seem mildly entertained. (This video is from last year, but the same shenanigans went on this year for the zoo’s birthday.)

Read more about the 15th birthday here.

Visit the Prospect Park Zoo.

Become a member of the WCS and enjoy access to all of the city’s zoos and aquarium, and more!

goats are great (lawnmowers)

September 20, 2008

I have a thing for goats, as some of you might already know. If I had a yard and it were legal in this city, I’d have a goat. So naturally I was excited to see this Nightline feature on goats as lawnmowers in LA. Check it out:

there are whales out there!

September 19, 2008

Right here in NYC, not far from the isle of Manhattan, whales are dodging cargo ships and singing their melancholy songs. It’s a first for the city, not their presence, but the recording of their sounds — of humpback, northern right, and fin whales.

This is an exciting time for New Yorkers. Just think, just miles from the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and Times Square, the great whales are singing,” says Chris Clark, the Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “These are some of the largest and rarest animals on this planet trying to make a living just a few miles from New York’s shores. It just goes to show us that there are many important and wonderful discoveries to be made about the living world right here, right in our back yards.

Read more at Science Daily.