a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for the ‘activism’ Category

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Most of us rabid recyclers find great frustration and a healthy dose of guilt when we end up with number 5 plastics (like yogurt tubs and clam-shell containers) that are recyclable, but have no where to go to be recycled. Arrgh! Collection is few and far between in most communities.

Once you’ve converted to all the seedlings pots you can use, how do I keep these out of the landfill where they will sit for something like a gabillion years – ? I cut way back at buying foods in this kind of packaging, but, well, it’s not fun or easy. I like yogurt! (although, I do salute my local co-op for packaging their homemade cream cheese in a single plastic wrap instead of container with lid).

Discovered the great news about one of my fave companies, Preserve Products. They have always rocked recycling when it comes to their own stuff. First it was the recycled, recyclable toothbrush and razors with easy and free mail-back bags included. Now, they’ve implemented Gimme 5 is a program taking all # 5s, as well as Brita filters. Mail back, schmail back – all you gotta do is drop at a Whole Foods Market or one of the other participants. There will still be plenty of us using ground UPS, but if you combine your stash of #5s with friends or neighbors, the cost will be very low.

Impressively, Preserve made sure the equation worked. They did a Life Cycle Assessment to prove that the benefits of keeping #5s out of landfills outweighed the environmental impacts of the shipping. And, it does.

Thanks Preserve,

A Rabid. Relieved. Recycler.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 183 user reviews.

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This is what I’m talking about! People following their passions – living their heart’s desire, but working and molding those desires to move us ALL towards change. There’s so many role models out there now – it’s hard NOT to be inspired!

What am I onto today? Let me fill you in. Working in the nutrition industry for the past several years has allowed me privy to the lastest and the greatest health news and supplements. In the past, it was all about SELLING, but in recent years, I’ve seen a shift towards mission-driven ideas and actions. Many people and their companies are looking both forward towards innovation and science as well as “back” to basics, towards nature and common sense – for instance, more and more supplement choices are coming from REAL FOOD, albeit packaged to be convenient for consumers. Well, now the packaging itself is part of the plan —

Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, loves mushrooms. So he studies, harvests sells them and their healing powers for humans and for the planet. But there’s more. This from his recent press release:

“PAUL STAMETS ANNOUNCES THE LIFE BOX SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE ONE CARDBOARD BOX AT A TIME. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, announces the Life Box. The Life Box re-invents the cardboard box. Within the corrugations of the Life Box are hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of friendly spores of mycorrihizal fungi. Once a customer receives whatever is shipped inside, the box is torn up, planted and tree seedlings emerge….Of the ten species of trees each Life Box hosts – approximately 25% will survive in 90% of the continental United All the space you need for the first two years is that of two lap tops.

It takes up to two years for a transplant ready baby tree to emerge, so you have that time to decide where to plant them. The Life Box Company also hosts a web site where you can enter your GPS coordinates – Wow. Cool.

We’re a smart, motivated a passionate species. Full steam ahead everyone.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 263 user reviews.

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Little things, little things, right? We can and should keep moving forward towards less energy use and less CO2 emissions individually, collectively, and as consumers. So, caught my attention. As in, “I do 30degrees C when I use a washing machine – the cold setting. I’ve been doing this for years, but I didn’t know that I was saving a LOT of energy use. Almost 80% of the energy use of a washing machine comes from heating the water. Wow. Get everyone on board and that’s some math equation.

Did you know:

Enzymes have been used to improve the cleaning efficiency of detergents for more than 35 years, and are now well accepted as ingredients in powder and liquid detergents, stain removers/laundry pre-spotters, automatic dishwashing detergents and industrial/institutional cleaning products. Industrial/Institutional Detergents Industrial and institutional laundries have traditionally used strongly alkaline detergents and high temperature washing. However, because of increasing wastewater treatment and energy costs, many industrial and institutional laundries have opted to use enzyme-containing detergents as an effective means of reducing costs and maintaining cleaning performance at lower temperatures and alkalinity.

35 years? Where have I been? This information needs to spread faster and farther. So many people still assume they need to use hot water to get things clean. Join the group on Facebook or just pass on the info. to friends.

Yep, this group is sponsored by an enzyme company called, NOVOZYMES. But, you know, it needs to come from the source and bringing consumers and other environmental organizations into the loop is more than fine by me.

In fact, they’re not hard-selling because I couldn’t figure out where/how to buy their products or what to look for in my current detergents. If anyone else has luck, let me know?

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 152 user reviews.

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I left behind my vegetarian/vegan lifestyle slowly but surely over the past several years. I did so by listening an learning to both new information and my instincts. And I did so only after I found and researched local sources for dairy and meat. If only factory-farmed animal products were available, i would not be adding it to my diet. But, happily, local farms are making a comeback in many areas and I was immediately willing to learn about the benefits for my health, for my community and for the planet. (Remember this post?)

In this ongoing process, I found out that my Pitta constitution thrives on raw dairy (cools my firey nature) and that occasional meat (often also raw) satiates me in a way that vegan food never did. I’m happy to support local farmers. But, most of all, I’m happy to leave behind the processed food that served as vegan alternatives. Although I still love to cook with fermented soy products like tempeh and miso – it became harder and harder to look at things like fake cheeses, lunchmeats, “burgers” or egg substitutes as real food. Because in many ways, they are not. I don’t miss the odd taste or the way they left me craving more. Read more here from Grist Food Editor, Tom Philpott.

If you carry through the logic, it becomes obvious that processed food is far from sustainable, including, and maybe especially, vegan processed food (consider the fact that many vegan alternative products contain GMOs). Processing means loads of energy and resource use. It may also mean miles of travel.

The farther you take this logic, the healthier you will be. Raw nuts rather than nut butter? Whole grain cereals like oatmeal or amaranth rather than dry cereal in a package…’s all worth it, your taste buds re-learn to crave what nature serves up best, your wallet will be happier, too.

Remember, when it comes to food choices (and many other things) it’s what you do MOST of the time that matters. Stay informed. Stay open. Stay healthy.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 229 user reviews.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I’m enthralled by the way people are coming together. It gives me hope for the future and reminds me to share the love and share what’s new with the people around you.

Here’s a group that formed a couple years ago in my area: = “a social network of left-leaning 20- and 30-somethings who are spicing up progressive activism by throwing fun, issue-based events that inform, inspire and connect us with other savvy Gen X & Yers.” They call themselves “Tractivists” and that’s just the start of the fun.

They host really fun socially-minded, events big and small – and they’re getting more creative about it all the time. Here’s an example – a potluck-“turned freezer stock-up party”:

It works like this: You bring a big dish to share (like a soup or casserole), the recipe, and empty tupperware containers. You taste lots of other dishes made by fellow Tractivists and take home the ones you want, along with the recipes. (We’ll have PB&J to supplement the tasting so you don’t go home hungry.) The next time you’re too busy or tired to cook, voila! you have healthy, homemade options right in your freezer.

Homemade means healthier regardless, but everyone is encouraged to use sustainably-grown ingredients when possible. Add your own twist – a kombucha brew-how and share? – and the possibilities are endless.

In another part of the country, a friend told me about a group he meets with called, “Socrates Cafe”. They get together to discuss a variety of topics, such as the pros and cons of technology over the last 50 years, and other bigger, broader topics – something like,   “What is LOVE?”

Sure, we can sit on the WWW for hours soaking up information, but bringing faces, voices and ideas together is where the real inspiration lives.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 197 user reviews.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I woke up this morning – still cold. I really wanted to get things toasty for 6am yoga practice, but everything about yesterday’s post reminded me to get over it and get with it. I closed the doors to practice space, turned on the space heater and got to work. If YOU need more inspiration/motivation to turn it down or off, visit and pledge to “Freeze Yer Buns” in 2010.

I loved this site – Deanna Duke, aka Crunchy Chicken,   is a girl in a Seattle – a lovely Leo – who is “putting the mental in environmental”.  The site is sincere but not so serious – plenty of wiggle room for wimps like me. She’s moving and shaking lots of enviro, health, and social issues on other blogs as well. I loved hearing from her readers, too. Grab some warmth any way you can. You sent some to me, Deanna – thanks!

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 200 user reviews.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

With the exception of the location of Winter Olympics, many of us have been in a long, cold Winter. I like to think I’m a tough native Minnesotan. I know how to dress for the cold – inside and out – I keep my thermostat between 55 – 65 degrees most of the time. We also have a wood-burning stove and do our best to huddle around that when possible. But I’m beginning to see the light on this whole heat-cold/comfort thing through some really creative, enduring people of all ages and avocations.

I recently met someone in Vermont who is currently living in a tiny cabin w/o any heat and he shared this story of other cold lovers up North. “Chilled By Choice” profiles people embracing the cold both indoors and out, for reasons ranging from frugality, to environmentalism, to creative inclinations. We’re talking about full-on Winter here, and I admit I’m somewhat astounded and admiring, but also strangely, a little envious – I’m not sure I have what it takes to be in their shoes – or thermals.

I’m mostly drawn in by their matter-of-fact enthusiasm over the whole thing. No heroic claims in the bunch. There’s the 56yo sculptor in NY, who says he could insulate his roof for more warmth, but it would hinder the acoustics of the place and he listens to a lot of music. There’s the 21yo artist and his five roommates who love their unheated warehouse where they live and perform on their own stage. Then there’s the author in Pittsburgh who opened the Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writer’s Co-op and retreat – heat not included. His house has a furnace, but it mostly stays off. Another 53yo woman lives in a stone house at 7, 000ft, and embraces the seasonal temps by opening the windows year-round – and dressing right.

Cold House Journal follows the story – and the temps – day and night up in Maine, where a couple humans and a few cats live furnace-free and light the wood stove when necessary. Their thought-provoking and informational blog sheds light on the whole experience, while including a hard look at the cultural and political influences when it comes to heat. This curiously cold guy makes a case for adaptability, acknowledging our “heat addiction” and in general, looking for a way to “dismantle the Home Heating Industrial Complex”.

There seems to be an common thread here – I hear a creative and committed voice in these people – and a kind of detached contentment. Like when one of the roommates in the Baltimore warehouse admits that they sometimes miss a warm Winter house but, “Then we remember how wonderful it is to be living with five other best friends and making art and how it will get warm eventually.”

Can’t argue with that.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 196 user reviews.

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Can you face the consequences of continued growth?

by Greg Gillette, Denver, CO

I friend of mine sent this quote to me the other day. At first I thought the quote to mean the continued economic growth and suburban sprawl that this country is famous for. NO, I screamed inside my head as this type of continued growth has got to stop. I cannot face the consequences of more pollution, more war and more corporate greed.

It then dawned on me, that the quote meant the consequences of MY growth: my emotional growth, my spiritual growth, my inner and outer growth of what it means to be living in love, truth, and awareness.

As I have grown over the years, my circle of friends and my ability to connect with people has gotten smaller. At times, I feel out of place with the regular American who blindly follows the other Americans in search of happiness through more material goods and who blindly supports the government, the media and the other out dated institutions in this country.

At times, I ponder if my life would be better if I had not changed and I was a typical American, just living and not questioning anything and enjoying all the things that the typical Americans enjoy: television, bars, shopping, pro sports, Hollywood movies, automobiles, lawn mowers, carpet, etc.

Of course, I only ponder because my blood runs so deep in becoming a better and more conscious person every day that I would die if I had to go back to where I came from.

I will continue to live with the consequences of being different and crazy to most Americans, for this is who I am and I know that other Americans are feeling the same way I did many years ago and they, too, will find the courage to face the consequence of their new growth and their continued growth into the future.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 273 user reviews.

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