Today I read an article on Green Biz that President Obama has rejected a carbon tax for polluting companies. Instead the article said he wants to invest in clean energy technology to boost green job growth. In a previous speech I heard him state that his goal is to provide each American that wants a job, a job. Well I want a job Mr. President. Any ideas how to make it happen? I am interested to see how these big goals will actually be accomplished. There are many of us highly capable educated professionals that are racking their brains on how to land that job. I’m just curious how Washington is going to make that dream come to fruition to a couple million people. I have worked for 3 clean tech starts ups all of which ended in lay offs. Money isn’t always the issue. Having worked for 2 solar companies and an electric vehicle company, money is needed for countless hours of design, pre-production and testing, but that is being done by a handful of engineers. So if Washington invests billions into clean tech start ups, it won’t be to employ the couple million that are unemployed. Most likely it will be a few out of work and the majority will be currently employed just shifting companies. That is not enough to solve the grand problem of displaced people. There needs to be a systematic approach. Maybe the article didn’t do the president or decision makers justice, but it isn’t just renewable energy that will provide the opportunities for Americans. There are many avenues to reducing our environmental footprint and hopefully it won’t solely be the president that will talk about helping the unemployed. It takes everyone. I’m sure the president won’t be able to make that job connection, letter of recommendation or look at a resume with hope. May all of America see this as a problem to be dealt with and not just relying on someone else to solve it. It takes all of us.
Packaging, it’s everywhere August 16, 2012
No matter where you look everything seems to be wrapped, boxed or covered in external packaging. The majority of the public’s trash seems to originate in the kitchen. Every day wastes are thrown away from breakfast through late night snacking. A lot of the foods we purchase come in decorative plastics and in some cases the plastic is then covered by a paper based box.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010, Americans generated 250 million tones of trash. I wonder how much of that is generated in the kitchen?
For food to exchange hands from manufacturer to retailer to customer, it needs a protective barrier to preserve the integrity of the food. But that seems like such a waste. A lot of this packaging is for single use enjoyment and then it is tossed in to the trashcan without a second thought. Add up all the morning coffee cups, microwave lunches and on a rare occasion a sit down dinner and they all share something in common. At the end of all three meals, waste was generated and thrown in the trash.
There is a lot of talk about reduce, reuse and recycle, but I don’t hear a lot about reducing the amount of packaging that gets tossed in the trash. Sure some cereal boxes and milk containers are recyclable, but a lot of packaging is being thrown away either due to consumer ignorance or if the packaging is contaminated. Recyclers can only take materials with very minimal amounts of food due to the food “tainting” the load and the entire pick up is sent to a landfill.
I am in strong favor of recycling, but even that business has its shady players that don’t have a clean record of recycling all their materials. When I have something I can’t re-purpose or reuse, I will recycle it. However, I want to try to reduce the amount of packaging that has to be produced in the first place and since a lot of waste is generated in the kitchen, I am looking at the food I purchase as the solution.
Enter in the bulk foods aisle at Whole Foods. I have passed through these aisles before to get to the packaged goods, but today I decided to take a leap, save some money and packaging. It should be mentioned that even in the bulk foods aisle plastic bags are waiting to be consumed and thrown away as you transport the bulk items home. This is not eliminating the problem of packaging and it makes me laugh that bulk items are thrown into one time use plastic bags. For those that don’t know, plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, never biodegrade, can contaminate soil and water in landfills and leads to the deaths of a lot of marine life.
Saving the world one plastic bag at a time has been communicated over and over again, but they still reside in grocery stores. Some no longer have them at the check out stand, but they are still in full force in the produce and bulk foods sections. Why we think one is worse than the other, I have no idea.
Step 1: Reusable shopping bags have become the new hot item so now it is time to not only use them at the check out stand, but while you are shopping. You don’t need to use a plastic bag for each item of produce you purchase. Instead, while you are picking out your produce, simply put them in your bags till you get to the checker. That way you don’t have to expose them to all the germs you want that little plastic bag to protect your food from.
Step 2: A lot of the prepackaged food you purchase is sold in the bulk aisles as well and some times at a discount! Every thing from cereals, candy and snack bars to beans, dried fruits, flours and grains are available without packaging. I know you are thinking that bringing in containers for each of these bulk items is cumbersome and not going to happen. Okay, well the next best thing is you can purchase reusable bags that double as your produce packaging (if you really don’t want your produce to touch one another in your big reusable bag). I picked up a few small reusable bags from Whole Foods which were plastic bottles in their former lives. There are plenty of sites online to purchase small bags from. Reuseit, Eco Bags and Amazon have plenty of options and sizes. If you decide to bring a container from home, simply go to the cashier, prior to bagging, so they can weigh your empty container. This way you will only pay for the food and not the weight of your container.
Once your eyes are open to see the wastes you throw away every day, you will see that a lot of the packaging that is already in your kitchen can be reused to hold your newly purchased bulk foods. Start to see your oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, coffee and sauce containers not as something to throw away or recycle, but to re-purpose! You will notice that by minimizing your packaging, you are greatly minimizing the trash you are sending to a landfill and that is something to be proud about and to help others achieve.
So it has been close to a year and a half since my last post. Now that I am about to get laid off and finish my Sustainable MBA program, I should have more time to devote to ruminations about sustainability, clean living and whatever other rants I am on.
So a couple days ago I watched the documentary ‘Fork over Knives’. It was enlightening. I know that all things should be taken with a grain of salt due to the many biases documentaries represent, but this one was insightful. The very short synopsis is that we should all live vegan lifestyles to benefit our health and the planet. It talks about the powerful messaging that started around WWII with the focus on meat and dairy products as being the main sources for our protein intake. However, they compare those meat and dairy eaters with the rate of people being affected with cancers, CVD and other diseases from that time frame till now. The doctors conducted surveys of large groups of people and found a link. In fact, one of the doctors took on 12 patients who stopped their meds and started a whole foods vegan diet. All patients showed positive results.One lady was told by her primary care physician to prepare for death. Well she proved him wrong with this new found vegan lifestyle.
What makes my little brain ponder is the argument over eating meat. Me being a conservative Christian doesn’t see a problem eating meat due to scripture saying it’s cool to eat it. BUT, why is it all of a sudden becoming an issue? Maybe it is because we are consuming more of it these days and are altering the make up of animals in a big way. From injecting hormones and antibiotics in cows to genetically engineering chickens to grow faster than what their body can literally hold. ** side note, Food Inc. is a great movie and shows the sad reality that chickens can’t even walk around because their bodies are growing too fast. They just sit around till they are thrown in a truck and taken off to slaughter. Nothing is “natural” about this. I hate how the big companies put the word “natural” on their products when there is literally nothing natural about them. OK, rant is over..**
The documentary mentioned how even organic meats should be avoided. I’m not a scientist so I can’t make any statements in sound mind, but I think eating organic meat here and there should be fine. BUT, they do comment that all dairy products should be avoided as well. I do like how they state that you can’t take a product that is made for a calf and expect it to have great health benefits to a human.
So my takeaways… I am going to finish my milk that I bought a week ago. No reason to waste it. However, I will try hemp or soy milk next. No more buying of cheese or yogurt products either. I am a big dairy eater so this will be a challenge, but they may have made a believer out of me. I will keep you updated on what tastes good :)… you can trust me… I am a foodie!
Good Night and Peace Out!
“you are what you eat” September 19, 2010
We have all heard that phrase. Usually it is with regards to all the junk food we eat and what the ramifications will be. However, this time I will use the phrase differently. Our skin absorbs whatever we put on it thereby entering our system. Ergo that is why there are topical medications.
Now think about the many products you put on your skin. Obviously that quantity is a lot higher for women. Do we ever think of eating those products? Of course not! Gross! But it is said that what we put on our bodies, we are “essentially” eating. So if we take that mindset and look at the ingredients of our daily products, what actions would we take? Do we say, “who cares, I have been applying them this long and nothing has happened.” Or do we decide to take action by believing this fact and changing our beauty habits? (Guys you can take action as well. This includes your soap, shaving cream, aftershave and more for the metro sexual.)
I have decided to take action. This week I purchased soap, toothpaste, face wash, toner and moisturizer that can “essentially” be eaten. Well, that is what the manufacturer claims. However, I will just take their word for it.
We are a lazy people. I will be the first to state that I am. Yes we all joke about how microwaves take too long, fast food is convenient and that it takes too much effort and money to take better care of ourselves. But my final thought for you to ponder is this. Does it sound absurd to use the excuse “organic is too expensive”‘; therefore, I have decided to eat something that is chemically laden instead? Our affiliation that food should be cheap is so skewed. We have been trained to think that food should be cheap. Therefore, we feed into what they want us to buy. How else would the giant food corporations remain so big and continue to grow? Fight the system and do something that will actually be beneficial for you.
Besides, do you really want to pour yourself a nice glass of moisturizer for dinner and a plate of makeup for dessert?
Fast Food Nation June 17, 2010
Due to my new job and long commute, it has been very difficult to post about my “green” adventures.
However, I am staying up past my bedtime to post a review of this movie. I am absolutely appalled at the distaste of a movie that is supposed to represent the poor quality of food in America. Instead it follows plot lines of drug use, human trafficking, sex and the like. I finally had to turn it off because I felt so uncomfortable watching it. After turning if off, I read the description on the Netflix envelope.
It actually said that this movie follows the beef from the corral to the slaughterhouse to your stomach. Yeah right!!!!! If you want something with real information without all this Hollywood intervention, watch Food Inc, Future of Food, 11th Hour… do not waste your time watching this movie.
Ironically I know of a person that became a vegetarian after watching this move when it came out a few years ago. After watching it, I don’t even know why they would. There was not a shred of actual information. Instead amongst all the drugs and inappropriate situations, they just focus on the meat having fecal matter in it. OK, well how about some more information. Instead they fill it with scenes that are going to bug me because I personally don’t want to fill my mind with smut.
And that is what this movie is… SMUT!
Passion April 27, 2010
I just watched Woody Harrelson’s documentary, ‘Go Further’. It’s about his 1,000 mile bike tour promoting SOL – Simple Organic Living. I admire his passion to stop off at colleges to inform the kids about the food they are eating and how destructive it is to their bodies and the planet. However, I am not for being extremist with rhyming chants and learning how to react in a riot situation.
Tonight I felt the need to pose this question. What are you passionate about? If someone was to ask me that today, I would say anything and everything green. However, if you asked me that question a couple of months ago, I probably would have responded saying, “I am passionate about finding a job.” I always try to be funny, but my answer is true. When you are passionate about something you want to share it with everyone you come into contact with. So what do you talk about when you are around others?
Well, two weeks ago I was at Henry’s market and started educating the teenage boy behind me about milk, meat and organic fruits. He probably thought I was random, but maybe it got him to think and possibly research the food he is eating. The power of one really is a magnificent thing. The power of one has been seen in many icons; however, we never really think WE have the power. We get stuck in the small-minded thinking that we are not capable of making an impact.
I wonder what holds us back? What was it that pushed people like Martin Luther and Martin Luther King to do what they did? They didn’t think in the “Can’t” mindset. When I was old enough to vote, I would say, “I can’t make a difference with my vote so I’m not going to.” Except people, including me, don’t just stop with the voting subject. It spreads to other areas of life as well.
Each person is made by God. David says in Psalms that God knits us together in our mother’s womb. We are created with a purpose. Thankfully, our lives do not end with death. I’m looking forward to Heaven. But while I am on this earth, I need to put my life into God’s perspective and not allow my “Can’t” mindset to hold me back.
I am obviously passionate about my faith and being green. So I am taking steps to take that passion and whatever knowledge I have and put it to work.
My ending thought is this: Can passion really be a passive word?
How I afford Organic April 13, 2010
Being that I am unemployed and looking at only 5 weeks left on my unemployment benefits, how am I to afford to live organically? Well, I have made a decision to live this lifestyle without compromising. Honestly, all the groceries I buy are organic; however, I may have the occasional slip up at a pizza joint. I have come upon some useful information when grocery shopping and I want to pass it along to you.
I am a huge fan of coupons. I know some people can’t bring themselves to use them. But my question to those people is why? Is is pride? Do you think you are too rich to use a coupon? If so, your reasoning is far beyond me. If I save a dollar on one product and 50 cents on another, those add up over a month and especially over a year! I am sure that if someone was walking down the street and offered to give you a dollar, you would take it. But when it comes to purchasing groceries you rather give that dollar away for no reason.
Here are some sites that I visit before heading out to the store. I suggest you sign up to be on their lists in order to receive additional coupons and offers.
www.wholefoods.com www.mambosprouts.com www.organicvalley.coop (sign up to be a part of the Mothers of Organics and Farm friends to get additional offers) www.horizondairy.com www.stonyfield.com (sign up for their rewards program by typing in the codes from your yogurt to receive additional coupons and offers)
Also keep your eyes open for coupons at the grocery store. Whole Foods has a flyer placed outside/around their store that contains coupons and recipes. Henry’s market will hang coupons in front of the products. Look closely because it could just be a generic coupon for that brand and not necessarily for the specific product in front of you.
I hope this helps a little bit and I will keep you aware of more deals that I discover. I am off to read Gorgeously Green.
Good Night, Corey