adventures in learning to be green & finding a green career

Packaging, it’s everywhere August 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 8:08 pm
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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.


To eat meat or not to eat meat… that is the Question?! May 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 9:41 pm
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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

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 7:35 pm
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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?


How I afford Organic April 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 10:40 pm
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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. (sign up to be a part of the Mothers of Organics and Farm friends to get additional offers) (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


Quality worth the price??? April 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 7:30 pm
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Too many days have passed since my last post. I finished Food Inc yesterday and it was very insightful. I took probably 3 pages of notes throughout the movie. I have never been an activist or a fanatic about anything (except for my Christian beliefs). But the more I educate myself on what we are being fed by the few giant corporations that run our food supply, the more I think about what it takes in order for me to be that fist shaker? I can be an activist and influence those I am around. Hopefully, it doesn’t end with my statements, and they will carry it on to those they can influence.

If you haven’t watched the documentary yet, please please please take your brain out of the box you have put it in and open yourself up to an idea other than the fantasy in which you want to exist. I am going to quote a lot from the movie because I believe it needs to be spread.

We buy based on price. Dollar menus are all the craze. I have held a frequent buyer card up until now. In light of ecoli breakouts, do you know that hamburger filler has been cleansed in ammonia to hopefully kill the ecoli that would be in the hamburger meat? The founder of the company that produces this filler states,” food is a marriage of science and technology.” Along with that statement, genetically modified foods are everywhere. We just don’t know it. The “big guys” tell the government that putting genetically modified or meat that came from a cloned animal would raise unnecessary concern. I like how one farmer put it, “farmers are not allowed to make decisions about farming. Those decisions are being made in corporate board rooms.”

There is only one giant in the soybean business and this one giant is a dictator. Their soybean was made in a lab not off of a previous crop. No natural farming allowed and if you do, be prepared to be taken to court. To watch a deposition of a good wholesome farmer just trying to make a living farming pure corn, not corn made in a lab, defend himself against this corporate giant is sad. They win because the farmers can’t afford all the legal fees alone.

So let me ask you. Is the cheap price worth the poor quality of the food you are eating? They interviewed this poor family who does not have the money to eat well. The dad has diabetes and is on expensive medicine. Where do you think their money goes? Instead of breaking the cycle with their kids, they are practically forced to live off of dollar menus because the price of fruit is more than the price of a hamburger. It does break my heart to think about people not being able to eat good food because of money. As stated in the movie, “it costs more to eat better and people don’t have the money. So we need changes at the policy level so carrots are cheaper than chips.”

So what have we learned today? Meat has ammonia in it and a lot of our foods were produced in labs opposed to natural farming methods. We have been trained to think that food is cheap. I thought it was supposed to be, but when you think about what it is you are eating you can see why it is cheaper. It is a mass-produced product not actual food.  A lot of the food we eat and drink is made up of genetically modified corn. They make it ‘faster, fatter, bigger and cheaper.’ That is why our view of food being cheap is skewed and why organic is synonymous with expensive.

Consumers do have the power. We need to demand good food by paying for organic and farm raised. It is not a matter of the farmers being able to keep up with demand. Trust me, if we demand something, we will get it. So are we willing to forgo quality and support the measures corporate America is taking when it comes to our food so we can eat off the dollar menu, drink hormone-infused milk and buy cheap artificial frozen food?

Well I tell you one thing. This unemployed girl is willing to pay more for what is actual food! Lean Cuisine and dollar menus no longer get my business. If I can only afford to live off of organic milk and cereal than so be it, but I can say with a clear conscious that I am supporting the good guys!

I sound like an activist, huh? ;p


That’s a lot of beef… April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 12:54 am
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If you have yet to watch Food, Inc., I really encourage you to. When Fast Food Nation came out a few years ago, I blatantly told people I will not watch that video because I love fast food. I have yet to watch the video, but now it is on the ‘to watch’ list. It’s like we enjoy being naive. We really don’t want to feel guilty or grossed out or scared as to what we are putting into our mouths. Ironic isn’t it? We like to live in ignorance and we are aware of it?!

Well times are a changing my friend and if you are actually reading my blog, you are now not living in ignorance. As stated in my previous blog, if you read this information and choose to do otherwise that is your decision. But remember what I quoted regarding the approval part of your purchases. What you buy is telling the manufacturer you approve of the steps they took to give you the product you hold in your hands. You are telling the farmers to keep on injecting hormones and antibiotics into the animals, that they can lock them up in dark spaces 24 hours a day and saying it is ok to feed cows “food” that is unnatural for their system.

When you think of a cow, you see a black and white cow standing out in the pasture. They are enjoying the sun and eating grass. That was the way it was intended for them live. Like the commercials that show the cows playing kickball and at the end it says, ‘happy cows come from California.’  We have taken something so simple and pure and turned it in to a mass production line. Cows don’t hang out in the pasture, they don’t even get to leave their jail. They don’t eat grass. They are forced to eat corn, grain and remains of their slaughtered friends. (corn will be another topic) They feed them this unnatural food to plump them up. Food Inc. stated 400 cows get slaughtered in an hour. Is that a production line or what!?

I understand that there is supply and demand. Like any business, they want to make the cheapest product, shorten their build process and make the highest return on investment. When it comes to material possessions we can understand and somewhat approve of it. But when it comes to the food we eat day in and day out, do we really want to approve of that process? When will we ever say enough is enough? When will we ever challenge the powerful forces that be? McDonald’s owns the most beef farms in America and you know the quality of meat that makes up your Quaterpounder. Just think that in 1lb of beef there could be up to a 100 cows represented in that package?

I know I am just touching briefly on the animal itself, but just think of all the other resources that get used up in that process. Energy in the form of fossil fuels, water, chemicals, feed. The danger of the manure containing E.coli that the cows stand ankle-deep in. That makes it easy to pass on to the other cows not to mention the run off into the soil. Why do you think veggies have shown evidence of containing E. coli? What a mess we have made of nature and how we do things. The processes we have created to mass produce has also turned into the dangers that have taken lives.

So as stated before, you can never go wrong with USDA Organic. Any other label is trying to condone one practice while highlighting another.

Peace out!


Baby steps to being green & why you need to be…. March 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — coreyfranks @ 11:35 pm
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It is my goal through this blog to communicate to you to what I am learning about the green economy and positive steps you can take.  Green used to be synonomous with being a hippie and if you weren’t, you were a yuppie. Of course those words are not used in my generation. Rather if that is the ideal you embrace, you are seen as being very left wing. But coming from a strong Biblical conservative, I can tell you that isn’t the case anymore.  I watch the 11th Hour, which is the documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Gorbichav. Although I do not agree with their anti-Biblical beliefs, their information on the state of the world was an eye opener. On a different, but similar note; Georgeously Green opened my eyes to see the food, that I have been eating my entire life, in a whole new perspective.

Indulge me if you will and give some thought to the topics I will share with you. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. If you have any job leads, please send those as well.

Tonight will be a quick topic: Milk

Americans would probably be prone to doing whatever was cheapest and easiest, opposed to what was environmentally and bodily friendly. The dollar was always my driving force. I would buy milk, yogurt and diet meals based on what was on sale not thinking of the ramifications.  Milk is generally something we all consume. But let me paint a picture for you of what it is you are actually drinking. Like I said, please keep an open mind and don’t stop reading because you don’t want to spend more money on USDA Organic and rather be ignorant of what is really going on.

Cows are treated as a commodity rather than letting them just be animals. I am for eating of animals. I am not a vegetarian. However, I rather eat/drink from an animal that had a “natural” life opposed to being injected with hormones, antibiotics, artificial insemination and packed in small spaces like pickles. (sardines have a lot of room in their packaging) The rBGH that you may see on milk products is a hormone that causes the cow to produce a heck of a lot more milk than their body was intended to produce. By milking them practically continously, it causes their udders to drag on the ground. That can lead to infections. I don’t know about you, but based on the treatment alone, I don’t want to support those mass producing dairys.

I know you may be saying, “I have been drinking milk my entire life and nothing has gone wrong. Who is to say I will ever get sick from the crap they inject into the cows and who cares about how they are treated?” Well, I wonder if you would feel that way if you actually got a first hand view of the farm. I don’t need to go that far to change my opinion. I am forking out the bucks for the small farms that are producing the milk naturally – USDA Organic. Don’t buy anything other “certified” milk . It needs to say USDA Organic to be sure of what the cows were fed, that there were no chemicals involved and that they were on a pasture. If you still don’t care, go right on and continue to plague your body and the bodies of your children with chemicals and supporting cruelty to animals. As stated in 11th Hour, whatever you purchase you are agreeing to the process by which it was made, the materials that went into it and what will happen to it when you don’t need it anymore.

Forgive me if I sound rude. This is a process for me too. We make decisions based on what we know. So I, like you, am just beginning the learning process. Good night!