Monday, June 30, 2008
But even the cheesecloth would have been fine, had I actually, you know, used it. Except I didn't. The box has literally been sitting unopened for over a month. I am so not going to make my own cheese.
But maybe you are? If you want to try your hand at making mozarella, please leave a comment. I will select one person to receive my cheesemaking supplies. Included are the rennet, citric acid, and the butter muslin, so all you'll need is your own thermometer and a pot. And some milk. Read here to find out how to make the mozarella.
ETA: You have until Wednesday, July 2nd at 8:00 am to enter.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Consuming Under The Greenfluence
Weird name non-withstanding, this "Greenfluencer" thing seemed pretty cool. According to a Porter Novelli report, Greenfluencers are pretty important people. In fact, the report states that more and more, average consumers are turning to Greenfluencers to find out what and what not to buy:
Consumers can rely on Greenfluencers to sniff things out in a way that they may not trust brands and organizations to do- not just the issues but also the issues behind the issues; not just what corporations are saying, but also what they're not saying.
Sounds pretty good to me. But there's more:
They are active, not passive. They join, rally, lobby, write letters and generally believe strongly that collective and personal actions can impact global warming.Well that definitely sounds neat! And consistent with my idea of "APLS" or "Greenfluencers." The report thus concludes that corporations should pay attention to Greenfluencers and do their best to woo said demographic.
They stand out not just for their interest in the environment but also for their overall up-and-at-'em attitude to life... In short, what they lack in numbers they more than make up for in energy and presence.
Great! Sign me up! I will gladly tell corporations how best to woo me. So I'm all set to leave a nice comment telling Colin how much I like this post, and how great this seems. And ... then I see the comments.
Turns out, I was in the minority in thinking this whole "Greenfluencer" thang was cool. And a lot of the commenters, far from thinking being a Greenfluencer was neat, found the whole thing very, very objectionable. Comment after comment talked about how "real" environmentalists don't consume, and how this was all very bad greenwashing.
Let me tell you something. Unless you are hiding your money underneath your bed, you too are probably a participant in a consumeristic society. The bank you use is likely a multinational bank traded on the stock exchange. The money you deposit in the bank is used by the bank to make a loan to someone else. And if you have a 401(k), or stocks or mutual funds, well, those are all corporations. To suggest that "real" environmentalists aren't consumers is patently absurd. Very few people have the wherewithal or the inclination to completely disengage from the system. Thus, in my view, it's imperative to find ways to achieve a sustainable life within the system. And that means engaging corporations instead of ignoring them and hoping they go away.
I also take umbrage with the idea that environmentalism is some sort of exclusive club and anyone who is not hard-core need not apply. Take my friend Honda. She's not as eco-insane as I am, but she recycles and buys recycled products. She brings her own bag to the grocery store, she tries not to turn on her a/c in the car, and she limits her a/c use in the house. Is she a non-consumer? No. Does she try to buy less while buying more consciously? Yes. Is she an environmentalist? I would say so. Is she the kind of person we eco-types need in our camp? Definitely, yes! Honda is exactly the type of person we want to attract. And while she's smart, and caring, and can definitely be "greenfluenced," she is going to want to buy things here and there. But she would also be willing to pay more for things produced in a more sustainable fashion. And in my mind, that's where Greenfluencers come in.
Now being a Greenfluencer doesn't mean that you have to lie down and let corporations walk all over you. It doesn't mean succumbing to greenwashing. Rather, being a Greenfluencer means positively engaging with companies rather than avoiding them. Take for example, The Take Back The Filter project I mentioned yesterday. I'll let you in on a little secret. Beth drinks her water straight from the tap. For that matter, so do I. Neither of us, personally, feels the need for a Brita filter. So why didn't Beth start an "avoid Brita and just drink tap water" campaign? Why ask Brita to recycle filter cartridges?
Well, it's because Beth recognizes that a lot of people do want filtered water. She's realistic. And so, instead of trying to boycott Brita, she's trying to engage Brita. In essence, Beth is using her "greenfluence" to make Brita a more sustainable company for us all. Would it be easier for Beth to just say, "Don't consume. Avoid Brita." Sure. But would she reach fewer people with that message? I think so.
Ultimately, I'm a non-consumer because I believe that this is the right thing for me, right now. And I write about my positive experiences with non-consumerism in the hopes that other people will be inspired by my actions. I love it when someone tells me, "I almost bought this thing, but then I thought, Arduous wouldn't buy it, so I didn't." I think that's great! I like to think I'm helping provide a road-map to an alternative life-style that people can choose to follow to whatever degree they desire. Part of my job as a Greenfluencer is to act as a role-model for a life based more on consuming experiences, and less on buying stuff.
But ultimately, these are my choices, and this is what is right for me, and I don't pretend to know what is best for other people. We all have to make our own decisions, and we all have to follow our own path. And even those of us who consider ourselves environmentalists may approach things in different ways. Some may focus on growing their own food, but will happily shop at H&M. Others will give up air travel, but will continue to drive a less efficient car. And really, that's okay. Because as a wise Thistle once said, "it’s better to be hypocritical than apathetic when it comes to the environment."
So that's why I'm happy to be a Greenfluencer. Even if I think the name is kinda dumb. Ah, well. At least it's better than YAWNs.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The Magnificent Burbsarino (that's her magician name) is hosting a Yahoo! Group designed to help people take baby steps towards the One Tonne Lifestyle. If you are interested in "doing more," but are unsure where to start, The Burb (that's her wrestling name) can help you out.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Flotsam and Jetsam
June 23, 2008
Attention Customer Care:
I am a longtime customer who recently purchased a facial scrub from The Body Shop- the Vitamin C face polish. My decision to buy a product from The Body Shop stemmed mainly from my apparently mistaken belief that The Body Shop was an environmentally sensitive company.
I’ve been buying Body Shop products for about 10 years now, and I have watched the slow erosion of the ecologically-minded company I once loved. But when I found out that the face polish contains polyethylene or microplastic that is killing sea life, I was horrified.
Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. So when that face polish goes down the drain, those teeny bits of plastic eventually land up in the oceans fully intact. Once in the ocean, the plastic can be accidentally swallowed by a whole host of marine animals. Please note, that our sewage systems do NOT treat water to remove microplastic, so the plastic does not get removed during treatment. For further reading, see this article at Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2193693/.
I know that The Body Shop holds “protecting the planet” as one of its values. So I was deeply disappointed to see that The Body Shop is actively destroying sea life with this project. I urge you to pull this product and any other products that contain polyethylene. Scrubs can be made in ecologically sensitive ways. For example, St. Ives Apricot Scrub or Burt’s Bees Deep Pore Scrub use natural
ingredients that do not harm marine life.
I hope that I can remain a Body Shop customer. I have been using your Vitamin E moisturizer for years now, and it would be a shame if I had to discontinue using your products. But I simply cannot continue to patronize The Body Shop if you continue to carry products containing polyethylene.
Thanks for your time
Let's see if I hear anything back. In other news, A Crunchy Tribute is almost coming to an end. We've reached almost $2,000 in donations. If you have been meaning to donate, but haven't gotten around to it, do it soon! I'm going to donate again, so Crunch, there will be another Lunapads kit coming your way.
Confidential to Equa Yona, do you still want that book? I emailed you, but haven't heard from you. Email me your address! You can reach me at arduousblog (at) gmail (dot) com.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A Need For More Public Parks
Monday, June 23, 2008
Hidden Plastic in My Face Wash
Friday, June 20, 2008
Easy Green: The Alt-Consumerist Guide To Gift Giving
- Okay, let's be honest here. These gifts are not strictly speaking for baby. They're generally for Mommy and Daddy. So one of your options here is to cut to the chase. Instead of buying the parents yet another baby monitor, consider pooling in with some people for a gift certificate for a cleaning service. Other options in this vein could include food, a gift certificate for a massage, etc. Or hey, how about offering your baby sitting services a couple times a month so that Mom and Dad can have a date night without (too much) worry.
- If you want to get something for the baby, consider making part of the gift. If you're crafty you could knit a hat or crochet a blanket. If you're like me, and the least crafty person ever, don't despair. For Bean's first birthday, I bought a used copy of my favorite childhood book. Then, I recorded myself reading the book on a CD, and I sent both the CD and book to her. I live too far away to read to Bean in person, but I figured the CD was the next best thing.
- Have a hard time keeping up with the many, many birthday parties your child attends? Make life simple on yourself. Go to your local movie theatre, and pick up a bunch of movie gift certificates. Then any time your kid gets invited to a birthday, stick a movie gift certificate in a card, and you're done. After all, what kid doesn't like going to the movies?
- Other good options include gift certificates to mini golf, bowling, ice skating, Chuck E Cheese, etc.
- For a child you're close to, like a niece, nephew or cousin, or your own progeny, consider buying them a token gift (like a used book) and then taking them out as their main gift. The child would much rather have quality one on one time with Aunt Sue than another toy. You can do anything you think you'd both enjoy whether that be a picnic at the park, a fancy tea at a hotel, a trip to the zoo, or a baseball game.
- Teenagers are hard. But gift-giving is not. Hand them cash. Trust me.
- If you really don't want to give them cash, an iTunes gift card is a pretty safe bet.
- Again, friends are pretty easy. I've done all kinds of things here. One of the most fail-safe is to take your friend out to dinner.
- But there are plenty of options here as well. Pool together with a few friends to buy a spa gift certificate. Or take your friend out to a concert, or to a play. Again, your friend would rather spend time with you, than get more stuff.
- And if your wallet is feeling a little light, a bottle of wine is always classy, and often inexpensive. (Try Trader Joe's or Cost Plus World Market for good, inexpensive wines.)
- I actually love buying non-traditional wedding gifts and have pretty much stopped purchasing stuff off of registries. Because frankly, I find cheese graters sort of boring, and doesn't everyone live together before marriage these days? It's not like we're all Victorians living with our parents until we say, "I do." So how did you grate your cheese before marriage? Yeah, I thought so. So instead of buying the bride and groom a cheese grater they already probably own, why not just buy them cheese? Yes, there really are Cheese of the Month Clubs. And they are awesome. Because nothing says, "I love you," like cheese.
- In that vein, what about a Wine of the Month Club? A group of people pooled in to buy a year long membership for Honda and Mr. Honda, and they say it was their favorite wedding present.
- Oh, but there's more! Spice of the Month Club? Tea of the Month Club? Fruit of the Month Club? You name it, it probably exists!
- Okay, I get it. You are tired of the month clubs. Do I have any other options? Why yes I do. What about a CSA share?
- No food? Okay, how about movie passes so that the husband and wife can enjoy Friday date nights? Or a gift certificate for a couples massage? Or a gift certificate for a nice restaurant? Or how about chipping in with a few people and paying for a couple nights in a hotel so that the couple can have a little weekend get-away?
- And if all else fails? You know what married couples like most? Cash!
- What does your mom want most of all? She wants to spend time with you! For Mother's Day, my sister and I flew out to spend the weekend with my mom. Now granted, that's a pretty carbon-heavy present, but on the other hand, we will all three have memories of that weekend for the rest of our lives.
- Here's a less carbon-intense option: make a nice scrapbook for your mom filled with family pictures.
- This one is for your brother's family next Christmas. Instead of buying five presents, one for your brother, one for his wife, and three for the kids, why not just buy them a present they can all enjoy? A year long membership to the zoo or aquarium? What about a museum subscription? In addition, a lot of theatre companies now offer a subscription specifically for families for the kid-friendly shows. These are usually less expensive than the regular theatre subscriptions, and the plays are aimed at younger audiences.
- As a former SAT teacher, I can say hands down, the best gift you can give, is cash. Seriously. Even if you're not giving much, I would rather have $5 than a $5 doodad.
- If you can't stomach giving $5 and a nice card, what about a $5 iTunes or Starbucks gift card? Even $5 will get you a couple coffees or five songs.
- Still not convinced? Okay, I'll let you buy "stuff." How about a couple nice soaps from the farmers' market? At least those are useful! Or what about a nice beeswax candle?
- There is also food. But I gotta warn you, teachers tend to get food a lot as presents. Honestly, if you feel comfortable with it, a bottle of wine would be better because the wine will keep.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Can Money Buy Happiness?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Bay Area: Heaven On Earth?
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I Can Has Vacashun?
So I probably won't be posting until Wednesday or Thursday. Have a great weekend, and when I come back I'll be able to give you the scoop on some of the bloggers I met. You know, answering your questions like, " Is Green Bean REALLY a bean?" (I think she might secretly be a root vegetable.)
Friday, June 13, 2008
What The Eff Is Going On With Our God Damned Food!!!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Ten Months, Nine Days
Non-consumerism: You never take me out anymore! We used to talk all the time, you know, about the future and our dreams and stuff. And now you barely say two words to me!Okay, I'm having conversations with an idea now. I'm officially loopy.
Arduous: Baby, chill out. You know I still love ya.
Non-consumerism: Yeah, but would it kill you to say it sometimes?
Arduous: What can I say, Non-consumerism. You consume me.
Non-consumerism: Hah hah. I'm still mad at you.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Friggin Mosaic-licious, Yo*
As seen everywhere.
Create a mosaic based on the following questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.
The instructions to create the mosaic are:
Type your answers to each of the questions below into Flickr Search
Using only the first page, pick an image
Copy and paste each of the URLs into the mosaic maker
1. eye of einstein, 2. suchitraprints, 3. zoomar, 4. PYHOOYA, 5. monsieurlam, 6. adulau, 7. babasteve, 8. ulterior epicure, 9. Niemster, 10. babblingdweeb, 11. dannyman , 12. Roobee
*Title for GB
But for some reason, I didn't feel like cutting Kingsolver a ton of slack. Her world sounds like a lovely one, but it also feels like a world in which I have no place. I can't imagine living on a rural American farm, and not just because I love city life, or because I enjoy living five minutes away from grocery stores, bars, schools, parks, restaurants, and theatres, though those are good things. I can't imagine living in rural America because I can't imagine always feeling as if I was walking on eggshells wondering if someone was looking at me strange, or if that lady was rude to me because she had a bad day or because she hated brown people. And I really can't imagine living in an area where I was the only minority.
On the other hand, just two days ago I wrote about my love for Enid Blyton novels, and certainly, if I have no place in rural America, I really had no place as an Indian-American in 1950s upper-middle class Britain. Blyton's books make no mention of South Asians, though presumably there must have been SOME Indians living in Britain at the time. And Americans were always stereotyped as loud, rich, and not terribly smart. But as a child, I let this all wash off my back. I would imagine myself as another student at St. Clare's and just assume that I would show all the girls that their prejudices against Americans were invalid. I never let my race, nationality, or sex get in the way of my Blytonian fantasies of solving crimes and going to boarding school.
Why the disconnect between the way I treat the two authors? Is it the difference between approaching material as a idealistic young girl and a more cynical adult? It is because Blyton's dream world is fictional, whereas Kingsolver's world is all too real? Is it because I view Blyton as a product of her time, whereas Kingsolver lives in MY time? And what did I really expect from Kingsolver anyway? She likes living in the rural South. Isn't that okay? Did I really need her to write an apologia on behalf of the South? "Dear Minorities in America. I'm sorry you don't feel welcome here. Want some cheese? Love, Babs."
Actually, that might not have been so bad... I do like cheese.
It's an interesting thing being a blogger in what is presumed to be a predominantly white blogosphere. In real life, I never need to state that I'm not white. My name, my skin color, even the way I gesticulate telegraph my race for me. But on the blogosphere, it's easy for a casual reader to assume I must be white like everyone else. And thus, I often feel the need to signal, "Hey! It's me! Arduous! Not white! Wait, guys, it's me, again!! Still not white!!"
While I do think the minority viewpoint is an important one to bring to the table, and while I do see it as, somewhat, my responsibility to be that minority voice, I also recognize that that responsibility can sometimes work the other way. Because I sometimes feel like I'm not just representing myself, but all minorities, I can be over-sensitive in blogland in a way that I'm not in real life. I can read a book and become disgruntled over a small part of the book that I find exclusive and ignore the fact that the majority of the book is about a subject that unites all of humanity: food.
So while I think it's still important for me to provide my "minority perspective," I also think it's important that I pull back from time to time and remember, that in the end, there is more that unites us than divides us.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle- Book Review
I enjoyed Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver's lyrical tale of eating locally. It's well-written and engaging, and I warn you, after you read the book, you will suddenly be filled with the demented desire to make your own cheese.
"Cooking without remuneration" and "slaving over a hot stove" are activities separated mostly by a frame of mind. The distinction is crucial. Career women in many countries still routinely apply passion to their cooking, heading straight from work to the market to search out the freshest ingredients, feeding their loved ones with aplomb. (127)
I am blessed with an ancestor who was the physician in this county from about 1910 into the 1940s ... But even a criminal ancestor will get you insider status, among the forgiving. Not so lucky are those who move here with no identifiable family ties. Such a dark horse is likely to remain "the new fellow" for the rest of his natural life, even if he arrived in his prime and lives to be a hundred. (209)
Monday, June 9, 2008
One Local Homage
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Twenty Goddamned Nine!!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
A Little Debate
Michael, you know I love you, but I think this is a straw-man's argument you're making here.
If you look at Colin's first comment, he was specifically talking about "resource consumption" NOT income. Neither of us started discussing income until you brought it up. I'm not against money, I quite like money actually. And I won't speak for Colin, but, considering his wife works for Business Week, I would venture he'd agree with me.
I actually disagree with Bill McKibben when he talks about how it would be a-okay if we all made less money. I'm pro-growth. That's why I believe in creating a new economy, because I think we could be happier and maintain our income levels if instead of spending and making money on stuff, we were spending and making money on experiences. A world with a more piano teachers and fewer Gap clerks if you will.
But Michael, I think we agree much more than we disagree, and I think there's an opportunity here. As you know, I found the part of your book where you discuss "building an environmental church" particularly compelling. I agree with you completely, but I think what you're perhaps missing here is that we are BUILDING that church. That's what people like Colin, and Deanna Duke, and to a lesser extent myself, are doing day after day.
Every day, hundreds of "personal environmentalists" read and blog about their sustainable living adventures. These people are mostly women (Colin's a lucky man), and many of them are stay at home mothers. These are women who are not environmentalists by training or schooling, but are simply women who have started to look at the crises ahead, and are asking of themselves, "What can I do?"
Will any of my actions (not buying, driving less etc) by themselves stymie global warming? No, of course not. I'm not under any illusion that they will. But I believe I am out there, helping to build a social movement. I am building that church. I am reaching out to my fellow women, who, by the way, have been the cornerstone of every social movement from abolition onwards.
You talk extensively in your book about how we need to follow the paths of evangelical churches in creating an environmental movement. That we need to get people invested so they do more than merely throw a $25 donation to the Sierra Club once a year. I completely agree with you. That’s what we’re doing. That’s what the personal environmental movement is about. I think you possibly underestimate the satisfaction derived by us when we walk rather than drive, or buy local food from the farmers’ market, or make our own butter.
So regardless of whether you think what Colin or I do makes a tangible difference, remember, we are your number one allies, Michael. We are doing this because we ultimately believe in the same things, because we’re trying to build a movement. We are building our church, we’re building your church, the best way we know how. So instead of focusing on where we disagree, let’s focus on where we agree. There’s a lot of energy here, and a lot of passion. Together, we can harness this energy. We can build a better future. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Michael. Come help us build that church.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Tribute to An Original
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Etc, Etc & A Blog Give Away
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Changing Focus- Part Two
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Changing Focus- Part One
I've been internally debating whether I should join the challenge (aspartame). And I think a good deal of my conflict has to do with this positive/negative divide. I have a chronic illness that means I won't survive if there's a massive breakdown in our infrastructure. So preparing for a world in which I have to be totally self-sufficient seems pointless because I could never live in that world.After reading Mollyjade's comment, I realized there is more at stake here. This isn't just about changing the focus because people respond to positivity better than negativity. This is about shaping our destinies, shaping our future. We owe it ourselves, and we especially owe it to the Mollyjades of the world to remember that the future is not set in stone. Is it possible that climate change and peak oil will cause a massive breakdown in infrastructure? Is it possible that competition for oil will result in a zero-sum game where a few very rich people win, while the rest of humanity loses? Is it possible that if CO2 in the atmosphere hits 400ppm "life as we know it" (whatever that means) will cease to exist? Yes, I think it is possible. BUT, BUT, that is not to say it WILL HAPPEN. We are not doomed, people, unless we resign ourselves to doom.
I just can't believe that the world will deteriorate that much, because then I have little personal interest in doing anything about it. It's not logical, but it gets me through the day.
It is tempting to feel like we have no control over the future. Like the best thing to do is to accept the inevitable environmental apocalypse, learn to be totally self-sufficient and start stocking up on guns and food.
If that is your philosophy, I understand where you are coming from. But for me personally? I can't do that. Not just because I have no desire to do it all myself, but because I know that there are many people in this world who CAN'T do it all by themselves, who can't live without civilization. And I'm not willing to resign myself to a world in which only the fit can survive.
So instead, I choose to believe that we DO have control over the future. That we can buttress our ailing infrastructures. That we can build new food systems that don't rely heavily on oil. That we can spur demand for alternative energies and invest in new technologies.
In short, I believe this crisis could lead to the creation of better systems, better technologies, and a better future for all of humanity.
Tomorrow (hopefully) Part Two: Why I'm not just wearing rose-colored glasses and how crises can bring about positive change.