Minipost: What’s Your American Dream?

11 11 2010

Due to contracting a virus, going on several job interviews, and injuring one of my key typing fingers, I haven’t posted for a bit. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to leave you hanging, faithful readers. So, make like me this week and head over to One American Dream?, which according to the header is “A documentary project exploring how the traditional idea of the American Dream has changed and what it now means to Generations X & Y.”

I submitted my own version of the American Dream, and you can, too – even anonymously. All responses will be a part of this intriguing feature-length documentary exploring how and why that dream has changed. Be sure to incorporate your ideals of green and/or simple living, if you wish :-).





Sunchips Ditches Green Bags

6 10 2010
Who Knew? The Kitty Likes SunChips

Image by cmcgough via Flickr

This just in: Sunchips is changing back to normal bags due to falling revenue and consumer complaints about the noisier biodegradable bags. Only the plain, Original flavor will remain in the greener packaging until they can find a quieter bag. Would you complain about a more sustainable choice because of aesthetics, or do you think consumers are worried about their spouse hearing the bag and coveting their chips?

I can’t help but notice that the only flavor that gets to be eco-friendly is plain. Is that what environmentalists are – self-punishing to the degree that Sunchips knows they will eat the plain just for the biodegradable bag? Well, maybe they’re right, but 10% of the time I’d spring for the flavor anyway. Life is too short, after all.

I’ll be on hiatus until next week for a fall foliage vacation. I hope we all get out to enjoy the season surrounding us!





KFC Getting Green Praise

2 10 2010

This just in: KFC, maker of the controversial “Double Down” sandwich, is getting positive press for replacing most of its Styrofoam with truly reusable take-home containers. The tubs are dishwasher and microwave safe, require 25% less energy to make than foam, and produces 50% fewer greenhouse gases. For their efforts, KFC even won the 2010  Greener Package Award.

This isn’t a new idea, but it is one that may be over-due for a comeback. In the 80s, some restaurants issued reusable dishware as an incentive, like toys in a Happy Meal. The idea has good and bad points: on the one hand, the containers still use non-renewable petroleum, but KFC plans to limit this somehow. On the other hand, preliminary studies are showing that customers are reusing them, at least for several weeks. Some might argue that biodegradable plastic is the only way to go, but the material is still cost-prohibitive for many companies.

What do you think – is this a step in the right direction or just a step sideways?





Going “Moneyless”

21 09 2010

Spending a year without spending a dollar

As I am newly unemployed, the idea of purposeful unemployment intrigues me.

In 2008, businessman Mark Boyle went on a one-year hiatus from making money and lived in a trailer on an organic farm, trading labor for rent and foraging for all of his food. Now, the “Moneyless Man” has published a book about his experiences, which he describes as overwhelmingly positive. The book offers tips for reducing your expenses, as well as your carbon footprint.

I wonder if Boyle was motivated more by his economics training, a desire for sustainability, or an escape from the rat race? Many ethical issues arise here, from foraging for food in supermarket dumpsters to the fact that Boyle was still technically earning a living, only in exchange for accommodation instead of cash. I am definitely interested to know more about what he sought to demonstrate or learn through his experiment, and I love his idea for a  “freeconomy community,” in which members teach each other skills at free events.

Are you interested in Boyle’s story, or do you think he went too far to prove a point?





EcoCaching

15 09 2010
Geocache used in the Geocaching sport.

Image via Wikipedia

That’s right, eco. This new type of geocaching highlights the features of a location to inspire conservation awareness among explorers. Each ecocache, or buried container located using a GPS device,  contains a description of the site’s importance and an object symbolic of the area. It may even contain instructions for an interactive, ec0-activity. This website, with amusing translation into English (“box made of glass because of rodent”), explains the basics.

It sounds like a great twist to an exciting hobby that’s growing all the time – an estimated 5 million people in the U.S. participate. To get started geocaching or to find locations near you, go to the clearinghouse website: Geochaching.com. And let me know what’s in the box, if you do.





A Gleaning Revival

7 09 2010
Annapolis Maryland looking across an estuary t...

Image via Wikipedia

In historic Annapolis, Maryland, community garden group Grow Annapolis is trying a new approach to safeguard paid vegetable plots: one plot is outside the fence, where produce is free for the taking. It’s a refreshing show of generosity, but also a clever fix. And it revives an ancient social practice of caring for the poor: gleaning.

The Hebrews of Old Testament fame allowed the poor – immigrants, orphans and widows – to gather food left in the fields after harvesting. (A modern-day organization does the gleaning and brings it to the poor). In today’s economy, it’s heartening to see such an old-fashioned idea put to good use.





Studies Show: Dirt Really Doesn’t Hurt

28 01 2009

A New York Times article demonstrates what the best moms already know: playing in dirt, making mud pies, and getting a little filthy are healthy habits for developing children. Ongoing studies of the hygiene hypothesis–that our clean-obsessed culture is related to the rise in certain diseases–suggest that coming in contact with the microbes and even worms in soil and other natural environments (like pets) is essential to developing a hearty immune system and warding off autoimmune diseases and allergies down the line.

With the alarming rise in illnesses caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as what led to the death of a Brazilian model recently, I think we need no further reasons to drop the anti-bacterial soaps, dishwashing liquids, and hand sanitizers. In the article, Dr. Mary Ruebush, author of “Why Dirt is Good,” advises alcohol-based sanitizers, which are widely available. She adds, however, that the best thing to do is to wash less!

“The typical human probably harbors some 90 trillion microbes,” she wrote. “The very fact that you have so many microbes of so many different kinds is what keeps you healthy most of the time.”








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