Goodness greenness continued

April 20, 2007

Apologies upfront: apparently I’ve been absent for 17 days. If this blog were an infant, or possibly a fish, it’d be dead. (Fortunately, it’s not an infant.)

Anyway, when I last left you I was going to tell you all the ways I was going to reduce my consumption, etc. etc. I know some of you were probably waiting with bated breath. So … here goes. My “Green” New Year’s resolutions, if you will.

1. ACTUALLY take the reusable bags with me to the grocery store. I have several appropriate, roomy ones. I know it’s something I should do, but I always wind up either a) running out of the door without them or b) going to the grocery store on my way home from somewhere else, unplanned, and am stuck with the plastic bags (or paper if I’m at Whole Paycheck or TJs). The pantry is rapidly becoming overrun with plastic bags which, aside from using as the bathroom trashcan, or as a lunch bag, I haven’t found meaningful uses for. So as of today, my goal is to bring no more plastic grocery bags into my house. As for those which I already have

2. Speaking of WP,  I’ve been a big fan of their bulk bins for a long long time. I like that I can get a little bit of something if I need it, or a lot of something for cheap, without a lot of packaging. But of course there’s the plastic bags you use there. I’m wondering if you’re allowed to take your own container. I’ll give them a ring and ask if that’s possible. Otherwise, I’ll just reuse bags that I take with me (great, another thing to remember to take with me to the grocery store).

3. Reincarnation … I’ve started being conscious about how I can use things more than once before throwing them away. I already wash and reuse jars and the number 5 and 6 plastic containers (the ones that don’t get recycled). But there are other things I just chuck into the recycling bin. My personal goal is to find at least two more incarnations of things before they get recycled and three or four before they get 86ed. In other words … use the back of papers before recycling, use egg cartons as plantars, use paper grocery bags to wrap things or line drawers and shelves, etc. etc.

4. The whole food throwing away thing REALLY gets to me. I’m going to start toting containers with me to events where I know there’s food, and take leftovers home with me. I’m also thinking about getting involved with Food Not Bombs, which reclaims food to feed to the hungry. The one thing that both fascinates and scares me, but which I want to explore further is Dumpster (TM) diving. Apparently there are ripe pickings to be had behind grocery stores, bakeries and the like. You just need to be willing to get dirty and not get caught.

5. The hardest one to convince others of, but the easiest one for me … I’m going to stop buying and getting gifts. I really HATE the gift-buying thing.  Nothing ever seems right, it becomes just a matter of either a) trying to prove something by spending as much money as possible or b) trying to spend as little money as possible and feeling like a heel because you’re “supposed” to spend a lot on people you like. This year for Christmas I’ll start early and make stuff for people. I’m also planning on giving people a “wishlist” of organizations for them to donate to if for some reason they REALLY want to spend money on me.

Oh gentle readers … come up with YOUR idea for being greener. Invisible toaster oven to the best ones.


Trash talk … or … Goodness Greenness (** see note)

April 2, 2007

Happy Earth Month, everyone!

Co-op America’s Green Festival is coming to Chicago, and if you make an appearance you might be able to catch yours truly on Green Team duty. This excites me because our job is to try and divert as much waste as possible at the fest by helping people know where and how to recycle their things, encouraging them to compost their food scraps on site, collecting and sorting recyclables … basically, it’s trash duty with the goal of not having any trash. Apparently at the San Francisco green fest last year they only threw out like 25 percent of the total waste generated — the rest was recycled or composted. I think a lot about trash, because here lately it seems as though I’m on a one-woman mission to reduce the waste my apartment generates. It helps that the three-flat where I live has a landlord who’s very supportive of this: we have a compost bin in the back yard and communal recycling bins with blue bags provided. (and yes, I’m very aware of the problems with the blue bag program. I’m seriously thinking about finding a way to take our recyclables to one of the city’s new drop-off points, and I’m pestering my alderman to get my ward on the list to be one of the next areas to get the new blue carts. But there’s only so much a girl can do.)

This year, and especially after catching a few moments of Inconvenient Truth, I’ve been really thinking hard about ways to go a little greener.

For a very long time, I’ve been concerned about the link between our consumer culture, the environment and the fragmented and declining quality of life. It seems we buy more and more stuff, and throw away more and more stuff — stuff that requires resources to produce (petroleum, trees, water, minerals) requires resources to package (mostly petroleum and paper), requires resources to transport (mostly petroleum) and requires space to discard (landfills) or energy and resources to recycle.

You’ve probably heard that, even though recycling is the sexiest and most widely touted of the 3 R’s (and more about the ins and outs of recycling in a future post, specifically Chicago recycling. I’m getting my research together) the other two are actually more important. Reducing means cutting down on the amount of stuff you get in the first place, cutting down on the packaging your stuff comes in, and cutting down on the amount you throw away. Reusing means wearing things out before you get rid of them, finding as many new uses for them as you can, exploiting all possible avenues before you replace something or buy something new.

So, gentle readers, thus begins my quest — to create a lifestyle around reducing and reusing, to recycle as next-to-last resort and to throw away only if I can’t do anything else. I’ll post my list of steps tomorrow, along with updates along the way.

And a question: what have you been doing to be greener?

(** I use the phrase with apologies to Goodness Greeness, a wonderful Midwestern distributor of organic produce and other foods, and which places a strong emphasis on food from local producers and farmers. You can find out more about Goodness Greeness and where to get their products [hint, two of my favorite places, Stanley’s Produce and the Bleeding Heart Bakery] on their Web site.)


Groceries, God and Evolution

March 29, 2007

I’m proud to be one of the few people who actually caught the Atheist’s Worst Nightmare on t.v. rather than seeing it online. If you haven’t seen it, or it’s been awhile, take a look-see.

Apparently, bananas are not alone in their ability to prove God’s existence. Manufactured foods can as well.

My first suspicion is that it’s becoming more and more apparent that Elvis has something to do with creation or evolution or God or atheists. I’m just not sure what.

My second thought is that I hope and pray someone does a video where Wonder Bread disproves evolution. I’m getting kind of hungry …


Welcome back VoS! (belated)

March 29, 2007

I was tickled and soothed by this article on the Chronicle of Higher Education site (via Arts and Letters Daily).

One of my plans for this year (and I may still do it, but probably not until the summertime, when I actually read stuff) was to make a list of the 10 books that I always pretend to have read but actually haven’t. The list includes Jane Eyre, The Courage to Be, Pedagogy of the Opressed, Heart of Darkness … not to mention the thinkers I pretend to know about … Nietzche, Hegel, Foucault, Ruether … It’s embarassing. I comfort myself by thinking about the fact that, unlike many non-economists, I DO know a little about John Maynard Keynes. And I’ve read and greatly enjoyed The Republic.

Here’s the thing — when it comes to theory, the list just keeps growing backwards. A professor says in class one day “A was heavily influenced by B.” So I decide, just to get a better understanding, I’m going to have to look up a little more about B. But, astonishingly, B was greatly impacted by B’s interaction with C. And not only does C owe much of C’s thought to D, but C also was writing largely in opposition to the work of E. Now I have TWO branches to follow. And then I just wind up with a stack of finger-stained copies of the Writers and Readers Beginners Series books at the library circ desk.

In related book fun-ness: a couple of top 100 lists with the authors’ religious affiliation (!) from adherents.com

And also, I didn’t know Voice of the Shuttle was back! I remember it shutting down a few years ago because its funding was pulled. When did it come back? (I’ll admit that I haven’t really had much cause to use it for quite awhile, but it is nice to know it’s there).


O Solo mio

March 27, 2007

Just got wind on Gaper’s Block that the Solo Cup factory is pulling out of its plans to build on the old South Works steel mill in South Chicago.

This is near-devastating news for South Chicago, a neighborhood that has steadily declined economically since the steel mills closed in the 80s. I did community work down there for a spell, when it had fairly recently been announced that Solo was going to move in and build on 118 acres the huge site — a chunk of land bigger than the Loop which has sat abandoned since South Works closed. People were very hopeful that the new plant would provide jobs and give the neighborhood a boost without opening the door to gentrification.

Who bought it? Southworks Development LLC, which owns the rest of the South Works site as well. Their plan: a huge retail, residential and high-tech commercial development along with park land. Here’s the thing: can you develop 500+ acres of lakefront property without pricing everyone out of the neighborhood?


Tuesday roundup.

March 27, 2007

Russians don’t like to read anymore, according to today’s Tuesday Marginalia at The Elegant Variation. The site links to the story at Moscow Times, but I’d rather send you via TEV because it’s an amazingly cool place to hang around. Quotes from the story I found particularly sad: “Eighty percent of parents read to their children in the 1970s, compared with only 7 percent today.”

“Literature has long been closely associated with spirituality and morality in this country, but no longer. Only 1 percent of 1,600 people surveyed in January said reading books would increase morality. Higher salaries and media censorship fared much better, according to the pollster, the Public Opinion Foundation.”

What makes us better people? Not Tolstoy. Not Dostoevsky. Money. And censors.

Someone else who actually reflects on/worries about (?) Southern Baptist state newspapers. I now live north of Southern Baptist territory, pretty much, and apparently state papers aren’t a huge thing in my current denomination. I grew up with them, though, and around discussion of issues that were brought up, debated in them. Greatest hits from my childhood and adolescence: the firing of Russell Dilday, bitter invectives against Freemasonry, Murphy Brown, and the decision that Seventh-Day Adventists are indeed Christian. Oh yeah, and the Walt Disney boycott.

There’s a new bank opening up in the ‘hood to the east of me. Oh, yeah. It’s going where Filter is. WTF? Closest coffee shop with actual couches. Closing. Where am I supposed to read Derrida now? Where can I go to feel hopelessly uncool as I wear my Old Navy jeans and “Bark if you Love Jesus” T-shirt whilst the hipsters and their emo haircuts listen to their iPods and wear vintage velvet blazers and sweaters with holes in the elbows? WHERE?!?

Drudge report reported that Democratic senators were going to reintroduce the ERA today. The link was to this story at CNSnews.com. (WHO?). It claims that Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Carolyn Maloney and Jarrold Nadler, along with the Feminist Majority Foundation, are going to make the announcement this afternoon. Funny thing: when I did a Google news search, the only ones reporting this story where Christian conservative sites like crosswalk.com and lifenews.com. And nary a mention on the Feminist Majority Web site. You’d think they would. Nothing on Kennedy’s site, he’s talking about Iraq. Nothing on Boxer’s. Her last news release was about tuberculosis. Maloney comes up just as dry (but she bears a striking resemblance to Jerri Blank). Ditto Nadler. (on the no info thing, not the Jerri Blank resemblance).

Oh Drudge, why must you TEASE me so? I know, I know. I should have known better.


Maravichu maravichu …

March 27, 2007

Welcome to Maravichu. Barthelola’s new home on the Web. Why here, why now?

here: I’ve tried every other blog service out there. Time for another one.

now: Because I can. Because I want to. And because I have studying that I SHOULD be doing but am not.

Who? Barthelola. Newly Midwestern. Likes to think about books, words, theology, philosophy, politics, music, film, news, beer and food. Likes to belligerently offer opinions and musings about all of the above. Has been burned by keeping “newsy” blogs in the past. Knows lots of elephant and knock-knock jokes. Likes to talk about journalism and media and culture. Named her bike after a chick that got raped by a swan.