Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Love Terracycle

When I broke into a bag of peanut MnMs this morning, I noticed a familiar logo on the back of the package, Terracycle, and was reminded that I have not been sending much material their way lately nor have I plugged them enough on the blog. 

So... In case you haven't heard of them, Terracycle is a fantastic, award-winning small business which specializes in "up-cycling," that is, making consumer products from post-consumer materials. Founded by a few guys from Princeton and headquartered in New Jersey, the company that used to produce natural plant products (worm waste products) has diversified to collecting millions of waste units to be transformed into useful products - all while collecting a ton of money for charity. You've probably seen their logo on various back-to-school items on sale at major retailers like Target and Walmart or possibly recognize the name from the Terra-Team's reality show "Garbage Moguls" that premiered Earth Day of 2009 on National Geographic. All this even after the company founder, Tom Szaky, turned down a million dollar prize from the Carrot Capital Business Plan contest because he didn't like the direction Carrot Capital wanted to take the company. Love it. Donate, shop, and learn all about Terracycle here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day Factoids

Today was the first day of school for students throughout the state of Maryland and this blogger was no exception. In an effort to get some street credit in the field we've all been learning about together here on the blog, I enrolled in the Institute of Applied Agriculture at the University of Maryland, College Park, and had a wonderful first day on campus today. In the spirit of spreading the love, here are some fun factoids I brought home:

  • 98% of biomass on the earth is plants.
  • 60% of the pharmaceuticals we use today are phytoderivative (from plants).
  • Wood/timber is a $41 billion industry in the U.S.
  • One acre of trees moves six tons of CO2 and produces four tons of oxygen.
  • An important ingredient in Aspirin called Salicylic Acid comes from willow.
  • Carbon Dioxide concentrations are highest during the winter. (I guess this one is sort of obvious, huh?)
  • It takes 10 lbs of corn to produce a single pound of beef.
  • It takes 4.5 lbs of corn to produce a single pound of pork.
  • Corn holds the biggest market share of any crop in the U.S.
  • In the early 1900s, one in ten people were directly involved in agriculture. Today the ratio is one in 140.
  • The first records of agriculture (think drawings on cave walls) date back to 8,000BC.

Chevron is worse than BP.

Just came across these clips from the film Crude. The above was posted on 365 Days of Trash. I don't understand how I haven't seen this "Herculean work of investigative journalism" yet but plan to do so soon and suggest the same for our readers. I think we may have linked to an article about its release last year but then lost track. Anywho, the DVD is available for purchase here.

For those of you who may not be able to view videos in the office, the film by Joe Berlinger follows one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet: the $27 billion Amazon Chernobyl lawsuit pitting 30,000 rain forest dwellers in Ecuador against the U.S. oil giant Chevron.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another reason organic and sustainable farming practices need to be the majority

A new study published in PLoS ONE has found that "nitrate elicits developmental and reproductive toxicity at environmentally relevant concentrations due likely to its intracellular conversion to nitric oxide." In plainer terms, toxicologists at North Carolina State University studied water fleas, often known by their Latin name daphnia magna, and found that the little creatures can convert nitrites and nitrates to the significantly more toxic: nitric oxide. The nitric oxide can then cause developmental and reproductive toxicity in the tiny water fleas which, for example, leads to water flea babies born sans swimming appendages. So where are the nitrates coming from? Farms, golf courses, gardens... It's fertilizer runoff. And it turns out it is even more hazardous than previously thought. Ugh.

Read more here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I've often said (alongside a bunch of experts) that becoming a vegetarian is the best thing one can do for the environment. Lately, I've been reminded that it is also one of the best things one can do for their own health. VegBaltimore is a great resource for locals looking to make a dietary change or incorporate more green into their lives. Learn more here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tillman's "The Chesapeake Watershed" Recognized for Excellence a Second Time

Congratulations to local author Ned Tillman for being named the 2010 Winner of the Excellence in Journalism Award by the Renewable Natural Resource Foundation of Bethesda, Maryland for his book The Chesapeake Watershed: A Sense of Place and a Call to Action. Earlier this year the book was selected as the 2010 Winner of the Best Book on Environmental and Natural Resources by The American Society for Public Administration.

“I am glad so many readers are enjoying the book. I wanted to inspire others to take the time to get outside and re-establish a love for the outdoors. We tend to take care of the places we love. It’s up to each and every one of us to get involved today and take care of this area for our own health and the health of future generations.” — Ned Tillman, Chair of the Howard County Sustainability Board, past chair of the Howard County Conservancy, and a Sustainability Advisor to local businesses, colleges, and non-profit organizations.

Local and national demand for the book has brought it into its second printing by the Chesapeake Book Company right here in Baltimore. Tillman is currently on a book tour promoting the work and conducts fund-raising events to provide copies of this critically important book to schools that cannot afford them in an effort to strengthen environmental education throughout the region. Pretty amazing, huh?

What's also amazing is how much I learned from this book. I think it should be required reading for every developer, farmer and land-owner in the region (which is much more expansive than I realized) as well as for those nationwide who are following and observing the human impact on this region. Learn more about Tillman and his efforts to create a sustainable future through education and consultation here.

BK Whopper Bar

Holy moley meee-oh-my!! These upscale, eat-in, "modernized Whopper-centric restaurants" are popping up all over the place. Orlando, South Beach, Memphis, Spain, Venezuela, Singapore, New York City... And each features "create-your-own Whoppers with over 20 topping choices" available 24/7. This isn't the first we've heard of the BK's latest venture (remember a few months ago we reported about them serving beer?) but having never visited one, this is the first we've heard of specific menu options. SeriousEats reports:

The New York Pizza Burger ($12.99), a 9-and-a-half-inch wide burger made with four Whopper patties topped with pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and Tuscan pesto sauce. It'll be available exclusively at the New York City Whopper Bar starting in September to fulfill that longtime desire for a giant burger that sort of tastes like a pizza.

Meat Beast Whopper ($5.54) topped with bacon, pepperoni, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onions, American cheese, and ketchup.

7-ounce BK Black and Bleu Steakhouse XT ($6.30) topped with blue cheese and blackened Cajun sauce.

California Whopper ($5.54) topped with guacamole, crispy bacon, and Swiss cheese.

Check out SeriousEats slide show featuring some of these menu items and a peek inside the venue here.

The Littlest Treehugger

(My niece, Charlotte Anne)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

School Lunch

Just stumbled upon a great article on PlanetGreen outlining seven strategies for packing a healthy, green school lunch for your little ones:

1.) Bag the brown bag
2.) Get rid of the plastic
3.) Include accessories
4.) Pack organic
5.) Encourage sustainable sipping
6.) Turn to the experts
7.) Teach your children well

Find the full article here. Nothing super-new but a good refresher and useful links.

Good for them. Good for the environment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Froglet!!!

Or first toadlet?? I actually can't tell. But seriously, how cute is this little guy?? And how come he is the first one I have seen ALL SUMMER? And yes, I released him immediately (even though he clung to my finger affectionately).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

State Fair Fare

Year after year, state fair season brings surprising "recipes" to the forefront of our favorite homepages. Fried Coca-Cola, fried bacon, and even fried butter. But this year's most surprising fried selection comes from a restaurant, American Cupcake, in San Francisco. Their remake of a "Southern Classic" has somehow stayed under the Internet's "state fair fare" radar until now. Chicken fried in cake. Red velvet cake, actually. UrbanDaddy San Francisco reports:

"At first glance, it’ll look like a heaping plate of leg, thigh and breast. But upon further inspection, you’ll see that the chicken has taken on a slight reddish hue. That’s because your precious fried bird has been pre-soaked in AC’s signature red velvet cake batter, then dredged in toasted, crumbled bits of red velvet cupcake before being dipped in a frying pan. You know, as one does.

And because a regular red velvet cupcake is topped with cream cheese frosting—and in case this thing wasn’t crazy enough—this poultry version is accompanied by a hefty scoop of cream cheese-infused garlic mashed potatoes."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bottled Buyers Be Informed

In case you are still purchasing bottled water, here is a little background on what those labels and titles really mean from Peter H Gleick's research for Bottled & Sold.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meatless Monday

A reader and friend alerted me to a great story from NPR about how folks are re-framing Meatless Monday to gain followers in the younger demographics who aren't necessarily thinking about their blood pressure and cholestoral. Read the article or listen to founder of Meatless Monday, Sid Lerner, talking with NPR here.

I know what you're thinking: "What does this have to do with Water Month here on JustSaying?" The answer is: a ton. From the article:

"One of the biggest advantages of cutting back on meat consumption is the reduction in the water demand," says environmentalist Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute [and author of Bottled & Sold].

Gleick says people are shocked when they realize how much water it takes to grow the grain needed to feed cows to produce 1 ton of beef.

"It takes 140,000 bathtubs full of water — that's millions and millions of gallons," Gleick says. And it's not something people consider when they try to imagine their "water footprint."

More Bottled B*llsh*t

Found on the shelves of Marshalls - for a "bargain" price of course. I think my fave is the "Eternal" brand from New Zealand.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Marketing Water

Ahhh.... BANa and their "serious re ydration." Another pseudo-scientific bottled water scam. As the saying goes, a good advertiser can convince us to buy something we don't want or need. And as Peter Gleick (and probably a bunch of marketing folks) say, "A great advertiser can convince us to pay a thousand times more than we're already paying for something we already have - like water."

A few short weeks ago a federal judge ruled that Glaceau Brands has been falsely advertising Vitaminwater as healthy, but it turns out this particular type of fraud has been alive and well for centuries. As early as 1630 a Massachusetts merchant was fined for profiting off of extravagant and questionable claims that his special water could cure scurvy. Everyone has heard of the term "snake oil," right? Well, turns out we still fall for this sh*t. See if you can match up the following claims/slogans with their brands:

(A) Penta (B) Evian (C) Fiji Artesian Water (D) Poland Spring (E) Dasani (F) Infinity Water (G) Contrex (H) Aquafina (I) smartwater (J) Adirondack

1.) Can't live without it.
2.) Far from pollution. Far from acid rain. Far from industrial waste.
3.) Sip smarter. Live longer.
4.) Your natural source of youth.
5.) Ultra-purified, antioxidant water. Pure energized water with no additives.
6.) The oldest way to stay young.
7.) Pure water. Perfect taste.
8.) My slimness partner.
9.) Pure as the first drop of rain.
10.) As refreshing as the mountains.

Answers: It really doesn't matter cause it's all bullsh*t but here you go [1.E; 2.C; 3.D; 4.B; 5.A; 6.F; 7.H; 8.G; 9.I; 10. J]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Economic, Environmental and Social Blindness

     "...Sometimes we're misled by intensive advertising into believing that this or that brand of commercial water will make us healthier, skinnier or more popular.
     So we've turned to the bottle, convinced that paying a thousand times more for individually packaged plastic throwaway containers of water than for readily available tap water is an act of rationality rather than economic, environmental and social blindness... We should not lose sight of the poorest countries of the world, who have neither safe tap water nor money to buy bottles of water drink whatever is available, get sick, and often die. This dichotomy leads to a strange reality: Suburban shoppers in America lug cases of plastic water bottles from the grocery store back to homes supplied with unlimited piped potable water in a sad and unintentional parody of the labor of girls and women in Africa, who spend backbreaking hours carrying containers of filthy water from distant contaminated sources to homes with no water at all..."
          - Peter H.Gleick; Author of Bottled & Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water

Now more than halfway through Bottled and Sold, I have found myself preachier than ever on a subject I've typically been somewhat passive on in public. Opting for a glass of ice water or refilling my reusable bottle, like saying "no thanks" to red meat, no longer feels like enough so JustSaying is dedicating the month of August to disseminating the information in this book to our readers.

We'll talk about the difference between "Artesian," "Spring," "Purified" and "Mineral;" the state of our municipal water system; percieved versus actual regulations; recycling efforts or lack thereof; and the marketing efforts that have misled so many and generated tens of billions of dollars in sales.

For today, I will just ask you what Gleick asks often throughout his pages: Think about where you are right now, will be later this afternoon, when your out and about and so on. How far away is the nearest faucet with safe water? Probably not far. Yet for every second of every day a thousand people in the United States purchase and open a bottle of water. Not even close to half of those bottles get recycled. Just saying.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"New to Me" Foods

Encountered at truck stops and candy shops in and around South Carolina:

What's that? The first one? It's Mac n' Cheese pizza. Yep. And I know, I know... If I were a true locavore the crickets and larvae would be a welcome snack but none of these struck my fancy. I think I'll wait and see what the city of Charleston has to offer instead.