27 January 2009

happy heart day gift ideas

I think that if you're lucky to have someone special in your life, you should treat every day like it's St. Valentine's Day. But I do like the ceremony of the so-called Hallmark holiday -- exchanging small tokens of affection, enjoying a quiet dinner together, sharing words of love and appreciation.

If you're celebrating the day with your Valentine, skip the Whitman's sampler and bouquet of (pesticide-full) roses for something a little more original and, of course, eco-conscious.

Adopt a penguin
These adorable and threatened flightless birds
are a symbol of fidelity; they're known to mate for life. You can make a symbolic adoption through the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and get one of these cute plush Emperor penguins for your sweetheart. ($50 tax-deductible donation)

Tell them they're hot
Here's another one from WWF: an organic cotton t-shirt that makes both a compliment and a statement. Telling your love that they're "hotter than they should be" with this shirt helps WWF's climate and conservation efforts. ($50 tax-deductible donation)

Bejewel them
Show off to your lady with this gorgeous recycled metal peacock cuff bracelet from Alkemie. Made in California. ($170 from eConscious Market)

Pick flowers that make a difference
Defenders of Wildlife Majestic Sunset Roses
Share the love with your Valentine and a worthy organization with Organic Style's charitable organic flowers. Choose your favorite org, including Defender's of Wildlife, Co-op America, and Heifer International. (Starting at $44.95)

Tea for two
Mighty Leaf's
Organic African Nectar
Tea is full of soothing anti-oxidants on account of the Rooibos (African Redbush) tea leaves and tropical fruits and blossoms. It's a perfectly sweet way to wind down after a romantic dinner for two. (4 oz loose tea, $9.95)

Whisper "olive juice"
But then tell them how you really feel. If your lover is an olive lover, this organic olive sampler from VivaTerra will win them over. (small, $19)

Indulge them with organic chocolate
Chocolate is said to be an aphrodisiac and has been shown to activate mood lifting agents in the brain. Well you've hit the chocolate happiness mother lode with this Organic Chocolate Decadencefrom VivaTerra. ($110 including root bowl)

Give a hoot!
Give your sweetie a good reason to write little love notes to you with this adorable notebook made of sustainably harvested birch wood and 100% recycled paper in the good ol' USA. [$18 at ELSEWARES]

Acquire a unique antique

From Victorian Valentine Cards to Buddhist love amulets, you can find something unusual and one-of-a-kind at an antique shop or on eBay.

Got any other Valentine's gift ideas? Give your two cents in the comments thread below.

phonebook shmonebook

Who needs 'em anyway?
Unless you're artist Long-Bin Chen, and have the skill to carve up these polluting wastes of ink and trees into the beautiful Buddhas below, you probably don't even look at a paper phone book anymore.

[Psst... you can catch some of his work as part of the exhibit Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary at the Museum of Arts & Design now through April 19, 2009]

Laura, a supereco follower from Mohegan Lake, NY, asks:

Is there something I can do about the 547 (and counting) phone books I've collected? It makes me sad to think of all the yellow and white trees that are killed.
Yes, Laura, there is...

Just a couple of months back I recall getting an Ideal Bite tip with the answer to this exact question.

To stop receiving phone books, register at yellowpagesGoesGreen.org. A note to city dwellers: in that big ol' pile of yellow pages stacked up in your building lobby is a phone book with your name on it, help make the pile smaller by registering and then telling your neighbors.

To recycle those behemoths, check out Earth911 (or just put them with your paper recycling)

Get more tips for stopping phone book delivery [Huffington Post]

26 January 2009

getting involved

Was anyone else inspired as much as I was by Obama's call to service? I mean, isn't this what the country has been needing -- someone who is going to take the lead and guide people to work hard for the country they love? It's like we've all been in a kind of idle for the past 8 years, waiting for someone to tell us how we can help fix things. Not that a lot of people haven't been doing great things for the world for the past 8 years, but there's definitely been a lack of leadership from our governmental representatives.

So I've been thinking a lot about how I want to contribute. I already have a few ideas for specific issues I'd like to tackle. In case you need some ideas, I've put together a little list of ways you can help make the world a better place (a Michael Jackson song suddenly comes to mind):

ReCharge America
The ReCharge America movement is a call to act close to home, well, literally in your home. They lay out a simple 10 step plan for outfitting your home in order to save energy -- from swapping incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents to switching to renewable energy through your electricity provider. Once you take the steps toward reducing energy use in your home, it's easy to help your friends and family. Get to steppin'.

Power Past Coal
The Power Past Coal project is a collaborative effort to end the country's dependence on the dirty fossil fuel. You can start your own action, or join an existing one.

Be a Conservation Advocate

What does it take to be a conservation advocate? Passion, motivation, and a little elbow grease. Anyone can do it. You don't need an advanced degree in Ecology or any other field for that matter. It can be really daunting to think about, but you really could become an advocate with the right guidance and a little self education. Read Conservation International's guide on becoming a conservation advocate to learn more.

24 January 2009

repurposed sign gives birth to new-old restaurant

[Image: David F. Gallagher of Lightning Field]

I was walking up Flatbush Avenue a couple of years ago when I noticed this great old sign in a window attached to an empty store front. In gold leaf lettering it read "Prime Meats." My first thought was, I hope someone saves that sign, it's just too great to get rid of.

Walking past that same building this week, I noticed the sign was gone. In fact the whole face of the store was gone; only plywood and building permits were visible. I got a little sad for that old sign, but kept a glimmer of hope that someone had salvaged it.

Then I was looking on New York magazine's site and on the first page of the restaurant section -- the sign! And in front of it, two restaurateurs known for their delicious use of local foods: the two Franks of Frankies Spuntino.

One of the Frankies spied the sign just as I had, and thankfully had the perfect spot for it. Inspired by the restaurants of yesteryear that procured goods locally, the Frankies are opening a new place called, of course, Prime Meats, right by the old one in Carroll Gardens.

You can read the preview info here.

I can't wait to try it, and see that old sign in a new-old place.

23 January 2009

the simple truth about coal

And the truth is... it'll never be clean. Coal is a dirty substance. It's polluting and devastating to mine, and polluting to burn. It dirties our water supply with mercury and our air with carbon dioxide. It is a leading contributor to climate change.

So what can you do about it? Speak out against it. I know, I know. It can be scary to speak up. It's much easier to fret it and forget it. But that won't make the problem go away.

Check out This Is Reality to get the facts about coal and then sign up to be a part of the movement that puts a stop to the dirty burning fossil fuel. This Is Reality has a, if I dare say, cute and simple website that makes it all clear. The little canary will show you the way.

stop gas flaring in nigeria

At the same time Chevron runs ads urging you to “leave the car at home more,” it is wasting massive amounts of natural gas by burning it in the open air. In Nigeria, these poisonous gas flares release toxic fumes day and night, causing asthma and cancer and worsening global warming.

I just signed a petition at http://www.foe.org/gas-flaring and hope that you will join me, and thousands of other activists, to call on the Nigerian government to put a stop to this horrible practice.

Thank you!

[via Friends of the Earth]

20 January 2009

hurray! inauguration day!

Watch the swearing-in ceremony live starting at 11:00 a.m.

Share your inauguration day party photos and stories here.

And text OBAMA to 56333 for instructions on how to send in congratulation messages and pictures from your mobile phone.

19 January 2009

save handmade toys and clothes!

This is sad, but true. It will soon be illegal to sell toys and clothes handmade in the US, Canada, or Europe unless they are put through the same rigorous testing that is now required for large-scale manufactured goods from China. In an already hurting economy, this will put many small business owners, work-at-home moms, and crafters out of business.

In an article from TreeHugger:

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), as passed by the US Congress in August, 2008, inadvertently threatens to take many handmade toys and children's clothing items off the market. According to the Handmade Toy Alliance, "The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of children's goods that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys, clothes, and accessories made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade children's products will no longer be legal in the US." 'How can this be,' you may be wondering? Look below for details.

According to the Handmade Toy Alliance, cottage industries - among the smallest of small businesses - simply can not afford the hundreds or even thousands of dollars private labs are charging to certify a product, as per requirements of the CPSIA.

Big corporations are directly responsible for causing the lead contamination problem by outsourcing toy and clothing production to China. Paradoxically, now, small US businesses established to serve a market segment which specifically wanted to avoid purchasing lead- contaminated, made-in-China goods is being squeezed out by a rigid and insensible CPSC regulation, which is cost effective only for high-volume manufacturers.

Read the rest.

But you can help!
Sign the petition to save small businesses making handmade goods.

Who will be affected?
A friend of mine recently expressed interest in getting a handmade doll for her niece -- something she knew would be safe. I did a little search on Etsy for dolls and quickly realized that the craftspeople on this wonderful handmade marketplace who make children's goods will be forced to shut down due to the new CPSIA ruling. To bring attention to this new law and perhaps fund the inevitable, many Etsy crafters are putting hefty price tags on otherwise affordable goods to show how much they will have to pay in order to provide the public with "safe" products. Here are some of the handmade products in jeopardy:

CPSIA Special Floral Vine Jumper 12M-4T by starrclothing ($2,980)

CPSIA Blocks- Don't be Owly Baby Blocks
by owlpeople ($6,736.50)

CPSIA SPECIAL Upcycled, handmade and certified lead-free Elsa the Elephant stuffed toy by SnuggleHerd ($900)

JUST ANOTHER CPSIA endangered Specimen - 12 inch CUSTOM MADE WALDORF style DOLL by germandolls (regularly priced at $125)

Related videos
In the news: Will CPSIA put stay at home mom...out of business?

One activist's perspective: CPSC will kill the handmade industry

Just in case you need more persuasion, 101 reasons to buy handmade [via PoppyTalk]

Remember today, the words of MLK:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

happy MLK jr day!

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

18 January 2009

smell assault

They put the signs up just a day before they committed the heinous act. The signs said they were to begin painting the common areas, including hallways and apartment doors in our building. It was too late. I couldn't put in my two cents even if I wanted to. Well, maybe they know better, I thought. Maybe by now everyone knows that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that emanate from substances like paint were, as the name suggests, a toxic assault on the health of those who inhale it. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt -- maybe they chose low-VOC or no-VOC paints like Aura or Mythic.

No such luck. I could smell it as soon as they began. It doesn't take much. VOCs like those in paint really smell toxic.

I was surprised to see the painters weren't even wearing masks, and they're breathing in the stuff all day. I wonder if they know that the off-gassing of VOCs causes dizziness, aggravates asthma and could lead to kidney and liver damage and possibly even cancer. We at least had a door separating us from the sullied air. And even still we could smell it, so we lit some beeswax candles in our apartment to neutralize the odor.

Paint isn't the only household product to contain VOCs. Here are some ways to avoid these harmful chems in your home:

  • Choose furniture that's formaldehyde-free and doesn't use petrochemical-based adhesives (eg, Vivavi, Totally Organic)
  • Opt for carpeting that's made from natural materials (ie, wool or seagrass)
  • Use laundry detergent, fabric softener, and other cleaning products that are petrochemical-free (like Seventh Generation)
  • Try natural air fresheners made from essential oils and beeswax candles without synthetic fragrance
  • Choose beauty products without harsh chemicals, like nail polish that's formaldehyde-, toluene-, and DBP-free
There are also house plants that filter out VOCs, like the peace lily and lady palm. Here's a list of the top 10 purifying houseplants.

Ah, I'm breathing easier already.

15 January 2009

a mutt for the white house

What's more American than a mutt? A creature, like me, who is of mixed origin. I can rattle off at least 5 different ethnicities that are in my family history. I'd like to think that gives me some kind of genetic advantage.

I'm not putting down the purebreed. But here's why mutts are so great. They're usually really interesting looking and don't have crazy genetic disorders. Like, an albeit adorable, brachycephalic French Bulldog or a German Shepherd with hip dysplasia.

Plus, you're probably not going to find a mutt at a breeder. Mutts are the ones who need to be from rescued the shelter, often from an untimely death. Inspired by a recent movement, I think it's time for the White House to adopt a mutt instead of getting a purebreed puppy.

Read Shepard Fairey's take on Obama's potential decision to adopt a mutt for the White House...


The day Obama stated his interest in adopting a dog from the shelter was a slightly brighter one for the approximately 7 million adoptable dogs & cats killed each year in this country. The staggering reality is that for each one sold at a pet store or by a breeder, another perfectly worthy one is killed. Our nations shelters are filled to capacity with all kinds of amazing adoptable animals including, as Obama put it, “Mutts like me.”

On the heels of Obama’s comment, I got a call from Pia Salk, an animal advocate who works with North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, Adopt-a-Pet.com. Pia simply asked if I might be willing to collaborate on a way to have my art help these animals.
As most of you know, I’m a big believer in speaking up for all who suffer injustice, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or in this case, species! And I’m all for adopting from the shelter. My wife and I share our home with 2 pooches, George and Weezie, who is a rescue. They are the happy canine siblings to our 2 human daughters.

The image I created for this print reminds me of a dog I had as kid, a mutt named Honey.
We have created a limited edition run of 400 signed and numbered silk-screen prints that will be available at: www.muttslikeme.com. The January sale date will be announced soon and proceeds will go to getting the furry non-partisan U.S. residents, who share our country, saved and into homes through: www.Adoptapet.com

Check out the site and search for adoptable animals in your area or other ways to help.

-Shepard Fairey

14 January 2009

cleaning up dirty: a web roundup

From the oxymoronic "clean coal" to green clothing care, here's a little collection of articles and ideas on how to keep the world a little cleaner.

The no 'poo method: Wash your hair the non-toxic and economical way, with these tried and true baking soda and vinegar recipes
[One Green Generation]

Lighten up in '09: A buyers' guide to the most energy efficient (ie, less carbon-spewing) and least mercury containing CFLs
[Environmental Working Group]

Butts for fashion: Keeping cigarette butts out of the wastestream by creating yarn from it for knitting, crocheting

Goody gum drops! Tips for removing chewing gum from clothing, the eco-friendly way
[Planet Green]

Dirty snow: It's an energy-sucking industry -- tips on choosing ski resorts with a smaller carbon footprint

Dirty, dirty coal: It'll never be clean!

It becomes a game of rhetorical bait-and-switch. Point out that there are exactly zero commercial power plants in the U.S. that sequester any carbon emissions, and “clean coal” advocates talk about how they’ve reduced “emissions” (though not greenhouse gasses). Mention that coal-burning power plants are still the country’s largest source of acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide pollution and airborne emissions of birth-defect- and brain-damage-causing mercury pollution—or that they’re responsible for roughly 24,000 deaths every year in the United States—and ACCCE will tell you that they’re a mere ten years away from perfecting the art of carbon capture.

5 actions you can take right now

A message from Michelle Obama

1. Get involved in bettering your community and country: organize or join a National Day of Service event (with the Sierra Club)
President-elect Obama is calling on all Americans to participate in service projects over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, January 17 through 19. The Sierra Club is answering the call and asking its members and supporters to organize service events in the name of the Club.

More info on the National Day of Service, organized by Michelle and president-elect Barack Obama, here.


2. Protect national forests: sign a petition to president-elect Obama
The Bush Administration removed it, so please, Mr. Obama, reinstate protection on more than 58 million acres of pristine, roadless national forests.

3. Support green schools to help the economy: sign a letter to your representatives
Greening America’s schools must be a priority to help: 1) stimulate a new clean energy economy, creating millions of new jobs in green technology and energy-efficient school construction; 2) help strengthen America’s global competitiveness by providing safer, healthier, and better overall learning environments; 3) help schools become more energy efficient – saving schools enough money to hire two additional teachers – while protecting our environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Protect NY state farmland: sign an email alert to your legislator
The Governor is proposing staggering cuts of almost 40% to agricultural programs in the Environmental Protection Fund, like the Farmland Protection Program, meaning that almost 90% of farmers interested in protecting their land this year will be turned away.

5. Tell the EPA to regulate nanosilver: sign a petition
Hundreds of consumer products incorporating nanomaterials are now on the market, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging, many of which contain nano-silver. Help ensure that these products are safe by supporting a petition to the EPA.

13 January 2009

saving products that are comparably more sustainable

I am continually striving to eliminate the amount of products I use in my home. That even goes for products that are labeled 'eco' or 'green.' Ideally I'd like to clean my home with a few key ingredients, like what's listed here at the Berkeley Ecology Center's website. But I understand that not everyone is ready to abandon ready-made cleaning products just yet.

Enter Arm & Hammer Essentials. You're probably already familiar with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda or Super Washing Soda, both very useful cleaning agents that are light on the planet. Essentials is different in that it competes with conventional cleaning products (think Fantastik, Windex, Clorox). But what makes it better than the polluting competition is the way it is formulated and packaged.

The standard issue spray bottle arrives at the store (and ultimately your home) empty. A small container with the concentrated cleaning solution accompanies it -- just put it in the bottle and add water. This makes the product a whole lot lighter than products that ship fully constituted. Plus, when you run out of product, you just need to buy the concentrated solution instead of buying a whole new bottle full of chemicals.

Apparently, this product is at risk of being discontinued. It hasn't caught on with the public. Whether this is due to lack of marketing budget, distribution, or some other reason, I don't know. The advertising account coordinator who works on the brand started a blog ostensibly in an attempt to save the product, and probably his job.

Is this just a clever viral marketing campaign? Maybe. But this line of products saves a ton of petroluem-based waste in terms of plastic packaging and transportation fuel. I might buy that for $4.88

brooklyn greenway initiative needs support - tonight!

UPDATE: Impressive turnout of Kent-Ave-bike-lanes supporters at Community Board Meeting. Read more at Streetsblog.

Live in NYC and care about transportation alternatives, like biking? Now's your chance to get involved. This just in from the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative...

Greenway Supporters Needed to Support Kent Avenue Bike Lanes

Opposition to the Kent Avenue bike lanes, which were installed by DOT in anticipation of the Greenway, continues to pressure elected officials (Streetsblog: Speak Up for Safer Biking) and Community Board 1.

We at Brooklyn Greenway Initiative have been sympathetic to the needs for provisions for dropping off and picking up passengers, but now DOT has addressed these issues, particularly south of Broadway on Kent, where most of the opposition has been generated. DOT has replaced "No Stopping" signs with "No Standing" signs and has created 80 new parking spaces on the side streets adjoining Kent. So now it's time to bring an end to the conflict.

A big turnout tonight at the CB1 full board meeting is needed.

When: Tuesday, January 13th, 6:30PM (sign up before 6:15PM to speak)
Where: 211 Ainslie Street (corner of Manhattan Ave)

Please also reach out the the Council Members and Congresswoman Velazquez, who have been under pressure to remove the bike lanes, by signing on to Transportation Alternatives' e-fax campaign.

12 January 2009

support sustainability with your cell phone

Be fish savvy with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

I've been carrying around this little Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch card for a few years now. It tells me which fish are okay to eat, whether they're overfished or full of mercury or other contaminants. Well, now it's available as an app for iPhone. Since I broke down a couple of months ago and got an iPhone (that's another story...), as soon as I found out, I downloaded that puppy.

Seafood Watch app features

  • Free, up-to-date recommendations at your fingertips
  • Sushi guide lists fish by Japanese name as well as common market name
  • Regional guides highlight the seafood that’s best in each area of the country
Got an iPhone? Get your free Seafood Watch app here, or at the iTunes store (did I mention it's free?).

No iPhone? Seafood Watch recommendations are available for all mobile devices with an Internet connection. Visit mobile.seafoodwatch.org for their online pocket guides.

No web phone? Do it the "old-fashioned" way, check out the website.

Raise awareness of endangered species with Rare Earthtones

Tired of hearing Samba, Fanfare, or Rondo Alla Turca when someone rings your cellie? How about giving endangered species a voice instead?

The Center for Biological Diversity has over 90 ringtones ranging from peregrine falcon calls to beluga whale songs. And they just added 7 new ones, including the cry of an elephant seal pup.

Over 200,000 Rare Earthtones have already been downloaded by thousands of people in more than 150 countries, including the UK, Canada, China, Japan, Iran, India, Poland, Germany, France, Brazil, Australia, and the US.

I'm going to download the Chiricahua leopard frog call right now. What will your endangered animal call be?

Get it here.

09 January 2009

eco-minded art exhibits

A couple of exhibits on right now in NYC featuring environmental themes have caught my attention. The art shows run the gamut from recycled objects to artistic commentary on natural vs unnatural in modern life. Hopefully you'll get a chance to catch one of these while they're around.

Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary
Museum of Art & Design
Now through April 19, 2009

"Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary" is the inaugural exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in the new building at 2 Columbus Circle, which opened in September 2008. The exhibition features work by 50 international established and emerging artists from all five continents who create objects and installations comprised of ordinary and everyday manufactured articles, most originally made for another functional purpose. For a complete artist list, click here.

The exhibition includes works by well known designers, Ingo Maurer, Tejo Remy, and the Campana Brothers as well as internationally acclaimed artists, such as Tara Donovan, Xu Bing, El Anatsui, and Do Ho Suh.

Highlights from the show include American artist Tara Donovan's "Bluffs," a group stalagmite-shaped structures made of clear plastic buttons delicately placed one on top of the other. Paul Villinski, an American, creates beautiful butterflies out of his old record collection, producing a "soundtrack" of his life (image, right).

Other featured works are made from buttons, spools of thread, artificial hair, used high-heeled shoes, plastic spoons and forks, shopping bags, and 25-cent coins to mention only a few.

The exhibition surveys the rich artistic landscape of much contemporary art, in which hierarchies among art, craft, and design are disregarded. In addition, the exhibition examines the ways in which artists transform our world, respond to contemporary cultural paradigms, and comment on global consumerism.

Unnatural Acts And Other Illicit Thoughts About Nature
Broadway Gallery
473 Broadway, 7th Floor, 212-274-8993
January 2 - January 15, 2009

The Broadway Gallery NYC is pleased to Present:Broadthinking’s “UNNATURAL ACTS and Other Illicit Thoughts About Nature”

The exhibition will be on display from January 2 -15, 2009 (online opening midnight January 2 at www.broadthinking.org), with an opening reception: Tuesday January 6, from 6-8pm

In the exhibition, each artist utilizes the gallery space as a platform to consider the unnatural. As we move farther and farther away from a simple relationship with nature, a relationship naturally evolved out of a need for survival, our abilities to control and manipulate our environment and ourselves have taken us places beyond our imagination.

What IS unnatural in this era of artificially modified humans/plants/materials; medicines for mood or muscle enhancement, hormone manipulation of gender and fertility?

What about sex?

The quest for eternal life, a cure for diseases or poverty, a desire for pleasure and profit, a need for a spot in the hierarchy of wealth and well-being, or shear perversity, all motivate this drive to use and/or abuse nature.

The following artists invited to create work for this exhibition expose, distort, and subvert some of the premises of the natural to create commentary on - the unnatural.

Chris Twomey, Elizabeth Riley, Liz-N-Val, Kim Holleman, Alyssa Fanning, Peggy Cyphers, Joel Simpson, Miwa Koizumi, Kathleen Vance, Gulsen Calik, pale Infinity & Flash Light.

For more information go to www.broadthinking.org

Related post
banksy dolittle

Other relevant posts
climate change exhibit @ AMNH
growing and greening ny

08 January 2009

bicycle icicle

Maybe I'm a wuss or maybe the Danes just have thicker blood than I do. Since the mercury dropped, my bike has been collecting dust. But Old Man Winter isn't stopping the folks captured on Copenhagen Cycle Chic. They make it look so good, even in below zero temps (is that in degrees F or C, I wonder?).

Thigh-highs allow for greater pedaling mobility in a skirt.

How cute, they even have matching coats.

My boyfriend even got me a cool new pedal-powered dynamo headlamp (by Green Goods) for my bike and I've yet to take it for a test spin.

It also has emergent charging capabilities
so I can charge my cell phone in a pinch.

Maybe a daily dose of Danes on cycles will inspire me to get pedaling again.

07 January 2009

pastured meats: good for you, good for the planet

By now you've probably heard -- pasture-raised animals provide healthier meat, and the practice of raising these animals is also easier on the planet than big agribiz. Now you can meet the farmers who are part of the Slow Food movement, learn why pasture-raised is a more sustainable option, and sample some of these meats for yourself.

Slow U: Local Pastured Meats, Good for You, Good for the Planet
with Slow Food NYC, Dan Gibson, Flying Pigs Farm, Caroline Fidanza

Where: The Study @ Astor Center
(399 Lafayette St. @ East 4th St)

When: Wed, Jan 14th, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

How much: $45.00

Humanely raised, pastured animals not only make for good eats, they are good for you and the planet. Shake the hands that feed you, join Greenmarket farmers Dan Gibson, of Grazin’ Angus Acres in Ghent, NY, and Mike Yezzi, of Flying Pigs Farm in Shushan, NY, to learn about the animals they raise, their production practices, and the health and environmental reasons to eat sustainably and humanely raised pork and beef. Mike and Dan will be joined by Executive Chef Caroline Fidanza, of Diner and Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Caroline will explain the culinary advantages of pastured meats and provide some tasty samples to make the point.

Get tickets

[via Brooklyn Based]

nyc recycling events this weekend

Chip in! Mulch your tree! Help NYC grow!

What: Bring your droopy, naked tree to a mulch center near you. At some locations you can bring home your very own pile of mulch.

When: Saturday, January 10 and Sunday, January 11, 2009
10am - 2pm

Where: Various locations in NYC. Look here for yours.

Who: Brought to you by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.

e-waste recycling

Keep your old pollutin' electronics out of the landfill -- at two locations (see below)

What: Bring your tired, weary computers and peripherals, TVs, DVD and VCR players, stereos and more to the following locations this weekend.

When: Saturday, January 10, 2009
10am - 4pm

Where: West 23rd St btwn 6th & 7th Aves, Manhattan

When: Sunday, January 11, 2009
10am - 4pm

Where: Fulton St & S. Portland Ave, Brooklyn

Who: Brought to you by The Lower East Side Ecology Center (LESEC).

textile recycling
Give your old clothes and other textiles a second chance at two locations (see below)

What: Bring that old shirt you haven't worn in 5 years, the jeans that don't fit, holey shoes, really any old rags (wearable or not) to give them another life.

When: Saturday, January 10, 2009
9am - 4pm

Where: Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn

When: Saturday, January 10, 2009
8am - 2pm

Where: Inwood Greenmarket, Isham St @ Cooper St (West of B'way and 211th St), Inwood

Who: Goodwill, Council on the Environment of NYC (CENYC)

06 January 2009

how to make a loomed scarf or belt

One of my fondest art projects as a kid was making a cardboard loom and weaving a little piece of textile (it was too small to be called a rug and there weren't any computer mice at the time to make one of those silly rug mousepads).

I just got all nostalgic watching this tutorial on ThreadBanger. Barbara of Bobbi Clothes shows us how to make a simple loom and then weave a scrap fabric scarf or belt. I'm inspired to whip up one of these beauties myself!

05 January 2009

food matters

Common wisdom is often an oxymoron. Here's an example: "Never trust a skinny chef." I can't stand that saying. Why? Because it's total BS. Wouldn't you expect someone with a discerning palate to eat only the good stuff and not everything in sight?

I love to eat. And while I'm not a chef, I'm a decent cook and know really good food when I see it, smell it, taste it. I'm also pretty particular about what I consume. There are several reasons for this which break down into the categories of nutrition, ethical treatment of animals, and environmental impact.

So of course I'm excited about the latest book to tout responsible, wholesome, and delicious eating: Mark Bittman's Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes. Bittman is one of my favorite foodies. He cooks simply with quality ingredients and over the past few years has really awakened to the horrendous state of this country's food industry and what it's doing to our bodies, planet, and pocketbooks.

Here's a bit of a review by Slate's Laura Miller:

For Bittman personally, the moment of truth was twofold. At 57, he'd gained 50 pounds over his college weight and had developed high cholesterol, high blood sugar (especially scary for someone with a family history of diabetes) and sleep apnea, a condition caused by his excess weight. At the same time, as a food writer he could no longer ignore his "increasing disgust with the way most meat is grown in this country." The lives of factory-farmed livestock can only be characterized as "misery," and the resulting meat and dairy products are full of nutritionally dubious additives like hormones and antibiotics (which in turn wind up in the water supply, further damaging everyone's health).

With a colleague, Kerri Conan, Bittman devised a plan they called "vegan until six." They ate almost no animal products at all until dinnertime, no simple carbohydrates and no junk food. (Simple carbs are sugars, white flours and other processed grains like white rice.) At dinner, they ate as they had before, although in time Bittman found that even his evening meals came to include more "vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains and less meat, sugar, junk food, and overrefined carbohydrates." It was easy, and in a matter of months he'd lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol and blood sugar, and had no trouble sleeping through the night. Most important, he continues to eat this way and is content to do so for the rest of his life.

Read the rest.
I've pretty much adopted this way of eating already without giving it a name, but the idea of "vegan until six" seems fairly simple to me. Cutting out meat or reducing your intake is an easy way to significantly improve health and at the same time reduce your carbon footprint.

According to Miller, Bittman readily acknowledges the influence of Michael Pollan and his mantra"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," in the creation of this manifesto/eating guide/cookbook.

A culinary writer who promotes conscious eating and is helping people how to adopt the lifestyle for themselves -- now, that's a skinny chef I can trust.

your right to be beautiful

The dry air of the winter months saps my already combination skin of all its moisture. So a couple of weeks ago I thought it was time to up the ante on my facial moisturizer. I was all set to get some delicious product from suki-- one of the best earth-friendly beauty care regimens out there. But when I got to the shop (Organic Avenue on the LES) the saleswoman led me astray.

I'd seen this product before on their shelves and didn't even think twice about buying it. When you get a look at the super-kitschy packaging you'll understand why:

Yep, that's it -- Your Right To Be Beautiful. Reminds of those Pearl Cream ads from the early 80s. But she told me to ignore the packaging, the stuff really works. I tested a bit and was sold. Light yet really creamy with the not-too-overwhelming sweet scent of coconut and almond. Even my boyfriend approved (and he hates scented products). And I read the ingredients -- no petroleum, no parabens, none of the bad stuff, just nourishing plant derived oils and extracts.

Turns out the woman who created the stuff, Tonya Zavasta, is the one whose face graces the box. And it also happens that she's built a little raw food empire for herself. I'd say it's working out for her. She's nearly 50 and looks pretty comfortable in camel pose.

Learn more about Tonya's methods for staying healthy and beautiful at any age.

Your Right to Be Beautiful: How to Halt the Train of Aging and Meet the Most Beautiful You by Tonya Zavasta

Or visit her site, Beautiful on Raw.

03 January 2009

old christmas tree, old christmas tree...

...how lovely were your branches.

The ornaments are starting to spontaneously fall off your now droopy branches, so it's time we kick you to the curb. A bit harsh, yes, but you'll serve a new purpose now. Like mulch. You'll help other plants grow and thrive. Or maybe you'll be used to prevent beach erosion.

But your new life will only be realized if we put you out on the curb naked -- no ornaments, lights, garland, plastic bags -- and from January 5th to January 16th (in NYC).

Not sure when and where to recycle your Christmas tree?
Find out at Earth911.

02 January 2009

enjoying winter outdoors

In the colder months, I'm prone to get the itch of cabin fever. While I could take a skiing trip or participate in some similarly pricey winter sport, I remind myself that there are simpler ways of enjoying nature around me -- even in the city.

I'm fortunate enough to live near the great Prospect Park where it's not so unusual to take a stroll on a chilly January day.

Prospect Park ducks, geese, and swans on New Year's Eve

No matter where you live, I'm willing to bet there's somewhere you can walk (or take public transport) to and enjoy the great outdoors, despite the winter weather.

If you're in NYC, here are a few ways to get outside and beat the winter blues:

Witness a meteor shower (this Saturday!)
Need I say more?
Pelham Bay Park Ranger Station
Bruckner Blvd and Wilkinson Ave, da Bronx
[FreeNYC via nonsense nyc]

Take a hike (also this Saturday)
Hey! I'm Walkin' Here takes you on a 19-mile journey around southeast Brooklyn: Canarsie, Georgetown, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Flatlands, Midwood.
Meet at corner of East 105th St and Farragut Rd in Brooklyn
@ East 105 St subway station (L train)
at 10am
[BurnSomeDust via nonsense nyc]

Visit a garden
This Sunday (and the first Sunday of every month), Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts a guided tour to beat the winter blues.
1pm starting at the Visitor's Center

See also: NY Botanical Garden

Go birdwatching
Every Saturday, explore the nature trails of Prospect Park while learning about native and migrating bird species with Introduction to Birdwatching.
12 to 1:30pm starting at the Audubon Center
[Prospect Park]

See also: Central Park

Take a turn around the rink
Here are just a few locations for ice skating around the city: