Archive for the ‘Ever Green’ Category


April 19, 2011

The other day in the New York Times National Briefing, there was a blurb about how half the meat and poultry found in grocery stores were tainted with Staphylococcus aureus.  WTF?  Shouldn’t this be front page news, not buried in a single paragraph next to menswear ads?  The study covers 80 brands of beef, pork, and poultry from 26 stores, presumably those plastic wrapped meats on beds of styrofoam, the appearance of never having been an animal, sanitized for our protection, now a hazard.  Granted the study sample was small – 136 samples – and only from five cities, but is disturbing nevertheless.  It still suggests a broad scope of contamination, spread through the industrialized food chain.  Half of the contaminated samples also had some form of antibiotic resistant bacteria, evidence of rampant overuse of antibiotics.  Welcome to The Jungle.

So Smart

April 29, 2010

For the Littlest Kitchen, I often shop in the bulk section, without the bulk.  I usually walk away with 3 or 4 teeny tiny bags of grains or beans no bigger than 1/2 cup, only what I need.  It’s a lot of bags which doesn’t sit well with me eco-consciously.  Sure, I could reuse them, or it could be repurposed for produce, travel, or cat litter, but they ultimately get thrown away in a giant landfill, never to decompose.  There must be a better way.

The Brooklyn Kitchen has a good solution with their reusable muslin drawstring bag.  For only $1, this little bag can save me from disposing more plastic, trumping bulk and pre-packaged goods.  So simple, so smart.

That’s Right!

October 7, 2008

I try to be aware of what I throw away in our landfills, the reality being, I create very little garbage, about a grocery bag’s worth a week. I recycle what I can given New York City’s limitations, compost food scraps, and try not to buy things that will create excess trash, i.e. snack packs. I use my own bags, drink out of a BPA-free bottle, and fully support Home Depot’s compact fluorescent bulb recycling program. But I have never thought about recycling my Brita filter.

As reported in the New York Times yesterday, has started an online petition to persuade Clorox, who owns Brita, to recycle used filters. Apparently a practice in some European countries, where filters can be sent back to the manufacturer or dropped off at stores for recycling, the petition is an effort to start a similar program in the US. A great idea, considering that filters are supposed to be changed every 2-3 months, sending 4-6 plastic filters to that great burial in the ground every year, per pitcher. Still small in comparison to the number of water bottles that get used every day, but still significant.

California Cleaning

July 17, 2008

Not only have a longed to wash dishes in my kitchen sink for the past few months, I have been dying to wash my dishes California style. Raised during a drought in California (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”), I was used to this eco-friendly way of sudsing and then rinsing a batch of dishes, rather than letting the water run. This had not been a possibility in The Littlest Kitchen until now, since I never quite had the space to spread out the soapy dishes, so I’d let the water run. By buying an extra drain board to place over the burners while I suds up, I am able to create extra space. The thin-ish tray fits under the sink neatly when not be used for its five minutes of the day. I had forgotten that we did this in my first apartment in New York, a nifty trick devised by the Organizing Olympian.

A Better Bottle?

July 1, 2008

After seven months, I finally got myself a better bottle, the CamelBak Better Bottle. It’s been on the back burner of my mind to replace my Nalgene bottle ever since it was reported that it leaches an endocrine altering chemical, bisphenol-A. Supposedly, this CamelBak bottle is BPA and phthalate free, assuring me with every sip, I am doing a healthful thing, and not causing harm to my future children. Now, what do I do with my Brita pitcher?

Bright Idea

June 25, 2008

My stone cold heart has finally thawed and I have renewed feelings for Home Depot now that it’s offering a recycling program for compact fluorescent bulbs. Always a bit of a green conundrum, compact fluorescents are more energy efficient, but its disposal can be toxic because of its mercury content. HD’s recycling program tips the scale in its favor.

Since the city doesn’t offer recycling for light bulbs, it’s a good to see someone take responsibility, even if it’s a big box store. Much like how most cellphone retailers offer recycling for old phones and batteries, this specialized in-store recycling is one solution to the ever complex attempt at green living. It’s only fair that if the store giveth, they should taketh away.

Attack of the Plastic Bags

May 13, 2008

You are probably looking at these photos, thinking that I must be a crazy hoarder bag lady.  I can’t deny that there isn’t a small grain of truth to this, but the bigger question is why do I have all these bags?  I’m pretty conscientious about bringing my own bag when I shop so that I don’t take one.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable – spontaneous purchases, doggie bags from restaurants, etc. The sad fact of the matter is that this collection of bags mostly came to my front door – over a year’s worth of bags from the New York Times.  Yup, every day, I get one or two bags, free with my paper.  Not that I don’t use them – I bring my lunch, I bring back the empties, and then I dispose of cat litter – a three stage life cycle before it hits the trash.  I also use them for produce in the fridge, to hold shoes when I travel, wet umbrellas, but I still can’t put a bag in the 365+ bags.  So now I have to use another big plastic bag to throw out more bags.  Now that’s crazy. 

Tuna Warning

January 30, 2008


Just as I’ve espoused my favorite tuna salad, I remembered last week’s front page article in the Times about tuna sushi. Laboratory tests indicate high levels of mercury in tuna sushi sampled from various restaurants and grocers in New York City. These levels were higher than EPA standards, a cause for concern for those with a regular diet of tuna sushi. Six pieces a week, what would normally be one meal, has an excessive amount of mercury, which should be consumed no more than once every three weeks. It has been a common warning for pregnant and nursing women to limit their tuna intake, due to a baby’s developing nervous systems. Excessive amounts of mercury has been shown to contribute to cardiological and neurological problems in adults. The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, was based in reality in that milliners used mercury for their hats, making them kind of crazy.

As I read about the shockingly high levels of mercury in one of the world’s more perfect foods, I was repulsed, ired, and then ultimately defeated. I felt completely helpless. Isn’t there anything that I, a conscientious, totebag-carrying environmentalist can do? Can’t I sign a petition? Boycott a certain company? Use less mercury?

Unfortunately, there isn’t mercury-free tuna, like dolphin-free tuna. Because tuna, as a big fish, eats little fish, which has smaller amounts of mercury. This all accumulates in their bodies, a hazard to being at the top of the food chain, which in turn gets passed on to us. The choices are few. Canned tuna has mercury, albacore can have as much as three times as much, making the cheaper chunk light, which comes from smaller tuna, a better choice. Cooking has no effect. We’re screwed.

Not that I’m giving up on tuna. As with all good things, it should be eaten in moderation. A rule of thumb for fats, sugar, and alcohol, but mercury?

The Muji bag

January 23, 2008

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In my sermonizing about the evils of plastic bags, I practice what I preach by carrying my foldable Muji bag. This nylon sac expands to the size of a regualr plastic shopping bag, while when folded, is as small as a Nano. It’s big and strong enough to hold a melon, yet light enough to be unnoticeable in my purse. Made of material that is not unlike that of an umbrella, it’s waterproof and machine washable. Folding it back up into its pouch is a bit of a pain, and requires origami-like skills, but even loose, it squishes down small. It’s, quite simply, a godsend.

Burden of Modern Living

January 15, 2008

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Paper or plastic? How about neither? For years, I have been consciously trying to reduce my own bag consumption by bringing my own bag. An effort in itself, as those shop clerks always want to give me one – even when I ask them not to – since it’s hard wired into their musculature to do so. I never expect anyone else to do the same, but it does only make sense considering how they pile up at home (The Littlest Kitchen doesn’t have much room for extra bags), let alone the environmental consequenses of these non-biodegradable conveniences of consumption. In the name of free, we’re choking marine life, clogging up drainage systems, and filling up our landfills.

In the past week, it has been remarkable to see governments take action with this issue. On Wednesday, China banned the production super thin plastic bags, and as of June 1, supermarkets will not be allowed to give them out for free. On Friday, New York City’s City Council voted for the recycling of plastic bags, by requiring stores that give them away to have receptacles for discarded bags. These are monumental steps in the right direction to make us more aware of the impact of our consumption. I think the most successful program is Ireland’s bag tax, which charges consumers 15 cents a bag. Usage went down a phenomenal 90%! The beauty of this program is that it provides additional revenue for the government to fund environmental projects, a whopping 3.5 million euros. And San Francisco should be commended for their effort too, which requires grocery and drug stores to use only biodegradable plastic or paper bags.

If the world’s most populous country and most populous city can be more aware of these pesky little plastic bags, so can you. Habits are hard to break, but this planet is even harder to fix.