Archive for November 2010

Another Successful Green Festival Trip   1 comment

This weekend is(was) the 9th Annual Green Festival in San Francisco. I’ve been going since the first one in the fall of 2002, when I was in grad school. At the time, my long distance phone company was CREDO (then Working Assets), and I got a mailing from them saying that all Working Assets customers got free admission to this event in San Francisco. So I went. And I got hooked. At first I had no interest at all in the speakers, and I just went for the hundreds of vendors. It was the only place all year where I could physically shop (as opposed to shopping online) for fair trade goods, organic goods, recycled goods, etc. And it was a great way to expand my list of online vendors as well. But after maybe four years of that I had acquired a huge bookmark list of online vendors, and I was no longer enticed by the idea of driving two hours each way and wandering the aisles of the festival by myself just so that I could actually try clothes on before buying and get a jump start on my xmas shopping. So I skipped a year. The following year I looked at the speaker list and realized that I had been missing out! So now I have been going with my sister-in-law and concentrating on seeing interesting presentations punctuated by vendor browsing.

This time I listened to presentations on simple living, the fair trade apparel business, vermiculture, the intersection of religion and the “green” movement, a case study for healing an auto-immune disorder through food and environmental modification, and the need for optimism to fuel the “green” movement. The speakers were all very good. Of course I got more out of some of the presentations than others. I didn’t walk away with as long of a list of potential blog topics as I did at the spring Green Festival this past April; but considering that I haven’t made a dent in that list I think that is okay. I had an additional strategy this time of perusing the vendor list in advance and noting the locations of a handful of known vendors that I knew I wanted to visit. That way I wouldn’t miss out on anything that I already like, and therefore didn’t need to rush through the rest of the ~500 vendors to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I did find some great surprises like a new vendor that makes recycled binders and pencils that look really beautiful, another vendor that was selling a perfect lunch bag (I’ve been looking for years now, so actually finding one that I think I would like is a surprise), and a couple seed-saver organizations that had seed packets for sale (I just got lettuce since the future garden is still concrete). And of course I splurged on a new shirt at one of my favorite fair trade clothing companies.

Posted November 7, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, fair trade, shopping

Tagged with

Green America Airline Recycling Survey   Leave a comment

In early 2010, Green America’s Responsible Shopper published a report about recycling in the airline industry. The results were pretty sad. In general the airlines aren’t consistent or comprehensive with their recycling efforts. I can’t say that I am really very surprised. I remember many years ago there was a short period of time during which flight attendants would carry two bags when they collected trash, one for trash, and one for cans/bottles/papers. Then that stopped happening. After that I started keeping any recyclable trash and carrying it into the airport myself to recycle when I got off of the plane since I wasn’t comfortable assuming that the trash was being sorted behind the scenes. Most airports are pretty good about having recycling receptacles in the terminal for passengers, at least. Eventually, I got my steel water bottle and now I bring that (empty) to the airport, fill it from a water fountain after security, and drink from that on the plane. On short trips I decline a drink onboard to reduce the waste of the cup and napkin. For long trips, though, my water bottle is not enough and it is nice to get some ice.

The report is an interesting read, and helped put some context on a few things. I had noticed that on Southwest flights when you ask for water they don’t give you a small bottle, but give you a cup instead. Apparently Southwest switched to canned water because the cans are easiest to recycle. It’s true, from a container material perspective aluminum is at the top of the pile. Aluminum is lightweight, easy to recycle (just melt and go), and can be recycled into another can. Glass next because it is also easy to recycle (grind, melt and go), and can be recycled into another bottle. Glass is heavy, though. Plastic is at the bottom because it is hard to recycle (can’t just melt and go), and can only downcycle. You cannot make another bottle out of the plastic.

Back to Green America’s report. Since they put out the report, they have been doing a survey of the experiences of airline passengers. So last weekend on my flights (well, two of the four) to and from Boston, I asked the flight attendants about whether they would be recycling stuff. When I got home I filled out the web form to submit the answers I got. At the end of the year Green America is going to put out an updated report with the results of the survey.

On my flights the flight attendants said that they do recycle cans, bottles, and paper. Everything except papers went into the plastic trash bags, but since they didn’t serve any bottles or cans (just cups) I guess it was all “trash”. I did notice that they would tuck a newspaper under an arm instead of putting it in the trash bag, so I guess that is evidence that the paper really is recycled. On one of the flights the flight attendant was separating out the cups and stacking them in her hand. I asked if they recycle the cups and she said that they don’t, but she stacks them separately so that they take up less room. That way the flight trash fits into a couple fewer bags, thus reducing the number of bags they go through. I could only wish all flight attendants followed that logic!

Posted November 4, 2010 by mayakey in advocacy, environment, travel

Tagged with

Voting is Just Step One   1 comment

I hope everyone voted today (or by today). One of the things that I think is absolutely crucial for conscious living is being responsible. That includes personal, employment, and societal responsibilities; where the pertinant responsibility today is our civic responsiblity to vote. Democracy doesn’t work without active participants. And to be an active citizen, casting an educated vote is only the first step.

The next step is to speak up the other 364 days of the year. When there is an issue that matters to you, send a message to your representatives (email is best and super easy). They aren’t mass mind readers, so you have to speak up. Some organizations draft messages on major issues that you can sign and email (personally, I prefer to tweak the text before I put my name to it). Sign up for the newsletter so that you know what your legislators are up to and when they’ll be holding meetings in your area. At my old address I was signed up for newsletters from the state and federal legislators for my district. I haven’t yet signed up for newsletters in my new district, but now that I’ve reminded myself here I will be doing so.

Posted November 2, 2010 by mayakey in advocacy, conscious living

Tagged with , ,