Category Archives: green

It’s Earth Week…


20100418targetearthday…and, according to this weekly Sunday circular, you can celebrate Earth Week by buying even more stuff at Target.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fat fan of Target and this fascinating flash animation of the proliferation of its stores across a map of the United States since 1962, in truth, is less my sadness over consumerism and its evils and more a roadmap for finding stuff at one store when the other has sold out of stuff, like its Liberty of London for Target partnership that launched last month.

But, at least this week, we are supposed to be even more conscious and emboldened to do things like drink tap water instead of buying bottled water, walk or bike to work instead of drive or choose neither paper nor plastic and, instead, BYOBag.  This latter tip I blogged about in 2007, the year that San Francisco banned plastics bags.  Unfortunately, the article, “The Environmental Cost of a Free Canvas Bag“, which I read last year in Utne Reader online conjectures that you would need to reuse a canvas bag perhaps 400 times in order to really give the planet a helping hand: “Judging by the cost, producing one tote is equivalent to producing 400 plastic bags. That’s fine if you use a tote 400 times, but what if you just end up with 40 totes? The environmental promise of reusable bags becomes dubious when there are closets full of them in every home.”  Ironically, “[t]he plastic bag itself began as an environmental salve.  Before the introduction of ultra-thin plastic bags in the 1980s, groceries were primarily packed in paper.  Plastic was touted as a way to save trees.”

bastis-cat.jpgI confess that I probably do have over a dozen or two reusable bags in varying sizes kept as give-aways, purchased while waiting at the checkout counter and received as gifts.  I might even have 40.  And still, I will sometimes forget and leave them in the trunk of my car or find that the one that I do keep in my purse at all times is not enough for all of my purchases and I end up coming home with another disposable bag anyway.  Still, I think I’ve likely used a few of them greater than 52 times, i.e. once a week for a year across several years.  Do you keep a stash of reusable shopping bags?  Does your use–say 400 uses per bag–justify the environmental cost (or even the cost to your home budget) of the bag; or are these bags just more stuff?


The Delightful Possibility of City Chickens


eggs.JPGA hen can lay an egg a day.  Brown eggs are the product of the Rhode Island Red variety of chicken.*  They say white eggs and brown eggs have no nutritional or taste difference, but the brown eggs are certainly more attractive, and bring back fond memories.*

 From Garden for the Environment:

Saturday, June 9TH | 10AM – 12:30PM
Location: Garden for the Environment, 7th Ave at Lawton Street, San Francisco

You can keep chickens in San Francisco! Join Paul Glowaski from Pie Ranch, and the Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project, for an exciting City Chickens workshop. You will learn how to legally keep chickens in San Francisco, from chicken coop design to raising chickens from eggs to laying hens, health concerns, and what to feed them and examples of city chicken systems. This workshop is $10 and will be conducted at the Garden for the Environment, on 7th Ave at Lawton Street, San Francisco. Please call 415.731.5627 to Pre-register or email for more information.

(*hint to the ** contest section above.)

The Future is Plastics 100% Polypropylene


Perhaps quite soon, San Francisco won’t be the only major city in the U.S. that is taking steps to ban the use of plastic grocery bags.  Lucky for me, I already mostly shop in San Francisco for groceries, which has led me to, arguably, do my part in defeating the whole purpose of the movement, as I am now starting to accumulate more bags, albeit reusable ones.

bags-021.JPGI bags-013.JPGordinarily use this nice reversable spring number that came with a Clinique gift-with-purchase promotion several years ago (left).  One side is canvas, the other side is waterproof nylon.  Very jaunty look for the spring and summer.  With a nice wide bucket bottom, it carries plenty, but, since it is only one,  I supplemented on one trip to Trader Joe’s with thier crunchy plastic ones reminiscent both of Hawaiian shirts and little old Asian women back in our mother countries (or Chinatown) who carry a version of a reusable bag in this exact material, only with a Madras-style print.  99¢.

On a recent trip to IKEA, I learned two things:  1) They are now charging 5¢ per plastic bag at the checkout, much like other countries (Korea and Italy, are all I know personally, actually), to discourage the use of disposable plastic bags.  They’ve been offering a reusable blue version of the yellow bags they have in-store for use while you shop now for 59¢.  See one in action here from one of my favorite bloggers, who, incidentally, had a discussion of reusable shopping bags recently.

bastis-cat.jpgbastis-dog.jpgBut, cutest of all, also available from IKEA in their BÄSTIS line for pets, is a “storage case” for cat food or dog food!  The dog food one is very large, sized to cover a 50 lb. or so bag of pet food.  It is blue and illustrated with a plate of bones.  I imagine somewhat unwieldy for daily use.  Not something you’d put in the truck of the car to use while grocery shopping. More for storing stuff.   $3.99.

bags-006.JPGThe smaller cat version, however, is the perfect size for everyday human use.  Fits a stack of magazines or 2+ loaves of bread or about a 10+ lb. bag of catfood, etc.  It is green and illustrated with a plate of fish with Simpson-like bubble eyes.  $1.99.

The coolest feature of these is that both have zippered-tops with mesh holes on the sides.  The cat one has a mesh cut-out shaped like a fish.  The dog, a bone.