Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

California and Plastic Bag Use

plastic-bag-in-tree-600x400Lawmakers in California are currently trying to pass a statewide ban on plastic bags-you know, those things that you see drifting through the streets from time to time on the whim of the wind, kind of like urban tumbleweeds? Thin plastic bags have been banned in Seattle since July 1st, 2012, yet they still seem to exist here and there, and thicker, more durable versions are available in grocery stores. The argument against plastic bags is a strong one given their tendency to end up in landfills or amongst the feet of sidewalk travelers after a singe use, and of course, it would be nice if we could cut down on the very production of plastic.. Those who protest the movement against plastic bags cite their potential to be reused on the next trip to the store or reused as trash bags, saving the consumer from needing to purchase the latter. Continue reading

Surprisingly Recyclable Items

green craWhen we aren’t sure about an item’s ability to be recycled, it might be a good idea for us to investigate first before tossing it into the trash. Just check out the following four things that can actually be recycled despite what your instincts might tell you: Continue reading

Cutting Down on Paper Towels

cut-the-paper-towelThe paper towel is another feature of our everyday household item list-like liquid soap-that we don’t really think about changing. It’s been there since we can remember, and it seems like it should be. The thing is, a lot of trees are being chopped down on behalf of our paper-towel usage. As a lifelong resident of the northwest, I love trees and can’t imagine living anywhere without them. We’re spoiled here in Seattle, but the thought of trees being chopped somewhere just so we can have a more convenient way to clean up our messes is an unsettling one. If you’re looking to reduce or eliminate your use of paper towels but feel rather disoriented at the prospect, I’m with you. How can we do it? Continue reading

Seattle Electric Company Aims to Set Up Offshore Wind Park

Windmills in a row on cloudy weatherSeattle’s Principle Power has recently acquired the go-ahead from the U.S. Department of the Interior to apply for a lease on 15 square miles of federal waters located outside Coos Bay, Oregon. The company plans to build the first wind turbine park in federal territory on the west coast, capturing the power of the strong winds that blow through the Pacific. Continue reading

Mammoth Tusk Uncovered in South Lake Union

mammothIt’s always interesting when the urban present that we’ve grown accustomed to collides with a piece of the natural past. Such an event has recently occurred in South Lake Union, when builders unearthed a mammoth tusk that has been under the land for an estimated 16-22 thousand years. Finds like these are reminders that our concrete world was once made up of grassland, and animals such as mammoths roamed through what we now call streets. Before and during the ice ages in which the mammoth lived, Elliot Bay and the Puget Sound didn’t exist. There was just wide open plain, all the way to the ocean. It’s a rather spectacular image, to picture a mammoth strolling down the sidewalks of Seattle. And it’s fun to think that it was actually happening one day, just with less Starbucks’ around. Continue reading

Embracing the Bar Scene

bar soapDid you know that bar soap has been estimated to have 25% less of a carbon footprint than liquid soaps? I certainly didn’t. Growing up, my parents always had liquid soap around, almost on an exclusive basis, and my limited exposure to bar soap seems to have rendered me somewhat naive to its benefits. Depending on myself to get my soap on has taught me that bar soap costs less, but as it turns out, the perks of bar soap go past the frugal. See here, clean reader: Continue reading

Droughts, Fracking, and Being Thankful for Rain

drought.jpg w=620&h=349&crop=1Here in Seattle, complaining about the rain is a cornerstone of small talk (perhaps even the entire base). But with our west coast neighbors in California going through a terrible drought, it’s hard not to feel thankful for the ample amount of wet stuff we get in the Northwest. Not only does rain help to facilitate a healthy ecosystem, it also provides the absolute perfect sound to sleep to, read to, listen to Simon and Garfunkel to, and do just about anything inside to. I’m ready for the cold to go away as much as anyone, but sometimes we should celebrate the fact that our city gets so much of the very thing that keeps greenery green. Continue reading

Sustainability & Film: Frances Ha

Frances-Ha-film-stillIt’s hard to think of a better movie about the sustainability of youthful enthusiasm than Noah Baumbach’s simultaneously charming and distressing dramedy “Frances Ha.” While the post-college transition or non-transition into adulthood is a popular indie-movie theme (and one of my personal favorites), Frances Ha manages to examine it with a hand that is both hyper-realistic and graceful. Greta Gerwig gives one of my favorite performances of 2013 as Frances, a 27 year-old apprentice dancer who lives in Brooklyn with her best friend Sophie. With her dancing career not taking off as she had hoped, Frances’ friendship with Sophie acts as her mental cushion against a discouraging reality. This gets taken away from her when Sophie decides to move in with someone else, and Frances is forced to re-examine the state of her life. Continue reading

1 Comment

Shopping Alternatives

sleeveA little while back I wrote about the plagues of consumerism and how to better navigate the temptations of holiday shopping. Valentines Day, marking another shop-heavy time of year, may be another time in which our inclination to buy new items rises higher than usual, whether or not those items are romantically charged. Amped up sales and ads target us from all angles, all of them promoting with the word new, new, new. But does new have to be included in the rush we feel when we shop? I find that I get just as psyched, if not more so, when I discover something through an alternate, second-hand route. After all, isn’t a second-hand item still just as new to you and your life as that shirt hanging in the department store? Continue reading

Sustainable Flower-Buying

beautiful-valentines-day-giftIt’s hard to go wrong with flowers on Valentine’s day. I’m not usually one for traditions, but if anything is traditional in a good way, it’s flowers. Unfortunately, a startling eighty percent of cut flowers in the United States come from countries where fair wages are often absent and dangerous pesticides are not. But don’t worry, your chocolates won’t necessarily have to go solo this time. There are plenty of environmentally conscious options out there, and several ways in which you can ensure you’re buying the right flowers. Continue reading