The last cotton ball

Let’s not strike up a conversation about cotton unless we’re both ready to talk about forced labor in Uzbekistan. Or the drying up of the Aral Sea. Or death to cotton farmers by pesticide. Soft and luscious on the outside, cotton is produced in unsustainable and often cruel ways that have not propelled humanity far…

Toothpaste (that isn’t paste)

Designers take note! I’ve found a toothpaste that can actually look attractive while sitting on a bathroom shelf. It’s called Bite and I found it when researching alternatives to toothpaste sold in plastic tubes. I grew up using Colgate, so for me, nothing tastes cleaner than a mouthful of fluoride and I’ve been buying toothpaste…

Today’s tea: compostable packaging

Today’s Tea: Your compostable packaging is only compostable if you actually… compost it. Sure, we can applaud companies who use compostable plastic cups and compostable paper bowls but the praise is meaningless if we put those compostable items in the trash. When we put compostables in the trash, they go to the landfill where they…

Studying climate change with friends

This week I’ll begin a distance learning course on the topic of climate change, and I’ll be joined by a few friends. We’ll be studying the materials on our own and as a group, then hopefully we’ll be sharing what we learn with others through discussion nights, workshops, or other methods. The course is offered…

Goodbye, bags. Thanks for the litter.

It’s a big deal: New York state has banned plastic bags. The ban will take effect next March. So, prepare to say goodbye to bags in the trees, bags in the gutter grates, bags in the park, bags on the beach, bags tangled around a pigeon’s leg. We’ve had a good run plastic bags (have…

Composting in Red Hook

If you know me, you know I don’t want to go to Brooklyn unless there’s any possible way I can get around it. But this sustainability thing is dragging me out there more often than expected. I guess I can’t be mad about it; Brooklyn has some great community gardens and learning sites, such as…

RIP Recycling

Growing up, sorting the recycling wasn’t a chore; it was something that one did automatically. I don’t remember a time when our household didn’t recycle, so I was horrified when I grew up and found out that I moved among people who put their bottles and cans in the trash along with their spent tissues,…

The Williams Pipeline and the airing of grievances

This was my view of last night’s DEC hearing on the Williams Pipeline, held at the Bay Ridge Manor in Brooklyn. Residents from New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Rockaways, and beyond gathered to share their objections to the proposed pipeline that would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to the Rockaways via New…

To the redwoods via air travel

Last weekend, I attended a seminar on the opposite coast. I had reservations about attending. Would I get anything out of the experience? Would the people I met there get anything out of it? Would the seminar be worth the cost of registration and air travel? Would it be worth the greenhouse gases that I…

Forget everything I ever said about Package Free.

When I first heard about Package Free, a store that sells household basics and staples without (you guessed it) packaging, I was intrigued. Sure, I already had a large cache of supplies to help me wend my way toward a zero-waste lifestyle—reusable bags, glass jars, travel mug, bar soap, white vinegar, safety razor and gazillion…