Go Forth and Forage

No doubt fruit foraging is happening somewhere, somehow in Denver, but I don’t know Mt. Hood red apples Oregon Oct 2011about it. In the meantime, you can get an edible forest planted in Kansas City, and you can go forage for fruit in Seattle on Beacon Hill. Well, maybe not right now, but when the trees grow up.

Beacon Food Forest: seven acres of forageable space within Seattle city limits. The planners want this to be a food forest, not just an orchard. It’s a little like a permaculture orchard, in which you plant other edible plants around the fruit trees, but designed to function more like a wild forest, with things like strawberries on the ground, bushes that bear fruit, and fruit and nut trees.

Here’s an article about it from Fast Company.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Central Park in NYC became and edible forest? Or Loose Park in Kansas City? Or City Park in Denver?

Giving Grove, which is affiliated with Kansas City Community Gardens, plans to develop a model for “edible tree gardens” that can be easily replicated in urban areas. I think this is such a great idea, and I wish I had a house with some land so that I could begin planning an edible garden.

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Save Money on Food

Potato Pie with Sausage and Cheese? Yes, please! The picture looks yummy, but the best thing about Love Food Hate Waste is that it provides practical advice about turning those leftovers into additional meals. So, instead of buying new food, we convert the old food into tasty new meals, thus saving money and creating less organic waste.

Here’s a page about 5 ways to save money on your food bills.

There’s even an app for iPhone and Android.

 

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“How stupid modern packaging is,” says William McDonough

I read Joel Makower’s interview with William McDonough on Green Biz and felt that I had met a kindred spirit—about packaging, that is.

McDonough is a designer, an architect, an entrepreneur, and a leader in sustainable development. He co-founded Cradle to Cradle, which developed a system to rate and constantly improve products: “The Cradle to Cradle product certificationCM framework first asks what is the given product’s function: food for natural systems or food for industry. In our world, everything is conceived of, and designed to be, food.” (From “Zero Is Not Our Hero” on the “What Is Cradle to Cradle?” page of the website.)

As a proponent of Zero Waste, I don’t love that headline, but I do like C2C’s focus on the restorative potential of design and industry. I would love to live in a world in which all products contributed to the environment instead of using it up—which is what many of them do.

Anyway, it seems that McDonough is doing all sorts of cool things, so read the interview and follow a link or two.

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Note: The link at Zero Waste goes to Eco-Cycle. I used to volunteer for them and still recycle lots of stuff at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (the CHARM).

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Reuse via Peel Away Pots

Don’t grow transplants in those cheap plastic pots (the ones that crackle between your fingers with the slightest bit of pressure) and then throw away the pots when you’ve moved the plants to their permanent bed. Peel Away Pots sounds like a great solution to the trash problem caused by plant pots, and they may strengthen your transplants.

I wish I still had a garden so that I could try them.

They’re not plastic-free, but they’re reusable, so they are a lot better than single-use pots.

If you have some of the plastic pots in your garage, see if a local garden center will take them back. That’s becoming more common these days.

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Whales Eat Plastic Too

Birds eating plastic—that was not news to me. But I hadn’t heard about whales unwittingly consuming plastic while feeding, as indicated by this article on Real News 24.

It makes sense. If the ocean gyres are full of plastic trash, then marine animals will ingest some of that trash just by swimming through the polluted areas.

Here’s information about the Midway Journey project and film, which explains what’s happening to the birds of Midway Island, located northwest of the Hawaiian Islands, midway between North America and Asia. Midway is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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Avoiding Plastic a Challenge in Kansas City

Kansas City has been testing my resolve to use less plastic.

One night my sister and I went to the deli at Jasper’s, a famous Italian restaurant now located in south Kansas City, and ordered takeout. They gave us our lasagna in styrofoam containers encased in shrink-wrap.

Really?!

And this system barely kept the sauce in the lasagna from leaking. So what’s the point?

Instead of using two kinds of unrecyclable plastic, why not put your food in #2 or #5 plastic containers that can be recycled? Or buy Tupperware and encourage customers to bring it back? Or use aluminum containers with metal lids? Or paper containers with metal lids?

I need to write them a letter.

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MillerCoors in Golden Reaches Zero Waste

MillerCoors in Golden used to produce 135 tons of trash per month. Now they send none to the landfill. None.

That’s almost enough to make me drink Coors.

MillerCoors Brewery Now Recycles All Waste

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Trash from Colorado’s 2013 Flood

In mid-September, the northern Front Range of Colorado (the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains) received more rain than it does in a year. The week of September 9, rain fell continuously for about five days, took a break on Saturday, and came back on Sunday. Continuous rainfall is unusual in Colorado—we’re used to sudden showers on summer afternoons and a little more constant rain in May, but not days and days of it. The total rainfall in September was somewhere between 15 and 20 inches; typical rainfall for that month is about 2 inches.

The floods caused by that rain still have not completely receded. At least eight people died. The damage to homes, roads, and bridges will take years to repair.

But another, less noted, result of the floods is the huge amount of trash they created. As basements and crawl spaces and garages filled up with muddy water and sewage, carpet, drywall, furnishings, and anything else stored in those rooms was destroyed or contaminated. This dumpster outside an apartment complex next to Boulder Creek gives you an idea of the problem. Boulder floods, dumpster, trashIn my south Boulder neighborhood, I saw temporary dumpsters in many driveways that were filled to capacity.

I’m not sure what happened to the TV in the picture. On July 1, 2013, a law banning electronics in Colorado landfills went into effect. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if in the chaos after the flood quite a few computers and appliances ended up in landfills.

Until October 5, Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials is taking flood-damaged electronics, appliances, scrap metal, and large durable plastics without charge. They ask that you rinse them off first.

Communities along the Front Range have been assessing the damage and are beginning to rebuild. They will need all kinds of restoration—of transportation routes, housing, other structures, vegetation, and businesses.

If you have been affected by the floods, you can find information at Congressman Jared Polis’s Colorado Flood Information page. You can also try Boulder Flood Relief or OccupyFortCollins, which is organizing relief for flood survivors in Milliken and nearby areas.

 

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Closing the Loop with Composting

Last October, Todd and I visited a salad joint in the DC metro area called Sweet Green.Restoration Nation

It’s not all that unusual to see compostable cups these days, but not every restaurant actually composts them. Many just throw them away. Adding compostable materials to landfills increases the amount of methane produced by those landfills. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

But Sweet Green does it right.

Sweet Green Compost and Recycling binsI’m intrigued by their branded cups. I hadn’t seen that before with compostables. I’m used to seeing cups from Eco-Products, which is a Denver area company.

Note 1: These cups are made from corn, and it is more likely than not that the corn is genetically modified. There isn’t enough organic corn to meet the demand.

Note 2: The use of staple foods like corn for things like cups helps to raise the price of corn and make it difficult for poor people to afford it. It would be much better if all restaurants served their food in durable, reusable containers.

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How to Reduce Your Use of Plastic (Fact Sheet 1)

The Problem: How Plastic Becomes Pollution

  • Plastic collects in lakes, rivers, and the ocean.
  • It breaks down in sunlight (photo-degrades) into small pieces.
  • Birds such as albatrosses, turtles, and fish eat the plastic pieces.
  • The plastic will either fill the animal’s stomach, causing it to starve to death, or pierce its stomach, causing it to bleed to death.

There are massive whirlpools filled with plastic in the world’s oceans, the most famous being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or North Pacific Gyre, located between California and Hawaii. For a more complete explanation, go to 5 Gyres and click on “What is the problem?”

Want an image? Try Message from the Gyre, a series of photographs by Chris Jordan.

Think those pictures have been staged? Watch “Bottle Caps,” a video of a Fish and Wildlife Service employee sorting through plastic from a dead albatross chick on Midway Island.

The Solution: You, Changing Your Habits

  • Water: buy several reusable water bottles and always have one with you, even at restaurants. Stainless steel is best.
  • Coffee and tea: buy several reusable coffee cups and keep one at home and one at the office and one in your car.
  • Bags: Keep reusable bags in your car and at home. You can get the reusable plastic bags at the grocery store, but real cloth bags will last longer, and the handles won’t break.
  • Bags for produce: Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods sell bags you can use for produce.
  • Bags at the mall: keep some nice-looking bags, either cloth, or plastic from a store where you like to shop, in your purse or car, and use them for clothing or gadget purposes.
  • Utensils: Keep some in your purse or car. Or you can buy a bamboo spork at Whole Foods. It works for salad, though you can’t cut anything with it.
  • Plastic Containers: there is so much to say here that I can’t fit it all on one page.

NOTE 1: Try changing one habit at a time.

NOTE 2: These reusable items don’t take up that much space. Really!

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I wanted to get this posted. It is a work in progress that will change as I hold classes on this subject.

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