From the category archives:

Sustainable Living

Spring Planting

by schmidt on April 28, 2011 · 1 comment

in Sustainable Living

010Well, with spring having arrived it is time to amend our dirt and get to our summer planting.  I did not, under any circumstances, think gardening was at all cool or interesting growing up.  It always seemed the realm of gray haired old people – or at least people who should be old and have gray hair.  Now that I am old and cannot pluck out all my gray hair anymore, gardening seems to make more sense.  Not sure if that is a good thing, but anyways…

As a parent I appreciate what our garden teaches our girls.  They complain about watering of course, and run hot and cold on the whole pulling weeds thing, but they have a good time digging up potatoes and pulling up carrots.  And there is no shriek like that that comes from finding a steamed caterpillar in the broccoli we harvested for dinner.  Damn things are a perfect broccoli shade of green, no matter how carefully I look for them one always seems to slip by.

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bottled water blows

by schmidt on April 21, 2010 · 0 comments

in Sustainable Living

Another great piece from the Story of Stuff Project and Annie Leonard. Props to my friend Carlo who sent me this a bit ago.



New Urban Explorer

by schmidt on April 16, 2010 · 0 comments

in Sustainable Living

I suppose a lot us think we’re pretty far removed from our explorer past – we don’t get up in the morning ready to hike through the wilderness, foraging for our food, looking for clean water to drink or shelter to warm up in if the elements are harsh.

Do we?

We do get up in the morning, but how many of you have everything planned out; where you are going to have lunch, what are you going to do when you need a drink, that sort of thing. I mean think about it – if you are looking for some cheap eats or you are thirsty in your cube, what are you going to do? Hit the vending machine? The water fountain? A local restaurant that sells pork siu mai 3 for $1.50?

We are all urban explorers in our civilized wilderness, and it makes sense to from a sustainable standpoint to act that way. I try and carry around this most days when I remember:

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It is amazing how much waste this little urban camping get up reduces.  The water bottle and coffee cup are pretty obvious – at this point everyone should know that bottled water is more expensive than regular tap – and San Francisco tap water is some of the best water you can drink world wide.  So let’s be conservative and say that beat up red aluminum bottle replaces 100 plastic bottles each year, and it is 3 years old….

I drink at least a coffee a day 5 days a week, so over the course of a year that is about 250 of those little white lids I do not use, plus another 250 cups & cardboard cup sleeves and a whole bunch of those straw or wooden stirrer thingies (I just use one of my chop sticks)

The wooden utensils, aside from the just mentioned coffee stirring functionality, save on countless plastic knives/forks/spoons that come with whatever lunch I happen to scrounge up – be it cheap chow mein or a pasta salad, maybe some soup if it is especially foggy in the City.

The bags are a big one; San Francisco was the first large city in US to ban plastic bags from groceries – a brilliant move to keep them from ending up in the ocean among other places.  And I give props to private companies like Whole Foods Market for offering brown paper bags instead of plastic for produce, that or reusing a plastic one both help us use less.  Plus the reusable cloth bag is great for gathering or hunting: whatever tickles your fancy.

Now I screw up and forget my urban exploring kit from time to time, but whether it is the cup I do not use, or the bag I do not have to take, or the coffee stirrer thingy I replace with my chop stick, I feel a bit better about my day.  It is not the end, but its another step in the right direction.



Realpolitik is just one of those facts of life that you learn to accept as you get older…well, maybe not accept, acknowledge I suppose is a better word.  If I accept that the struggle against climate change may be futile, perhaps it would be better to just let it go.  Most of the effects will likely happen after I am gone.  Mass species extinction, rising sea levels, dramatically altered weather patterns leading to drought and starvation – it is probable that all of this really won’t impact me at all.  If the statisticians are right, I will die at around 80 or 90, baring some heart attack or accident just around the corner.  So whatever happens after 2055 or so is out of my corporeal time line.

But what about my friends who are younger?  Those 20 somethings, those teens who are, really, oddly, so remarkable.  Most of them will see 2080, when the ocean should be up to about 46th Ave.

And Gabriella, and Amanda?  What will they see, when 2090 comes?  What will my grandchildren, not yet born see because I accepted something I should not have?

I think I choose rather to acknowledge that some things are horse shit, as my hero of the day Michael Reynolds says in his movie Garbage Warrior.  And even if that is the way things are, I can shout into the wind.

So the NY Times depressed the shit out of me on Sunday when it ran a minor headline “Leaders Will Delay Deal on Climate Change” effectively cutting the balls off the Copenhagen talks in 19 days.  And I was mad.  Pissed.  I felt that President Obama had abandoned me, personally.  What good was throwing Bush out on his ass and putting in a new congress if we abandon a binding agreement.

Then today new’s analysis “Obama hobbled in fight against global warming” brought realpolitik’s cold water to my face.  Even though we have 58 Senators in congress, without 60 to force a quorum and override a filibuster, only jack and a little shit will happen.  And only the Senate can ratify a treaty, which is one of the reasons the Kyoto Protocols went right into the trash after Clinton brought them to the Republican Congress.  Even with Barbara Boxer and other advocates on our side, the energy just isn’t there.  We have jobs hemorrhaging from our economy after 28 years of disastrous Reaganomics.  2 wars, where our soldiers have been badly abused by chicken hawks eager to send other people’s kids off to fight,but scared shitless of going all in with a draft and a war tax.  Health Care – where 18,000 people die each year because our health care system serves only corporations, not people.

And I want the Senate to give a fuck about Copenhagen?

So I acknowledge Copenhagen is not going to produce the change we must have.  Global CO2 went up by 2 more parts per million from last year.  The current number is 384 ppm – and the line by which dramatic climate change is acknowledge to be inevitable is 350 parts per million.  I acknowledge this is a body blow to our future as a species.

But I think I will chose not to accept it.  So whether it is the car I drive, or the house I live in, or the food my family eats, we can do something, anything, every single day.  I will acknowledge that the steps are small, and taken alone probably as insignificant as my ranting here.  But the accepting it part can kiss my brown/white ass.

19 days to Copenhagen.  Tomorrow I am going to call my Senators and the White house.



The SF PUC is hosting a street fair called “Big Blue Bucket Eco Fair” on Saturday the 26th from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM.  It looks like a cool event, and I plan on being there and reporting whats what.  Some pre-highlights are rain barrel installation and a used medication drop off.  Medication disposal is one of those small things that in aggregate settings, like say a City, has a massive impact.  Dumping that last pill or three down the drain has long been an accepted way of getting rid of unused pharmaceuticals, but it has a tremendous impact on local waterways when these chemicals make it to the bay: waste water treatment plans are NOT designed to removed medication from water, it DOES get into fish and harm the waterways.  Just another good example of San Francisco doing its part.