Zero Waste Strategies, Guitar-Tap Dance Collaboration, and Street Performing

Hello all…happy belated Groundhogs Day to all you ‘mericans and early Valentine’s Day to my fellow romantics!

Today I have some reflections on Zero Waste Living for you plus some tap dance related news and a bonus plant fact.

As some of you may know, I’ve been obsessed with garbage for a long time…see me and garbage through the years (cue love song: how sweet it is).

 

 

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I’m not sure what this fixation says about me psychologically–a topic for deeper exploration, I suppose–but I do know where this interest has led me, and that is to explore Zero Waste Lifestyle options in an effort to reduce personal waste production.

Its all about “baby steps.”

This year I experimented with a few different dental floss options (Dr. Mercola is the new favorite, works best, comes in cardboard container, thanks Mamãe), switched over to a new deodorant that can be bought in bulk and comes in a glass jar (Meow Meow Tweet), bought “bees-wrap” to replace saran wrap, or “cling-film” as our UK friends call it, and both invested in a reusable-collapsible to-go container design I’ve been playing with for years…and found one that gets the job done (Sea-To-Summit “Seal and Go Set”).

I also continued to use my To-Go Ware (bamboo utensil set), which I carry around religiously, also introducing metal straws to the mix, enjoyed the soft feel of cloth hankies to dab away tears and runny noses, brought my own totes and produce bags when grocery shopping, and went on with what is probably my 5th year of using the Diva Cup, a reusable menstrual cup which has enabled me to live pad and tampon free all this time. Not only has the cup prevented a lot of garbage and exposure to chemicals, but it as also saved a lot of time and money since I never have to buy pads or tampons anymore. Oh yeah, I also started making my own toothpaste using a simple recipe, eliminating toothpaste associated garbage which tends to be difficult to recycle and of course carry a reusable waterbottle so I don’t have to buy plastic ones on the go.

Apologies for all this talk about me, but as Henry David Thoreau, my historical crush put it:

“I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.” (Walden)

If you’re curious about any of the topics mentioned above, please ask and I’ll be glad to elaborate.

Reflecting on the areas I can still reduce waste, the first things that comes to mind are to-go cups (for coffee and smoothies/juices) and to-go food containers (for take-out and nuts).

Deeper observation is needed to further analyze my garbage footprint and see where improvements can be made.

What about you?

Food for thought.

Moving on, I wanted also to share some musical projects that have been happening.

Tap Dance-Guitar Collaboration

 

 

That was me and a friend playing around with time and sounds at the American Tap Dance Foundation. More to come!

In other tap dancing news, Gregory Hines, legendary tap dancer who was most prominent in the 1980’s and ’90s and know for collaborating with male ballerino Mikhail Baryshnikov among other things, has been honored by the USPS by being put on a postage stamp. Woot!

Here is a video from the dedication ceremony, held at Symphony Space in Manhattan last Monday. The dancers are Barbara Duffy, Michelle Dorrance, Mikela Lerman, and Ayodele Casel, dancing a piece choreographed by Gregory Hines.

 

As far as street performing goes, I wanted to write a little about that world of experience.

Street Performing in NYC

Metropolitan Ave Station, Brooklyn
Busking in Brooklyn

I have been doing this. I started last year and had the most fun dancing with my then-roommate, Martina the Ballerina. I find street performing to be a good way to work through the nerves of performing, receive feedback, and practice playing loudly, plus it give me somewhere to play other than my bedroom with less pressure than open-mics. When I street-perform (aka “Busk”), I either play guitar, acoustic or electric (acoustic is less cumbersome), or tap dance (either to recorded music, a metronome, or with nothing). The goal is to combine tap dancing and guitar, and I haven’t quite figured it out yet other than stomping out 1-2-3-4 beats.

Thought I’d have more to say about that but turns out no. Just wanted to introduce the topic.

Ok, last 2 things. I wanted to mention a novel product idea that I encountered last year at a craft fair. It was this guy:

Simmer Guy
Simmer Guy at American Feild Trade-show Summer 2018

Simmer is a tomato sauce that comes in smaller package than other sauces on the market. It is meant to be a solution to moldy tomato sauce, which often happens when a single person opens a jar o’sauce. Even though his packaging is plastic, I thought it was clever to address the issue of portion sizes and food waste in packaging. He also had great sample spoons made out of cardboard instead of plastic. If any of you are thinking about giving out food samples, consider these.

Non-plastic sample spoons
Plastic-free sample spoon, great idea!

Finally, a plant fact for you that I learned at work. Ficus, a common house-plant, is a fig plant! I didn’t know that but it makes sense.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 12.23.26 PM

According to Tina DeSanto of The World is Your Dumpster, also my co-worker at Verdant Gardens, Ficus binnendijkii ‘Alii’ is more commonly known as Alii ficus or banana-leaf ficus. Originally from the Philippines and south east Asia, this tree was originally cultivated in Hawaii and has been in the industry about 10 years, the name Alii means chief in Hawaiian and ficus in Latin means fig.
And finally finally, a dream catcher I made out of plastic bags and odds and ends I’ve collected in the past few months from life and litter.
Garbage Dream Catcher
Garbage Dream Catcher
Thats all folks!
Stay groovy,
KB
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Going Ape for Fair Trade Electronics

Hello all and happy Memorial Day. I hope you’re feelin’ groovy and not too traumatized by my last post about turtle noses and plastic straws. Got a new topic for you, one that connects many dots for this blog and gives me mucho hope and confidence in a sustainable future for the us and the apes, who are one.

Fair Trade Electronics

So, you’ve heard of fair trade coffee, right?

And perhaps fair trade chocolate?

Yum!

But how ’bout fair trade electronics??

 

According to internet sources, and the lovely Jane Gooddall (see video), some very key components of electronics come from Chimpanzee and Gorilla habitat in the Democratic Repubic of Congo. Thats over in Africa–(great song), see map below, DRC is in red:

drc
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0e/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo_in_Africa.svg/1084px-Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo_in_Africa.svg.png

 It is in this region that Chimpanzees and Gorillas roam wild and free, and where today, large and small scale (artisinal) mining operations are moving in to extract minerals like Cobalt, Tungsten, and “rare Rarth metals” including Coltan, or Tantalite, which are all used in the making of electronic devices.

People are moving into once uninhabited areas in order to make a living through mining–cant blame ’em for that, baby’s gotta eat. Unfortunately, however, an unintended consequence of this migration is habitat destruction and species loss. People even hunt Chimpanzees and Gorillas for eating or selling on the illegal pet trade and bushmeat markets. Sad. Look, this chimp is pouting about it:

chimpy
https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/chimpanzee

Here are some photos of these materials which are essential to the functioning of our electronics and represent much conflict:

Tungsten4_0616
Tungsten: https://www.fairphone.com/de/2016/06/20/fairphone-2-good-vibrations-with-conflict-free-tungsten-2/
coltan
Coltan, or Tantalite: http://www.thecoli.com/threads/lets-discuss-the-potential-of-what-is-the-democratic-republic-of-congo.402272/
cobalt
Cobalt: http://www.thecoli.com/threads/lets-discuss-the-potential-of-what-is-the-democratic-republic-of-congo.402272/

And a photo of a two different Cobolt mining operations, one industrial and one artisanal:

large scale op
Industrial mining site: https://www.fairphone.com/en/2017/06/07/on-site-visit-to-cobalt-mines-in-congo-april-2017/
small scale op
Artisanal mining site: https://www.fairphone.com/en/2017/06/07/on-site-visit-to-cobalt-mines-in-congo-april-2017/

To clarify, the difference between Industrial and Artisanal mining is the Industrial operations are organized by large, often foreign companies, while the Artisanal operations are conducted by individual miners.

There are issues with both levels of operation. Ultimately, not only is land and habitat being ravaged, or at least altered, through the mining process, but also people, child laborers included, are working under dangerous conditions for less than fair wages to supply us with these materials. Here is a video that explains the extractive/mining industry and the perspective of artisanal miners:

For me, the main takeaway from the clip above is from 1:44 til 3:14, a segment which reveals an artisanal Cobalt mine and a discussion with miners about working conditions and wages.

Because they are not part of a company or union, these miners have no representation on the market and often end up getting ripped off by buyers, most often Chinese companies, who buy at low prices and then make a profit, reselling the materials to electronics manufacturers at a 30% markup (statistic provided in video).

The miners, who often enter a mine and stay in there for 2-3 days at a time, feel they are not receiving fair pay, especially considering the profits other people are making off of their labor, the price of finished electronics, and the rate of electronics consumption worldwide. They would like to be paid fairly. I can dig it.

Fairphone

Now, I’m not sure if “fair trade electronics” is an official term, but the concept is there, and leading the way is a Netherlands based company called Fairphone.

Fairphone, founded in 2013, is pioneering the movement towards fair-trade electronics by changing the industry from the inside, providing an ethical alternative to all other cell phones on the market, the Fairphone.

fariphone
https://shop.fairphone.com/?ref=header

Through painstaking research and partnerships with organizations like the Dragonfly Initiative, who advise businesses in the “extractive industry” on sustainable purchasing, Fariphone has made an effort to purchase from with “Conflict-Free” mining operations that do not use child-labor, who pay their workers fairly, and who strive to reduce their environmental imapct.

Although Fairphone does not boast to have a 100% fair phone, they are working towards that goal and at least provide a “fair-er” alternative to other smart phones on the market, creating a demand for fair electronics. Their goal is to promote “positive social and environmental impact[s] from the beginning to end of a phones life cycle” by incorporating long lasting design, fair materials, good working conditions, and promoting reuse and recycling (Fairphone Goals).

So, thats about all I’ve got to say about that. Fairphone is paving the way for all electronics to bear the Fair-Trade certification. If you are considering a new smartphone, consider Fairphone and help build the movement.

I also wanted to mention the importance of recycling E-waste. According to a video I saw on facebook, only about 15% of electronics are recycled. That is not very much. Considering how much work goes into extracting the materials that go into our electronics, considering that little children and chimpanzee are suffering in order to bring us the latest version of the Iphone, the least we can do is make an effort to discard our electronics correctly, ie make sure they are recycled, not junked in the trash. There is actually gold in our electronics, are we really going to throw gold into the garbage?! Times, they are a changin. Those 49er gold-miners must be rolling in their graves.

Now, I realize electronic waste recycling is not easy or convenient. I don’t know of any city that provides municipal electronic waste collection, so that leaves it to you and me, the consumers, to go the extra mile to bring our electronic waste to an e-waste recycler. That takes effort, I know, its annoying. But its our responsability, and perhaps the price we have to pay for all the work that goes in on the front end to bring us relatively cheap electronics (considering the labor and environmental costs that go into production).

Ok, off the soap box.

Recycle your electronics. Don’t let me find them on the ground or I will make art with them.

Waste
Ground Score E-Waste Art
E-waste Art
More ground-score E-waste art

Cheers to progress, peace, and love, and a happy day to you,

KB

Ecosia – Troll the internet, plant trees

Want a super easy way to do something good for the world while you surf the web? Aka effortlessly?

Switch from Google to Ecosia!

Ecosia.org is like Google.com, but instead of supporting who-knows who or what like google, each time you search something though the Ecosia search engine, a tree is planted.

The idea was started by someone in Germany named Joshi, and I think the whole idea is just oh so cool. You can set up the Ecosia search engine on your computer by going to ecosia.org. Check it out! Takes less than 5 minutes and will make a great impact starting the moment you make the switch. So far, Ecosia has planted more than 20 million trees in several different countries facing deforestation problems, all made possible through internet searches. Pretty cool, huh?

Planting trees helps restore ecosystems, helps people make their land productive and grow food, rise out of poverty, send their kids to school…plus, now Ecosia has partnered with my fav, the Jane Gooddall Institute, to plant trees in Chimpanzee habitat in Uganda. This will promote species health and hopefully help the chimpanzee population stabilize into the future. Here is a nice video of Jane Gooddall talking to the founder of Ecosia about their new partnership.

 

And another video to help you understand the impact your searches can have if you decide to switch to Ecosia.

 

Thats all folks, be well!

KB

Hay Day, A Near Miss, and Poke Berries (WWOOF Update)

Hello hello family, friends, et al.

The last week at Mountain Hollow Farm has been pretty quiet, but eventful in a way.

Two days ago I accidentally ran over one of the goats! Oh no! I know what you’re thinking…”Kelly, you’re horrible.” I know. It was horrible, but he’s ok! Miracle. Limping a bit, but surprisingly I don’t think anything was broken. Must have just been his hoof.

How it went down: I had left some feed in the back of the truck (meant for the goats in the lower pastures) and walked away. First mistake. When I returned, the goats (from the upper pasture) had knocked it over and were frantically eating it. Eleos was slow to move out of the way as I backed up the truck and…”G’dunk.” Shit. Sheisse. I see him slinking away, leg straight and dragging. That’s how it happened. We quickly gave him a shot of Banamine, a pain killer, checked him for breaks, and let him rest for the day in the pasture with Fiona, the orphaned baby cashmere goat, his friend. Anyway, a little about that poor goat…

Of course it had to be Eleos, the Angora goat. He’s a special one. See what I mean?

DSCN4092.JPG

Castrated, scraggly, docile, and sweet–that’s Eleos, named after the Greek Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, which is fitting (if he forgives me). The fiber that comes from Angora goats is called Mohair. Here is a photo of some yarn made with mohair…real soft and fuzzy…

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Alright, moving on…

The week started with a real “Hay Day,” where we went with some local boys to pick up freshly baled hay from a nearby farmer.

DSCN4550

DSCN4551

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The farmer, an 80 something year old man, is retired and has a pretty interesting gig buying cows in the spring when they’re babies, letting them graze on his large fields of grass, mates them, and sells them before winter so he doesn’t have to buy feed. A pretty clever gig and use of resources if you ask me.

Here’s a photo of his pretty cows.DSCN4565.JPG

The final adventure of the week involved Poke Berries.

DSCN4346.JPG

I attempted to dye a shirt of mine that had some stains that I wanted to cover up. So I picked a bunch of ripe poke berries…

DSCN4509.JPG…mashed them up, heated them in a pot NOT used for food (because poke berries are poisonous), and soaked my shirt (which had been pre-soaked in a mordant bath of vinegar).

See…DSCN4543

But, it turns out my shirt wasn’t 100% cotton like I had thought…because as soon as I rinsed it, all the color went out…blast…all that work for nothing.

dscn4602.jpg

Did have success with dying yarn though. It was 100% wool and turned out like this:

DSCN4676.JPG

That’s all for now.

Hope everyone is having a good week and enjoying the shift from Summer to Autumn.

All the best,

Kelly

 

Diary of a Sailing Lunchlady

See that toilet bowl scum?

That, my friends, is the first thing I noticed when I walked into my assigned room aboard the SS Minnow in 2017. It was my fourth year working as Lunchlady, and I would be on the ship for 120 days, from April to June, travelling from San Francisco to El Salvador, Hawaii, Seattle, and back

Thankfully, I would only be working 2 months, as opposed to 4 which I had done the previos year. And thank goodness all the green slime came off after I struck a deal with the girl I shared my bathroom with. The deal was, she brings the cleaning supplies, I clean the toilet first.

And so it went.

I had done this lunchlady gig for the previous 3 summers. This one may have been my last, but we shall see, I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again. I’d say this was my most successful cruise, all things considered. No co-worker drama (last year, I thought my headmate wanted to kill me, so I’ enter the bathroom with my knife drawn and quickly dash to lock her door from the indside so she couldn’t sneak attack me– dramatic yes, but it felt safer that way, and comical in a ninja warrior way); no Napoleon-complex officers calling the galley staff  (kitchen crew) “lazy and negligent,” blaming us for what was probably 10 years of built up kitchen scum, and no getting called to the captains office for allegedly fraternizing with boys. Yes, this year was a very good year.

More to come, stay tuned…

 

 

Tennessee Bound – Missouri

Hello All,

At the greyhound station in Columbia, Missouri, where I’ve spent the last few days waiting for the solar eclipse.

Highlights here– heat, the solar eclipse, and electrosensitivity.

During my few days here in Columbia, I had the pleasure of meeing a woman with a condition I’d never heard of before, known as electrosensativity. Now, I don’t know much about it, but from what I understood from this encounter, some people are very sensative to electromagnetic currents and can become very sick from exposure, which is pretty much everywhere these days. That is the case with my hostess. To accomodate her condition, we guests made sure to turn our phones onto airplane mode while we were in her house and in the car.

This encounter made me more aware of cell towers and my cell phone’s proximity to me. Its not a bad idea to turn your cell phone to airplane mode at least at night, when you’re not using it, especially if you sleep with it near your dome, aka your head.

Ok, gotta go, watching Trumpy give his address.

Lots of love,

KB

 

 

The Devil Wears Plaid Kilts

“Just another manic Monday” is playing on the radio as I drive the studio’s rented white minivan to pick up the kilt and circle glasses wearing ginger costume designer and drive him to the studio. I am a production assistant, all of the sudden.

DSCN2934

Don’t ask how I ended up with this job in my short stay in New York City in the Winter of 2017. It just sort of fell in my lap. I was intrigued by the alluring idea of working for the wardrobe department of a TV show. How glamourous sounding. It was a month long gig with Steiner Studios, which is part of Warner Brothers, and I would be working during the filming of the “Deception” pilot.

The premise of the show was pretty goofy if you ask me: magician with a failed magic career turns to helping the FBI fight crime through illusions.

My first day on the job I had to drive the costume designer, who had worked on the costumes in Zoolander (think Mugatu), to a craft store filled with sequins and feather boas, to look for fancy belt buckles for a straight jacket he was designing, see pilot trailer. I found this very funny and enjoyed walking around the store, holding the bags of fancy buckles, zippers, and fabrics for my leige as he perused the store.

I quite liked the designer, it was his assistant that reminded me of Meryl Streep’s witchy assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. She wore the most heinous clothes, in a style someone described as “power clashing.” It was hard to take her seriously with her pseudo-couture puffy sleeved dresses from H&M, rainbow zebra print sweaters, silver beatles shoes, and “hurry, hurry, hurry,” stressed out attitude.

It was surreal, working for her. Coming from my laid back California upbringing, it was difficult to for me to play the butt licking (thanks for that image, Brother), hustled, sniveling servant role I felt was being expected from me as the lowly production assistant.

“Hurry!” Puffy sleeves would text me while I sat in bumper to bumber traffic on my way back to the studio from Manhattan.  My response was usually something along the lines of “I’ll get there when I get there,” which in retrospect was definitely not a good thing to say, but I just wanted to mess with her because she was so high strung. Oops. Had I aspirations to climb the ladder in costume design, I would have been more willing to play along, but I wasn’t; this was a novelty for me, an experiment, an experience I quickly learned I would not want to repeat. Thus, for me the interactions were just annoying and horrible, since many days I would have to miss tap dance classes because I was working. That is the last time I will let a cool sounding job and money distract me from my purpose, which during that 3 month trip to New York was to learn tap dancing.

Not surprisingly, driving to and from Manhatten to return or pick-up items from fancy stores multiple times a day, spending a small fortune (of company’s money) in parking on the daily, getting home late after spending 45 minutes looking for street parking by my apartment at night, got old really fast and I wanted to quit.

Eventually, I got fired. Thank goodness. I actually hugged the designer when he let me go. I had been searching for a way to quit, but was trying to stick it out since it was only a month-long gig. I lasted 3 weeks. Puffy sleeves quit about 3 weeks in also, before I was fired, I’ll have you know, because she wasn’t getting along with the show’s producers and writers, who had strong opinions about the clothes she was picking out and basically weren’t letting her do her thing. It was the replacement assistant costume designer who let me go.

I was happy, but it kindof sucked the way they fired me. I worked a long day, til about 8pm, and as I dropped off the designer where he needed to be, he told me they were going to find someone else, someone with more experience as a production assistant, and that I needed to turn in my keys right there, take my stuff out of the car, and leave without the car. I was happy to do all that, it was just lame because they left me off at night, in the snow, to get home from a place that was pretty far away and not on my subway line. Jerks.

All in all it was an interesting experience. I got a great introduction into the world of television, gained experience driving a minivan in New York City, took some cool photos, met people, made a little money, and now have this story to tell.

It was real and it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun.

The End.

Tennessee Bound – Arkansas

Hello all,

Well, I made it to Arkansas! After many delays on the greyhound and a misplaced luggage snafu, I’m here at last, minus my bag, sadly. Fingers are crossed that it will be recovered and sent to Knoxville. For now, I’m stuck with one outfit for the next week or so. The one I was wearing in my last post.

DSCN3788Thank goodness its hot here.

So, I think I am in the Ozarks. In the town of Eureka Springs, but you wouldn’t know it by looking outside, where the constant buzz of cicadas can be heard, and my view is a bunch of trees. My friends and hosts are at work, so I am here, relaxing and recovering from the greyhound journey, drinking coffee and listening to the melancholic music of M. Ward, which probably isn’t a good idea.

M. Ward

More to come.

All the best,

Kelly