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.

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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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Right to Repair

January 19, 2019

West Village, NYC

 

Hello All!

Writing you today from the American Tap Dance Foundation with completely un-related E-waste news while Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire plays intermittently in one of the practice rooms, a silly choice for a kids tap class, but I digress…

Ever had a broken electronic device and wanted to fix it, but stopped because you heard something about how doing so would void the warranty or something like that?

Well, I’m here to let you know that there’s a group of people advocating for you so you can have the option to fix your own electronics without the risk of being disowned by your electronics manufacturer. Its seems silly that is a right we do not have (like the right to know if the food you buy contains GMOs), but its good to know some people are out there who care an awful lot and want to empower people to fix their own gadgets rather than being a slave to the manufacturers.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot ...

I’ve only just begun to research this topic and will write more as I learn more. To clarify why this issue is important to me and this blog, it is the connection between electronics and chimpanzees/gorillas–that is, our electronics are made with materials that come from chimpanzee and gorilla habitats in Africa. These habitats are being disturbed and degraded due to mining activity.  If we can re-use and recycle electronics, there will be less need to mine for materials in these habitats. So, lets do that.

For now, I wanted to just share the idea and a link to the Right to Repair website so you can look into it if you’re interested in learning about the topic or want to start fixing your own gadgets.

Earlier in this blog I talked about the concept of Urban Mining and a company called IFixit which provides tool-kits and free instruction manuals to walk you through fixing things like broken smart phone screens. Their goal is to encourage re-use of electronics and reduce waste.

Right to Repair
Right to Repair Manifesto

As usual, if you have any questions or comments I invite you to comment below. I’m curious to see if anyone has any input on this issue…

Pant hoot,

KB!

Sustainable Business Review: Made Line Jewelry – Fair Mined Jewelry

 

https://www.madelinejewelry.com/about/

Hello All and Happy Sunday,

On the subject of sustainable businesses which I’ve touched on in a few previous posts (Hand-made shoes and Fair Trade Electronics), I’d like to address a line of ethical/sustainable products we don’t hear about all too often–jewels! Specifically fair-mined metals and gemstones.

I learned about this subject from my dear friend Maddy who I met back in Catholic School, where our uniforms were burgundy and grey (Eew), but we still managed to look cute:

Saint Francis Uniforms
My only remaining evidence of the Saint Francis uniforms, honorably showcased by Amy even though it was Halloween and the rest of us gladly opted to swap for Halloween costumes, circa 2007

Always a crafty one, Maddy became a jeweler after studying design and metallurgy at SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design.

After graduating, she moved to New York to pursue the jewelry scene and has worked for several companies over the years while developing her own line of hand-made products which can be viewed on her website: Made Line Jewelry.

I love Maddy’s work and feel so lucky to have a friend with the ultimate set of tools and skills to fix broken rings, earrings, and occasionally customize things like my late and ever mourned dog, Sparky’s collar, which she transformed into a pretty cool looking necklace that I now wear for obvious sentimental reasons. (Grammar/punctuation help, Grandma?)

The necklace, post Maddy’s handiwork; a simple transformation, thoughtfully crafted and well done:

Made Line Customized piece – Commemorative Dog Collar necklace

The original piece on my original main man:

Festive
Festive Sparky Wearing his G-chain collar

Needless to say, Maddy is awesome, especially because she is also promoting sustainability within her industry. Recall the Triple Bottom Line dicussed in a previous post, an emerging metric for evaluating business economics based on social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Using recycled metal in her jewelry, that is, metals repurposed from a range of products including old jewelry, electronics, and dental work rather than newly mined metal (all thoroughly cleaned and refined, mind you), Maddy is among a growing collective of ethical jewelers who are paving the way for a market of jewelry that is good for the planet as well as the people working to supply us with the raw materials. Its much like the Fair-trade electronics topic I wrote about here.

According to Maddy and others who use recycled metals, “the quality and value of recycled metal is exactly the same as newly mined metal, but using recycled metal is a great way to ensure that you aren’t supporting any mining practices that could have [detrimental] social and environmental [impacts]” (MadeLine Materials).

To give you an example, one side effect of gold-mining is Mercury contamination. Unfortunately, Mercury is often used during the refining process to separate gold from other elements. Because it is hard to filter out, local waterways often become contaminated by runoff, posing serious health problems for humans and the ecosystem at large.

According to Maddy, “Although there are a few alternatives to using mercury in mining, they are not widely known and the processes take much longer.” As a result, some small scale miners still opt to use mercury because it increases their speed and processing capacity. Gravity shaking tables and/or cyanide, are other options which also have toxic elements but can be neutralized and contained properly to prevent environmental damage. As explained above, mercury seems to be the simplest method and is not regulated despite the environmental and health impacts.

That is why it is important for us as consumers to support companies that follow ethical and environmentally sustainable practices, like Maddy’s company and other Farimined certified jewelers who buy recycled metals or metals from mining operations with mercury free processing. Through our purchasing (i.e. by altering demand), we send a message to the market about what products we want, and in this way we do our part to move industry standards in a sustainable direction.

Maddy also exclusively uses gemstones that come from reliable sources and discusses her “traceability ethic” here. Apparently there is a lot more to buying jewelry than I ever considered, and Maddy is working to make this information more widely understood. Hey, thanks lady!

Earlier this year, Maddy went with a group of jewelers to Colombia to explore the fair mined movement in action and to meet the communities supporting and supported by her jewelry work. The expedition was led by Fairmined, a certification label much like the “organic” label, which certifies gold sourced from “empowered, responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations” (Fairmined)

By opting for certified Fairmined jewels, ethical jewelers like Maddy can be certain their products are promoting well-run mining operations that promote the well-being of their miners, their communities, and the environment.

So, check out Maddy’s jewely! I think there’s some holiday sales afoot….. 😉

Made Line Jewelry

maddy mined
Maddy and her Columbian boyfriend on the Fairmined trip

 

Change for Chimps Year-End Update

Hola readers!

How long does it take to establish a tradition?

Well, I’m not sure if it’s quite a tradition yet but this year marks year 2 of this blog’s donation to the Jane Gooddall Institute. It’s also year 2 of this blog.

A little recap–Since starting, I have travelled across the country via greyhound, seen a complete solar eclipse, worked on a cashmere goat farm, explored The Big Apple, living in various sub-standard yet semi-charming communal living spaces, tried out a handful of odd-jobs, chipped away at creative projects, integrated into society somewhat, and honed in on the art of tap dancing.

It’s the first time in many years that I have stayed put for longer than a few months, which I must admit is a struggle for an idyllic, adventure seeking soul like mine. Mental sabotage aside, its been good to stay in one place, sit still, and focus a bit; good to observe the passage of time and seasons within and without; good to experience life on a continuum, get a taste of the “grind” rather than ramblin’ around from one storyline to the next. Its been a good period of reflection and developing focus. At least for now that is my feeling. Time will tell if I get squirrely again.

All in all, this blog has been helpful for keeping track of projects. I appreciate all of you who have been reading and following along. Special shout out of course to my Grandma Pat and maternal units who read my stories and provide feedback, also to the international readers: hello India! Hello New Zealand! Hello UK! Hello Berlin! Hello Israel/Palestine. I’m very stoked to be reaching such a diverse audience and really welcome everyone’s comments and input.

Looking back, last year I donated a forgotten amount to the Jane Gooddall Institute because it was the best option I could find to contribute to the cause of chimpanzee conservation, something I really wanted to do since I admire the work of Jane Gooddall and the conservation efforts she has inspired across the globe.

As a bonus, JGI sent me a story about one of the chimps at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabiliatation Center in the Republic of Congo. A nice touch which provided an interesting insight into chimpanzee behavior and emotions. Read the story here to see for yourself.

Luc
Luc, Chimp sponsored by junebugbayer.blog in 2018

That’s why I chose to donate again this year, this time using the funds I raised while street performing over the course of the year, a hard, yet joyfully earned $200 for JGI. Thank you New Yorkers!

Interesting to note, I made a whopping $0.08 off of advertisements on this blog in the same time period…I’d donate that too but WordPress doesn’t cut checks that small, so the pot will grow for next year…

Anyway, according to JGI, my donation will be doubled as part of their year-end fundraiser, so that’s $400 which will go towards replanting important forest habitats and restoring critical forest corridors that chimpanzees and other great apes need to survive. I say “my” donation but I’d like to note that I consider it “our” donation, since this blog has anchored my efforts, and you are a part of it all by reading.

That being said, I’ll elaborate on the impacts of our donation.

According to the JGI thank you letter, we are supporting programs that improve the health, education and livelihoods of the people in communities surrounding chimpanzee habitats whose future is vitally connected to the future of chimpanzees. Donations also support the Roots & Shoots program, which is equipping young people in over 100 countries to become the next generation of conservation leaders. Side note: The Urban Mining event I hosted this year was part of the Roots & Shoots program.

A big part of JGI donations go to the running of the Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Center in the Congo and providing medical attention to the chimps brought to their doors. According to a letter sent out by Dr. Atencia, the executive director of the Jane Gooddall Institute-Congo and head veterinarian, the sanctuary takes in chimpanzees rescued from poachers, saving them from being sold as pets or bushmeat. Chimps often arrive malnourished and injured and in need of urgent care. It costs about $7000 to care for one chimpanzee at the center per year, and they live about 60 years. Merp! Donations go towards formula for infant chimps, food for adult chimps, and lifetime veterinary care. Chimpanzees are endangered species, with an estimated 150,000 left in the wild. Once rehabilitated at Tchimpounga, under the care of a dedicated team of veterinarians and care-givers, chimpanzees are released into sanctuaries where they are protected from poachers and habitat loss. Here are three  examples of chimpanzees being cared for at the Tchimpounga center, made possible through our donations…

Vienna
Vienna was rescued from poachers in Niari in December 2017. Vienna fears abandonment after the trauma of being taken from his mother so clings to his caregiver Anotonette, who holds him tightly against her chest, which quiets him and makes him feel secure. Antonette spends 24 hours a day with him to make him feel loved and safe, and at night they sleep in the same bed. Once acclimated, Vienna will meet other rescued chimpanzees who reside on the main Tchimpounga sanctuary site.
George
George was rescued and brough to Tchimpounga sanctuart after being taken by poachers and sold into the illegal pet trade in Angola. George’s caretaker Chantal knows how to interact with him, providing him hugs, games, and attention. He will soon meet other caregivers and rescued chimpanzees to avoid being too dependent on Chantal, and they will help him to become fully adapted to sanctuary life.
Kabi
Kabi was brought to Tchimpounga sanctuary in May 2018 after being rescued from a group of poachers near a town called Mokabi. Kabi’s caretaker is Cristel, who spends 24 hours a day with him to help him heal from the traumas he experienced with the poachers.

Its pretty crazy how much individual care is required to rehabilitate a baby chimp. They are much like humans in this way, requiring a lot of affection and attention in order to develop into healthy, sociable creatures. Without that love, they generally do not survive. I’ve heard gorillas are even more sensative and prone to losing the will to live when separated from their mothers. Interesting.

Well, I’ve run out of things to say but I think we are creating some great positive ripples in this world folks by engaging with this topic. There are so many causes and creatures in need, it can be overwhelming and discouraging to think about where to start and what to do to help, but as Dr. Jane Gooddall says:

google image
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https://quotefancy.com/media/wallpaper/3840×2160/261327-Jane-Goodall-Quote-Cumulatively-small-decisions-choices-actions.jpg

I like the way she thinks.

google image
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/b5/6c/20/b56c200e3612bf89f62db178799f1bf9–wildlife-conservation-special-quotes.jpg

Also I’ve thought about this while wondering if chimpanzee conservation is really what I should be focusing on in light of all the other crises going on in the world:

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 5.12.55 AM
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/b5/6c/20/b56c200e3612bf89f62db178799f1bf9–wildlife-conservation-special-quotes.jpg

Ok ok, thats all for now, thank you for reading!

Happy weekend!

KB

 

 

Urban Mining Workshop and The Craigslist Catwalk Adventure

Girl Tech
IFixit Fairphone Urban Mining Workshop – Girl Power

Greetings participating eyeballs n’ souls, friends & family:

I am writing you in the pleasant afterglow of a fruitful craigslist adventure which ultimately landed me walking as gracefully as Bigfoot down a hair-show runway with bubblegum pink bangs and has left me today with an envelope full of chopped locks to donate and November rent.

Bing!

Bubblegum Bangs
New doo, unwilling to make a normal face, and nephew Charlie’s painting

After growing my hair for the past 5ish years without dying it, and having the intention to someday donate it, this odd job, made possible by good ol’ Craigslist, allowed all my hair donation dreams to come true. See once long hair in photo below, apologies for the selfie.

Old hair and Made Line Jewelry

Hair Donation

Hearing some questionable feedback about Locks of Love, a prominent hair donation organization, I decided to go with Wigs 4 Kids per the suggestion of the ALOXXI hair team, the one’s responsible for my new doo and this poor model’s sore cranium.

 

 

 

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Apparently, Locks of Love, though a “non-profit,” charges some kids for their wigs, whereas Wigs 4 Kids provides all wigs at no cost, also offering services like counselling and enrichment activities to kids and their families.

Also good to know, Wigs 4 Kids asks for 10” instead of 12” (what I thought I’d have to cut) and will accept hair as short as 7-9” for short hairstyled wigs. I haven’t done a ton of fact checking about the Locks of Love controversy, but since I have’t heard anything bad about Wigs 4 Kids and they had a lenient hair length, I’m gonna err on the side of caution on this one and send my tresses to this Michigan based non-profit instead of Locks of Love. In case you or anyone you know is thinking of donating hair, I thought I’d mention this subject.

Which leads me to my other subject:

Roots and Shoots Urban Mining Workshop

As mentioned at the start of this blog, I’m working towards somehow combining the topics of tap dance, electronic waste recycling, and ape conservation.

Photo source: Ecosia
Photo Source here

A few months ago, a little progress was made when I teamed up with a lovely lass named Emily Duda to host an Urban Mining workshop at Barnes & Noble to raise awareness of the impacts of electronics on ape habitats.

Urban Mining Workshop
Photo cred: one of Emily’s students, future journalistic photographer

This topic was introduced in a previous post: Going Ape for Fair Trade Electronics, but for your convenience I’ll summarize here:

Electronics are produced the expense of Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and humans living in Africa, which is not fair.

To elaborate a bit:

Metals inside our phones, computers, and tablets come from the parts of Africa where Chimps and Gorillas live. These habitats are being damaged through the mining process, endangering the survival of these 2 great species.

Whats more?

People who mine these materials often work in sub-safe conditions, receiving ridiculously low wages for the work put in. Furthermore, the influx of people moving into these previosly untouched areas for work as the electronics industry grows has also paved the way for poachers to come in and snag Chimps and Gorillas for the Illegal Pet and Bushmeat trade.

Its not good.

But the situation can improve…

What can we do, those of us living far away from the conflict?

Recycle electronics.

Its a bit of a hassle to properly dispose of electronics these days, but its important to do so. We must work to bring balance to the force, young padawans.

Though I’m not sure if electronics manufacturers are actually USING recycled materials in new products, a point brought up by a much appreciated skeptic at the workshop, the act of recycling will inevitably make the supply of recycled materials more available for manufacturers to use. It will at least give manufacturers the option to incorporate recycled materials into new products instead of continuously importing raw materials.

Hopefully as time goes on it will become easier for the consumer, me and you, to properly dispose of electronic waste. It’s a dream of mine, to live in a world like that.

For now, you may need to do a little research to find out where to recycle used electronics locally, and you will likely have to take a trip to a store or recycling center to do so. If you need help figuring it out, reach out either through a comment or message on the contact page of this site and I’d be happy to help you navigate.

Happy Note:

In New York City, a pilot program has been launched to provide curbside pick-up of electronic waste upon request. I think this is very cool and hope more cities are introducing or already have similar programs. If you know anything on the subject, please share the info, thank you!

Now, a little more about the Barnes and Noble workshop, my first foray into eco-prostelytism:

Our event was part of the Barnes & Noble Bookfair program which allowed us to fundraise in addition to reaching an audience. Our goal was to spread the good word about Electronic Waste Recycling and raise money for Emily’s project: Camp Friendship, an afterschool and summer program that connects city kids with nature.

With a generous donation of toolkits from IFixit, a company working to reduce electronic waste by developing repair manuals and tool-kits for the lay-man, and using a workshop guide provided by FairPhone (which I’ve written about before here), we set up shop in the kids book section of Barnes and Noble and tried to engage as many people as possible in the discussion of whats inside our phones.

Apesplaining
Chimpsplaining at Barnes N’ Noble.

In case you’re curious, Emily and I found each-other using a mapping tool available on the Roots and Shoots website which helps ape conservation nerds and Jane Gooddall enthusiasts connect on a local level. Roots and Shoots, by the way, is a program created by the Jane Gooddall Institute to engage kids in conservation, to “raise the next generation of conservation thinkers.”

All in all I don’t think we raised much money for either cause, but we certainly did talk to a handful of people about electronic waste recycling, whats inside phones, and where these materials come from. Hopefully the ideas will sink in to the folks we reached and from there momentum can grow.

Any anyway, the kids who trickled in had a great time taking apart old phones and exploring the insides with the tiny tools donated by IFixit.

ifixit
https://www.reviewgeek.com/p/uploads/2018/03/xe27388a4.jpg.pagespeed.gp+jp+jw+pj+ws+js+rj+rp+rw+ri+cp+md.ic.OtRdkr3qAm.jpg

 

 

The phones used in this workshop were a combination of broken smart phones I was able to collect from my apartment building neighbors and several old school flip phones donated by the Gowanus E-waste warehouse in Brooklyn.

Gowanus E-waste warehouse

Ultimately, I was hoping to get the kids to connect their phones with the idea that whats inside their phones comes from where Chimpanzees live. Using the FairPhone workshop manual, I used the following graphics to engage in this discussion. It went over way better with the parents…

page 7

pages 9,10

The whole manual can be found here. I was particularly entertained by one child who was stoked on the silicon number pads inside an old flip phone. I hadn’t thought of if before, but kids these days are missing out on the tactile element of phones because smart phones don’t have buttons, just screens.

Well, thats all I’ve got for now. I’ll leave you with a little something I made out of the workshop remnants.

Urban Mine
The Innards of our Phones, Old and New

 

Thanks for reading!

KB

 

 

 

There’s a Gnome in my Pumpkin; DIY Toothpaste

Hello All, Happy Weekend and Happy Fall!

In recognition of the passage of time and seasons, lets take a moment to admire this pumpkin with a heart on it …

Magic Pumpkin of Berlin
HeART of Gatow –WWOOF Berlin, September 2016

Can you spot the pumpkin I am referring to?

Right there on the bottom row, right side, third pumpkin in. You see it?

Bingo!…a pumpkin with a heart-shaped “blemish” on it’s skin.

An Autumn Miracle, or the work of a garden gnome? Its tough to say…

German Gnome, Gatow
German Gnome, potential windmill squatter and pumpkin artist

Until recently, I believed the heart to be some sort of miracle, like the image of Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich. What else could explain it? Well, then I stumbled upon a book about gnomes which illuminated a new possibility:

Perhaps this was not a “natural occurrence”, the “hand of God”, or “magic”, but instead the clever, whimsical handiwork of a garden gnome who had been living in the windmill on the property.

Gnomes are known to occupy windmills from time to time, and this pumpkin was grown in close proximity to a windmill, the one pictured blow in fact.

Windmühle
Windmühle, WWOOF Berlin Fall 2016

So it could very well have been a gnome.

Oh nature.

It is my love of nature that inspires this next topic, please enjoy.

Zero Waste Living

As some of you may know, garbage is an issue close to my heart.

Lunchlady on Liberty
South Carolina, Golden Bear Cruise 2016

It all started in college. Yep, went to college, fell in love with garbage.

DSCF1261

Its taken me a while, but this year I finally made it a goal to adopt a Zero Waste lifestyle. I am inspired by two ladies: Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home and Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers and The Package Free Shop, both women have written extensively on the topic of Zero Waste Living and rely heavily on glamour shots for advertising.

Aside from eliminating plastic utensils and straws (cept the jumbo ones for bubble tea) by switching to Geico…I mean To Go Ware and Simply Straws, I have two recent developments in my Zero Waste game I’d like to share with you in case you were looking for a nudge:

Dental Floss

I bought a fancy dental floss called Dental Lace that is made of silk and comes in a refillable glass container. The idea behind this product is that the natural fibers are better for you to slobber all over and the refillable glass containers reduce the waste associated with plastic dental floss containers. I will continue using the fancy dental floss for these reasons, but will admit the floss breaks easier than what I am used to.

DIY Toothpaste

Most excitingly, and actually the whole reason for this post, is DIY toothpaste. I ran out of toothpaste and decided to make my own to elimiate toothpaste tubes from my waste stream. Using a recipe I found on a zero waste lifestyle blog called Trash is for Tossers, I am quite satisfied with this DIY alternative.

The recipe is simple:

2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon baking soda,  10-15 drops mint or other essential oil

Tastes a little salty and does not froth, fluxuates between solid and liquid depending on temperature, but all in all, I’d say this toothpaste works great and is a suitable alternative to packaged toothpase. I put mine in a jar leftover from home-made jam my gramma sent me. Yummmm.

Now, go forth and brush!

xo

KB

P.S. For all you tap dancing enthusiasts out there, some tap dancing education for you: an interview with Brenda Buffalino, tap master, maybe the first lady to popularize ladies tap dancing in flat shoes as opposed to high heels (must fact check for you), founder of the tap school I am attending. Thanks Brenda! Follow link below for interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcWIM6EWw2Y

 

 

 

 

Clotaire on “Environmental Activism”

Hello all, happy weekend! And thank you for taking the time to read this. Today I have some reflections for you on word choice:

A few months ago, a chance encounter with a fancy man named Dr. Clotaire Rapaille had my mind a bit blown.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kviTHAOKC0Y/maxresdefault.jpg
Dr. Clotaire Rapaiile -Author and Speaker https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5770294.Clotaire_Rapaille

The situation:

After applying to work for a landscape design company and making friends with the adjoining gallery’s manager, I was invited to attend a luncheon featuring Dr. Rapaille and a few other folks associated with the gardening company. Not quite sure what I was getting into, I jumped right in–just like Goosey here…

DSCN6995
Original Drawing by Former neighbor and Ukranian-American superstar: Bob Civil

With a striking presence and refined air about him, I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Rapaille began the meeting by asking all of us to introduce ourselves. I was surprised he would even bother to get to know any of us ancillary people personally.

After introdcing myself as an “environmental activist,” he immediately stopped and asked why I would use those words to introduce myself. Didn’t I think that was a rather negative way to characterize myself?

maxresdefault.jpg

Holy balls. He was right. Activist does have somewhat of a feather ruffling air about it (think: eco-terrorist)…BUT its what I learned to call myself in school and thought was an appropriate title for what I do…I’d never thought to question the label before.

In any case, he had a point, and for a few moments we brainstormed other lablels. I came up with Environmental Spokesperson, Environmenal Advocate, and “Lorax” after he turned down Conservationist and something related to sustainability. Who wants to merely conserve when we could flourish and grow? This was the Doc’s point.

All in all, I found the whole converstaion quite interesting and mind boggling after so many years of thinking a certain way. If this type of thinking could be applied to Environmental Studies coursework, I think it would make the discipline easier to swallow and produce less anxiety for everyone…oh my nerves:

Beyond the activist label, Dr. Rapaille went on to discuss word choice as a tool in marketing, specifically for the landscaping company. He highlighted words such as growth, and advised us to shy away from words such as sustainability and conservation, since these terms suggest limits. Very interesting.

So, after all this, I wonder, what can I say about myself now? WHAT AM I?

…musical interlude…

 

I suppose now I’ll consider myself an environmental advocate.

I’m still searching for a replacement work for sustainability….any ideas??

Think about it as the word pops up in your life.

I hope this article in some way leads you to re-think the words you use to label yourself and encourages you to swap out any stale or limiting words. Just a fun exercize.

Happy Weekend!

xo

KB

SOL: S*** Outta Luck, or…Songs of Love?

Its a funny thing to get fired from an organization that nicknames itself “SOL.”

Well, that’s what happened to me after getting the ax at Songs of Love, a charity organization that makes music for kids that are sick or have special needs.

Feelings aside, I wanted to write up a little something about one of the profiles I came across while working at Songs of Love:

Sophie! Cute little thang…

 

 

Like many kids today, Sophie is just 2 years old and has cancer. She is being treated for a type of cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Her family has set up a fundraiser to help cover the cost of medical bills, which can be found here: Go-Fund-Me Fundraiser. I think this is a good cause, so I’m spreading the word. The fundraiser is called Road to Recovery #cancer stinks, which can be reached by following this link:

Road to Recovery #cancerstinks

If you have a dollar to spare, consider donating to Sophie’s family and/or spread the word. Every little bit helps, even positive thoughts and prayers.

If you’re curious about the songs produced by Songs of Love, you can check out the Songs of Love, Medicine of Music Spotify playlists.

Tchau tchau for now!

xo

KB

Be the great ape you are.

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

 

 

 

Tap Shoes vs. Clogging and Irish Step

Ahoy!

Greetings to my new readers: Cindy the tap dancer and Kimberly from American Field!

Thank you for following my blog…welcome to the brain drain!

Today I’m departing from writing about upsetting environmental issues like turtles getting plastic straws stuck in their noses and chimpanzee refugees displaced by mining activities to cover a more light-hearted topic: Percussive Shoes!

What is the difference between tap shoes and Irish clogs?

Its a question I have been asked quite often and wondered about myself, so here we go:

Noise Making Shoes (Percussive dance), Demysified

First, a quick youtube video to illustrate three dancing styles which are often confused: Irish Step, Tap Dance, and Clogging:

As you can see, these three dance styles use different movements to express music with their feet, aka dance. Which brings me to…

The Shoe Breakdown

Tap shoes look like this:

https:::i.pinimg.com:736x:e3:68:1b:e3681b9a1dc9ae7f80e37c7fcec5fbea.jpg

There are high heel versions as well:

https://i.pinimg.com/564x/2e/fa/b7/2efab77bc2b684a6e0ddb45f0d5c9e92.jpg

 

Irish step shoes look like this:

http:::www.irish-danceshoes.com:images:PROFLEX2.jpg

 

And Appalacian Clogs look like this:

http://www.clogon.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/clogging-shoes-from-clogon.com_.jpg

 

Appalacian dance can also be done with no taps, which makes the dance called flat-footing, I believe, and with regular tap shoes.

Without doing much research, I can tell you the taps and soles are different on all three shoes. While the appalacian clogging shoe has a thinner sole and more intricate taps, which makes for a more jingle-y soud,  the tap and irish step shoes have a thicker wooden sole. Tap shoes have four metal plates screwed to the bottom, attached to the toes and heels, and Irish dancing shoes have fiberglass tips on the bottom, according to this Celtic Heritage blog. For an expalaination of the difference between the taps on clogging shoes vs. tap shoes, watch this nice mother-daughter video and you will sort-of understand, like me!

In addition to all three of these noise making shoes, there are flamenco shoes which also have some sort of metal stuck on the toes and heels, but instead of metal plates, looks like they are tiny pins.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/f8/2f/d8/f82fd8eaa72112f879b6eda9cf6b871a.jpg

And to round it all off for today, here is a video of an amazing Flamenco band and dancer. The reason I am including it and not a tap dance video is because the singers in this video are quite….special.

Check it out:

 

Ok ok and here, some clips of me tap dancing so you can see progress in motion:

Street performance with Ben Hoopes on guitar:

https://vimeo.com/271177208/94447c03a6

And my tap class’ end-of year showcase choreographed by Felipe Galgani, a sometimes muse (see sketch) and fabulous tap dancer and teacher from Brazil.

Sketch of a moment: Felipe explaining triplets

And also, a clip from a recent performance by Dorrance Dance, today’s TOP touring tap dance company. You will see a little appalacian clogging inspired tap in the 2nd video. Enjoy!

 

Finally, if you’re into listening to silly things, here’s a podcast about Appalacian Dance and other topics, recorded at Big Irv’s, an art collective in hipster Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.

Sidewalk Scrapings
Die Hipster, or The Hipster? Williamsburg, NY 2018

 

Thats all for today folks, lay off the plastic!

With great ape love,

KB

Inspiration to give up plastic straws for good: Turtle Noses

Hello Dear Readers,

I saw this video a few weeks back and have been wanting to share because I found it so…striking, but hesitated because its pretty icky. If you needed a reason to forgo plastic straws, here you go. Now when I see plastic straws, I think of this clip.

Warning, this video contains “harsh” language and nauseating content.

 

Here is another disturbing video with a turtle with a plastic FORK stuck in their nose. Forking fork fork this is not acceptible folks.

https://www.earthtouchnews.com/environmental-crime/pollution/first-a-straw-now-a-fork-turtles-are-choking-on-our-plastic-trash/

On a positive note, in my recent travels to California, I learned that San Francisco has banned plastic straws and many other cities are hopping on board. Woo hoo! We are evolving.

And in Texas, I ate at a restaurant called Youngbloods which provided straws only upon request, and those straws were paper straws, which worked quite well. If you own a food establishment or use straws at home, check out AARDVARK straws for an eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws. Amazon sells them in smaller quantities.

Paper Straws
Paper gtraws, great alternative to plastic straws.

 

Another alternative to plastic straws, if you like to use straws regularly, is metal or bamboo straws. Here is a link to The Package Free shop, based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which provides a variety of reusable products, including a few different re-usable straw options.

Now, I haven’t found any of those big straws used for smoothies and my beloved bubble tea (see below) but I will say, they are quite re-usable and rinse-able. Just takes a bit of habit shifting to remember to hang onto your straw and bring it when you know you’re going to get a drink while you’re out. I am working on that. Takes diligence, man.

Plastic Straws
Big plastic straws can be re-used, an easy way to reduce plastic waste if you can remember

Sometimes I add one of those straws to my To Go Ware bamboo utensil kit so I have it when a straw moment strikes.

Re-usable Bamboo Utensils, alternative to plastic
Great re-usable alternative to plastic utensils, a straw can fit in there too…. https://www.to-goware.com/product-repeat-utensil-set-141?color=cayenne

Love the bamboo utensils by the way, haven’t used many plastic utensils since I got mine 4 or 5 years ago.

Well, that about sums up my thoughts on plastic straws. Something I’m really noticing these days as I’m making an effort to live a “Zero waste lifestyle” is how proactive I need to be when ordering food. For example, on a recent flight I ordered a tea and received not only my cup of tea, but also a plastic cup with tea-accoutrements in it, including…dun-dun-dun….a little plastic stirring straw. I saw it and instantly got hit with the turtle-nostril image. Whabam!

Moving forward, I’m training myself to ask questions about packaging before I order food. It is a work in progress. Now the mission is to figure out a way to phrase things without coming across as self-righteous, annoying, or doom and gloomy.

Any advice?

All the best,

Kelly B

Photo booth
Shout out to Amanda and non-photoshop photo editing. Much love y’all!