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
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/29/c4/02/29c402dd45d3a544aa0a7418f194f670.jpg
google image
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

 

 

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Reminder to Switch to Ecosia

Hiking in Hana
Shades of Green in Maui

Ahoy y’all

This is just a friendly reminder, a gentle nudge, to switch from Google to Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees.

Here is a wonderful little documentary to explain why its such a good idea to jump on this bandwagon:

 

From an Art and Adventure standpoint, this is great because it’s helping chimps…and people…and showing how one person on an adventure can make an enormouslyawesomely huge positive impact on the planet through ripples (Thank you Jane Gooddall).

To make the switch and start making good use of your screen time on a global scale, all you have to do is go here, I think: https://info.ecosia.org/what.

Or search Ecosia on google for the last time and go from there.

Comment below if you make the switch!

xo KB

Some cool tree moments:

Heart of Hana
Heart of Hana, (See back mountain range, right side shadow) Hana, Maui 2011
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Fall in Queens, NY, 2017
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Windblon Tree n Me, South Point Hawaii, The Real Windy City
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Tree Panther, Capitola, Cali
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Polulu Road Tree, also Windblown, Big Island, Hawaii
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Sunrise over Mauna Kea but facing the Wrong Way
IMG_0919
Roofbend Tree, South Point Hawaii
DSCN2774
Fall Branches in Berlin, 2017
Slightly Obsessed
Red Tree, Santa Cruz
Jacaranda
Jacaranada, Santa Cruz

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?

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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

Happy World Chimpanzee Day

Ooh ooh ah ah readers, hello!

This past Saturday, July 14th, was the first annual World Chimpanzee Day, did you know that?

This brand spankin-new holiday was founded by the Jane Goodall Institute to commemorate the day Dr. Gooddall began her chimpanzee field studies at Gombe Stream National Park back in 1960.

Here is a map to situate ourselves:

http-::shanahan2.pbworks.com:f:1420633790:1420633790:Gombe-Worldmap_large

http-::pages.ucsd.edu:~jmoore:apesites:Gombe:GombeLoc
http-::s3.amazonaws.com:static.safaribookings.com:images:minimaps:Tanzania:Location_of_Gombe_National_Park

http-::news.janegoodall.org:wp-content:uploads:2015:09:Lilian-Webinar-Image-1

http:::2.bp.blogspot.com:-Gtj1O34YecI:TwLHHLJsCUI:AAAAAAAABa0:c5XBjYn-gCk:s1600:africa-political-map-bigger-size.jpg.png

https-::www.pragmaticmom.com:wp-content:uploads:2016:03:tanzania_gombe_map_03

http-::www.tanzania-safari-channel.com:assets:templates:tanzania:headers:gombe-header

http-::media.coveringmedia.com:media:images:movies:2011:09:11:jane_04cf

So the question is, how does one celebrate World Chimpanzee Day?

By monkey-ing around of course, and thinking sweet thoughts for our hairy cousins in the jungle.

Happy World Chimpanzee Day, a few days late.

 

Many more to come,

Kelly B

 

 

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!

 

Sustainable Business Review: Hand-made Shoes in Austin, Tx and the Triple Bottom Line

“Howdy y’all”
I hope this note finds you well. I started writing you this message during a visit to sunny Austin, Texas a few weeks ago, where I was delighted by songbirds, artsy storefronts, and a new food concept: the breakfast taco (not pictured because I ate mine too fast).

One business I was particularly impressed with is a store called Fortress of Inca which sells sustainably produced shoes, handmade in Peru.

The “S” word

“S” for “Sustainability” and “S” for “SHOES!”

These words together pulled me into the store like I was caught in a lasso.

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Admittedly my first thought upon seeing the shoes on display, a variety of funky oxfords with cut-outs, was to wonder if they could be converted into tap shoes. The answer is probably, since these well-constructed shoes all have nice leather soles, but as I perused the store and chatted with the owner and a few employees, I learned a bit about the business itself, which left me inspired and eager to spread the word about another creative, sustainably-minded business.

Here are those cut-out oxfords, potential tap shoes:

And a bit about the shop:

Fortress of Inca was born 10 years after Evan Streusand, founder of the business, went on a wonderlust adventure throughout Peru and bought a pair of handmade boots along the way. Upon his return to the States and as time went on, he noticed the shoes lasted forever and realized he wanted to make those shoes available in the US.

Evan wanted to create a sustainable, ethical business, so took strides to do his research, connect with like-minded people in Peru, and create a business that benefits the triple bottom line*: people, the planet, and pocketbooks, rather than simply generating profits.

Triple Bottom Line
The Triple Bottom Line is a way to measure a company’s success in terms of sustainability. Wheras the conventional bottom line measures economic profits, the triple bottom line takes into account social and environmental factors as well to create a more rounded assessment of a businesses “bottom line.” https://www.tools4management.com/article/the-triple-bottom-line-a-study/

Fortres of Inca, a small retail shop located in South Austin, works with several small shoemaker companies in Peru who use sustainably sourced materials (rubber, leather, and wood) to make their shoes. Workers enjoy excellend working conditions and are paid fairly, with benefits like social security and health care.

While their shoes are not the cheapest on the market, Fortress of Inca shoes fairly reflect the actual cost of their products in terms of the triple bottom line. Consumers pay more, but at least that is not at the expense of the people who make the shoes and our environment. This is a fair and sustainable pricing structure and business model that I hope more business will come to adopt.

Check out the Fortress of Inca website for more information about the company and its products, or stop by the store if you’re in the area!

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Ta ta for now,

Kelly B

 

 

 

Organics – What to buy and what you can let slide

Hello readers!

Happy Monday and day after Earth Day, 2018.

I’d like to make a special shout out to all the new people and/or robots who have begun to follow this blog and to acknowledge those who have been following from the get go. Thank you for joining and welcome aboard!

In other news, today I wanted to share some information presented this weekend on The Food Chain Radio Program about grocery shopping and organics. Ultimately, the show provided a list of fruits and veggies that are more and less important to buy organic. Meaning, there are some fruits and veggies we can save money on by buying the non-organic option without worrying too much about ingesting chemicals. Phew and woo hoo!

Here are the lists, courtesy of The Environmental Working Group:

The Dirty Dozen (bakers dozen, that is)

–Produce containing high levels of pesticide residues, even after being rinsed and peeled. Good idea to buy the organic versions of these fruits and veggies.

Notice most of these items have thin skins, aka more permeable to pesticides. And note that the pesticides found on non-organic versions of these are linked to brain damage and cancer, are outlawed in many European countries, and yet are approved by the US Government*. Wonderful.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sweet bell peppers
  13. Hot peppers

The Clean 15

–Produce containing minimal levels of pesticide residues when grown conventionally. Aka, we can buy these products non-organic without worrying too much.

Notice most of these have thick skins or shells which protect the part you eat from contact with the pesticides.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn**
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas**
  8. Asperagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplants
  11. Honeydews
  12. Kiwis
  13. Cantalopes
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

**Sweet corn, papayas, and summer squash are often genetically modified crops, so if you want to avoid being part of the “greatest global experiment known to mankind” (quote from acupuncturist Jenny Johnston of Santa Cruz), best to go organic with these crops. Note I did acupuncture as a groupon deal just to try it out. It was ok.

Parting Thoughts

All in all, I was very relieved to come across these lists, espeicially the Clean 15, since I’ve been busting my own balls paying pretty much double for organic avocadoes, broccoli, onions, etc. over the years. Recently canned from my latest job, I’m now watching my spending a bit more. Que conundrum:

In general, I like to buy only organic products on principle, to “vote with my dollar” as they say, to support farmers who have gone out of their way to certify themselves and adopt safer and more sustainable growing practices. Yes, its more expensive, but I figure I’d rather feed myself good food and maintain my health than spend money on anything else.

Cool Like Ghandi
https://www.zazzle.com/ghandi_be_the_change_classic_round_sticker-217041640643772530

Anyway, I cant help but wonder: if we all buy non-organic, Clean 15 produce, how will this impact the agricultural market?

Conventional farmers will continue as is, while farmers who grow organic produce will be out of luck, unable to compete with the low prices of non-organic produce.

By selecting non-organic options, we as consumers are telling farmers that we value cheap food and that it is ok to use harmful chemicals on our food. Thats what “voting with your dollar” means to me, by the way. When you buy something, you are supporting someone and encouraging them to keep on keepin’ on.

It is important to note that produce on the Clean 15 list still did test positive for pesticide residues, just not at the high levels of the Dirty Dozen. Pesticides do have environmental and health impacts which someone is going to pay for down the line, either through medical bills or contaminated water or another Dust Bowl, something like that.

By buying organic, we are telling farmers that we value organic farming and the extra efforts they are taking to build a sustainble food system. Buying organic today, even though it is more expensive, will encourage all farmers to adopt safer and more sustainable growing practices and prices will eventually even out. I’m no economist, but I’m pretty sure thats how supply and demand works.

I’ve seen it happen with organic strawberries in Santa Cruz. I was surprised and a bit delighted last year to see the organic and non-organic strawberries pretty much the same price.

All that being said, we can only do what we can do. I’m probably going to start going non-organic for the Clean 15, but definitely going to opt for organics when it comes to the dirty dozen. Our health is all we’ve got, some say.

I hope this post helps you make up your mind as well.

Thank you for reading and wishing you all the best this week and beyond,

Kelly B

Santa Cruz
Try frolicking this week, will ya? Photo taken at Santa Cruz Harbor.

 

The Birds, the Bees…and the Bats: Rooftop Meadow Restores NYC Nature

http://www.kingslandwildflowers.com
Kingsland Wildflowers – Rooftop Meadow/Habitat Restoration Project in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Rooftop Meadow in Greenpoint, Brooklyn brings native species back to the city, but not where you might think…

Continuing the quest to find out what “sustainable living” looks like in a big city, I found myself this past Friday at Kingsland Wildflowers, a rooftop meadow in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, right next-door to New York City’s wastewater treatment plant. See this surprisingly beautiful facility below:

Site for a Valentine's Day Date
Waste Water Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
View of Kingsland Wildflower native plants restoration Project
Rooftop Meadow View

I was very happy to learn about this project through this giant list of things to do in Brooklyn, which a friend shared with me on Facebook.

Friday was the first “Field Day” of the 2018 Season, an opportunity for community members to explore the roof and learn about the project.

I was particularly fascinated by the history of this site, which I learned from a knowledgeable bird-loving photographer who works for the NYC Audobon Society (go figure) and was at this event to dispense information and take pictures.

According to this man, the Dutch were the first people to settle this area in the 1850s and described it back then as a marshy, shrubby landscape much like the photo above. Today, that marshy environment no longer exists, having been replaced by concrete and buildings over the course of the last 150+ years. Now it looks like this:

150 years ago, these buidlings were not here
View from Kingsland Wildflowers overlooking Newton Creek and Cityscape

I was pleased to learn there is still a prominent waterway that runs through Brookyln and Queens called Newton Creek, which unfortunately was majorly polluted by an oil spill during the 1950s. Due to the buildings and the spill, the creek habitat has suffered and the native species that once inhabited the ecosystem have diminished.

Before it was polluted by the spill, the creek had been an important habitat for native plants and insects and was a stopping point for migratory birds and bats. After the oil spill however…not so much. Guess who was responsible for the spill by the way…. remember the Exon company? Exon Valdez ring any bells? Same company. But we didn’t hear too much about the Newton Creek Spill, did we? Curious.

Anyway…

Today, the Creek is a superfund site, which means the US Government recognized the extreme environmental damage that had occured due to the spill and set up a fund to fix it. That is how the Kingsland Wildflower project is receiving its funding. Exon was sued for damages, and the proceeds of the lawsuit are being used to restore the nature that was damaged by the oil spill. Since space is limited, and people are smart, this project was developed to provide a home for native plants, insects, and animals that once thrived in the Newton Creek environment.

Kingsland Wildflowers is a wonderful project that exists soley to give back to the Earth. The project began a few years ago and is already proving successful. Data is being collected to show the increase of native species both at the creek and on the rooftop. Today, this is one rooftop with about 1/2 acre of space where plants and grasses have been planted. The concept is that the rooftop is replicating what would have existed on the ground if the building were not there. Imagine the good that could be done for the planet if more rooftops were like this in the city. The benefits would be great, species would have a home, maybe bees would start coming back, plus, what a pleasant escape for people it would be, and is. My short visit to Kingsland Wildflowers reminded me of the nature I have been missing while living in a primarily human and concrete environment. I was reminded that there are birds other than pidgeons passing through in their seasonal migration, that there are insects other than bed bugs and flies, and that this whole city used to look so different, that its waterways had so much influence on the ecosystem, that it is an ecosystem today!

Anyway, I could go on and on but I wont. For now I just wanted to share a great project and hope for the future with everyone.

Lots of Love,

Kelly B

Rockaway view 9/11 tributary park
Friggin’ plastic bag