So I work for "the man" and I've been around corporate America these last 7+ years. I like to think of myself as a middle-of-the-road kind of gal. But the more I dig into the facts and what's happening since my #NoDAPL blogpost on the outrageous event that happened when Native Americans this past holiday weekend stood with Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Pipeline and were bitten by dogs and attacked with pepperspray...the more outrageous such an already obscene event has become. The more I'm certain that this corporate entity is the epitome of a bad actor and evil in both its actions and its premeditated intentions. If "corporations are people" according to the Supreme Court, then Enbridge and Dakota Access LLC are diagnosed psychopaths. Here's why....
Photo from Bill McKibben
There's a little discussed fact in the U.S. when it comes to Tribal peoples mobilization against pipelines in Canada. They have been at it a lot longer, and they have been successful. In fact, to understand why Keystone XL pipeline even was requested to bring crude oil allllllll the way down from Alberta (that's Canada) through the U.S. to the Gulf, you have to trace the failure of those same oil companies to successfully get passage on a much shorter westerly journey through British Columbia. (See my EcoPartyDownload on Keystone XL for more).
I woke up this morning to news that the primarily Native American activists protesting the newly desired corporate pipeline in Dakota walked onto private land to block the construction that had started while the appeal is awaiting to be heard in court...and those people were attacked by dogs from the company's private security firm. Yes, PEACEFUL PROTESTERS WERE JUST ATTACKED BY DOGS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I mean...W.T.F. Is this amateur hour? Is it 1963? Has the opposition not learned ANYTHING from history? Is it "opposite day" when it comes to how best to handle peaceful social justice protests? Who are these awful security people and why should we now trust the people who hired them? Some kind of modern-era Bull Connors from Birmingham styling themselves as "big deals" because they have a walkie and a dog frothing at the mouth? Dogs biting children...sigh...why does history always have to repeat itself? When will people learn? Why do the words of Nelson Mandela feel so necessary right now for those corporate oilmen to hear?
Activism seems very "environmentalist" instead of "environmentalish" of me...I get it. Feels intense. But.... (stick with me after the jump)
"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.
The first 18 years of my life were spent in very sunny places. Denver-born, San Diego-raised. I spent the last 4 years back in sunwashed southern California and so the first question I get is how I'm coping with the Seattle weather. Well, truth be told, I lived in New Hampshire and Washington D.C. But when I really give an answer, it's usually this:
"I left the state when it was in drought and on fire, so I absolutely love the rain". And seriously. I mean it.
My favorite link right now is the weather in Seattle. It's an El Nino year not seen since 1997, and I am so excited I just can't hide it. Halfway through December has already had more precipitation than average. Bless.
The more I think about living up here in the PNW (that's the way only Californians like me refer to the Pacific Northwest), the more sustainable it really is. I take a long, hot, guilt-free shower without turning it on/off navy-style in the way that just was never thinkable in California. Which leads me to my theory....
So this post is a bit of a cheat, because I already did a post about Hydrating Reusably at the Office (read there for facts/data/why it matters). But last week we had an event at work honoring America Recycles Day and I got to meet environmental champion Ed Begley Jr....who was ONLY taking photos with employees that committed to refill. My coworkers did me so proud!
And it motivated me to take my personal commitment one step further. I changed a habit! When I traveled this past weekend, I brought an empty reusable bottle through airport security and filled up on the other side. I think for the first time!? I really felt good AND there was a bit of pleasure in sticking it to the man by not paying the absurdly high post-security price of food and drink.
Want to hear a horrifying fact? Those plastic water bottles behind Ed and I in the display represent the amount the U.S. throws away in less than one second. The U.S. threw away 273 times that amount during the 2 hours of our recycling event. Hundreds of people stopped by to look at it with disgust/horror faces, and it only made it clearer. Time to ban the bottle from your life, it's the enviro(ish) thing to do. Let's get to it!
psst....have you done it yet?? If not, why not?
So I'm at SXSW Eco, this amazeballs conference in Austin where lots of different types come together around environmental/good issues in an open and interesting way. I'm listening to a panel on plastic pollution in the ocean with Heal the Bay and 5 Gyres Institute, and am congratulating myself on having banned the one-time plastic use water bottle from my life. I'm a reusable bagger. High-five! I'm eco amazing! I'm free of one-time use plastics that go to the ocean right?
Wrong. Wait, what?!? There's these little thing called microbeads. I admit I've been using them because the texture helps my skin look oh so fresh and clean (when I forget to bring my scrub brush). In fact, the face wash I brought when I traveled to the conference had microbeads. I'm thinking these are just little hard bits of soap, same stuff the cleanser is made out of, right? Nope. Little tiny bits of one-time use polyethylene. Apparently every major consumer products company has these plastic microbeads in products or product lines. Even the companies that IMO are more eco than others (et tu Body Shop "Natural Products Inspired by Nature"? Unilever "Sustainable Living Plan"?).
AACK! And here I was, buying a product from Neutrogena, one of the worst offenders. I am eco-shamed, but shaming is not what we do here at Enviro(ish). It's all about the journey and learning. Phew!
Photo courtesy of 5 Gyres Institute
Starting today, I'm not going to use the rest of this face wash and promise not to buy personal care products with beads or using polyethylene. It's such an easy step that makes a big difference. Because the more I'm thinking about microbeads, the more CRAZY BANANAS it is....not just for the planet but for my health!
I'm here at SXSW Eco in Austin, and am wildly inspired by a standing ovation keynote from NatGeo Explorer-in-Residence, Oceanographer extraordinaire, former chief scientist of NOAA, and gender-barrier-breaking research scientist Sylvia Earle. You'd think SHE is all we need to speak for the ocean....but luckily there's others.
In the lead up to her speech, they played the ocean for "Nature is Speaking". It's perfectly the way we need to think about environmental issues (right in line with the EcoPartyDownload on climate march!). The planet will keep turning, but the systems we depend on for life and health will suffer as will we. You'll never guess who's voice is the ocean. Ok ok, since it's from Conservation International and he's been on the board over 20 years you might guess.... Indiana Jones! Badass as ever...this time for the ocean. #lovesit
In honor of Coastal Cleanup Day tomorrow, this post is going to be about how to be Enviro(ish) when shopping/grocerying. But since this is a perennial “which is more eco, paper or plastic?” question going back decades, I get asked it often. And not just in a conversation where it makes sense, I’m talking about random strangers and on a first date, OFTEN.
Example: I'm at an oyster bar on a first date I met from online. The guy obviously knew I worked in sustainability from my profile, so one of his get-to-know-me questions was “when you go to a grocery store, paper or plastic?” Points for doing his research and like a Boy Scout always being prepared….but it falls into that awkward “green police” bucket (plus, is knowing my bag choice at a grocery store really getting to know me?) The guy rocketed through 20 similar questions, so everybody around us could tell it was one of "those” first dates. Even the oyster bar shucker behind the counter was laughing out loud (which is “bagging up” according to the kids these days/Urban Dictionary….see what I did there? FTW!) But I digress….
TELL ME THE ANSWER ALREADY
The simple answer is bring your own bags and reuse them (to take you from the land of simple, read further below).
Caffeine may kick off my workday, but water keeps me going and hydrated. I've never drank from a single-use plastic water bottle at my desk...and the more you really think about plastic water bottles, the more it sounds silly and ridiculous.
For example, I spotted one of my coworkers drinking from a single-use 1 gallon plastic water jug. Pretty much a different one every other day. Since I'm known to be 'eco', I don't even think I had to ask him about it....he saw me notice and, let's face it, if you do sustainability all day every day people think you are the 'green police'. Usually I fight the perception and live by the Funny or Die "Green Team" creed of Will Farrell and John Reilly (if you have not seen this before, you're welcome). But this time, the eco case was so clear! Pun intended.
Anyways, he started defending the plastic waste and the taste....it took a few random conversations over a few months, but he made the transition. And if he can, you can too! Here's the basics of what I said to get you going:
(adj) balancing caring about the future of our planet with enjoying and living everyday life to the fullest