Zero Waste Surgery?

Hell naw, lol.

Maybe someday, but not now. I’ll take my sterilized needles, single-use maxi pads, and individually-wrapped saltine crackers, thanks! But just think how much garbage I’ll be saving by not having to worry about periods or pap smears ever again? Or the related cancers? :P

My Wardrobe

Well… sort of. I don’t actually own any of these exact garments, but I tried to find as many as I could that were close enough to give a good picture of my style.


Tank tops, t shirts, hoodies, beanies and cardigans. Pretty basic stuff, though.

Two pairs of shoes, a pair of pants, two pairs of shorts, and one tank top (and some jewelry) all came from the thrift store. Three other pairs of pants have come from annual warehouse sales, a few too many things have come from Target (sweater, tank, etc; in my defense, I’ve had these things for a long-ass time and I no longer buy clothes from there), some things (hoodies, tights) came from the damage bin at my husband’s work, some t shirts of mine are plastered with images or logos of things I’m a fan of or support (“Legalize Trans*”, a video game, a movie, and a pro-indigenous/Mexican “Republica de California” shirt), and some other pieces that are so old that I don’t remember where they came from.

As of right now, I no longer shop new unless I absolutely have to. Underwear, bras–I wear soft bras pretty exclusively now for a few reasons… maybe I’ll write a short post about them later–socks, and sporting wear like bicycling jackets, rain shells, gloves, wool stuff, and so on. But those things are usually built to last nearly a lifetime.

Fun fact: a project I’d like to work on before my first winter in Oregon (yes I’m gonna be moving there this upcoming year) is a heavyweight cowl of sorts that covers the shoulders and is waterproofed with beeswax. Oh, and I want to see about starting off with natural fabric and dyeing it myself with plants and stuff. Basically, a garment that is as natural and slow-made (and useful!) as possible for me. Of course I’ll be sharing that project whenever I get started on it.

How sustainable is your wardrobe?

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Lauren McCauley: ‘The Alarm Bells are Ringing’ — From Athletes to Environmentalists, a Universal Call for Racial Justice Emerges

Originally posted on Vox Populi:

While the protests over deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown refuse to stand down, leading environmentalists, labor protesters and others show their solidarity saying: “These issues are not separate.”

With the nation’s streets still filled with protesters and a plan for thousands to march on Washington brewing, the call for justice for Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and other black victims of police violence has only grown stronger. In the days and weeks since two grand juries failed to indict the police officers who killed the two men, expressions of solidarity have poured in from all corners—from professional athletes to fast food workers, education leaders and environmental groups, with the message that an injustice against one is an injustice against us all.

On Monday evening, several NBA players took the court wearing t-shirts that read, “I can’t breathe,” a reference to the final utterance issued by Eric Garner, who was…

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Introduction to Environmental Racism

In my last post, I detailed why we, as environmentalists, zero-waste and anti-oil advocates should care about racism– basically, the system survives off the existence of poverty, of misery, and of a disenfranchised working class. And communities of color are, in contrast with those that are white-skinned and Euro-American, disproportionately likely to wind up poor, depressed, working class, etc.

And according to the concept of environmental racism, communities of color are more likely to live and/or work in close proximity to toxic waste and areas with a higher concentrations of pollution.


Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries.

From Pollution Issues:

Up to the late 1960s, racism was defined as a doctrine, dogma, ideology, or set of beliefs. The central theme of this doctrine was that race determined culture. Some cultures were deemed superior to others; therefore, some races were superior and others inferior. During the 1960s the definition of racism was expanded to include the practices, attitudes, and beliefs that supported the notion of racial superiority and inferiority. Such beliefs and practices produced racial discrimination.

However, researchers argue that to limit the understanding of racism to prejudicial and discriminatory behavior misses important aspects of racism. Racism is also a system of advantages or privileges based on race. In the American context, many of the privileges and advantages available to whites stem directly from racial discrimination directed at people of color. Therefore, racism results not only from personal ideology and behavior, but also from the personal thoughts and actions that are supported by a system of cultural messages and institutional policies and practices. Racism is thus more fully understood if one sees it as the execution of prejudice and discrimination coupled with power, privilege, and institutional support. It is aided and maintained by legal, penal, educational, religious, and business institutions, to name a few.

Environmental racism is an important concept that provided a label for some of the environmental activism occurring in minority and low-income communities. In particular, it links racism with environmental actions, experiences, and outcomes. In the broadest sense, environmental racism and its corollary, environmental discrimination, is the process whereby environmental decisions, actions, and policies result in racial discrimination or the creation of racial advantages. It arises from the interaction of three factors: (1) prejudicial belief and behavior, (2) the personal and institutional power to enact policies and actions that reflect one’s own prejudices, and (3) privilege, unfair advantages over others and the ability to promote one’s group over another. Thus, the term environmental racism, or environmental discrimination, is used to describe racial disparities in a range of actions and processes, including but not limited to the (1) increased likelihood of being exposed to environmental hazards; (2) disproportionate negative impacts of environmental processes; (3) disproportionate negative impacts of environmental policies, for example, the differential rate of cleanup of environmental contaminants in communities composed of different racial groups; (4) deliberate targeting and siting of noxious facilities in particular communities; (5) environmental blackmail that arises when workers are coerced or forced to choose between hazardous jobs and environmental standards; (6) segregation of ethnic minority workers in dangerous and dirty jobs; (7) lack of access to or inadequate maintenance of environmental amenities such as parks and playgrounds; and (8) inequality in environmental services such as garbage removal and transportation.

From the Food Empowerment Project:

When they hear about industrial pollution, people often think about factories with billowing smokestacks. However, the food industry, with its factory farms and slaughterhouses, can also be considered a major contributor of pollution that affects the health of communities of color and low-income communities, because more often than not they locate their facilities in the areas where these people live. “Swine CAFOs [Confined Animal Feeding Operations] are disproportionately located in communities of color and regions of poverty …” say Maria C. Mirabelli, Steve Wing, Stephen W. Marshall, and Timothy C. Wilcosky of the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.[1]

Among the corporations that harm the environment and the health of communities of color and low-income communities are those that run industrial pig farms. Research has shown that these pig farms are responsible for both air and water pollution, mostly due to the vast manure lagoons they create to hold the enormous amount of waste from the thousands of pigs being raised for food. Residents who live near these factory farms often complain of irritation to their eyes, noses, and throats, along with a decline in the quality of life and increased incidents of depression, tension, anger, confusion, and fatigue.[2]

This is not an isolated example. The placement of these facilities is not always an intentional process on the part of industry leaders. Instead, because of the distinct connections between ethnicity and class in the United States, poor rural areas tend to house communities of color and the land in these areas is cheaper. According to sociologists Bob Bolin, Sara Grineski, and Timothy Collins of Arizona State University, “Land use, housing segregation, racialized employment patterns, financial practices, and the way that race permeates zoning, development, and bank lending processes” are also fundamental drivers of environmental racism.[4] North Carolina is one example, but similar patterns exist in most major agricultural areas.[3]

Corporations may also locate to these rural areas either believing that the residents do not have the political will and won’t present obstacles, or that these low-income residents need the jobs and will not complain. Environmental Justice activists consider the latter reason to be a form of economic extortion—having to accept the negative health consequences and adverse effects on the environment in order to have a job. This scenario is fortunately not a given with more frequent challenges being made to these injustices.

How does your environmentalism address institutional racism?


I’ve been kind of discombobulated over the past week for a number of reasons, but I really do want to kick myself for forgetting to write up a post about this.

Assuming that you’re rightly angered by the injustice of Darren Wilson’s GJ non-indictment, and the continuing police brutality in response to protests, then you might be interesting to know that Black Friday boycott could have been an act of solidarity with the movement, who asked that #NotOneDime be spent last friday, and IF you couldn’t help yourself, that you spend that dime at a black-owned business.

Many others called for boycotting the entire weekend, including Cyber Monday, and some even asked that none of the rest of your holiday shopping be done at a big box store or the likes of Amazon.

Why, though? What does Walmart or the local shopping mall have to do with justice for Mike Brown? And what does it have to do with environmentalism and the zero waste ethic?

First of all, consumerism has a helluva lot to do with racism in America. The same machine that would rather destroy excess product that a store can’t sell instead of giving it to the needy is the same machine that builds for-profit prisons, is the same machine that instates racial profiling and racist stop-and-frisk policies, is the same machine that will let white (rich) people off the hook for the same crime that a black or brown person is put away for years for, is the same machine that benefits from selling poor communities of color toxic, disposable goods because it’s not profitable to put good quality reusables into their hands, is the same machine that relocates good jobs out of those communities and replaces them with Walmart jobs and SNAP benefits.

It is the same machine that prioritizes profits over people. And if manufacturing garbage (metaphorical and literal) is what makes money, then by god there will be garbage.

And as for environmentalism, poverty is bad for your health, sure, but the corporate leviathan that enables poverty is what generates the most toxic waste. When was the last time you saw someone from the lower or working class driving a Prius or a Tesla? When figuring out how to feed their family on a SNAP budget, can you really expect a poor parent to shell out for organic apples at $3/lb when you can get your kids twice the calories for the same price if you bought them something unhealthy, processed, and littered with GMO ingredients? Sure, a salad is obviously the better option– but if you have to choose between eating healthy and not going to bed hungry, I think you know which one you’d choose. There is also something called environmental racism (which I’ll touch on in the next post), which is more or less the systemic, historical discrimination that has resulted in more than half of the communities of color in the US to be located near a chemically hazardous area (or a “cancer alley”) that has a tremendous negative impact on both the environment around that community and the health of its residents.

According to my zero waste ethic, no person, no identity, no community should be considered “a waste”, and no environment or region should be allowed to be used as a dumping ground for anybody, no matter how remote or economically weak that region is. Likewise, the prison-industrial complex, which is akin to modern-day slavery and targets a tremendously disproportionate number of black and brown people, destroys communities and wreaks havoc on the lives of the people it swallows up. The prison-industrial complex is incredibly wasteful and cares only about profits. The last of my 5 R’s, too, is Reclaim: this isn’t about just reclaiming poor soil, or turning scraps into more food via chickens or compost or what have you, but it is about reclaiming neighborhoods from wasteful policing, reclaiming identities and livelihoods from ruthless corporatism that seeks to commodify our self-esteem and our happiness, reclaiming our government from wasteful bureaucracy, and reclaiming ourselves from consumerist, profiteering, and capitalist values.

Carbon Footprint Of Beef

Originally posted on Raxa Collective:


One of our most popular posts of all time, Carbon Emissions Series: Vacationers’ Diets, was an eye-opener for many of us 3+ years ago. The 10,000 views of that one post help us understand that readers of this blog care about the food they eat in more ways than one. Thanks to Conservation for this summary:


Each year, the average American chows down on a whopping 120 kilograms of meat. The same is true in New Zealand and Australia. Most Europeans and South Americans dine on slightly more than half that amount of meat each year. Combined that means that as a species, we’re eating some 310 metric tons of meat each year, a 300% increase in fifty years. Meat – which is the primary product of the livestock industry – doesn’t just impact our planet in terms of the quantity of…

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Best Stuffing Ever

And it was almost zero waste. Not that it couldn’t be done, but it was a combination of what’s called “laziness” and “using what you’ve already got”.

Stuffing is the exact opposite of a science, which is probably why I love it so much. It’s nigh impossible to screw up, and when writing down the recipe, all you need is a list of ingredients because the rest is a no-brainer. Oh, and did I mention that it was vegan?

Best Stuffing Ever

  • Cubed bread (whatever size, whatever kind; I used two different loaves that I had laying around)
  • Sauteed chanterelle mushrooms (diced)
  • Sauteed onion (chopped)
  • Celery (chopped)
  • Frozen peas
  • Garlic (diced)
  • Dried craberries
  • Flax seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley (chopped)
  • Veggie “drippings” (make some hours, at least, ahead of time)

Veggie Drippings

  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Bay leaves
  • Crushed whole garlic
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Soy sauce
  • Kombu
  • Balsamic (good stuff)
  • Beer (pref. a stout, as dark, rich beers have tons of umami)
  • Salt
  • Whole peppercorn
  • Oil
  • Better Than Bouillon (optional)

Make as you would with a typical vegetable broth– put the kombu piece in the water as it heats up and remove before it comes to a good boil. You want richness, not a vaguely fishy taste. Put everything else in to taste. The broth will need to be reduced by half to get a good consistency and intensity of flavor, so keep that in mind when deciding how much water to start with. When finished, it should be a nice deep brown. Strain, put in a jar with a good drizzle of oil. Shake well and put in the fridge so that the oil will get some of that flavor too. Heat up and shake before pouring it over your stuffing; use as you would regular meat drippings!

If you celebrate Thanksgiving (not that there aren’t plenty of reasons not to), how was yours?

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Paul Buchheit: The Super-Rich and Sordid Tales of Selfishness

Originally posted on Vox Populi:

Philanthropy, no matter how well intentioned, cannot compensate for the flaws of capitalism.

If the mainstream media made the effort to analyze and report the facts, the whole country would know about a level of selfishness that has spiraled out of control since the economists of the Reagan era convinced the wealthiest Americans that greed is good for everyone. Here are four extreme examples of that selfishness.

1. Ebola’s Not Worth the Money If Only Africans Get Infected

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr. Margaret Chan recently stated: “Ebola emerged nearly four decades ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure? Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay.”

So we turn to philanthropy. But rich donors don’t compensate for the flaws of capitalism. The…

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A ZW Thanksgiving?

My family, as it can pretty easily be guessed, isn’t all that environmentally-conscious… and especially not to the extent that I am. So I can pretty much guarantee that my Thanksgiving won’t be politically or environmentally-aware in the least. BUT. That’s not going to stop me from fantasizing about my someday-Thanksgiving (actually, my two someday-Thanksgivings, as hubs, being Canadian, celebrates his 6 weeks before I do mine!).

Making Thanksgiving vegan, it seems to me, would be surprisingly easy. There’s not much in the way of cheese or eggs or milk in any of the dishes, so the main animal by-product would be broth and drippings. Which, considering that the meat itself has always been second to the rest of the fixins for me, is easy peasy to bypass.

Green bean casserole. Mashed potatoes with vegan gravy made from starch, nut milk, and veggie broth. Winter salad. Roasted carrots. Baked veggie stuffing. Biscuits. And for dessert? Pumpkin pie, of course! For me, all of this besides the butter and flavorings (oils, tamari, etc) can be made using bulk-sourced or package-free products. Pretty nifty. I’m not going to say that I haven’t eyed the Gardein “Stuffed Turk’y”, which comes in a pack of two. (Gardein makes amazing stuff, I promise.) And this year, I may still get myself one, depending on whether or not I feel like making my own stuffing to bring to dinner. Honestly, I can do without turkey, or even a turkey substitute, but I cannot do without stuffing.

Hubs, what with doing the low-carb paleo thing (or trying to), would require a turkey breast or two for sure, and definitely some of his own gravy. The rest can be shared between us, no problem, aside from the biscuits and stuffing, which he doesn’t much like anyways. The pie is easy enough to make grain-free also. Unfortunately, meat is very hard to find package-free, and especially seasonally available meats like turkey breasts and the like. Oh well, what’s a little cling film every once in a while I suppose.

All in all, it’s a pretty zero-waste plan, and making the vast majority of the meal nut and produce-based pretty much guarantees it.

To end  this post, here are some of my favorite holiday recipes:

Go forth and cook!

What’ll your Thanksgiving look like this year, USians?