Straws vs. the Disabled

That’s Potato. She was born without eyes and I love her. Get it? Cause Potatoes have those dimples called “eyes” but they can’t see? Good stuff.

It’s not either/or.

I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me about this topic and while I find it important to acknowledge that everyone has a right to sit at the table and engage in the conversation, I’m not sure we’re all talking about the same thing. I want to point out a couple things about the “straw bans” that have been popping up around the U.S.:

  • so far Seattle is the only U.S. city to ban plastic straws
  • Starbucks is phasing plastic straws out by 2020
  • there is no ban on the production of plastic straws. at all.

Those 3 bullet points are facts. Now I’m going to share my opinion based on those facts.

A straw ban will not save our marine life (that’s probably a fact too). But look how many of you are talking about it now. Look how many people are talking about how this will affect the disabled population. Life is about uphill battles, it doesn’t get easier and every win we celebrate will be met with infinitely more questions than answers. No one is claiming that a ban on plastic straws is more important than the comfort of our fellow human. I can’t think of anyone in my network of zero-wasters that would win a ban on straws and then stop there. This isn’t about straws vs. the disabled. It’s just about us.

There are 2 reasons I choose to use plastic in my life

  1. Health and medical reasons
  2. Legal and safety reasons

Now I’m about to say something that might genuinely offend people so if you have a short fuse, please skip ahead.

If you want to help disabled people, don’t attack a ban on straws. Focus on the next step. Focus on getting legislation in place that will require restaurants to provide plastic straws for customers who need them. If you want to help the disabled, get off your butt and volunteer, get off your butt and vote, and get off your butt and fight for equal access to healthcare. If you want to help people then you want to help the environment. And if you want to help the environment then you want to help people. It’s not either/or. It’s just each of us doing what we can. And most of us can forgo a plastic straw.

So if you’re truly concerned about what a ban on plastic straws will mean for disabled people, then start discussing ways to navigate that issue in a productive manner. We don’t need to keep throwing potential solutions out the window because they alienate groups of people. We need to start including those people in the conversation. We need to invite them to the table and ask them in which ways their needs can be addressed.

Be a part of the solution, get creative, get involved and help each other out.

 

 

All of that being said: I am happy that everyone is talking about these potential bans. I am happy that people have been reaching out to share in the excitement or to inquire further. I am happy that big businesses are going out on a limb to try and make a difference in their waste production. But if I could be completely candid for a minute… ya’ll need to calm the fuck down about this straw ban. Calm down about the straw ban and keep fighting the good fight. Keep reminding your roommates to grab their reusable bags for the grocery store. Keep picking up trash when you walk your dog. Keep fighting for equal access for disabled persons. Keep volunteering, keep donating. Keep leading by example because you can. And if you can’t lead by example then tell the world why and I promise we will fight for you.

Disabled people need clean air, clean water, clean food and a clean environment too. This is about all of us and we owe it to each other to fight like mad.

 

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Sud Duds: Jury’s still out on DIY laundry detergent

Hello! Thanks for taking a break from your daily Grit and Grind (#GoGrizz #GrizzNation) to explore my most recent trip down the slippery slope that is zero waste living.

Also, free make up remover pads and homemade detergent to the person who can caption the title image. What the heck is going on there?

I made my own laundry detergent. I plopped my butt down on the couch last Sunday, binge watched the new season of UnReal, and grated bars of soap until The Bachelor looked like a down-right reasonable way to find love in our current dating culture. If you are unfamiliar with those shows (thank you, you are whats right about society) then I grated a ding-load of bar soap. Mixed it with 2x baking soda and voila! Laundry detergent.

Sounds like a lovely way to spend an evening doesn’t it? And wouldn’t it be nice if I told you that the story ends there; a picture perfect scene of a stereotypical 20-something doing her part for the environment while feasting on satirical pop culture shows? If only. Like most people I went to class with in college, as soon as I accomplished my task at hand, I immediately hopped online and tried to dismantle the logic of what I had just done.

I typed “DIY laundry detergent is stupid” into the google search engine (because thats what it is, its a search engine. It’s not a verb you crazy Gen Z-ers). This is who I am. I’m the kind of morbid person that feels an ounce of joy or success and instantly I want to debate myself on why I’m wrong. And I always win. That’s the beauty in questioning yourself. You’re always right. Anyway, turns out a lot of people on the internet have some serious beef with homemade laundry detergent. One word: surfactants. Read More

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Alright team, here it is. A list of DIY laundry detergent recipes. Some I’ve tried, some I have not. I’ll let ya know as you read along….

Let’s start with some super hippie crunchy granola all-natural limited ingredient s(t)uds-

  1. POWDER: Washing Soda, Borax & Bar Soap
    • Grate the bar of soap. It’s rewarding but keep in mind, it can grate you back so be careful. I suggest using a coconut oil soap (check this mama out for diy soap recipes)  or Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap
    • In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts borax (or leave the borax out… it’s really up to you), and 1 part grated bar soap.
    • Store in a closed container. Tupperware, mason jars, heck if you’re feeling extra crunchy just use whatever container you had been buying detergent in!
    • Use 2 tablespoons per load of laundry
    • Extra tip: run vinegar through your rinse cycle to remove foul odors (both in clothes and in your machine)
  2. LIQUID: Washing Soda, Borax & Bar Soap
    • Grate that bar of soap… or put it in a food processor.
    • Put grated soap in a pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved
    • Put 4.5 gallons of really hot (it’s a scientific term) tap water in a 5 gallon bucket (cause, math) and stir in 2 cups of borax (or not cause ya know, toxins?) and 2 cups of washing soda until completely dissolved
    • Pour the soap mixture from the pan into the 5 gallon buck and stir the best you’ve ever stirred.
    • Cover that sh*t and leave it over night
    • Shaken or stirred (your choice) until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers. Boom. Liquid detergent.
    • Use 1/2 cup per load

Read More

PSA: please wash your reusable bags

I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

Part of the reason disposables are so attractive to consumers is because they eliminate the need for cleaning. Great, cause I mean, who likes cleaning?

If you’re looking to make the leap to reusable items, please know that along with the item comes a lifestyle.

Wash your bags. Wash your cutlery. Wash your handkerchiefs. Wash your beeswax. Wash your containers. Wash everything.

Once I started on my journey, I realized that I was using more water than I had before so to even out my footprint, we went to a rain barrel building class in Alexandria to collect what would become runoff. I ended up giving the barrel to my sister and her husband because it didn’t work with our little rowhome but it’s a great option for people who want to water their lawns and gardens in a more sustainable manner.

We have a basement in our house that will flood in heavy rain so we invested in a dehumidifier. We collect the water from the dehumidifier and use that to water our garden. It helps me feel less guilty when I need to wash extra dishes or napkins.

We’re all just doing what we can. Over&Out

alteredeco

The War on Straws: what does a ban mean?

Starbucks has pledged to be plastic straw-free by 2020. I’ve heard it all to the familiar pessimistic beat of the 21st Century; “too little too late” “this win will distract people from the larger issue at hand” “straws don’t even make up that much plastic pollution, this accomplishes nothing” etc etc etc.

But I’m a sociologist, not an environmental scientist so I can’t remove the collective conscience from this conversation. This isn’t about Starbucks and their impact on the World. It’s about us. Starbucks has pledged to remove straws GLOBALLY by 2020. I hear people say that it won’t make a difference; they have plastic lids and plastic cups and will be producing more and more with plastic. I get their point. But these people who maintain this negative outlook are forgetting about the collective conscience. They are forgetting about how societal norms can be created. Yes, today it may just be straws. But tomorrow, someone who may not have grabbed a reusable mug on their way to work, might just grab one this time. This means that someone who wasn’t going to change their behavior on their own, has the support of a multi-billion dollar company. And that is no small feat.

Look at what we can do. When we make our voices heard. We work within the systems we are a part of and we change them from within. Never forget that the first and most important system we are a part of is ourselves, and change starts from within.

Thank you, Starbucks for reminding us that there’s more we can be doing. We can be grateful that we asked for a ban on straws in our restaurants and communities, and while Seattle may have listened, not many other cities have followed suit. But Starbucks did. They heard you and they said “if you care, we care too”.

What does a ban on straws mean for us? It means that Starbucks is challenging you by asking “you can talk the talk but will you walk the walk?” They said they’re game to play ball while we’re all patting each other on the back for winning a fight we didn’t even participate in. What this means is that big business is up for the challenge, but are you? This may be the final straw for them, but will it be the final straw for you?

Over&Out

alteredeco

 

Shout out to Colorado Survivalist for this genius and adorable idea!!

Simple effective DIY rabbit mower build.

via Mobile rabbit mower — Colorado Survivalist

Bunny Approved Lawn Mower!

Thanks for the great idea, Colorado Survivalist

IMG_20140804_121352
My bunny, Bunny

UPCYCLE: Creative Reuse Center

UPCYCLE.

upcycle1
Located inside the Durant Rec Center

This place is heaven on earth. Teachers. I may not be able to provide you the yearly salary you deserve or one that will afford you basic supplies like… pencils. BUT I can point you in the direction of this lovely reuse store. UPCYCLE is located in Old Town Alexandria and gives patrons access to a myriad of art supplies and gadgets that would have otherwise collected dust in a drawer or been thrown away. They are partners with ReUse Alexandria, a group that “unites Alexandria’s reuse community and markets Alexandria as a desirable destination for environmentally conscious visitors and residents.” Heck yeah they do! Read More

Zero Waste Alternative: Solar Powered Highway?

Uh what? You heard correctly, solar powered highway. I cannot stress enough how many creative thinkers and innovative engineers are coming together to accomplish amazing feats around the world. I want to make sure you hear about these positive steps toward a better future.

Zero Deaths. Zero Waste. Zero Carbon. Zero Impact.

That is the mission of The Ray which will cover an 18 mile stretch of Georgia’s I-85 highway corridor near West Point’s Visitor Center. Here are some engineering highlights of The Ray and how they plan to achieve their aforementioned mission taken from their website which you should all DEFINITELY check out!!!-

The Ray

maxresdefault Read More

Zero Waste Alternative: Just Say No

Refuse.Refuse.Refuse.

Before you hand over your credit card, ask if it’s possible to not print a customer receipt.

Before you order a drink, ask for no straw or cocktail napkin if possible.

Before your first item is swiped at the grocery store, ask for no bag.

“Just say no” and “refuse” waste sounds so negative. I want to change that. I understand that Refuse is one of the most important pillars of a zero waste lifestyle. But we can do better than that. These days I hear a lot of people talking about “self care”. I’m not really sure I’ve figured out what that means to me, or anyone else for that matter. But I’d like to think about “refuse” in similar terms as “self care”. So let’s refer to “refuse” as “preventative care”. Because when you take preventative measures in situations where you know you would like to refuse waste before the waste is created, then you take care of the person you’re engaging with. What I mean to say is that we shouldn’t be going around and refusing trash left and right. We should be walking around this world and taking preventative care of our fellow men, the people who help us at grocery stores or restaurants. We should help them understand us. Not only in our “what” but in our “why”. To go around and refuse straws once they have been placed on the table, while it may be following zero waste guidelines, doesn’t really follow my personal guideline of preventative care. If I forget to mention something to a waiter then of course I’ll cover my ass retroactively, but my point is that being prepared and aware of others and their actions is also a huge part of a zero waste lifestyle. No moment wasted. Use your moments wisely and help the people who are helping you… help you. Read More

Zero Waste Alternative: Plastic Wrap

Day 2 of Plastic Free July and I want to give you tangible solutions to your daily battles with single-use plastics.

Today, we talk plastic wrap and some really amazing alternatives. We use plastic wrap for all sorts of things; leftovers, leftovers… and mainly leftovers. I seriously cannot think of any other ways we use plastic wrap… Oh, I made a fruit fly trap with plastic wrap one time. Seriously comment below if you think of any other uses for plastic wrap.

What’s it made of?

Plastic wrap is made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). Other products such as plastic shopping bags are made of the same material. Read More

Victory!!! Monsanto Denied AGAIN Court, Will Face First “Ecological Disaster” Trial for Destroying Thousands of Acres of Crops Across the Country — The Oily Guru

by Nick Meyer | June 26, 2018 When it comes to chemicals produced by the Monsanto Company (which is now a part of Bayer), it goes without saying that Roundup is the most well known (and infamous) of the bunch. But there’s a new kid on the block that’s been causing perhaps even more damage to the farming […]

via Victory!!! Monsanto Denied AGAIN Court, Will Face First “Ecological Disaster” Trial for Destroying Thousands of Acres of Crops Across the Country — The Oily Guru

The Wall

I wrote this a year ago when I wasn’t sure how to put my emotions into action after Trump got elected. Today is the last day I will be 25 so I figured I would post this so I wouldn’t be lying in my poem.

The Wall

When I was 5 the walls kept me safe, I was in

With my sisters and brother, inside we won’t sin

But truth be told no walls kept us silent

To explore and unearth, our appetite- resilient.

 

When I was 10 I used the walls for wall ball

My friends grew competitive while I? I grew tall

At 10 I was growing my lusts and desires

On the playground I learned, fighters never grow tired.

 

When I was 15 the walls kept me studying in school

It wouldn’t take long to decide this was cruel

At 16 the walls were a fence I would climb

To escape into freedom, the feeling- sublime.

 

When I was 20 the walls barred us from Jackson Avenue

In Memphis your privilege separated the “we” and the “you”

Safely tucked away on our one-acre plot

On the streets North and West, race wars were still fought.

 

I’m 25 now.

My president thinks a wall will protect us.

Let that digest.

 Now discuss in disgust.

 

It’s been 20 years since 5-year-old me deemed walls useless.

15 years since the walls challenged me at recess.

It’s been 10 years since in school I grew restless.

9 years since I learned no walls could deny me access.

It’s been 5 years since I found walls couldn’t impede social progress.

 

…I regress,

A grown man boasts of the walls “great” success

Doesn’t acknowledge that barriers speed up creative progress

 

…I impress,

His tactics aim to cause social distress

He underestimates the power his pupils possess.

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Environmental Studies Blog

The Department of Environmental Studies at Saddleback College is located in south Orange County, California. The department offers interdisciplinary programs that provide students with integrated and critical knowledge of the natural environment. The mission of this blog is to promote environmental awareness, events, and information about our programs.

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