Friday, August 27, 2021
Friday, August 6, 2021
This is another installment of my series "My Attempt To Be Less Trashy" where I share things I have and do to try curbing my environmental impact. Like I've said before, even though I'm not the best at zero- or low-waste living, an attempt to be mindful is better than not trying at all, and you can read about my swaps and habit changes I've previously written about here and here.
Clothing is something that has a serious impact on the environment. In the early half of the last century there were two seasons for clothes: Cold and Not-So-Cold. The average wardrobe wasn't typically too extensive (even though men often wore suits every day, they would have maybe a couple suits they wore in rotation). Today, thanks in part to companies wanting to turn a profit, there are up to 52 seasons for fashion-- one per week, just so fast fashion boutiques can pump out something new for people to buy. As a result, the textile industry is the second largest polluter on the planet. That doesn't even factor in the water used to wash garments after we buy them! There are things we can all do to curb our impact in regards to buying clothes, and a few things I've done are pretty easy:
Awhile back I started using laundry detergent strips, mostly to see what they were like. Considering liquid detergent is liquid because of it being mostly water, I didn't feel like spending more money on a plastic tub of blue-dyed watery soap. I used powdered detergent for ages for that exact reason too, but I figured the strips would make for less mess, and I was right. In my experience, detergent strips, which are about the size of a couple sticks of gum side-by-side, wash just as well as any detergent I've ever used, all while biodegradable and in a lightweight, recyclable package. Even switching from liquid detergent to powdered is a good first step to save water, and washing everything cold is a great way to save energy too, but if you want to save on packaging and overusing detergent, strips are a great option.
(Also, sidebar, they're great for travel if you don't want to pack liquid or powdered detergent in your suitcase!)
More often than not, I wear the same shirt at least a couple times before washing it. I wear my jeans and shorts a lot of times in a row before putting them through the wash, and flannels until they start to stink. I wash my chonies after every use, of course, and the clothes I run and work out in only get worn once before washing since they get pretty stinky pretty quickly, but by re-wearing a lot of my clothes I can not only save time doing fewer loads of laundry but also extend the life of my clothes by not washing and drying them so often. Plus, fortunately for me, I wear basically the same thing every day, so nobody has ever called me out for repeating an outfit. I doubt it would happen to you either, and even if it does it's their problem and not yours. If it smells fine and isn't too wrinkled wear it, who gives a shit.
This goes for a lot of things, but clothing in particular is good to buy used. With so many new lines of clothes coming out every week, and apparently a market to buy a new outfit every week, a lot of clothes go to waste. Only 7% of people purchase used clothing, and only 28% donate used clothing to thrift stores, which is a problem because people buy five times as many clothes as they did in 1980. I still rock the $2 boots I found, and I've recently purchased a nice button-down through Patagonia's Worn Wear shop with credit I received from sending in a different Patagonia brand shirt in for repair. The company Darn Tough, which makes great socks, has a lifetime warranty on their products so you can exchange them instead of throwing out your old socks. There are ways to get clothes both affordably and with less of an environmental impact, and besides buying from companies that engage in sustainable practices in manufacturing the best way to do it is to buy secondhand.
Fixing what you have
Again, this can go for a great many number of things, but repairing your clothes is one way to extend the life of your clothes. If you don't know how to sew, it's not too difficult to learn how to reattach a button or close up a hole in a seam of a shirt. Like I did with my $2 boots, if you have a pair of shoes that can be resoled you can keep a lot of material out of a landfill, and as I mentioned before, Patagonia's Worn Wear program can attempt to repair clothing you send in and, if they can't, they can repurpose the material of your clothing to be made into something else. I had an old pair of jeans that had a huge grease stain, but instead of tossing them I treated the stain until it was barely noticeable unless you really looked for it. and when they started to get holes in the I patched them up and wore them until they got too far gone, but even after that I made them into shorts. By using what you already have you can spare your wallet from buying the style of the week and the landfill from throwing out something with something repairable.
You can also hang-dry your laundry, use old clothing for crafting projects like quilts and the like, or be naked (it might not work well in mixed company and it might get cold eventually though, FYI), but there are things we can all do to curb our impact on the environment when it comes to the clothes we wear. It boils down to being a conscious consumer and taking care of the things we already have, in our clothing and everything else.
Nobody likes a trashy person, and if you're like me and want to be less trashy there are choices we can make to be nicer to the planet.
Friday, July 30, 2021
Friday, July 9, 2021
Sunday, July 4, 2021
It's important to know whose home you're living in. Having lived in the Payahuunadü-- also known as the Owens Valley-- and the Great Basin region of the US nearly all my life, I have had at least some understanding of who the Indigenous people of my homeland were and are. Since moving to the Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, I've found that, aside from strip malls and housing tracts, the history of the place focuses almost entirely on aerospace and a tiny bit on agriculture and the interstate highway system, but Native history doesn't get a lot of focus. That's why I wanted to check out the Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Site, on the far east side of Lancaster, north of the town of Lake Los Angeles.
The building was constructed in the 1930s as a summer home by an artist and amateur architect named Howard Arden Edwards, who collected art and artifacts from the Southwest and Great Basin regions. The building and his collection later became a museum, and in the 80s and 90s became a California State Historic Site. There are displays of native plant species that Indigenous people had historically harvested, examples of baskets, pottery, and other artwork from tribes throughout the Great Basin region, and maps showing the names of tribal locations and historic trade routes through the region.
|the barn along the nature trail|
While the experience of learning more about the local Indigenous people was worthwhile, I can't help but think about how much colonial sentiment the collections at the museum has; I doubt there was any sort of consent from tribal entities about "collecting" these cultural items back in the 30s, and though it's good to have some cultural reference for the peoples who have lived in California and the Great Basin for thousands of years, it's important to remember that they're still around and not just the "primitive people" described by an American Southwest fanboy from the last century.
Take Vasquez Rocks State Park, between Palmdale and Santa Clarita off the 14 Freeway. It's known for its film history and for being a hideout for bandits during the wild west days of California. While that's interesting and all, I don't often hear about the small group of people who inhabited the area for a couple thousand years that had their own unique culture separate from the surrounding tribal entities, or how Spanish colonization wiped them out and sought to do the same to the Indigenous peoples in general. History has largely written off Native America as being a thing of the past, but with organizations like Indigenous Women Hike and others there's more focus on setting injustices of the past and present right instead of treating Indigenous people as mystical relics of history.
I'm glad that the exhibits acknowledge the sweeping generalizations about tribal culture in the Southwest are antiquated, but it's important to remember that a lot of the artifacts on display were brought into the Kitanimuk lands from abroad. To better understand and respect the places we live we should focus on and acknowledge the people who were here before us, and those connected to those roots today. I still believe the Antelope Valley Indian Museum is worth checking out if you're willing to make the drive, but be sure to check your colonizer mindset at the door.
Friday, July 2, 2021
What's your favorite holiday? As a kid it may have been one of the gift-giving ones, like Christmas or Hanukkah, and for a lot of people Halloween remains supreme because of scary movies, the costumes, and getting candy, which people of all ages can appreciate. Independence Day was a big deal growing up since I lived in the small town of Independence, California, home to the world-renowned Fruitcake Festival in December and the most wholesome small-town 4th of July celebration I've ever been a part of. There's a pancake breakfast, parade, craft fair, pie and ice cream social, fireworks, 5k run, games at the park, and a deep-pit barbecue dinner. If you've never been it'd be worth checking out since they had to shelve the festivities last year.
However, I'm not writing about the 4th. I'm thinking about the most auspicious and magical event that happens to make the deep-pit barbecue possible. See, deep pit barbecue is made in a, well, y'know, deep pit, filled with hot coals, wherein clods of beef are placed to slow cook for many hours, resulting in the most tender and juicy beef you will ever enjoy. Because they have to start the cooking process the day before, at some point many years ago someone decided to make the barbecue in the park an event, thus creating a local favorite holiday: The 3rd of July.
At Dehy Park, located on the north end of Independence, the organizers set up a stage for a local band to play, and while the band plays locals begin to mill in, coolers of beer in tow, to drink and dance the night away. In the background of the festivities it looks like some sort of weird sacrificial rite; large flames flicker and burst from a hole in the ground while old timers stand by to make sure nothing goes awry. They then place the clods of beef into the dwindling flames after the pit sufficiently heats and after the locals are sufficiently drunk. Teenagers sneak away to the shadier corners of the park to do what teenagers do, and some adults sneak away to other shadier corners to do what teenagers do. The music and dancing goes well into the night like an ancient ritualistic festival, and at 6am many in attendance meet back at the park for the Lion's Club pancake breakfast to kick off a patriotic day, bleary eyed and tired but excited all the same.
When I think of summertime growing up, I think of a few things; the smell of the lilac bushes in front of my mom's house when I was in high school, balmy evenings playing in the sprinklers when I was 5 or 6, hot dogs and hamburgers off the grill, fireworks echoing off the mountainsides, and being jazzed about the possibilities before me, but nothing encapsulates the excitement and sensory experience of summertime quite like the 3rd of July at Dehy Park in Independence, California. If you have time and are in the neighborhood, and you like live music and small town charm (and if they're even doing it this year), be sure to go and check it out. It might become your favorite holiday too.
Monday, May 17, 2021
Like I've mentioned before in a previous post, I've been bringing my secondhand Klean Kanteen when I go out for coffee. It's a little 12 ounce insulated stainless steel cup, covered in stickers from various shops I've been to, that I picked up for a couple bucks at a small town thrift store. It's nothing a normal person would get too excited over, but I've been over the moon about it since I bought it over a year ago because it's one of the best thrifted purchased I've ever made, and not just because they retail at like $25 new.
It keeps coffee hot for a long time. Like, painfully hot. An hour after filling it I still burn my mouth as long as the lid is closed. Most travel mugs I've had before would keep things reasonably warm for a little while, but this mug will keep coffee just about as hot as it was brewed for at least a few hours. The fact that it's like sipping molten lava for so long helps me pace my coffee drinking so I can enjoy one cup much longer.
Aside from coffee staying hotter longer, it also has saved me a little money-- not just from not having to freshen up my coffee when it gets cold. A lot of places, like Coffee Bean and Starbucks, historically have shaved off a few cents if you bring in a reusable cup, though I haven't been able to get a reusable cup filled for awhile now. I made back the $2 I spent on the cup pretty quickly in the 25 to 50 cents saved by having coffee shops forego the paper cup, so that was a win in my book.
Lastly, the environmental impact of cups steers my decision to use it. According to EarthDay.org, 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year, which is a lot of fucking cups. For a beverage that already has a not-so-great track record of sustainability, adding that many disposable cups into the waste stream makes things way worse. I've managed to avoid a few dozen cups and lids from getting thrown away by opting for my reusable cup instead of the disposable option. In the past year, I managed to keep at least a few plastic lids from entering the waste stream by transferring my coffee shop purchases from a lidless paper cup to the Klean Kanteen. It's a small step, sure, but I can at least do a little something to be nicer to the planet in those moments I find myself at a coffee house.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
|Simba, one of our stinky doofuses|
My wife loves cats. We have two stinky little dorks she loves very much, and I don't think there has been a cat she hasn't immediately fallen in love with, which made it surprising when I learned she hadn't been to the Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond, California. I like cats well enough, but I really appreciate conservation and protecting wildlife, but in light of the Netflix series Tiger King and knowing a few redneck types from Rosamond, I wanted to check the place out to make sure that the California High Desert didn't have its own Joe Exotic.
The Exotic Feline Breeding Compound's Conservation Center was established in 1977 to house endangered big cats from all over the world, and was opened to the public in 1983 as a nonprofit. They provide educational tours to inform people about the cats and their natural habitats, and they provide the cats with as much enrichment as possible by means of toys and things to play with and chew on, like boxes (all cats love boxes), bones, and essential oils, among other things. The Conservation Center is part of a global network of zoos and facilities dedicated to the protection of cats, so they aren't bred for sale and are instead bred for species conservation, which is really cool.
Getting there was a bit of an adventure. From the 14 Freeway I headed west, past the shopping centers and the high school and into the desert with smatterings of trailer parks and subdivision housing. I then headed north on a side street toward what appeared to be some abandoned mine operation on the hillside, passing more residential housing among the sagebrush until I saw a sign with a tiger on it and the letters "EFBC" with an arrow pointing to the left. After a short drive down a dusty dirt road I came to the parking area of the compound.
|An unfazed caracal|
|A serval and his plaque|
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
We're in year two of the 2020s, and there are still people confused about why we have to social distance, wear masks, and get the vaccine if we still have to wear masks and socially distance after the fact. I've come up with a way to explain it all in the most American way I can:
The virus is a million little Bad Guys With Guns. Wearing a mask is taking cover, and keeping at least 6 feet apart from one another makes the accuracy of the Bad Guys With Guns worse. The thing is, just taking cover and keeping a little distance isn't going to guarantee that you won't get killed by a stray bullet, so we need the only thing that can stop a Bad Guy With A Gun, which every American knows is a Good Guy With A Gun.
The vaccines are Good Guys With Guns. The first dose is getting the good guys into position, and the second dose is the one where they get the ammo and you get some body armor. That way, the Good Guys With Guns and the Bad Guys With Guns can duke it out, and even though you can still get hit by a stray bullet in the crossfire you're way less likely to die from it.
However, while you with your Good Guys With Guns can fight off the Bad Guys With Guns, other people who don't have their own Good Guys With Guns can still get caught in the crossfire and killed by a stray bullet, which is why people who are vaccinated still need to wear masks afterward; give your fellow Americans some cover.
Some folks still think the virus is fake or that the vaccine is dangerous. 29 million cases-- some people I know in the ranks-- and over a half million deaths-- of which I know a couple people-- should be enough evidence that the shit is real. Yes, there have possibly been 50 deaths tied to the vaccine, but considering 42.5 million people have gotten both doses of the vaccine the odds of dying from the vaccine are way lower than dying from the disease it protects you from. I refuse to live in fear of a needle prick, wearing a piece of cloth over my face, or big numbers. I think we can be braver than that.
If you love Freedom and Liberty and Your Fellow American, wear a mask, get vaccinated if you can, and use some common fucking sense.