Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fig - towards sustainable urban living

My friend, Ms. Craptina, brought this great little web site to my attention. If you're interested in some sustainable living/life simplifying tips I highly recommend checking out Fig. This looks like Fig's first issue. Hopefully there will be plenty more to come.

Fig's winter issue offered some advice for the holidays, and alternatives to wrapping paper, which typically isn't recyclable, and obviously increases garbage output by a ridiculous amount every December. They've also got links to sites, like a sustainable/eco friendly hardware store, which I happen to find way cool! And there are restaraunts and community-building sites listed as well.

But - my absolute favorite aspect of the site is the article "Day Tripper." This article listed a great place to visit using mass transit, within two hours of NYC, and for a round trip price of $20 (plus any food/entertainment you may supply yourself with). New Dream has articles about eco-friendly trips as well. I love to travel, but always feel terrible about the damage done by car exhaust and even worse, jet fuel. So these articles are great for me. I like to know that I can still travel without causing as much damage (and for less $$)!

And, yes, that is a picture of figs...not very creative...I'll do better next time.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I miss Tripp!

He's in LA for work for a week! A freaking week!

I just want to listen to the Pixies over and over and over . . . Here comes your man. . . here comes your maaaaaaaaan......

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our wedding - this is a form of therapy for me, or torture. Either way:

That's during our toast...

That's us being so in love you probably just want to throw up on your shoes...

......just marriaged....

Aaaaah, the honeymoon - lots of sex, lots of food, what more could you ask of life?

I'm going to pout now.

You can tell just how much of my time Tripp takes up when he's home by the number of posts I've made since he left. More than in any other month. I don't like it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

China Blue - go see it!

China Blue, a documentary, playing for the next week at Anthology Film Archives and other theatres across the US, covers the lives of workers in a denim factory in China over the course of several weeks. The best thing about the film is that it is from the point of view of the workers, they narrate the film. No middleman narrator putting a spin on things.

You can find out more about the film and where it's playing at the Teddy Bear Films web site.

Also, here is an article from BusinessWeek Online about Wal-Mart and their "inspections" of Chinese factories. The link can also be found on the Teddy Bear Films web site.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Living Simple

Okay, so I'm trying to live my life more "simply". As in, in every way I can think of. This is something I've sort of always done without actually realizing what I was doing until other people pointed this aspect of myself out to me. I've always tried to keep things simple, I don't like drama, and I'm not into fancy cars, in fact, a fancy car doesn't make me turn my head, I couldn't possibly care less. I don't like flashy new hi-tech gadgets, "Oooh, the new iPhone!", I don't care about jewelry, or luxury clothing. Never have. But now I'm actually actively seeking out living simply now.

Things I'm now doing:
- Tripp (the husband) and I don't own a car. And if it remains up to me, we will never own a car. If we happen to move somewhere that makes owning a car an absolute must, I would only buy a hybrid or a car that runs on diesel so that we could use unprocessed grease instead. This would of course require planning and I'm aware of that.
- I did not own a TV but once Tripp and I moved in together I became the owner of a television by default. I'm not a fan.
- There are times when I do like to buy clothes, sweatshop free only now, but for the most part I'm not a big shopper. I don't usually feel any urge to buy superfluous things. Buying an iPod was really the biggest splurge I've ever allowed myself.
- Try to spread the word to friends and family about the value of spenging less money and spending more time doing things you actually love.

Thins I want to do:
- There is someone on New that has made a vow to keep the thermostat off until November, and then they only turn ot up to 48 degrees. 48 degrees!! I thought I was being so good with keeping the thermostat at 65, below the average 72, and here's this guy keeping his house at 48 degrees! Clearly my thermostat is not as eco/financially friendly as it could be. I need to improve here, but I don't know if I'm quite ready for 48 degrees.
-I need to shop even less than I do for clothing. My problem is that I won't shop for anything for months, and then all of a sudden I'll realize I really, really need to replace my worn out stuff. That doesn't seem all that bad, but I could probably work on this. A big problem is finding well-made, durable clothing that is sweatshop free and not obscenely expensive.
- Stop my frigging family from spending $1,000 dollars or more every Christmas on presents! Initially all of their spending makes me angry and I want to retaliate against it. Instead I feel the need to shop more for them to make up for how much they are spending on me. It's a ridiculous, stupid cycle. Next year I'll have more resolve. Damn it.

There are definitely other things I could do, and I'll make note of them as I think of them. And this isn't all about, "Oh, I'm going to save the environment!" Honestly, I believe it's too late to really stop the damage we've done to the planet as a whole, but I'm also not a fatalist so I just keep trying.

Living more simply is really about reevaluating my life and how I think and behave. Sometimes I'm amazed to realize how much of my thinking is really affected by modern society. And because of the society I grew up in. Meeting people from different places across the globe really makes you realize how you can think as an "American" and how American mentality is really so different from the mentality of other people across the world. Some people would not believe how much food we throw away because, well, we just don't want it. Or how quickly we replace things that aren't even broken, or that could easily be repaired. Seeing how little other people not only survive on, but actually thrive on, has made me aware of how little I actually need in order to survive and be happy. Thus, I am becoming more serious about my simplicity.

Some things that don't require lots of shopping and money that bring me the most happiness/fun:
- Filling our planters in our backyard in the spring. This past spring was the first time I was able to do this and it was SO relaxing and enjoyable I was actually surprised. Not to mention how proud I was when things actually grew! I paid for some soil and seedlings and then I was off. No pesticides or gross chemical stuff either.
- Dancing with my girlfriends. Granted, I do usually spend some money on booze, but I'm a bit of a light weight so I never really have to spend too much. And then the dancing until 4am is an amazing release of tension, and it makes me feel good. No one loses there.
-Books, books, books, a lot of books. In fact I am out of books to read now. I'm reading the last few stragglers that I never actually intended to read because I had to go a week without any books at all and then I just couldn't take it anymore. The funny thing is I actually am really enjoying these books I never intended to open.

So many ways to live simply, I just haven't thought of all of them yet. If you happen to be into living a simpler lifestyle feel free to fill me in on the ways that you've simplified your own life. I'm always open to new things.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New American Dream

Dear fellow bloggers,

If you:

a.) are concerned about the environment
b.) are an obsessive recycler
c.) freaking hate junk mail because it's a waste of your time and a waste of landfill space
d.) don't buy into the whole, "Oooh, I'm an American, my favortie activities include buying things and piling up credit card debt," mentality
e.) like organizing things like book swaps, clothing swaps, and other community building activities
f.) love the holidays because you get to spend time with loved ones, NOT because of the shopping mania
g.) want to meet other people who are into points a.-f.

you should definitely check out the New American Dream web site.

The New American Dream is an organization that promotes, well, a new "American Dream". In short, it's a web site full of resources for people who don't buy into American "consumerism". Most of our culture promotes buying things as a means to "finding yourself", giving you fulfillment, and making you happy. Television is full of commercials telling you how much happier you'd be with this new shiny car, that bigger house, a new flat screen television....the list goes on.

Well if you are like me, and you don't think that a new pair of shoes will really give your life more meaning, you might find this site a valuable resource. New American Dream offers information, web sites, contacts, petitions, and more to help you live your life in a more meaningful way, by spending time with the people you care about, doing things you enjoy, and overall improving your quality of life. It sounds cheesey, but seriously, do you really want to spend the rest of your life working 50-60 hours a week so you can pay off your credit cards, mortgages, and whatever other kind of debt we can manage to compile in your pursuit of shopping happiness? I don't!

You can set up an account on New Dream, post a picture, search for New Dreamers by location or interests, and send emails to other New Dreamers (kind of MySpaceish only without the pedophiles and annoying bands). This is really useful if you're trying to organize something in your neighborhood, say a food co-op, a yard sale (everyone on this site LOVES second-hand goods since it cuts down on waste from production and it's less expensive than shopping at the mall) or some kind of public event.

There are also discussion forums on lots of great topics. You can even find really good book reviews and local events.

The greatest, most wonderful feature of the New Dream web site is that they have a database of forms (both electronic and paper) that are addressed to the appropriate people/offices to remove yourself from junk mail lists! I removed myself from every single junk mail list that New Dream has listed and after about two months the amount of junk mail I received dropped, a lot. I hardly get any junk mail at all now, which makes me happy. It also keeps my recycling bin empty.

Take a look, and if you like the site let me know!