Friday, July 31, 2009

Fears of the future

This weekend I enter my mid 30s. And even though I am aging, my knees hurt in the mornings and my ten-month-old wears me out so fast, I have so much to be happy about. I am really in a good place as I near the mid point of my life. I have everything I've ever wanted. Yet I can't get over the fact that I worry about my daughter's future. And I worry all the time, and it's not just how will she pay for college or how many times her little heart will get broken. It's bigger than that.

Was it a good idea to bring a little life into this world? As I rocked my daughter to sleep for her morning nap and she clung to me like a little koala bear all snuggling into my chest I started to cry. If I'm lucky I will not live long enough to see the real horrors that will result from how our species has wrecked this planet. But she probably will. I try not to think of the super storms, floods, famines, droughts and plagues that will inevitably occur. I can't stand to think of her suffering. But unless our species makes huge changes, and makes them fast, all our children will suffer.

So as part of my blog makeover I have added to my sidebar shortcuts to my easy green living tips. They are small changes in lifestyle, very small, such as unplug your wall warts (the bulky chargers like the one attached to my lap top). Simple, easy, saves a ton of electricity. Or go organic on your property, it will keep hormones from pesticides out of the environment keeping future generations of children safe.

So for all the children you know, all the children in the world, give them a safe future. Please. It's time we stop whining about how we can't do without that AC turned on high, or our SUV that gets 14 MPG that we need to buy because we just had a child, or the fact that you must spray your lawn with chemicals to kill that one dandelion. It's not worth it. There's too much at stake.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

under construction

hang in there followers. I'm playing with HTML.....but YES, this is still the same look :)



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One thing for the planet: buy cereal in bags and not boxes

I've been eating a brand of corn flakes for about three years now that is packaged only in a bag, there's no box. I chose this brand, Nature's Path, because it's sweetened with fruit juice and not cane sugar (cane sugar seems to set off my Crohn's Disease). The lack of a box is a bonus.

For some reason I've never read much more on the bag then the ingredient list which is pleasantly short: organic corn meal, organic grape and/or pear juice concentrate, sea salt. There's nothing I can't pronounce or that my intestines haven't evolved to digest which I really like. But there's something else interesting on the bag I noticed this morning over my daily bowl: a link to, a website managed by the Environmental Defense Fund. Apparently, according to this website, Nature's Path's products without boxes have saved more than:

  • 437 tons of paper board
  • 1,389,323 pounds of CO2
  • 7,464 million BTUs of energy
  • 826,542 gallons of wastewater
  • 248, 383 pounds of diverted solid waste

So next time you need your cereal fix look for products packaged without a box. If you don't want to shell out extra for organic there are conventional cereals out there such as generic brands of Cheerios and corn flakes that come in just a bag. Most regular grocery stores carry them, they're usually on the bottom shelf. Give them a shot and think of all the good you will be doing!

And if you work in and office that uses a lot of paper (which I don't) play around with, it was pretty fun even though I didn't benefit much. Doing paper work and sitting still is low on the list of my priorities while at the aquarium...but hopefully our paper purchaser is being mindful when they place their order.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ipswich Farmers' Market, growing mantids, and a teaser carrot

I finally managed to get down to our local farmers' market. It didn't get going until two weeks ago and we've been away so this was the first week I made the three block walk to buy my local honey. Marshview Apiary from right here in Ipswich is always there and that's right where I headed. Processed cane sugar sets off my Crohn's Disease, and it tends to be hard to avoid since cane sugar is in everything. So, I've figured out how to cook and bake with honey and I'd rather get it from Eric and Irene Josephson then from the store. Here's my husband shelling out $6.75 for 16 ounces, total bargain!

We indulged in a pint of blueberries and four amazing cucumbers from the stall next door. Sadly the blueberry bushes at Green Meadows Farm where our CSA share comes from are infected with a fungus and we can't pick any this year. And my one little bush in the backyard has only yielded 25 berries so far (but twice as many as last year!)

The best part about the day was when I got home I played a bit in my Monsanto Sucks, Michelle Obama Rocks Organic Garden. My ten tomato plants are now well over six feet tall and are loaded with little green tomatoes. I harvested a few zucchini, and just for fun I held my breath and pulled up one of my carrots just to check their progress. I was expecting a tiny little root but look! I've never grown carrots before and now I'm wishing I had! My husband and I split it, it was delicious. Only sun, water and Neptune's Harvest fish emulsion went into it and it's was just as good if not better than anything I've tasted from the store.

Then I poked around to check on my mantids and I found one amongst the green beans. It was twice as big as last week and I'm glad it survived the three inches of rain and high winds we got Friday morning. The garden looked like a tornado went through!

I'll pull up another carrot next week, now I'm getting impatient, especially since I have about 100 growing....that yummy baby carrot was such a tease!

For more virtual farmers' markets visit the Farmers' Market Challenge at The Road to Here.

Farm share soup

Squirrel Queen at The Road to Here has posted a challenge to encourage people to buy produce locally from a farmer's market or a local farm stand. The farmer's market down the street from us is regrettably small, last week they only had six stands and only two of them were selling produce. And what they had for sale was mostly what I had already picked up the previous Tuesday at Green Meadows Farm for our weekly CSA farm share, my love of which I shared with you all last month. So for SQ's Farmer's Market Challenge I'm going to focus on what I did with my farm share, and what I do with it almost every week: I make soup.

I LOVE soup. I could eat it every day, even in the summer when it's hot. The first summer my husband and I did a farm share was in 2006 and I was sadly too sick to eat all the produce. I've lived with Crohn's Disease since I was 14 ( lived, I will not say suffered, because if you suffer it's only because you let it get to you) So it's been about 19 years that I haven't been able to indulge in a bowl of popcorn, or smear crunchy peanut butter on a lap full of celery. A salad is often something I gaze at in wonder as other people with "healthy" guts shovel it in their mouths.

Generally I've been healthy for the past 19 years, I've never had surgery, I currently don't treat my illness with anything except acupuncture (the side effects of Crohn's meds are often worse than the disease). But I'm still left with the problem of getting my veggies. So I blend them.

The first time we came home with two full shopping bags of local organic produce from Green Meadows in 2006 I thought, "How on earth am I going to help Brian eat this?" I was having a relapse and had already lost 10 pounds. After experimenting we came up with this recipe for what we call Farm Share Soup. Or sometimes just Green Soup, since it usually comes out some shade of green.Basically the recipe is put in whatever you can or want. My rule is to have a variety of colors, different colors generally mean different vitamins and minerals. This week here's what I did:

-one kohlrabi
-one turnip
-one shallot
-one garlic scape (the curly thing in the photo)
-one sweet potato (not actually part of this week's share, it was purchased)
-a bunch of radishes
-two frozen blocks of spinach from previous weeks.
-a summer squash
-a box of Trader Joe's chicken broth (you can also use veggie, but I like the extra protein)
-about a half cup plain yogurt
-I usually like to add a whole fennel bulb and carrots but I didn't have any on hand.
-pinch of salt
-pinch of pepper
-pinch of coriander

Chop up all veggies and add to pot with broth and spices, boil into submission (to aid in my digestion). Then blend in a blender. Add more broth to thin if you'd desire. Add the yogurt, stir and eat! Yummy! This batch came out a pale shade of green, sometimes it's more orange, sometimes not.

The recipe changes according to the season. In the fall I add more potatoes, turnips and pumpkin. Late in the summer more squash. Sometimes I put in coconut milk since there's evidence it's beneficial for Crohn's disease (and tastes yummy!) There are no rules except trying to add lots of color and coming up with flavors you like. And the best part is I'm getting an insane amount of veggie goodness without the Crohn's-related issues and I freeze a jar from every batch so we can have farm share soup all winter too!

Bon apetite!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Favorite photo challenge: thanks for playing!

When I issued my Favorite Photo Challenge a few days ago I never dreamed how much fun I would have and how much I would learn about some of my followers. The stories behind the photos posted on the following blogs are really worth a read:

DJan at D-Jan-ity: camping solo in Peru

Rae at Weather Vane : a beach pre-911

Squirrel Queen at Through Squirrel's Eyes : camp games with the whole world

AL at Caramel Macchiato : a photo illusion

Susan at Ripples of Kindness : children and wildlife

Thanks to the above fabulous bloggers for taking the challenge! -kate

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sky photo challenge: being put in my place

Ripples of Kindness has posted a challenge:

"Not unlike humans, the sky is often referred to as "angry, dark, blue, cloudy, happy, clear, etc.
If you have a photo showing the sky personified, please post your link. I’d be interested in seeing what emotion you caught with your camera when you looked up at the sky."

I took this photo on Matinicus Rock, about 20 miles off the Downeast Maine coast. I was out there on this tiny island - mainly inhabited by terns, puffins and razorbills - as a volunteer for the National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Project, otherwise known as Project Puffin. It was my third summer doing a two-week stint observing puffins, banding them, and trying to dodge angry tern parents while moving about the island. I had witnessed lots of interesting weather phenomenons over the three summers I spent there, including the Northern Lights. However, this photo captured the coolest phenomenon I saw.

A front moved through from the west and this line of clouds in the picture came over us, according to our weather instruments, at about 70 miles an hour. It was so low to the ground I swear if I had climbed to the top of the lighthouse I would have been able to touch it. The emotion I experienced was one of being put in my place by Mother Nature. "Don't be complacent" she was telling me, "never take a peaceful sky for granted."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My pest-eating army: praying mantids hatch!

I love coming home to my garden after a week away. Especially when that week away was a sunny one and the previous three were wet. That means the tomatoes had grown up to my shoulders - and I'm not a short woman.

and the zucchini leaves were bigger than my head!

The best part though was my three praying mantid egg cases hatched sometime while I was gone. I ordered these back in early June along with 4,500 ladybugs, their job was to eat the
aphids infesting my "Monsanto sucks, Michelle Obama Rocks Organic Garden". Well, the lady bugs mostly took off after a few days, but the praying mantids are still hanging out nearly a week after being released. This is one of my little mantid soldiers a few days after hatching:

I opened the jar they hatched in, placed it under the bean plants and they crawled out on their own. I bet there were at least one hundred in there!

They can jump surprisingly far and they really do hunt in that jerky style you see on the nature shows. And, the best part is, when they see prey they turn their head very slowly and deliberately then move those little saw-like arms so fast you barely even notice until you see them devouring their prey. I shall try to catch it on video.

It will be fun seeing them grow to full size. I admit though, that when harvesting my first crop of organic green beans last night in the near-darkness I was really afraid of squishing one. I seem to have evolved an attachment to these alien-like creatures in a way that I didn't with the ladybugs. Perhaps because they've stuck around and didn't take off. Perhaps because they seem to have personality (can an insect have personality?) They accepted their marching orders and really are doing their jobs.

Next spring I'll order them a month sooner!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My favorite picture: Pushkin, Russia 1993

Of all the pictures that you've ever taken, going way back to your first camera, what's your favorite?

I took this, my favorite, in February of 1993 as a high school senior on a class trip to a newly democratic Russia. I was in Pushkin on my way back from Catherine the Great's insanely luxurious Summer Palace (I quickly understood the 1917 peasant revolution after being told that everything that glitters is gold) when I saw this boy peering at us Americans through his window. It must have been a new experience for him to see so many Americans after not seeing many outsiders for so much of his young life.

I wonder where he is now, he must be in his late 20s and has probably moved far away from his home like so many Russian men. I wonder what it must have been like to grow up near one of the richest palaces in Europe, surprisingly still gilded in real gold after decades of Communism. I love the look on his face in the photo. It's total innocence, kindness, curiosity and pleasure at holding his cat all rolled into one expression. I think he is a beautiful child.

What's your favorite photo in your collection? It can be new, old, digital, print film, black and white or color. Doesn't matter, it just needs to be your favorite. Post yours and send me a link in my comment section and I'll link back to them all in a later post.


Friday, July 17, 2009

"A room without books is like a body without a soul" -Cicero

Cicero sure was right. Even back around 70 BC when he said that. I have books in every room of my house. I try to reduce my consumption of other objects and gadgets in my life so I can splurge on my love of books. I blame my parents for my book-hoarding gene, they both have large collections. My mother practically has her own lending library, I often leave her house with an arm full of a dozen or more.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a few followers who also love the smell of a book. Think about that. The smell of a book? Next time you walk past a used book store pop in for a moment and inhale. What do you smell? I smell memories of curling up in a hammock on a fall day with Nancy Drew, my old copy of Goodnight Moon I probably chewed to death as a toddler, trudging through the Brothers Karamazov trying not to lose track of the characters... Books have one of the best scents ever.

A big part about my trying to live more mindfully is to be aware of the things that I would otherwise normally forget about. Reading a good book is more than just the words: it's the smell of the paper, the feel of the paper, the weight of it, the soft sound the page makes as I turn it, the pressure the corner of the hard binding makes in my stomach as I lie on the couch transfixed by the characters.

I don't think I will ever download a book and read it on a screen. I feel like that's somehow cheating. I don't care if I can carry one hundred novels around on my laptop when I can only cram two or three in carry-on luggage. I just don't ever want to be without the smell, feel and other sensations a book gives you while reading it.

Likewise I have similar feelings about my ipod. I miss vinyl. I am actually old enough to covet the sensation of opening up the book-like cover of a double album, hearing the creak of the cardboard, admiring the art and reading the words covering every square inch. Then slipping out its papery sleeve releasing the scent of 70s, feeling the grooves of the recording on the vinyl. Finally balancing the needle on the record as you start to hear the crackles of the empty space before the music starts.

As technology replaces books and records I will hold on to my old-time collections. And I will gladly lug around a two pound copy of Harry Potter in hardcover. The day my copies of book seven arrived on the porch with a thug (we ordered TWO copies so my husband and I could read it at the same time) I ran out and thanked the mail man. He said, "I've been carrying a lot of those around today" with grimace. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who still loves a book, and a long long one at that. Are you also sad when a good book ends? That's why I keep so many of them around. It's nice to know that I can visit the characters again whenever I want.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

less stuff

I heard on NPR last night that if you converted the square footage of the nation's self- storage facilities into acres they would cover the entire city of San Fransisco and the island of Manhattan. Do we really need so much stuff that it overflows out of our already large (compared to the rest of world) houses?

My husband and I generally don't buy a lot of stuff. We have two weaknesses: books and gear. We love books. We love their smell, their feel.. I'm rarely without a book in the bag I take to and from work. I'd be happy if the walls of our house were lined with books just so I could gaze at their titles.

For gear we've got rock climbing ropes and gizmos, SCUBA gear, four bikes, ten surfboards, cross country skis, a snowboard, three kayaks and a canoe. But, we actually use all this stuff. To make up for our hoarding of books and gear we only have one small TV, a fairly small house with a tiny lot, and almost all of our modest collection of baby stuff is hand-me-down. And we still have plenty of storage in our small attic.

A friend recently started bugging us about our TV. It's old, it's small, and my husband found it on someone's porch. It works fine. Our friend told us we should by a new plasma screen and mount it on the wall. I honestly don't see the point. We don't need a new TV so why should we buy one?

A lot of Americans over the past few decades buy things because they want them. Over consumption has become a disease. As a society we really need to rethink what we need and what we want. If you treat yourself to something you want on occasion, as opposed to every day, then you will appreciate your possessions so much more. Plus, if you don't buy all that stuff you don't need you'll probably have less debt, more savings, and you can spend your extra cash on traveling to new places. And memories only require storage in your brain, not in a rented 10x8 storage unit.

Reduce Footprints has posed a challenge to all its followers to go on a "no spending diet" for a week: " ... don't buy anything new (except for food, health and safety products). No new clothes ... no new shoes ... no new gizmos or gadgets ... forget about a new car, new furniture or new appliances ... nothing new for one week! "

I propose to expand that challenge and make it a daily practice. Do you really need that new 60" TV, or those shoes you'll probably wear once, or that shiny new upgrade to your one-year-old ipod or cell phone? The last time I replaced my cell phone it was because it went for a swim in my biggest jellyfish exhibit. And I recycled the old one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

pass on the left, please!

One a recent drive down to Cape Cod and back I almost lost it. I don't know if I'm just getting older and less tolerant or if people truly are driving more and more like self centered maniacs. Cape Cod attracts people from all the surrounding states and you really can see the different terrible driving habits of every New England region when they come together in this melting pot of a sand dune.

I'm making some blanket statements here, and I know I'll offend someone, but these are the general bad driving habits according by New England State:

Massachusetts: my home state. People born and raised here pass on the left, on the right, in the middle... Basically they have no respect for the rules of the highway lanes. People: PASS ON THE LEFT!! It actually says this in the Massachusetts driving manual:

"• Stay to the right and only use the left lane for passing. If you are traveling on an expressway with three or more lanes in your direction, treat the far right lane as a slower-speed through lane, the middle lane as a faster through lane, and the far left lane as the passing lane."

I am sick and terrified of people in their giant SUVs tearing up on my right going 80 miles an hour. That is the SLOW lane. I've taken to parking myself in the far right lane and doing just over the speed limit to block this behavior. Not only is it unnerving to be passed in the slow lane but it's extremely dangerous. It's actually recently illegal in Kansas and hopefully will become so everywhere else soon.

Believe it or not parts of route 93 and 128 actually allow travel in the breakdown lane during rush hour. I had forgotten about this until my nightmare commute to Cape Cod last Monday evening. Instead of using the lane for a bit of extra room, people were using it to get past everyone else and they weren't nice or slow about it. So I pulled my classic maneuver and went 60 in the breakdown lane as far as it was allowed. I really pissed off a lot of people but it calmed the whole commute down.

People from Massachusetts also tailgate. And they're often nice people. Many of my friends tailgate. I think they're just clueless. Also extremely dangerous. I was taught a minimum of one car length per ten miles and hour. So if you're going 60 there should at least be six car length between your front grill and my rear bumper, NOT THREE.

Maine: People in Maine generally drive really fast. Having spent a lot of time going from place to place in Maine I can see why. Popping out to the local pizza place for take out could take you a half hour drive. I'm OK with them speeding since they're generally nice about it, don't tailgate often and rarely pass on the right.

New Hampshire: Live free or die. It actually says that on their license plates. They don't much like people telling them what to do. I don't often see a NH plate tailgating me, but they tend to plant themselves in the passing lane and stay there no matter how fast they're driving. Most of the New Hampshire plates I see are hightailing it back over the border on the way home from their Massachusetts jobs. They love to complain about us Mass-holes to the south, and yet most of them work here.

Connecticut: Drivers from Connecticut are serious weavers. They'll pass you anyway they can and get real real mad when they can't find a way around you.

Rhode Island: Also serious weavers but have no idea what a turn signal is. I think they've had them all removed. Oh, and they speed too.

Vermont: I honestly can't say most Vermonters do anything obviously wrong. On occasion one might tailgate or pass on the right, but for the most part they're nice, lawful drivers. I'd move there in a second if they had salt water.

So the moral of this post is to please be mindful while driving. Take a deep breath and say to yourself "If I weave in and out of traffic, pass in the slow lane and ride three inches off the next guy's bumper will I really get there faster?" Probably not. A few months ago my husband was tailgated out of our town by an impatient driver who then weaved dangerously in and out of traffic on 128 all the way to the same exit my husband got off at. Then the guy pulled into the same office parking lot and they actually rode the elevator up to their floor together. My husband bit his tongue the whole way up....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The tools of my Aquarist trade

I made a promise to Rae at Weather Vane that I would accept her challenge to do a post about the tools of my trade after she posted a fantastic blog about her nursing tools. My trade is an unusual one. I'm a Senior Aquarist. A WHAT? An aquarist: "a person who keeps or maintains an aquarium." My aquarium is a pretty big one, we have a 200,000 gallon center tank with three sand tiger sharks bigger than me. Penguins, fur seals, jellies, shorebirds, electric eels, harbor seals, sea turtles, poison arrow name it.

My specific job includes caring for the jellies and shorebirds. My upside down jellies tank is pictured above, the jellies are the things way in the front of the frame on the bottom. I've been working here ("here" since I'm currently on my lunch break - yes, I unfortunately work Sundays) for 12 years. I literally have the job I've wanted, where I wanted, since I could say the word "marine biologist". I grew up staring at the divers in our 200,000 gallon tank and telling my parents that "I wanna do that someday!" And I am.

Diving in that huge tank with those enormous, yet puppy-dog, sharks is not in my daily duty list. But we all have to go in there on occasion to keep our dive skills current. And yes, I swam into a shark once. I swore it looked at me and thought, "stupid human".

Today, my tasks took me through my daily check in to make sure everyone was alive, all the pumps were running and there were no fires or floods. Coming into a flood first thing after a week's vacation would really have ruined my day, yet it has happened. Then I cleaned the giant litter box that is my shorebird exhibit. Then I caught up and checked a bird's swollen foot for pododeramatitis, she seemed fine. Then I took a shower since I rolled out of bed and jumped in the car at 6:30 AM for the drive straight to work from my mother's beach house. And now I'm writing this blog and eating a tasty burrito from our cafe.

In my daily tasks I use the following tools (clicking on the picture will enlarge it):

- From the top you'll see a pair of PCV cutters, a torpedo level and a pipe wrench. Aquarists are also plumbers, and no I did not learn to plumb in college, but I'm quite good at it. How do you think we run all the pipe to and from our tanks, pumps and filters? We do it ourselves.
-In the next row is a scrub brush, a trowel, an air stone and a net. All things I use while cleaning my giant litter box of a bird exhibit. Imagine having nine cats and you'll know what it's like.
-Next to that is a scale which I use to weigh the birds, frogs, and whatever needs a weight check. And the ubiquitous Sharpie and ball point pen that always live in my pocket to label pipes, record temps, weights, feeds etc...
-To the right of the pens are two temperature measuring devices: a digital stick thermometer for water temps and a digital temp/humidity gauge for air temps and exhibit humidity, humidity is very important with birds and frogs.
-In the bottom row from the left are my Keen waterproof and covered-toe sandals. Keen gives them to us for free every year, they are a great company and we all wear them, even at home!
-Next to my Keens are a flour sifter for cleaning my mealworms supply and a cutting board for cutting up carrots for the mealworms.
-To the right of that are my keys and ID.
-Next to my keys are a tank chart and a spray bottle. These are for our African Bullfrog, where we record his temperature, humidity (hence the sprayer, ideally we want it up above 90 %), and when we change his water and offer him yummy crickets.
-Lastly is a pair of dive gloves. This is a small representation of my dive gear which I have safely stashed in my locker. I love my dive gear, I have a purple theme to it so everyone knows it's mine.

Missing from this photo is my cell phone which I always have in my pocket since we stopped using radios years ago. We kept dropping the radios in the tanks so they were taken away. I've dropped my cell phone in the water twice, it's insured. Without it I have no way to call someone when I get locked in my bird exhibit, which happens more than it should.
Now that you have a bit of an idea how I spend my day I'm going to go clean my mealworm supply. Yummy. I just ate too.....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kreative Blogger Award

In a few hours I am taking off for what will hopefully be a sun-filled and relaxing week on Cape Cod with my family. The last thing I want to do before I go is to pass off this award that was given to me by Rae at Weather Vane. Rae has turned into one of my favorite bloggy friends. She's quite prolific, churning out a thought-provoking and often tear-jerking (in a happy way) blog every morning. I look forward to her posts, they always brighten my day! This is by far the most fun award I've passed on yet!

Here are the STEPS of this Award:

(1) Thank the person who nominated you for this award.

(2) Copy the logo and place it on your blog.

(3) Link to the person who nominated you for this award.

(4) Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.

(5) Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.

(6) Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.

(7) Leave a comment on each of the blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

Please visit these seven super creative blogs if you have a moment :)

A Scarlet Shutter : Beverly Hamilton Wenham is the most creative person I know. She takes photos, she writes, she paints....I get exhausted thinking about it!

Muse in Kansas : A blog I just started following. Deborah also paints and takes amazing photos!

THE BLACKBUS.... / A solitude of Hermits : Hermit Andy posts his photo blog of the Scottish Highlands on both of his sites. I like to sort through his images when I need a moment of pause.

truepenny inc. : Ana always comes up with something crazy, thought provoking or just funny. She's been quiet (busy) so urge her to start posting again! :)

Musings from the Texas Hill Country : photos, garden stories, sunsets....Lynn's got it all.

Notes from the Field : the blog journal of filmmakers in the Kalahari shooting lions at night - with a camera, not a gun. The doodles added by Lulu Labonne make this one of my favorite blogs to visit.

CARAMEL MACCHIATO : my most recent blog friendship. AL posts beautiful pictures and amazing stories from across the world in the Philippines.

OK, so seven interesting things about me:
1) I have the job I've wanted since I was three years old (marine biologist), and at the place I grew up always wanting to work (a public aquarium). Numerous kids tell me everyday how cool my job is and yet I'd rather be home with my own kid instead.
2) I'm an accomplished salsa dancer.
3) I wish I was an accomplished surfer, but I generally fall off a lot. But what I lack in skill I make up for in enthusiasm.
4) I can't live more than ten miles from the ocean or I get claustrophobic.
5) I named my cat Jacques Cousteau (we call him Jack)
6) My grandmother once told me that traveling is the best education you can get and I try to visit as many foreign places as I can to learn how others live.
7) One of my biggest fears is flying which makes following my grandmother's advice tricky, but I do it anyway.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Lonely Stainless Steel Water Bottle Has Friends! Go BPA-free!

Until a few years ago I always drank out of a #7 polycarbonate plastic water bottle. One went everywhere with me. The first one I owned I purchased fourteen years ago before I took off to Africa for the summer. By the end of a long hot day in a baking Land Cruiser the water in that thing was at least 80 degrees. I drank it anyway. It tasted like plastic. I didn't think then about the mess that plastic-tasting water could be doing to my endocrine system.

A few years ago I read the haunting book Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peter Myers. It goes into great detail about the history of hormone disrupting chemicals, mainly PCBs, DDT and bisphenol-A, which you may have heard referred to in the news recently as BPA.

Before I even finished the book I ran out and purchased a Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle
(seen to the left), hopefully
minimizing my exposure to BPA, the chemical used in hardened plastics and pretty much every plastic reusable water bottle (including mine) on the market. Plus it's used as a liner in metal food cans and cardboard baby formula containers. For a long time I was the only one at work who owned on. My prankster coworkers used to make fun of it, sinking it in some of our holding fish tanks and hiding it in bags of collected seaweed. One time they even hung it from a pipe on the ceiling with a cable tie. I took me three days before I could track it down even though I probably walked under it a hundred times.

Then slowly, one by one, more stainless steel water bottles appeared around the building.
I decided to do an experiment a few weeks ago to see how many I could find. I grabbed a bucket and started going from office to office, lab to lab and through the volunteer lounge. On a short-staffed Monday, in only about ten minutes, I rounded up eleven besides mine. When I went to return them after the photo shoot I saw four more up in the Research lab attached to backpacks piled up and ready to go on a collection dive. I'll have to do it again on a day when the whole staff is around. I bet I could find a few dozen.

A quick walk through our gift shop later that day reveled that we no longer sell plastic water bottles, even the BPA-free ones. All the water bottles we now sell sporting our aquarium's logo are stainless steel. Hooray!

So my lonely stainless steel water bottle now has friends. It makes me glad to know that most of my coworkers are trying to watch what they put in their bodies. We can't avoid all man-made chemicals, but we can do our best. Hopefully I'll never find it attached to a pipe ten feet off the floor again.

My local Representative, Ed Markey, is trying to get a BPA ban through congress. He was recently quoted as saying:

“It is clear that BPA poses serious health risks, especially to children,” said Rep. Markey. “Chicago’s decision adds to the momentum building across the country in support of a nationwide ban. Congress should quickly ban this toxin from all food and beverage containers so that parents can feed their children without worrying about poisonous chemicals.”

The BPA industry is of course pushing back, even trying to use a pregnant woman as a spokesperson. But this recently pregnant woman isn't buying it. I'll stick with the stainless steel for me and glass baby bottles for my kid.