20 October 2009

Less Waste to Zero Waste

New York Times, October 20, 2009

At Yellowstone National Park, the clear soda cups and white utensils are not your typical cafe-counter garbage. Made of plant-based plastics, they dissolve magically when heated for more than a few minutes.

At Ecco, a popular restaurant in Atlanta, waiters no longer scrape food scraps into the trash bin. Uneaten morsels are dumped into five-gallon pails and taken to a compost heap out back.

And at eight of its North American plants, Honda is recycling so diligently that the factories have gotten rid of their trash Dumpsters altogether.

Across the nation, an antigarbage strategy known as “zero waste” is moving from the fringes to the mainstream, taking hold in school cafeterias, national parks, restaurants, stadiums and corporations.

The movement is simple in concept if not always in execution: Produce less waste. Shun polystyrene foam containers or any other packaging that is not biodegradable. Recycle or compost whatever you can.

Though born of idealism, the zero-waste philosophy is now propelled by sobering realities, like the growing difficulty of securing permits for new landfills and an awareness that organic decay in landfills releases methane that helps warm the earth’s atmosphere.

“Nobody wants a landfill sited anywhere near them, including in rural areas,” said Jon D. Johnston, a materials management branch chief for the Environmental Protection Agencywho is helping to lead the zero-waste movement in the Southeast. “We’ve come to this realization that landfill is valuable and we can’t bury things that don’t need to be buried.”

For the full article, click here.

10 October 2009

Becoming an eco-conscious ASL Teacher

One of the best things about ASL in the academic environment is that it requires less paper. Becoming an ASL teacher has helped me realize how eco-friendly this type of class can become...

By using ASL in the classroom...

-We reduce the use of paper and ink...
-We reduce noise pollution...
-We bring a sense of community with our ASL stories...
-And... we can use the language to bring knowledge about ecosystem and ecological conservatism to our future generations. Earlier this year, for example, the Gallaudet National Essay, Art, and ASL contest theme was "Going Green: What I'm Doing to Help Save the Environment" and deaf students from all over the nation participated in the ASL contest, signing their eco-messages.

Since becoming an ASL teacher, I've discovered that it is pretty easy to modify the classroom and teaching environment into a eco-one. Here are some examples of what I've done:

Instead of copying papers or printing text to give to students, I have them read their instructions on the projector screen and answer in ASL.
Instead of giving paper quizzes, I have them sign the answers (which I think makes them think constructively and remember more) on VoiceThread, a web-based interactive classroom where students comments are recorded into video through their iSight/webcam on their Macbook.
Most of the classroom decorations were gathered from other classroom's discarded pile of last year's decorations. My hallway passes are laminated so students use it over and over.
And the paper ones I must use, I reuse as scrap paper.
If I must print, I figure out how to double-side print things.
And, I try to bike to work everyday... being an eco-conscious and health-conscious role model for the students and staff. Many of my students have told me they thought it was "super cool" that I biked to work, which boosted my eco-ego. I love how eco-supportive our young generation is.

But... We also live in a world that's becoming more and more dominated by technology- I cringe just thinking about the amount of energy that my projector use to operate. The lights that we use in the classroom. The TV we use to watch ASL videos. The student's laptops. But I remind myself that these laptops are made by the eco-conscious Apple, and can be recycled into new ones. Can't always win with everything, but at least I try to use less energy.

And, the coolest thing?
A teacher found my email address through the EcoDeaf bio/profiles and encouraged me to apply for this job-- had EcoDeaf not existed, I would probably not have been so lucky to get a job like this one. Not only has EcoDeaf served as an information center for the ASL community, it brings people of similiar interests many opportunities!
Thank you, EcoDeaf!

07 October 2009

One World, Two Hands

Found this fabulous ASL song about our Earth on YouTube -
ASL Signer: Jesse Jones III
Background Signers: Julie Fisher & Bethany Hooten
English to ASL translation: Bethany Hooten
Camera Operator/Editor: Eric Calbert

06 October 2009

New Pizza Box

Pizza Box of the Future

Remember Raychelle's November 2007 vlog about bringing her own pan when picking up pizza orders? Pizza Goes in Pans not Boxes!

Thanks to Vee Koz, we see that there is another way to reduce waste when eating pizza!

Pizza Box of the Future

Pizza Box Of The Future
Introducing an environmentally friendly pizza box. Do you think this will ever catch on in the USA? I don't think so!

Regular Beef or Organic Beef?

Any thoughts on this "Growth Hormone Free Beef" commercial? I'm just thankful I'm a vegetarian :) But yes, that's how cattle, chickens, pigs, are treated - with growth hormones - capitalism at it's best.

Title: Birth
Director: Jeff Aron Lable
Production Company: Go Film
Contact: jlable@gmail.com
Producer: Marcus Cano
Director of Photography: Damian Acevedo
Client/Product: Naturalmarket.com/Hormone-free beef

02 October 2009

My First Experience in Foraging for Edible Mushrooms

Unidentified Mushrooms
Exploring the mushroom pile.

On Wednesday afternoon of September 30th 2009, it was my very first experience foraging for edible mushrooms with a friend who has experience in identifying different fungi. On the night before our mushroom hunt, my friend Potter gave me a batch of hen of the woods mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) also known as maitake to bring home and cook for dinner.

My very first question was, "How do you know if this mushroom is not poison?" Potter assured me that maitake mushrooms are not poison. He showed me the the information in the book entitled The Mushroom Book : How to Identify, Gather and Cook Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi written by Thomas Laessoe, Anne Del Conte, and Gary Lincoff.

So, I went home and cooked maitake mushrooms.

I battered maitake mushrooms in olive oil, salt, and a lot of pepper.

I prepared food for stir fry: Cabbage, hot pepper, green pepper, onion, ginger, and fried maitake mushrooms. I wish I had some fresh garlic cloves at that time.

This is what my dinner looked like after I finished cooking it.
It was so delicious!

After I cooked and ate wild maitake mushrooms discovered by Potter, I felt the spirits of ancestors awakening within me. It was the new sense of connection with Earth that I never felt before. I looked forward to foraging for edible mushrooms.

In the next day, I picked up Potter and we went to the Forest Lawn Cemetery and Richardson Complex in the city of Buffalo. The Forest Lawn Cemetery is a famous graveyard site in Western New York. A well known singer named Ricky James is buried there. Tourists from around the world visit the Forest Lawn to see his tombstone. The Forest Lawn Cemetery is known as the "old soil" which means their ground is virtually untouched for hundreds of years. We gathered some thyme from the ground while we hunted for mushrooms. We found maitake mushrooms, the same kind that I cooked on the night before, growing next to an oak tree. Potter was delighted that it weighed about five pounds. We put it in a bag and hunted for more mushrooms. We found several more mushrooms at the Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Then we went to the Richardson Complex ground that is not too far away from the cemetery. Richardson Complex is an abandoned "asylum for the insane" located right by Buffalo Psychiatric Center and Buffalo State College. Again, the ground around the buildings is very old so mushrooms are found everywhere. We gathered a few more mushrooms there. I also saw a ginkgo tree for the first time. I was really astonished when I saw a ginkgo tree growing in Buffalo because I thought they only grow in the land of China. I was told that Ginkgo fruits can be harvested in the beginning of the winter season. We foraged for mushrooms in the total of two and a half hours. I was really amazed to see how many mushrooms we found in such a little time. Potter brought home many mushrooms that we gathered to be studied and identified in his lab.

Here is a couple pictures of different mushrooms below. Some of the mushrooms in this post are not yet identified by Potter. Once I learn the names of the unidentified mushrooms, I will come back to this post and name them.

Hen of the Woods (Maitake) Mushrooms.
Found at the Forest Lawn Cementary

Unidentitifed mushrooms
Found at the Richardson Complex site.

Disclaimers and Warnings:

If you do not have an experience in foraging for edible mushrooms, please do not attempt to eat any of it until you consult a mushroom expert. Some mushrooms are poisonous that can make you very sick, hallucinate, or die from eating it.

If you are very interested in foraging for edible mushrooms, please find a mushroom expert in your area to go on a few field trips together before going on your own. Most mushroom experts do spore testings and rely on books for references to identify their fungi before consuming them. On the other hand, if you are planning not to consume any wild mushrooms, it is fun to drift around to discover mushroom piles and take pictures of them. It is a fun hobby to get down to Earth and appreciate what the nature has to offer.

I am very interested to hear about your experience in foraging for wild mushrooms if you have a tale to share.


Written by Anthony Brucato