Monday, April 24, 2006

It's TV Turnoff Week Boston!

Turn off TV and Turn on Life! Try it for one week, don't worry your couch, your TV and mass media will be waiting patiently for you!

This is a worldwide event publicized by The TV Turnoff Network and Adbusters.

Conscious Consuming is excited to be hosting three events in conjunction with TV Turnoff Week:

TV TURNOFF WEEK is April 24 - 30, 2006!

Tuesday 4/25: Join us at O'Naturals in Somerville(Davis Sq 187 Elm St) from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. We will be having our monthly meal at an establishment that has made some conscious consuming decisions of it's own instead of doing a potluck at someone's home. We will be featuring the founder of PC Turnoff Week as our guest speaker! Please join us for food, conversation and activity!

Wednesday 4/26: We are excited to host an open mic night at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge(403 Mass Ave). There will be music, poetry and a dash of activism from 7 - 9 p.m..

Thursday 4/27: Conscious Consuming social at the Lir Irish Pub in Back Bay (903 Boylston St, across from the Pru). Talk to and watch real people instead of televisions. Look for a guy wearing a black derby hat. Good place for jammers to assemble from 6 - 8 p.m. Some may do a TV B-Gone pub crawl afterwards.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What's in your shopping cart? Probably something GMO!

We all know that GMO = BAD. But who knows how to avoid them? It's one thing to not want to buy GMO food but it's another to know how!

With fruit and vegetables it's relativey easy. A five digit code beginning with a 9 signifies that it is organic(which means many good things, including not GMO!). Any four digit code is neither organic nor GMO(the midde ground). Any five digit code beginning with a 8 is GMO.

Now to the more complicated part. Aside from only buying organic and/or goods specifically labeled non-GMO, what can you do at the store? You might be asking, how many products could be affected/infected with GMO ingredients?

A whole lot! There are GMO ingredients in most sodas, cookies, breads, crackers, baking mixes, cereals, chocolate(candybars, chocolate chips, etc), ketchup, mayonnaise, salsa, soup mixes, even Gatorade, rice cakes and veggie burgers!

This list is extensive and it's right here.

I would imagine that most storebrands are GMO unless specifically labeled non-GMO or organic so the safest places to shop in the Boston area seem to be Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Wild Oats. There's also Boston Organics which delivers organic fruit, vegetables, fair trade coffee, bread, peanut butter and eggs.

So many factors to consider when we're shopping. GMO, Organic, Fair Trade, Local and of course - price. And let's not even get started on dining out - Oy Vay!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Clean Clothes and Kids

For those of you who want to incorporate your values in with your work with kids, this Clean Clothes Campaign might be of interest. This campaign run by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee aims to teach kids about sweatshops and has a few activities and resources for kids to do something about it.

Thanks to Susan T. for pointing me this way!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Got my Blackspot Sneakers from the Blackspot Anticorporation

Most of you probably know of Adbusters from their playful and often inspirational magazine and website. They've sold a few items for quite some time but they recently took things to a whole new level. They have created the Antipreneur. Although most things are still in the idea stage, they have successfully launched two types of shoes, both called Blackspot Shoes.

Blackspots are not your ordinary shoe. They are union-made in Portugal(meaning that they are fairly-traded), organic hemp upper(sustainable and environmentally friendly), soles from recycled tires(environment thing again) and biodegradable fake leather(environment one more time!). Of course, they're vegan too!

Each person purchasing their first pair receives a Blackspot Sneaker Shareholder Certificate. This entitles the shareholder to vote on what materials to use, where to manufacture the shoes, marketing, how to use profits, etc.

Until you get your own pair, here are the instructions for How to Uncool a Megacorporation:
1 Apply a helpful dot of red to the ass kicking sweet spot, right at the tip of the toe cap.
2 Slap a Blackspot on every last logo, brand name and trademark
3 Walk into a local indy store and tell the manager about the Blackspot-How we're trying to create a bottom-up, socially responsible cool in the sneaker industry. Then email Blackspot Sneakers with the retailer's specs and they'll follow-up
4 Blackspots start popping up all over the urban landscape - a sign of defiance, just like the anarchy symbol of yesteryear
5 15 second mindbombs start being aired on TV
That's the plan according to Adbusters. Go forth and uncool your sweatshop shoes and make them into something much, much cooler. A sign that you don't think union-busting, child labor using, below poverty paying sweatshops are cool and you're going to stop buying or displaying products from companies that use them!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Working World * Re-connecting producers and consumers

A coworker had brought The Working World to my attention a few months ago. The Working World is a non-profit that helps fund and market products from cooperatives and democratic workplaces.

They've created an online market for factories run by Argentina's autonomous workers movement. These factories had been shutdown by the owners and have been reclaimed by the workers who are now running them! You can select from glassware, shoes, shirts and balloons. When you select a particular item(my favorite is the balloons -they're awesome!), you can see and read about the factory and the workers. Each item also gives you a breakdown of where your money is going. For instance here is the breakdown on a nice button-down shirt for men:

Price: US$14.40

Cooperative receivesUS$9.00
Real middle man cost 2.25
Fund contribution1.80
Import Duties 1.35

It's quite a bargain for the average US consumer and quite a good flow-through to the workers - that's what I call a win-win! The only losers in this equation are the transnational corporations and the sweatshops that supply them!

So if you can't find locally produced or thriftstore balloons, glassware, shirts or shoes, I encourage you to shop through The Working World. Help some people who are helping themselves. Give a boost to globalization from below and strike a blow against sweatshop corporations with your most important vote - your hard-earned dollar!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Review of Gone Tomorrow Screening/Heather Rogers Talk

I went to the Lucy Parsons Center last night to see Gone Tomorrow and hear Heather Rogers talk about both her book and movie. Here's a link to the original post about the event. I wanted to post about a few of the things she discussed. She lives in Brooklyn so I don't know if she'll make it back up here anytime soon but she was a very engaging and knowledgable speaker, definitely reccomend checking her out if you have the opportunity.

The movie Gone Tomorrow - The Hidden Life of Garbage is short(19 minutes) but delivers alot in that brief time. It is also interesting to note that the movie was Heather's first project and inspired her to write a book of the same name which, using over 225 pages, explores the same topic in much more detail.

Here were some points that really stood-out:
  • Industry generates 70 tons of waste for every ton generated by consumers(consumer waste accounts for less than 1.5% of waste!)
  • Only 22% of plastic bottles get recycled(there is a limited market for them)
  • Industry has framed disposable goods as a litter issue not a waste issue.
  • 50 - 80% of computers recycled in the U.S. end-up in China
  • Most recycled goods are down-cycled, meaning they are changed into something of lesser grade or use during the recycling process.
  • Capitalism needs garbage.
  • Most businesses externalize costs onto the environment
  • Green businesses either cater to high-end consumers or go out-of-business.
Solutions? You want something positive to take away from this and possibly act on??? OK...
  • A fundamental cultural change to one of reduced consumption(like the Compact but with everyone participating!).
  • Framing the waste issue as both a social justice and an environmental issue, then acting on it accordingly
  • Increased product durability, recyclability and servicability