green stuff

I’ve talked about this before and back off when push came to shove because I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it.  I wanted to badly to say ‘hey this isn’t about you’ and yet stand firm in my dissent.   I understand that that people involved in this discussion are people that care who are trying to do the right thing.  This isn’t about them.  This is about an industry and a culture that’s evolved to create demand for consumer goods.

Palm oil as a whole is not sustainable.

Yes I know this debate is getting old but give me a minute.  You know the blue jar of paint I’m trying to sell you is blue and not green despite its label because you can see it’s blue.  Despite the fact that they all look the same, you know the apples you purchased are local because you spoke to the man who grew them.   What about things that look the same but come from someplace you can’t see, someplace you don’t know how do you know?  There are governmental agencies and third party certifying bodies.  They know what they’re doing so you can take them at their word, right?

All third parties are not created equal.  So which ones do you trust?  That’s up to everyone to decide for themselves.  Personally, organizations funded by an industry are viewed skeptically.  They’re trying to do the right thing, but at the same time they need to make a profit.  The RSPO (The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm) talks about making palm oil production sustainable.   To an extent this is possible.  Environmental mitigation can be put in place (although I’m not sure if it has been) for plantations and production facilities already in existence, but that’s not the real issue.

The issue is rooted in the demand for palm oil.  Palm oil is in everything from food, to cosmetics and detergents.  Farmers in Southeast Asia are clearing huge sections of rainforest to grow the palm species used in palm oil production.  I don’t think there’s anyone who would argue this is sustainable.

What can consumers do about this?  Find products that are palm oil free, to reduce demand and decrease the incentives to replace the rainforest with palm.  If you can find locally produced substitutes for these products.  If for whatever reason this proves to be impossible find products containing palm oil that’s been certified sustainable by the RSPO.

Personally, as I’ve said, I avoid palm oil.   Yes sustainable palm isn’t all bad if it in fact is truly sustainable, but when meeting the current demand for palm oil requires the continued reforestation of large areas of rainforest with either non-native species or with monculutres I can’t get behind it.


I’ve got a couple of book/movie posts coming so I figured I should post something a bit more typical of me before I got started with all that.  I’ve made mention to several people that I’ve started making my own crackers.  This tends to be met initially with surprise and then curiosity.  When I first came across the recipe I was quite surprised myself; I’d considered making pretzels but had completely skipped over crackers.

The recipe I’ve included in this post is one shared by an Alberta 100-mile dieter with a knack for picking out some awesome recopies.  The original post for anyone interested is here.

I’ve learned a couple of things having gone through this process quite a few times now:

  • When using whole wheat flour add the extra liquid required (I use about double) but hold off on adding extra flour until after you’ve let the dough set for 10 or so minutes.
  • Do chill the dough.  It makes rolling it out immensely easier.
  • I prefer my crackers crispy and golden, rolling them out thinner than not helps with this.
  • Using a dough scrapper works better for removing and transporting the crackers from where you’ve rolled and cut them.  Using a knife works well but it tends to fatten up your crackers which is counterproductive to my above objective.
  • Make lots and lots of these crackers at once.  They don’t stick around very long.

Flax Crackers
1/4 cup whole flax seed
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (I used organic, 20-mile canola oil)
1/2 skim milk (I made the milk from dehydrated skim milk powder left over from camping trips)

1) Preheat oven to 325F (160C)
2) In a bowl, combine whole flax seed, ground flax seed, flour, baking powder, salt and butter/margarine. Using a pastry cutter or a mixer on low speed, mix well.
3) Using a mixer, or by hand, sitr in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough.
4) Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
5) Divide the dough into quarters. place one of the quarters on a lightly floured board and using a rolling pin, roll it into a very thin rectangle, about 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick cut into 2 1/2 inch squares.
6) Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.
7) Repeat steps #5 and #6 with the remainder of the dough.
8 ) Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until crisp and golden.

I’m surfing etsy, looking at the soaps that had caught my interest. Smiling at all the pretty colors and the beautiful smells when all of a sudden I stop, because I saw something. Palm oil. Listed inconspicuously in with the rest of the ingredients.
Palm oil’s in a lot of stuff, it’s cheap, has a lot of useful properties, it comes from palms. Not a problem right?


Compare the palm oil plantation to the rainforest at the top corner of the photograph. Think about the amount of rainforest in Asia and in Africa.
I think we’ve got a problem. Large cosmetic companies and the fast food industry do a lot to create demand for palm oil. It’s these larger corporations that make the soap that most of us buy, but what about those of us that buy handmade soap?
It’ll be an easy switch to make I figured. People tend to be conscientious of what they put in they’re soap, because the people that buy it are. At least that’s what I thought. I’ve got picky skin and I’m sensitive to strongly perfumed soaps. Even so I figured I’d go looking for a soap bar that I could use as shampoo. Turns out I was having a hard time finding anything, shampoo or not.
I found a couple of non-etsian shops in the UK, and while the soaps look absolutely beautiful I’m not sure shipping soap across the ocean would cut it in the environmental department, so I pressed on.
I came across The Chic and Green Blog and rejoiced. Sitting a top the list of posts was a review for AuntNancysSoap. Palm oil free and she has a selection of unscented soaps that I’m definitely going to be trying.

Rose Clay Soap

Rose Clay Soap from AuntNancysSoap

Fragrance Free Bar From AuntNancysSoap

Fragrance Free Bar From AuntNancysSoap

I’m also currently staring at a sea salt soap from balsam, a shampoo bar from ShopRedLeaf. Although I’ll have to convo the sellers before buying, the bars look pretty good on the palm oil front.e palm oil front.

Peace Lily I
Last week I signed up for crunchy’s buy nothing new challenge. The premise of the whole thing is to shop in a more sustainable way, buying only what you need in the most sustainable way possible which means:
* No new clothes
* No new gadgets
* No new furniture or housewares
* No salon services (except haircuts)
* No new makeup
* No new tools
* No whatever else people buy
* No eating out
Most of this I knew going in won’t be a big problem for me. I don’t buy much in general. My only real vice is eating out. So where does this leave me one week later?
I bought cleaning supplies, my bad I know, but you can’t exactly borrow sponges or drawer liners. I did eat out once, on move in day I had no food so it was pretty much eat out or starve. I decided I liked eating.
I’d made it through the weekend and than Monday came and I bought a tv pass on Amazon to download this season’s episodes Stargate Atlantis. I didn’t even think when I did it. I considered canceling my order when I realized what I’d done, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. A girl’s got to have some fun once in awhile right?

 After that little transgression though I made it through the rest of the week squeaky clean. One week down three to go!

On the road again

I should know better than to watch conservation videos before breakfast. I end up driving myself nuts trying to argue with the skeptics. Sustainable development isn’t about reverting back to the dark ages. It’s about finding a way to live in harmony with the Earth. It’s not about giving up the illusive search for the next bigger and better thing, because it’s not about material goods. It’s about finding peace and happiness and really living. It’s about having what you need to survive and being happy about it.

You can argue that having what you need to survive isn’t enough to be happy, but does having more than that make you happy? Is destroying the Earth so you can have your shampoo and fast food really going to matter when we run out of water or air?


The canal

Loofah II

Loofah plants I

These little guys grow fast…the leaves are now bigger than my hand and we’ve got the start of some blooms. Originally I was worried about them getting over watered with the heavy rain we’d been getting, but it turns out the more water you give them the faster they grow.

Trash Fashion
by ~stasha-pistachio on deviantART
Another day of record breaking heat and I’m ready to call it quits. It’s just too hot to do much of anything. The weather service says it was 95 at the hottest point yesterday, but the temperature display across the street read 99 at about five last night. Thankfully it’s a bit cooler inside, but I’m wondering how miserable this summer’s going to be if this keeps up.
I haven’t gotten anything planted outside yet, I’m worried about the heat killing the seedlings off. It’s hard enough to keep them watered when they’re sitting inside on the window sill.
On the etsy front things are going better. I’ve been having a lot of fun browsing through all the new summer stuff and I’ve been pumping out the paper. Who knew cold paper pulp would feel so good. I’ve gotten quite a bit behind on all my blog reading though. I’ve been keeping up with crunchy chicken and burbanmom, but nothing on the etsy side of things. As soon as it cools off I’ll be powering up the laptop and totally binging. I miss all the funny stories and the crafty inspiration.

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