Posted in inspiration, recipe for a green life, sustainability

My First Blog Ever, And The First Seeds That Were Planted For Recipe For A Green Life

CS Sherin, June 19, 2019

I started my first ever blog in November of 2007 here on WordPress. It was called “Moonseeds”. The very first title and tagline went as follows: “Moonseed’s Weblog: Soul Songs, Hope, Love, and Art”. By 2009, it changed to: “MoonSeeds: Cosmic awareness, compassionate action, creative healing.” If you look at my website, WildClover.org, you will see that the main vibe of all of that remains true. But, wow, what a blast from the past, as they say!

In visiting the Wayback Machine this week, I found the many passionate posts I wrote as a new blogger. It has been interesting to review. There are many things I wrote about then that I had forgotten. Not to mention, the person I was twelve years ago is, in some pivotal ways, a completely different person than who I am now. I am no longer: a young and new mother, Catholic, or religious. Not only did I lose my religion and gain my own unbound, authentic spiritual center of being, I lost and gained many other things — some of which can be quantified and named, and others that cannot be.

Twelve years ago, I was at the beginning of my 30’s and had been married for about 8 years. Now, I am middle-aged and our 20th wedding anniversary is next month. Even with those numerical facts, there were things I didn’t know about myself (with accuracy and clarity) until the last few years — big revelations that have helped to reframe my life in healthy and true ways…but, alas, that is not what I will be telling you about today.

At the same time, some really big things about me and my writing have not changed at all. What I found and saw in my first blog remains to this day and has expanded. I was writing passionately about Green living and sustainability issues like plastic pollution back then, as I do now. I was writing about dreams and social justice issues, as I do now. I had an unwavering passion to grow, learn, and share goodness along with spiritual/mystical awareness and inspiration. I still do.

What I do want to share with you today is a resurrection of sorts. I find that an apt and somewhat humorous expression for what I am posting here today. My former self, Moonseeds — new blogger, was passionately religious. While I respect and appreciate my past, I just don’t vibe with the fervor that was always under the thumb of Patriarchal, colonized, systemically discriminatory systems/organizations — no matter how mystical the fringes are, or how good some of the people in community are. Direct connection to what is sacred, mysticism, autonomy with inclusivity, Buddhist and Indigenous values as guideposts, and compassionate action remain.

Anyway, this post from my first blog was posted on my daughter’s sixth birthday, and it is a post that still speaks pretty well to issues we face today. In addition, for those of you who have read Recipe For A Green Life, you will see some of the seeds I planted, unknowingly at that time, that led to me writing and publishing such a book.


Photo by Brooke Campbell on Unsplash

The following is an edited version of a post that was originally posted on my first blog, “Moonseeds”, on December 11, 2007:

A good friend of mine was embarrassed to tell me that she uses a plastic baggie to pick up her dog’s poop on walks. Embarrassed, because she assumed that I would judge her, and that my own practices in relationship to plastic are pristine — maybe because I bring up the problem so much. I was surprised, and added sadly, that I too use plastic baggies, and am trying to get hold of some biodegradable ones…but they are only available online and in smaller quantities for more money. I remain, like all of us, human, and lacking in various ways…yet still aiming for, with commitment, life-affirming choices.

It is like when I was asked if I eat meat. I explained that I don’t eat farm animals or birds. They responded sharply, ” Do you wear leather shoes?” As if from my one sentence I had asserted that I was pure and separate from the rest of humanity because of my choice to be compassionate. People want things to be cut and dried, black and white, pure or deficient so that they don’t have to suffer through ambiguities — the contradictions of being, and the discomfort of imperfect striving — a part of the complicated living we all do. It isn’t fun to fail, or not live up to ideals, or to disappoint people who want to look up to us.

I look at the packaging of my bread, chips, toothpaste, apples, vegetables…and two of my reusable shopping bags are made with fossil fuels — just as the baggies for the dog walks are. I realize this.

The truth of the situation is that if I were to live separate from plastic, I would not be living in this society. There is no purity or perfection in this human world. Our connections are linked and threaded through so deeply, there is no extrication of anything from anything else — at least not as things are now. This doesn’t mean that all is futile. Action still has great impact, and discernment still has enormous value! Sometimes it has to be “little by little” as Dorothy Day would say.

I cannot look at the daily defeats of plastic in my life and be defeated. This is an issue of great urgency. We need to persist, despite the thorough penetration of plastic excess, waste and pollution in our lives. What a strange problem we have!

Plastic is, as all things are, from the Earth somehow, though manipulated and forced into being. Yet, plastic is not natural, is it? It isn’t even able to fully biodegrade, and instead becomes smaller…microscopic pollution.

Our mistakes, failures, and defeats do not have to be definitive of our identity and value. They can be par for this rocky course. We have power. We can choose how to respond, and maybe, on our better and best days, we do reach our ideals and still fail in yet other ways — maybe in relationships, or in personal or spiritual ways.

There are always ways in which to change and grow…hopefully we believe and know this. Perhaps we will not see the benefits of our positive and rooted actions in this lifetime, maybe we will. We may have to wonder and not know. I want to say for sure, all of this isn’t either/or, it is most often both/and.

I fail all the time. Sometimes it is embarrassing. Yet, I learn and realize perfection is not what is best to aim for, as it is not the point of life. With appreciation, with gratitude, I find and realize beauty and grace-filled moments. Recognition of what awakens this awareness is important.

Compassion literally means “to suffer with”. It is the ability to empathize and provide a safe space of healthy concern and support with others. No matter how much pollution and irresponsible management of resources and consumption our home and lives are involved with, when we stay in a place of gratitude and compassion, when we take time to meditate and reflect — we are able to remain in touch with what matters, with what is most important in life. From there, we can find the strength in each moment to do the best that we can, embarrassments, or not. (End.)


Back to 2019: it is interesting to note, that this was me just beginning my holistic sustainable living journey. I have solved some of the problems that I faced then, but not all of them. I did request that our local co-op carry the biodegradable dog walk bags, and they did (and do). Being a recovering perfectionist myself, I have always been able to hone in on that issue as a roadblock to long-term progress. Ten years later, I knew how to troubleshoot it, and put all that experience and problem-solving to good use in Recipe For A Green Life.

We all have made some great progress in the movement for green living, sustainability, climate action, etc. However, our current administration in power, and similar ones around the world threaten all the progress we have made. Despite this, we have a lot of positive progress that is ongoing in the face of all the opposition. There is still much to hope and to take action for, and the sentiment and need to act (from nearly 12 years ago) remains.

Posted in Climate Action, inspiration, recipe for a green life

Dealing With Burnout And Facing The Global Emergency

Image by CS Sherin, WildClover.org

CS Sherin, June 6, 2019, edited October 2019

First of all, did you tune in to watch Juliana vs. United States yesterday? I did. If you missed it, check out my Twitter feed for some of the highlights.

As for me, I have been dealing with a bit of burnout when it comes to facing our environmental and climate emergency. The amount of loss and destruction involved is hard to deal with day in and day out. I have been turning to and leaning on my creativity and spirituality especially at this time, while processing grief and pain associated with our current crisis and reality, which includes a terrible increase in suffering of various life forms, including, but not only, humans. Taking a break from this platform and focus on sustainable living (and all the systemic, connected issues) from time to time is essential for me. At the same time, I am still here and keeping on.

In the past month I have been feeling a new grief. In the past month, I have only seen three bees. Where there would normally be plenty of bees upon flowers, there have been none. About ten years ago, I had noticed a decline in area bees pollinating flowers. Yet, in that time, there have still been bees. This year, they are absent. I am open to this changing for the better. Still, I know that the prolonged and severe winter we experienced caused a lot of hardship. Perhaps the area bees were hit hard. The winter before this last one, it was a very dry winter and cold, then ended with very late snow. That Spring many robins were dying en masse due to the snow and lack of food at a critical time. That summer revealed that many plants and trees were beyond stressed by that winter. My lavender, plum tree, and most of the cherry tree died.

After this last winter, we have had plenty of rain and moisture through the winter. Plants are thriving. And bees are sorely missing. There is a certain heartache to realizing loss and suffering on the grand scale on our planet. This is a part of it.

Meanwhile, I came across an article today that I think can be extremely helpful at this time. The article is: “12 excuses for climate inaction and how to refute them. Using moral clarity to counter defeatism around climate crisis,” by Eliza Barclay and Jag Bhalla (Vox.com, May 24, 2019). I am going to summarize the main points in the form of shorthand notes from the article here, in order to highlight the core thoughts, and to add my thoughts to some of it. In the article, the twelve excuses are something like this:

  1. Talk of human extinction is alarmist
  2. It is too late to prevent a catastrophe
  3. The situation is extremely depressing
  4. It is impossible to escape fossil fuels
  5. One person’s choices probably don’t matter
  6. I have a right to enjoy meat and air travel
  7. Rich and powerful people are at fault, not me
  8. I want one easy thing to do
  9. Our political system is broken and bought out by special interests
  10. Change is too expensive and will harm the economy
  11. “Zero sum” mistakes
  12. Inventions and technological advancements will rescue us

My holistic approach to sustainable living in Recipe For A Green Life addresses every one of these excuses in many different ways: activism, spiritual and emotional self-care, logic, facts, troubleshooting, pep talks, needed perspective, recipes, stories, etc. In my book, some of these are addressed as emotional challenges, some as common pitfalls, and others as realities that block us, which we can find our way around (in some way or another) in order to keep cultivating a sustainable lifestyle on all fronts, and for the long haul. Nevertheless, I appreciate the responses provided in the article, and also, how Greta Thunberg’s work and pivotal quotes were used to highlight and support the direction for “moral clarity.”

The answers to these excuses, from the article’s authors, go something like this:

  1. The consequences we face are real and scientifically verified.
  2. While the consequences we face are real, we can act now to mitigate and prevent ever-increasing levels of disaster. It is not too late to act.
  3. We have a duty and moral impetus to face the pain and loss and disasters, and to act. We can minimize damage and suffering through our commitment to act.
  4. Much like the Civil War and the battle to eradicate slavery, we face a challenge to overcome the immorality of oil companies and special interests that promote destruction and harm.
  5. We all play a part and have impact. Demand for things impacts everyone. Altering our choices can alter the future, with a tipping point of collective actions for the better.
  6. Exploitation and over-consumption is “collective suicide and ecocide”. Many times in the past, ancestors and other benefactors deprived themselves for the betterment of their progeny, and out of respect for the sacredness of life and nature.
  7. This is true. And, those of us living an average modern life do consume too much, especially fossil fuel derived single-use items. In addition, many individuals have power and privilege that needs to be utilized, in order to help change things for the better.
  8. That is the kind of thinking that perpetuates our systemic problems and crisis. It isn’t easy. It is not a one action cure.
  9. This is true, but we must work to change our politics “or face catastrophe”.
  10. The article provides this quote by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt: “it’s cheaper, and will do less damage to the economy, to let the Nazis win.” It is a good quote. Numbers used by economists are inaccurate and will be “meaningless in a climate-crashed world.”
  11. Economists use abstractions and do not work around a model of true sustainability, or with the mindset that understands that resources are finite. Excess consumption degrades and reduces resources. “”Win-win” growth often hides a very dark logic.” For example, “it means that poverty can only be reduced if the rich make money from it.”
  12. Invention that solves the entire emergency before us is unlikely, and a dangerous gamble to depend on. We have to change our pattern of consumption.

The biggest part for me right now is feeling the need to grieve, and connect to issues from a more spiritual dimension, utilizing my creative abilities over at WildClover.org. Good news is, while I grieve and take time out, I am still acting daily, and mindful of my daily choices and habits. I still make time for political action. Taking action, many kinds (creative, practical, spiritual and political) actually helps to alleviate grief, and gives practical expression to the need to make a difference.

What I really like about the Vox article’s responses is the perspective. It is true that we are in battle. It is true that it is as dire as fighting Nazis in WWII was, and as fighting to end slavery during the Civil War was. In addition, we don’t let ourselves or anyone else off the hook because: there is still time to improve the situation, each person plays a part and can make a difference, and we aren’t going to believe the lies of economists and fossil fuel moguls.

In addition to all of this, there is a need to make space in life to breathe, to dream, and to connect with nature, not just to ground and center ourselves, but to reach out to nature and the beings there, to see how we can be of help and comfort to it and them. Moreover, we need to understand that all that we may have depended on as “normal” and “stable” is no longer a wise or moral pathway for the future.

Lastly, the charge that we must change our politics is a big one, and it is already happening in many ways, but it is a knock down, drag out, dirty fight for this particular shift. Still, it can happen. Everyone has to get on board. The other half is activism through daily habits, choices, networking, and movements on all levels: personal, local, regional, national and global.

What are your thoughts on all of this?

Posted in News

All Eyes On Juliana: June 4th Livestream

May 31st, 2019

Tune in to the livestream of the oral argument at:
June 4th, 2019
2:00 pm Pacific (4 pm Central)

Sign in here to receive a link to the livestream: youthvgov.org/alleyesonjuliana

Watch on the YouTube channel here.

The constitutional youth climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, will be heard before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 2 pm Pacific time.

The oral arguments will be livestreamed by the Court, and the number of viewers is tracked. Youth v. Gov, Our Children’s Trust, and Earth Guardians want to make history by having this be the most watched Ninth Circuit argument ever.

The Juliana v. US lawsuit established that young people have a constitutional right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” That right is being violated. On Tuesday, June 4th, tune in to the livestream of the plaintiffs’ hearing and post with #AllEyesOnJuliana 👀 so that the government can see how many are watching as it tries to deny the rights of young people in court.

We need the U.S. government to know that the American people are watching. We need #AllEyesOnJuliana👀


Posted in recipe for a green life

Holistic Sustainable Living Resources

May 23, 2019

For anyone who has read Recipe For A Green Life, you know that I greatly value due research and plenty of resources for: evidence, facts, and learning — as well as for networking, movements, charity, and activism.

In that same spirit, I have added a new page on this blog that provides key resources for these multiple purposes. The resources are shared without any kind of sponsorship, payment or hidden personal benefit to me. The only monetary interest I have on this blog is to sell Recipe For A Green Life (paperback and e-book formats). That aside, this blog is provided solely for the sake of providing educational support, insight, inspiration, facts, news, and guidance for all things related to holistic sustainable living.

Please check out the new Resources page, and feel free to bookmark it and share it.

If there is a page that you think belongs on the Resources page of this blog, or if you have comments or questions about what is included on the page — feel free to comment or send me a message. Keep in mind that the list will remain geared for high integrity and transparency. Exceptions to this would be unusual…and would need to be clearly helpful as a resource.

Posted in recipe for a green life, recipes

Recipe: Toothpowder

Photo by Superkitina on Unsplash

CS Sherin, May 9th, 2019; updated 05-22-19

There are some things that have remained a standard in my journey on the path towards a more sustainable lifestyle recipe-wise over the past decade or so: the toothpowder recipe, deodorant recipe, and green cleaning recipes. Today, I am sharing the toothpowder recipe, which is an adaptation from the one in Recipe For A Green Life.

Adapting recipes is a necessary part of an ongoing long-term holistic sustainable lifestyle. Needs change, body responses change, situations and abilities change. Therefore, there is a need for us to adapt and change what we are doing. That willingness to experiment and for flexibility in the practice ensures ongoing progress on the path.

Recipe For A Green Life: Toothpowder Recipe

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

sustainable, easy, effective

Credit: CS Sherin, recipeforagreenlife.wordpress.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C baking soda
  • 1/4 C calcium carbonate powder
  • 1/4 C sea salt, fine
  • 1 T sage spice powder, organic
  • 5-10 drops spearmint oil, food-grade

Directions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together first.
  2. Add the drops of oil last and mix well.
  3. Store in a waterproof container with a lid.
  4. Dip a wet toothbrush in and brush.
  5. Consider the following as possible alternatives/additions: - an essential oil oral care blend - cinnamon spice powder, organic - grow organic sage and grind it yourself Additional care for troubled gums: - coconut oil and Manuka honey massage - crushed garlic, honey and olive oil massage - oil pulling
Posted in Climate Action, recipe for a green life

The Devastation of Overfishing and the Major Problems with Aquaculture and Seafood

Photo by Abhijeet Soman on Unsplash

Starving marine life, and everything you need to know about sustainable seafood — if there is such a thing anymore…

CS Sherin, April 29, 2019

There are devastating impacts from overfishing and farmed fish upon wildlife and our marine ecosystems. As we look at these issues, keep in mind that overfishing and factory fish farms (aquaculture) make all the other problems even more stressful and devastating. Sadly, the beautiful ocean of this Earth has become an extremely stressful home for marine life.

While humans may not live in the ocean, our lives depend upon the ocean as well. If the ocean life cannot survive, we won’t be able to either. Seeing all life on the planet as connected and interdependent, as family, is the most accurate viewpoint, when it comes to seeking a healthy future for everyone.

Graphic fact sheet from Change Market’s “Until the seas dry up” April 2019 report: “Fish Laundering: Industrial Aquaculture’s Hidden Paradox”

The April 2019 report from Changing Markets on Aquaculture addresses many of the critical issues we now face. Their graphic above contains the following information:

  • the ocean is sick and severely depleted
  • overfishing, along with climate change, demand, and pollution (sound, plastic, chemicals, fabrics, waste) are destroying the ocean’s ecosystems
  • billions of wild fish and crustaceans are used to feed farmed seafood
  • aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector
  • overfishing takes food and livelihood away from the poor who are in countries without food security
  • the wild fish taken to create fish meal and fish oil (“forage fish”) are key to the food chain, including: plankton, fish, marine animals, and seabirds
  • the main forage fish within the food chain are: anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel, and krill

Some carnivore species rely on just one species of food in order to survive, like the orca pod that is starving, in the NW Pacific, who depend on endangered Chinook salmon. It may seem strange, but it is really no different than the monarch caterpillar whose sole food source is milkweed (which is scarce due to heavy use of pesticides in the Midwest). Another example, breeding penguins rely on anchovies off the coast of South Africa. When the anchovies are not there, then babies cannot be born or are weak and may not survive. In South Africa, a ban was placed on catching “forage fish” like sardines and anchovies to help the endangered penguins. Evidence shows that bans like this help the penguins. Forage fish numbers can mean life or death for marine life.

The good news is: we can take steps to speak out against policies and practices that contribute to this kind of overwhelming devastation, and resulting starvation for marine life. It isn’t too late to take a stand with voice, choice, and actions. It is best to start at home, with our own lifestyle — and that goes hand in hand with political action. We can change our demand for food, while we support political and business leadership that upholds what is most ethical and sustainable.

Heartbreaking Impacts: Starving Marine Life

In just the past year or so, if you search the internet for news about overfishing and the impacts of aquaculture, you will find report after report about all kinds of wildlife that are starving to death, with little to no help on the way — like seabirds of all kinds, whales, orcas, dolphins, and sea lions:

These reports are not easy to read, yet it is important that we read them. If we turn away from the difficult news, just because we feel small and helpless about it, or too tender, we will not have the awareness that is necessary in order to make informed decisions. When we are aware of the problems we face, then we are able to respond to them more appropriately and effectively. And, certainly, people are becoming aware, and things are being done — but there is not enough momentum yet, and too much suffering is continuing.

Just this week, I wrote about the ethical issues involved with the Native American Lummi tribe’s call to feed the starving orcas in the bay of Seattle and Bellingham Washington. I do support their call to feed the orcas now. The fact is, aquaculture (factory fish farms) monopolize much of the food that would be in the ocean for our fellow living beings, like the orcas. We need to re-direct what is happening. There is a need to respond to starvation (whether they are human or birds, mammals or other sorts of living beings) by providing food.

Still, we are dealing with difficult problems. Feeding those who are starving leads to heart-breaking questions about a means for survival after the starvation is alleviated — because of other ongoing problems like pollution and ocean warming.

The stark truth is that the starvation tragedies occurring worldwide are due to: loss of habitat, pollution (like plastics and chemicals), loss of food sources due to overfishing and farmed fisheries, ocean warming, and climate change. It would be foolish to think that none of this will affect us humans. What happens to wildlife and nature is surely happening to us as well. However, we can still act to change some parts of this. But first, let’s learn more about the issues of aquaculture and sustainable seafood.

The Problems Of Aquaculture

Farming fish is meant to take the stress off of the oceans, provide a way to supply more sustainable seafood, and give us healthier alternatives to other meats. Instead, farmed fish and aquaculture has not decreased the demand for wild seafood, nor has it decreased the stress on ocean wildlife and fishes.

Why is this? Fish farms need to feed their fish, and that requires huge amounts of wild fish to be taken from the ocean, slaughtered, and turned into feed. In addition, almost all fish farms are filled with wild fish at the start. On top of that, the way in which fish farms are managed is for profit and expansion, not conservation and healthy sustainability.

Beyond these problems with fish farming, aquaculture also contains the same dark side that all factory farms have, they are: huge, crowded, have dirty containment with runoff; tons of antibiotics and chemicals, genetic modification, and inhumane cruelty.

As is too often the case in the United States, Native American beliefs and practices are not respected or protected enough in these matters either. Salmon are sacred to Native Americans. Therefore, Native Americans wish to protect the wild salmon that are now endangered.

Another problem: fish that escape from the industrial fish farms cause chaos and damage the local ecosystem by way of pollution, non-native diseases, and competition. The factory farmed fish that are crowded in nets in the ocean, also cause great peril for marine life. The huge and unethical crowding of the “frankenfish” draws attention from hungry ocean life, who then get entangled in the nets.

In addition, overfishing also takes away the livelihood and food from poorer populations around the world, who are dealing with the effects of climate change, and loss of food sources and clean water.

All of this translates into a massive humanitarian and environmental crisis and disaster. Suffering among the most vulnerable will continue and increase, until major efforts are made to end the corruption, exploitation, and abuses that are going on in our country and world.

Photo by Robyn Budlender on Unsplash

A solution that is proposed for the impacts of aquaculture overfishing to feed the fish in their farms, is to depend more on freshwater and plant-based food for the farmed fish.

Unfortunately, plant-based food for farmed fish and other farmed seafood is another empty solution. Fish farms that apply this method, most often depend on massive crops, which demand huge amounts of resources. According to Anthropocene magazine, “demand for freshwater went up by 63%, both land-use, and phosphorus use (for fertilizer) surged by over 80%”.

This translates into increased pollution and stress on freshwater and land resources and ecosystems, due to corporate farming practices. All in all, aquaculture, as it stands now, is not sustainable. Just as factory and corporate farming are not healthy, sustainable, or humane.

Whenever profit and quantity are prioritized over life and collective and environmental health, we will find disastrous results for life and future.

CS Sherin, author of “Recipe For A Green Life”

Many of the major producers of fish meal and fish feed for factory fish farms commit to transparency and sustainability in word only. There are no real disclosures or transparency about the amount of wild-caught fish that are taken, sourcing, or sustainability measures — if any.

Despite all of these serious problems, aquaculture (including fish, shrimp and mollusks) are booming. Yet, most of these harbor all of these dark and dangerous issues, which are threatening the survival of life on our planet.

Aquaculture Sources:

The Problems Of Sustainable Seafood

If we are going to eat seafood, we need to make sure that we are choosing seafood that is healthy and sustainable. With all the marine life dying and starving around the world, we have to really sit with the question: is seafood really ever sustainable anymore?

Let’s start with the big official certification for sustainability. Does the seafood have a certification in sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)? Then it must be sustainable and good, right? Certainly, it is an important marker. Yet, much like loopholes and other transparency issues that exist with organic certification, this seafood sustainability certification also has problems and challenges regarding transparency and accuracy of claims. The Pew Environment Group thinks it is misleading for the MSC certification to use the word “sustainable”.

Some critically endangered species, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) include: southern bluefin tuna, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles. Some endangered species include: loggerhead, green, and olive ridley sea turtles, sawfishes, and blue whales. Whale sharks, humpback whales, grey nurse sharks and great white sharks are likely to go extinct if nothing changes. Close to being endangered: stellar sea lion, gaudalupe fur seals and California sea otters. Depleted species include: bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, fur seals, spotted dolphins, and beluga whales. The Marine Bio site explains that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) cannot give a complete picture of all species in peril. For example, barely any invertebrates are listed. Information for invertebrates is difficult to track. Source: Marinebio.org.

Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

Is Our Seafood Sustainable Or Not?

When thinking about seafood and where to get it, consider the following first:

  • How is the fish or other sea life caught or farmed?
  • Is the species being overfished? Is the fish farm dirty, irresponsible, and/or contaminated?
  • Is the fish or other seafood’s food source (forage fish) being overfished?
  • Is there an issue of bycatch? Young fish, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, sea birds, and mammals like whales, dolphins, threatened sharks, and porpoises are victims of bycatch. There are 250,000 endangered sea turtles victim to bycatch yearly.
  • Shrimp and tuna cause some of the biggest negative impacts of bycatch, and are in high demand in the US.
  • Long-line vs. pole and line fishing (low bycatch methods)
  • How much are fossil fuel driven practices a part of the supply of the seafood via ships, farm, and transport?
  • Consider the source carefully. For instance, some aquaculture is a type of monoculture (like shrimp farms in Thailand) that cause serious pollution and mangrove decimation.
  • While there is not a lot of research about the long-term impacts of pollution like radiation, crude oil, microfiber and micro-plastic pollution (and the persistent chemicals that are attached) — these are all issues worth keeping in mind.
Photo by Alfonso Navarro on Unsplash

Guides For More Sustainable Seafood Choices

And finally, here is a short list of guides to help you navigate finding sustainable seafood on a day-to-day basis.

These issues are too important not to talk about, explore, and act on. I hope this has been a helpful and motivating guide for you. If you know of more helpful resources related to this, or good news related to any of it, please do share in the comments.

Posted in Climate Action, News, recipe for a green life

Humans Responding: The Lummi Nation’s Compassionate Action

Transient orcas in the Pacific NW. Photo by Rennet Stow, 2009. CC

CS Sherin, April 27, 2019

Environmental news, like a lot of news, can be extremely painful to take in. I have a general rule that I don’t share potentially soul-crushing or viscerally painful news unless there is a way to take action to change the situation in some way — like a petition, call to action, or steps to change things. It is important to avoid battle fatigue, and to avoid feeling triggered, while also feeling helpless about a situation. However, I am going to break my rule for this story. Not that we can’t do anything in response to this story — we can. It just isn’t as simple or straightforward as a petition kind of action. I am compelled to share this because this story is important. It is about our ocean, ocean life, food, and the strength and importance of Indigenous communities. It is about the state of our humanity while we face and respond ethically, and in time, to tragic, hospice-like chain reactions that are occurring because of exploitation, excess consumerism, corruption, fossil fuels and climate change.

What I am sharing with you today contains dynamics that are viscerally painful to me. My heart and body literally ache, knowing this, and similar situations around the world are happening. Yet, within the facts and story, the action being taken by Indigenous humans (in general, and in this story specifically), is the best of what people are meant to be, and can be. While we cannot alleviate all the suffering upon the planet, we can afford time and energy for knowing about and supporting fellow humans who are bravely standing up for the voiceless (who are enduring lengthy suffering and death). We can find ways to do the same, joining Native Americans, and Indigenous around the world, in solidarity.

Orca whales of the Salish Sea (in the Seattle and Bellingham Washington and Vancouver, Canada region) are starving to death.

This has been going on for some time, and right now, it is the worst it has been. For the orcas, their forever home, the Salish Sea, has become a forced hospice room. Forced, because the whales are not sick. They are perfectly healthy. It is their home waters that are polluted, and it is their food source that is gone — greedily taken by over-fishing and excess consumption. Their mainstay, Chinook salmon, are endangered.

Levi Pulkkinen, at The Guardian, reported about this today: in the last ten years the orca population has gone from 200 to 75, the current pod is starving, orca babies are not surviving birth, and those that do are not surviving into adulthood. The ocean was once teeming with Chinook salmon, and now the salmon are endangered. Organizations like the NOAA and Washington state fishery officials are just now beginning to work together to establish salmon in the water, so as to save the remaining orcas.

While that is a little bit of good news that the organizations of the region are acting to do something finally, that is not the amazing part of the news in the article from The Guardian.

The amazing news is that the Lummi Nation (the Native American tribe of that region in Washington state) has made a formal commitment to the orcas of the Salish Sea by way of ceremony. A salmon was released into the water, as a message to the orcas that the Lummi Nation and the orcas are family, and that the Lummi Nation will not abandon or ignore the orcas in their time of suffering and need.

The fish slipped to the orca was both a prayer and a signal to the starving whales that the tribe would not sit back and watch them vanish.

Levi Pulkkinen, “A pod of orcas is starving to death. A tribe has a radical plan to feed them”

I recommend reading the article for the entire account regarding the Lummi Nation and the orcas.

The Lummi are not the only ones sending messages. The orca have been too. Last summer an orca, whose baby had died hours after birth, carried the baby for 17 days. The way that she carried her deceased orca baby was to hold the baby above water, in order for humans to see this. Her pod left her, and she stayed there for weeks, showing humans that what they are doing, and not doing, is wrong. According to Pulkkinen’s article, the Lummi Nation agrees that the orca mother was sending a message.

It is a message they understand very well, and they want to respond to it. The Lummi tribe is calling for a mass movement to actively begin feeding the dying orcas. The orcas have always been a part of the region. The Lummi Nation is seeking immediate action to alleviate their suffering, and to stop the needless extinction.

It seems that the NOAA is not quite supportive of saving the pod’s life in this way, citing that the feeding approach is not sustainable. Other local scientists are evidently divided as to whether to support the Lummi Nation’s call to action or not. One thing that is clear, this is literally life or death for the orca pod at this point.

When it comes down to it, it is not logical to allow a group of beings to starve to death when there are sources of food available that can save lives. Yet, it is not a simple ethical issue. If feeding the orcas prolongs their lives, but they don’t have a healthy enough environment to sustain their lives, death is still imminent at some point. Or, maybe it isn’t. What if a solution can be found by the time the feedings are no longer sustainable? What if a solution comes, but no action was taken, and the orcas all starve and die. Then, we didn’t do enough.

What must we do in emergencies? For any being? We must do the atypical things. We must improvise. We must come together as family. It is a heartbreaking reality we find ourselves facing these days.

The Lummi Nation is acting like First Responders and emergency room care providers. They are trying to get the emergency supplies and actions together, in order to alleviate the emergency situation. This is logical, appropriate, and needed action for the current situation. The NOAA is looking at long-term sustainability, which is also a valid and needed perspective, but it is not as helpful in the emergency room. And otherwise healthy patients dealing with an emergency, a crisis, don’t belong in a hospice, they belong in the emergency room. In the emergency room we have to stop the bleeding, and do the emergency patching. After that, long-term management can be put in place, gradually.

These two objectives, emergency triage and long-term approaches, do not need to be in conflict with one another.

The NOAA needs to give the Native Americans of the region room to do what is right, based on relationships that are older than this United States nation. Then, the NOAA can follow-up with long-term strategies and networking. This is one of the many ways that our systems need to radically change, in order to adapt and mitigate the disasters that are before us because of climate change, consumerism, and all the rest.

“The greater society has to decide whether they’re going to help or not.”

Bill James, Lummi Nation hereditary Chief

It may seem a small act of ceremony, and unlikely movement for the orcas, that the Lummi people are performing currently, but really, it is the most powerful and best kinds of actions we humans can take. It is a major act of courage and active compassion for family and life. It is action based on compassion and solidarity, which is stronger than anything — no matter how bleak things are. Even in the midst of grief and their own severe challenges, the Lummi Nation have a voice, and it is strong. This is the strength, fire, and heart we must act with, and take with us everywhere.

The Lummi Nation are also sending a message to all of us with their words and actions. What will we do? How will we respond?

Posted in Climate Action, recipe for a green life

Earth Day Is Every Day

Take Action For Earth Day At The Bottom Of This Article

Photo by Will Cornfield on Unsplash

CS Sherin, April 22, 2019

Earth Day is today, yet Earth Day needs to be every day. Not one day can be found where we don’t need the Earth. There isn’t a day that we don’t need clean, safe, accessible air, water, and food. Even so, because of the disastrous effects that consumerism, waste, fossil fuels, corporate agriculture, exploitation, and materialistic financial wealth have upon the environment — we set this special kind of day aside — in order to raise awareness and take action.

At its best, Earth Day actions include: taking political action via calling and petitioning our representatives and hopeful representatives, and advocating for the varying urgent needs related to environmental health, sustainability, and climate change. Earth Day is also an opportunity to plan for or begin to plant native trees, plants, and an organic garden for self and/or others, to re-commit to the actions required in our personal lives for sustainability, and invite others to join in. It can be an opportunity to celebrate with meaningful actions and networking that stimulate new inspiration and energy to act.

Yet, too often, this day becomes a superficial tool for commercial interests, both large and small, that greenwash the day for personal gain. Earth Day events too often include: unsustainable waste, single-use plastics, and commercial gimmicks, rather than sincere investment in and commitment to a sustainable, environmental business model, policies, and ongoing actions. Some Earth Day events may contribute to pollution and waste more than they build on sustainable actions, like networking, outreach, activism, and education.

It could be more productive to organize and participate in protests and demonstrations for Earth Day, instead of making it a carnival-like event for profit and advertising.

It can be a day to push for bigger actions and ongoing commitment from big players. Earth Day can be a day for divestment movements, and for asking local venues to stop with the chemicals on the grass and single-use plastics — and to begin (and continue) addressing crucial local issues related to water, air, food, habitats, and climate action.

As climate change is already happening, there are many populations in the US and around the world in emergency situations, who are suffering and displaced because of it.

We need to have started on the radical system change required to mitigate this disaster 10 years ago. We are behind. In addition, the current Republican administration is undermining everything we need to change, in unimaginable corrupt and truly damaging ways.

Dealing with these kinds of harrowing dynamics, and the need for long-term resistance, can lead to emotional and mental exhaustion. It also can lead to anger at celebratory days, like Earth Day, that too often fail to live up to what they are intended to be.

At the same time, it is important to celebrate and appreciate what is good, and what we have left, to protect and restore.

If someone we love is seriously ill, and it is also that loved one’s birthday, it is still a day to celebrate. But, we don’t celebrate by engaging in activities that could get the loved one more sick. We certainly don’t try to profit from their situation and needs. The celebration needs to include plans that care for that loved one’s health for that day, and with their long-term needs in mind as well. Caring for our Earth is no different.

And, just like long-term caregivers, it is important that we take down-time, in order to recharge ourselves, so that we can productively face all of the day-to-day challenges. In states of emergency, there is not this luxury, but in the scope of worldwide populations, those who can, must stop and recharge in order to be more effective for the long haul.

Yes, it is important that we make time to spend time in nature, in order to appreciate and connect with what we are standing up for. Yet, we need to, at least, spend time in nature in a way that causes no harm. And hopefully, we spend time in nature in a way that can contribute to educating, helping, restoring, and preserving health and balance in nature and the ecosystems around us.

The ordinary natural world is miraculous, wondrous, and beautiful. We owe our daily lives to the goodness of this planet. This is what sacred means…it is a valuing and awareness of goodness. Currently, we face a crisis in which too many leaders have forsaken the sacredness of life for profit, power, and greed. If we are going to celebrate and promote Earth day, may it be for Earth day every day, and for preserving the innate sacredness of life over all else in a way that is inclusive, honest, and kind.

If you would like to take a special action to celebrate Earth Day this year, I recommend joining me in signing the petition to the current administration for the Native Americans at Pine Ridge Reservation who are in a state of emergency and displaced by massive flooding. Follow this link to act now.

Posted in recipe for a green life

Sustainable Fashion: What You Need To Know

Current Movements, Realities, And Options Related To Sustainable, Ethical Fashion

CS Sherin, March 21, 2019

Markusspiske on Pixabay

Exactly a week ago the United Nations Environment Assembly launched the “UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion” in Nairobi, Kenya. Its goals are to end the environmental and socially destructive aspects of the fashion industry at large. This new alliance welcomes other organizations to collaborate for the cause. For example, UN Environment is pushing for governments to adopt and maintain sustainable manufacturing practices. The International Trade Centre plans to promote fashion artisans from the developing world. The Food and Agricultural Organization plans to facilitate the use of sustainable oceanic materials for fashion, which they call “Blue Fashion”. Many big fashion companies have signed on, pledging to make changes in the coming decades.

A Destructive Industry

The fashion industry is responsible for ongoing negative impacts upon the environment and quality of life for people. The fashion industry:

  • Uses about 20% of the world’s water, and releases about 500,000 tons of synthetic microfiber pollution into the ocean every year. In addition, those who buy and wash synthetic fabrics (everyone), release significant amounts of synthetic microfiber pollution into waterways around the world.
  • The general quality of mainstream clothing is poor and synthetic. People now buy 60% more clothing than in 2004, and all of that lasts half as long.
  • 8-10% of all global carbon emissions are from the clothing industry.
  • The clothing industry’s crops account for 24% of all insecticides used, and 11% of all pesticides used.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars in clothing are wasted each year by the fashion industry due to an absence of recycling, and never-used-waste that goes to the landfill.

(Source: UN Environment Press Release, March 14, 2019)

The Fashion Industry’s Dark Side

In addition to the statistical information, the fashion industry has yet to invest seriously in hemp, organic cotton, and linen in a way that is inclusive and affordable for the average person. It is the choice of the industry so far to lean heavily on synthetic fibers in order to cheaply produce clothing and fabrics for the mainstream. This leads to huge amounts of destructive waste and pollution.

The dark side of fashion has always included animal cruelty, outsourced slave labor and child labor, trends that are wasteful and encourage reckless waste, objectification of the female body, and elitist glamour that saturates ads that prey on youth — who are especially vulnerable to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

The fashion industry is not just high fashion, trends, niches, and the runway — it is also chain stores that overstock cheap garments of little quality and short life, lingerie, and athletic wear. And it is forever linked with the beauty industry (which is saturated with these issues as well). The fashion/clothing industry is much like the major corporations that continue to manufacture single-use plastics daily — they are responsible for ongoing reckless waste that is polluting and suffocating so much of the planet.

A Movement For Positive Change

Initiatives like the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion can hold the fashion industry accountable in ways that inspire many to turn things around for the better. The fashion industry, like the rest of the world’s wasteful, toxic systems, must make never-before-seen levels of radical change, which turn exploitation, destruction, and abuses into healthy, ethical, empowering, and sustainable practices and promotions.

While the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion is tackling the issue of plastics related to fashion, it is unclear if the change will be made quickly enough to save our ocean and resources from the damage that has built up, and that continues daily.

New Options In The Search For Sustainable Fashion

Emma Watson, a champion for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, is also using her positive influence to recommend a sustainability-driven fashion operative called, “Good On You”.

“I support Good On You because I need to know my clothes do not harm our precious planet or its people.”

Emma Watson

Good On You provides many helpful explanations on materials, concerns, resources, and reviews on their website, as well as an app and presence on social media. Good On You rates clothing lines according to the sustainability categories that they most value, which include: impact on workers, resource use, energy use, carbon use, impacts on water, chemical use and disposal; animal welfare, leadership on issues, and standards like Fair Trade. They avoid brands that greenwash and lack transparency. They give a rating of “Not good enough” for brands that don’t provide enough transparency. The “It’s a start” rating denotes that the brand is making progress. And the other ratings are “Good” and “Great”.

Fashion Revolution is a UK based inclusive global movement for ethical action and change in the fashion industry. They call themselves “pro-fashion protestors” because they see fashion as positive, and yet want it to become truly sustainable and ethical.

We love fashion. But we don’t want our clothes to exploit people or destroy our planet. We demand radical, revolutionary change.

part of Fashion Revolution’s Manifesto

This organization appeals to all people in general, brands, retailers, producers, students, and educators to get involved. They have global representation, networking, regional articles, and an action center.

The Good Trade is an online guide to ethical and sustainable choices, some of which take budget into account for: fashion, beauty, wellness, home, travel, food, and lifestyle. The website style is very much like a magazine, with ongoing feature articles in the different genres of topics. The shopping guide for fashion does identify many brands that are organic, sustainable, and “affordable”. Affordable is in quotes due to the relativity of that particular word, especially in articles featuring fast and new fashion.

Between Affordability And Sustainability

Platforms like The Good Trade are helpful in some ways, but none like it seem to really address the plight of most people, which is that wages are not matching the demands of inflation and cost of living — leaving a lot of the organic, sustainable, ethical options out of reach, no matter how “affordable” fashion folks deem certain brands.

For example, a similar platform, EcoCult, published an article, “The 18 Most Affordable Places to Buy Sustainable, Eco-Friendly, and Ethical Fashion”. I would recommend reading all the comments made in response to this article, as they highlight the realities, and the varying ideas on where the ethical line is drawn between supporting large businesses making an effort (with some greenwashing going on) and real, accessible, ethical choices.

What is ultimately highlighted or felt in well-meaning, even helpful, articles like this is the dissonance present in our culture due to systemic dysfunction, corruption, privilege, and disparate levels of financial means.

The comments reveals two key things. One, the “affordable” options are not affordable for many. Two, recommending companies that greenwash can and does erode the trust of readers — especially when they are already accepting sponsored products on the author’s transparent ethical stance. Of course, the advice given for those who cannot afford the “affordable” is the only advice that can be given: shop secondhand — thrift your way to lasting, ethical fashion.

Secondhand clothing is, indeed, one of the big answers, yes. And so is: buying less and divesting from new fashion entirely. Or choosing to invest in new clothing only when you can source it ethically and sustainably, which may be through local/regional people, rather than from companies.

From Corporate Alliances To Grassroots Action

MPKino on Pixabay

The big industries need to be held accountable with restrictions and taxes made into law that enforce the changes needed. All of the different organizations and movements in the world pushing for ethical, sustainable fashion address the needed change on different levels, with many different ways of putting it into action.

In regards to fashion, for those of us who are directors and designers of our own sustainable and ethical lifestyle changes, the ongoing values that inform actions revolve around: reducing and eliminating waste, buying less, buying thrift/secondhand, no more buying, trading and fixing, mending or transforming what is wearing out. And, avoiding synthetic fabrics whenever possible.

We can’t afford fast fashion. We can’t afford ethical fashion, for that matter, until wages are updated with inflation. In regards to our future on this planet, life can’t afford for us to keep buying and wasting.

CS Sherin, author of Recipe For A Green Life

Secondhand Clothing options run the gamut from little shops to big operations — local, regional, and online — that provide truly affordable clothing. My Wardrobe HQ is an example of an online buying, selling, and renting operation for clothing. Money earned is used to buy or rent fashion on the site. The site requires participants to do their own shipping, packaging, and printing of labels. This includes use of single-use plastics and paper.

Brick and mortar outfits may provide a more sustainable option in light of packaging and shipping related to online operations. Yet, many secondhand operations may or may not be making strides in how they run the business. Secondhand operations may or many not choose to depend on the use of: stickers, single-use plastic tags, hangers, bags, chemical air fresheners, and other single-use items related to clothing protection, purchase, and storage.

In many areas where a large city is nearby, there are often various shops that provide secondhand clothing in the niches of vintage, brand name and high fashion, in addition to the regular and mainstream options. In some areas, there are also shops with some options for locally or regionally handmade clothing. And why not combine the two?

A creative and talented thrift shopper may find secondhand clothing that doesn’t quite fit, but has an idea for it, and knows how to sew and create new clothing from what is salvaged at rummage sales and the like. Or, a creative and resourceful thrifter can obtain the salvage items of clothing and enlist a local tailor or seamstress to fix and recreate items for them. This is another level of thrift that incorporates re-purposing and upcycling.

Stop Buying Clothes?

Clothing exchange groups are a part of the natural solution to the excess and need present. Free exchanges of clothing provides the opportunity to reuse, re-purpose, and help one another — without a price tag always being attached.

Pop-up shops and secondhand clothing shops can provide events where people can trade clothing items using the one-for-one policy. This seems a most exciting new movement for the general population. Fairness in what is traded, and proposed value for an object is erased in favor of need and demand. Value of one-for-one is straightforward and no-nonsense. Perhaps more detailed or other approaches are successful as well, like: a dress for a dress, a shirt for a shirt. That policy would be the like-for-like policy. There are many options for sharing, trading, and renting, and they are not limited to casual or practical fashion.

Rent and Swap sites are another way to satisfy fashion hunger without buying. Online sites like Rent The Runway and Style Lend facilitate the renting of high-end, exclusive clothing. Rent The Runway works on a two tiered monthly membership fee of $69 or $80 per month trial offer ($89 or $159 per month after trial), that can be cancelled at any time. This is not affordable for everybody, but it does fit a need and reduces waste and buying. Style Lend is similar in approach to My Wardrobe HQ. To be clear, since they are not — “lending”, in this context, means renting. There is no lending going on in sense of a friend lending a friend an article of clothing. That would be in the category of the previous paragraph, clothing exchange groups. So yeah, none of the Rent and Swap sites are actually swapping or lending for free.

The Rent and Swap is a solution for those who have the budget, and only wear items a few times for events and special occasions or due to lifestyle and/or profession-based demands. These platforms eliminate buying, while allowing the joy of fashion to be spread, as well as a secondhand profit from it that keeps investing in rented items. With this option, the concern of shipping materials and emissions remain an issue to weigh and consider carefully. Local or regional brick and mortar rent and swap sites would be a better choice, when available.

Overall, we need all the solutions in order to address the many layers of challenges and problems within the realm of fashion, for the industry at large, and for all the people, in all the situations we find ourselves in. What we don’t need is ongoing inaction, greenwashing, destructive waste and pollution, and lack of enforced accountability.