Tag Archives: consumerism

Happy Holidays?

CGP Grey gives a brief recap of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, do take some time to get in touch with gratitude for all the good things in your world.  And do consider how many in the world have so much less.  Then remember that the following day is Black Friday Buy Nothing Day, now part of a complete Buy Nothing Xmas (courtesy of Adbusters) — a great way to start down the road to Degrowth.

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At the very least, please avoid shopping at “the Dirty Dozen” this season:

 

The Curse of Coltan

Planning another of those difficult talks about primate conservation, and came across this summary of the link to coltan mining in the DRC.

Passionist JPIC Australia

Columbite-tantalite — Coltan for short — is a dull metallic ore found in major quantities in the eastern areas of Congo. When refined, Coltan becomes metallic tantalum, a heat-resistant powder that can hold a high electrical charge. These properties make it a vital element in creating capacitors, the electronic elements that control current flow inside miniature circuit boards. Tantalum capacitors are used in almost all cell phones, laptops, computers, iPads, flat screen TV’s, pagers and many other electronics. The recent technology boom caused the price of Coltan to skyrocket to as much as $400 a kilogram at one point, as companies such as Nokia, Compaq, Dell, HP, Ericson, and Sony struggled to meet demand.

Coltan is mined through a fairly primitive process similar to how gold was mined in California during the 1800s. Dozens of men work together digging large craters in streambeds, scraping away dirt from the surface in…

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Latest article on the Palm Oil threat to the Leuser Ecosystem

A recent summary of the current challenges facing Leuser, where I went 16 years ago to study orangutans, then watched their home being desecrated by the relentless chainsaws.

“Right now, huge swaths of vital forest habitat in Indonesia are being cut, cleared and burnt to the ground to make way for industrial-scale palm oil inyourpalm480pxplantations. These illegal operations produce a cheap supply of palm oil to a voracious international market that is growing at an exponential rate. Demand for this vegetable oil has sky-rocketed in the past decade as palm oil companies have managed to keep consumers in the dark about the hideous crimes being committed against humanity, endangered creatures and the planet.

I hope I have managed to impart even a sliver of the exceptional uniqueness and immense beauty that is embodied by this special place. Only then can one begin to fully understand the weight of loss that is sustained with every single fallen tree. Yet the true measure of this problem extends far beyond the initial insult of deforestation and spreads like a virus into lives of hundreds of innocent people and animals alike. ” ~Heather Rally

Note especially Michelle Desilets’ comment: “May I suggest readers have a look at campaigns by groups such as the Rainforest Action Network and the Union of Concerned Scientists to urge manufacturers and retailers to source only deforestation-free, conflict-free Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.”   This problem is so big and so pervasive that a handful of us tree-huggers refusing Oreos is going to barely make a dent – the companies involved won’t budge without a large, organized push.  So by all means, reduce your complicity, but don’t forget to organize and collaborate for maximum effect.

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How Many Products with Palm Oil Do You Use in a Day?

I think… I hope… I’m doing a bit better than Lael Goodman, the author of this post: “How Many Products with Palm Oil Do I Use in a Day?

But I don’t really have a kitchen where I am now, so what oil is used at the hawker centers and cafeterias where I mostly eat is not something I’ve even begun to investigate.  And yeah, even the organic brands of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. are frequently made with palm oil.  Here’s some of Lael’s daily guilt trip:

…But even though I know that palm oil is ubiquitous in everyday products, I’ve never assessed its role in my life. That was, until yesterday.

What I found was astonishing, even to me: I use palm oil and its derivatives every single day. Multiple times a day…

In just one day, I used at least twelve products that contain or might contain palm oil:

[1] Kellogg’s Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Limited Edition Cereal: Chocolatey Almond: hydrogenated palm kernel oil, palm kernel oil
[2] P&G’s Head and Shoulders shampoo: sodium lauryl sulfate*, sodium laureth sulfate*
[3] L’Oréal’s Garnier Fructis conditioner: cetyl alcohol*
[4] Unilever’s Dove white beauty bar soap: stearic acid*, sodium palmitate*
[5] Unilever’s Vaseline body lotion: stearic acid*, cetyl alcohol*, glyceryl stearate*, glycerin*
[6] Galderma’s Cetaphil moisturizer with sunscreen: glyceryl stearate*
[7] Colgate-Palmolive’s Colgate toothpaste: sodium lauryl sulfate*
[8] Revlon’s Almay mascara: stearic acid*
[9] Daily vitamins: vegetable magnesium stearate*, vegetable stearic acid*
[10] J.M. Smucker’s Jif natural peanut butter: palm oil
[11] Pfizer’s Chapstick lip balm: cetyl alcohol*, tocopheryl linoleate*
[12] Unilever’s Pond’s cold cream: cetyl alcohol*

It’s easy to think that because I don’t regularly frequent McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts that my palm oil use is limited. But I can see now that palm oil is pervasive in both my professional and my personal life.

Luckily, a lot of companies whose brands I use have already begun stepping up to the challenge by making commitments to ensure that the palm oil they use is free of deforestation and peatland destruction. I know my Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste,  L’Oréal conditioner, Kellogg’s cereal, and Unilever soap, lotion, and cream are made by companies who have made this public commitment, making my daily routine a little more sustainable.

Click here to send an email to other companies urging them to make a deforestation and peat-free palm oil commitment.

from http://blog.ucsusa.org/how-many-products-with-palm-oil-do-i-use-in-a-day?

Aside

Why so many vampires? « The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill. An essay I wrote in 2009, considering the relationship of superheroes and power (especially the challenges faced by men and other male apes in the transition to adulthood), … Continue reading