The Long Journey of Produce to Your Grocery Store

Summer fruits. (Photo credit: SFB579 :))

Seeing perfectly colored and ripe fruit and vegetables at the grocery store, it is easy to forget the long journey that they have travelled. In the United States, we are used to having access to any food we desire, whether or not it is in season or can be grown locally. Pineapples, bananas and berries are everyday items, regardless of where in the country you live.

A recent National Geographic article followed a load of strawberries from Watsonville, California, to their final destination in Washington, D.C. As the author, Daniel Stone, points out: …read more

Behavior Change and Plastic Bag Legislation

plastic bag nightmare 006 (Photo credit: Zainub)

Baltimore is one of a growing number of U.S. cities considering either imposing a tax on plastic bags, or banning them outright. Baltimore City Council has been debating the issue for almost 10 years now, most recently proposing adding a 10 cent tax. If the tax passes, Baltimore will join around 100 communities nationwide that have banned plastic disposable bags or banned them outright. But what would happen if this bill passed?

The Environment

Bag the Ban, a campaign to stop the taxes and bans nationwide that is run and paid for …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: How do I build a garden?

As reported in my last post, I obtained rights to build a community garden on a vacant lot from the City of Baltimore. But I have never actually gardened, and had no idea how to build a garden from scratch. After doing my homework, and looking into examples of urban gardens online and around the city, I had a better idea of where to start. So this is what I had to start with (see above). Not so great in the natural light department, but at least there wasn’t any trash to clean up!

The lot. 414 E 26th …read more

UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: You Got Your Garden Plot, Now What?

414 E 26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Here is the vacant property I adopted. Not too big, but a good amount of space to get started.

So I got my plot, pictured right, exactly one month after applying. Now what do I do? How do I go about turning a vacant city lot into a vegetable garden? Let’s start off with what I can’t do, and what I have to do.

According to the license agreement with the city, I can’t install “permanent landscaping,” such as an orchard or a tree farm. This is due to the fact that at …read more

No Clean Water? Suck It Up!

TECHNICIAN HOLDS SAMPLES OF “DIRTY” AND “CLEAN” WATER AFTER TREATMENT – NARA – 543808 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Suck it up!” may be the words residents of developing nations begin to hear more and more when in search for clean drinking water. Well, at least that’s what social entrepreneurs from companies like Life Straw are hoping the 780 million people that lack access to clean water will do. Like more than half a dozen water purification for-profit ventures that actively participate currently, Life Straw recognizes that clean water is a global concern.

Water.org morosely reports that 3.4 million …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: So You Want to Garden in the City?

Urban blight turned into gardens (Photo credit: Bob Elderberry)

Almost one year ago, I moved from rural New Hampshire to urban, post-industrial Baltimore. I had lived in cities for most of my life, but always felt a visceral connection to the “great outdoors”. I also love to cook and am a big fan of anything DIY. This past summer I bought several herbs and vegetables for my apartment to cook with. Window space quickly disappeared, but my desire to grow did not. It became clear that I needed more space; I needed an urban garden.

But, how does one …read more

Composting in the City

I first learned about composting in 2009 while living in an intentional community in the upper level of a rehabbed church in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Seven of us shared one refrigerator, one common living area, and one small trash can, and one even smaller trash can. The second trash can was actually more like a canister—less than a foot high, roughly eight inches in circumference and was used for compost scraps.

There are multiple forms of composting, but the most common form for city dwellers is Backyard composting. You combine browns (fallen leaves or straw), greens (grass clippings and …read more

Can National Governments Lead the Way On Limiting Climate Change?

English: President Barack Obama talks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, President Obama called on the US government to lead by example and increase its use of renewable energy. The goal is for each government agency to get 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which would nearly triple the current usage standards. In recent years, the US government has been notable for its inaction on environmental issues, and climate scientists have been frustrated by a lack of positive legislation, but recent moves by the Obama administration have …read more

Poverty and Environmentalism: An Impossible Combination?

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In ‘The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels’, a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Bjorn Lomborg argues that environmental concerns must come second to alleviating poverty, especially in the developing world. There are certainly problems with Lomborg’s argument, chief among them his choice to underplay the importance of climate change. His views are controversial, and have been challenged by members of the scientific community. For example, he endorses fracking, ignoring the controversy surrounding its implementation in the USA (as noted in a recent UNspOILed blog post).

However, the main thrust of his argument is valid; those …read more