Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Waste-free is the new recycle

Recycling has been a major part of the ecological movement for almost as long as there has been an ecological movement. It's popularity began with public awareness of the amount of waste going into landfills, and the popularity of the environmental movement as a whole (Rachel Carson's Silent Spring having much to do with it). Today, recycling programmes are popular not only because i this sense of ecological stewardship, but because of the market. Petroleum and woodpulp prices are high enough that using recycled materials is just as costly or more economical.

In all the efforts ecologists have been pushing (especially where i work, at the Éco-Quartier), i feel there is not enough of a push towards waste-free living. It's very simple for people to simply recycle all their waste and think that they are doing something good for the environment. Because in way recycling is not good for the environment, it is just slightly better than throwing something into a landfill. It still takes energy to transport those recyclable goods (whether they be packaging surrounding a consumer good, or a consumer good in itself) to you, and then to the recycling facility in it's after-life. Though it it less energy than producing from raw-materials, recycled good still require energy to be recycled.

It seems time that recycling should be considered common place, standard, if you will. Too often people feel it to be exceptional, as if it instantly makes them an ecologist, when in fact it is only the lesser of the two evils (evils being waste).

Given all this, it's encouraging to see that there are some steps being taken to reduce waste. The popularity of reusable bags is one thing. Three years ago, a grocery store clerk would give you a look of confusion when you would say you brought your own bag. Now it is not uncommon to see people carrying their groceries in reusable bags that are sold at any given grocery store, big chains and small. Today (as soon as i finish this blog post...), the Éco-Quartier is starting a bag-reduction campaign. This will involve making the cashier more aware of the excessive waste the use of plastic bags is creating, and to simply ask the customer if they need a bag instead of instinctively shoving it into a plastic bag. Hopefully, if this campaign works out, every store in downtown will have a sign urging the consumer to consider the environment in a small way.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

New York City Vegetarian

I went to New York for Canada Day weekend, and didn't really take many photos. I'm not sure why, but now i wish i remembered some more of the trip. Looking at the photos now, i can't even remember taking half of them! I guess their drinks really are stronger over there (note: i experienced the worst hang-over of my life Saturday morning). Other than drinking heavily, Rob and i ate very delicious food, sometimes a little too expensive for my budget but nonetheless worth it.

New York seems to have a strong high-income vegetarian population. I suspect this is because it has become a trendy fad in New York, whereas in Montreal it is more of a grassroots type of thing (think Aux Vivres), but this is not too say that New York doesn't have any Granola-Type vegetarians (with all of their accompanied pretension). I just don't think Montreal has the trendy-type yet who would be willing to fork over 23$ for Grilled Cabernet Seitan on a bed of seasonal vegetables, french lentils and garnished with grilled peach salsa (which was absolutely delicious).

I will be sure to visit all these expensive restaurants again, as i dutifully scribed them into my Moleskine City Notebook. This genius invention is basically a city guidebook that comes completely empty (save for a city map) that you fill in yourself. Anyways here are the photos.

Pan-seared seitan & Pomery mustard sauce, with potato purée, haricots verts & glazed pearl onions.

Phyllo pastry stuffed with saffron-basmati rice, pinenuts & almond-orange blossom butter, with mint-cucumber crème fraîche.

And two sangrias. At Counter

New York has planted some plants in their carrés d'arbres as well (in Chelsea, at least). These perennials are much nicer than the cheap-looking annuals the city of Montreal distributes.

Gingko Biloba seems to be the tree of choice in Chelsea. The Asian-Native is super-resistant to pollution, and this city is pollution-central!

The view of Lower Manhatten from the end of Montague Street in Brooklyn

This was on almost every corner on the busier Avenues.