Tag Archives: environment

Taking care of our seas

Dear People of the Earth,

Stop killing and eating us or most of us may die by 2050.


The Fish

– A fictional letter from the
Fictional Representative of Fish to the United Nations


Image via seafoodwatch.org

Image via seafoodwatch.org


In the article UN issues ‘final wake-up call’ on population and environment, the executive director of the UN Environment Program Achim Steiner,  “warned of a global collapse of all species being fished by 2050, if fishing around the world continued at its present pace.”

“The human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage on the environment that could pass points of no return.”

This is not a quote from an activist group like Greenpeace. This quote was from a major report from the United Nations. I really hope that wasn’t our final wake-up call.

Seafood watch

Whats for dinner? Let the pocket guide help you decide.

What’s for dinner? Let the pocket guide help you decide. Source: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org

I went out to dinner with friends who visited the famous  Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA, and showed me their Seafood Watch pocket guide.  Now, I carry the guide in my wallet.  The seafood guides “help make choices that are good for you and the ocean,” according to Seafood Watch.  The useful pocket guides have been helping me make sustainable seafood selections at stores or restaurants, based on scientific data on mercury toxicity, endangered species, and destructive fishing methods.

What is Seafood Watch?

“A program of Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. We recommend which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers to become advocates for environmentally friendly seafood.”

The Seafood Watch website includes searchable seafood database, downloadable pocket guides, guides for business owners, and form letters for encouraging your local restaurants and stores to offer sustainable seafood.

The guide made me conscious about humanity’s effect on fish and our consumption of fish.  Again, I am reminded of the circle of life, to which as a consumer I can often feel disconnection.  The last time I actually caught my own fish to eat was at Cape Cod, MA when I was a child.  I rarely eat fish these days, and when I do it is usually at a restaurant.

The UN report on the possible global collapse of fish was made in 2007.  I’ve been puzzled by the absence of a major US government plan to meet global warming and related urgent environmental challenges. I’ve been trying to do what I can and vote as a consumer to help.  Along with making sustainable seafood choices when I dine out and buy seafood, I also wrote to our local popular sushi restaurant Kirala and dropped off a seafood pocket guide to its take-out branch, Kirala 2 with a friendly letter.  So far, I have heard no response from them, but hope that others will be inspired to write to them too. We do have much power not only as voters but also as consumers. I do believe that awareness on smart seafood choices can be spread quickly among communities, before it is too late.  I hope to avert the possible future where my children and grandchildren grow up in a world without the fish that were once commonplace in our oceans.

What can I do to help?

Encourage your favorite restaurant to serve ocean- friendly seafood (friendly form letters)

Download a seafood watch pocket guide

Consumers make a difference

Download a sushi guide with Japanese names of fish

Note: The pocket guides are also available at the Ecology Center table at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, CA.


‘Only 50 years left’ for sea fish

“There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study.”

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Vegetable clothes

Reusable bags i use at the Farmer's market

My reusable produce bags

New fashion for your greens

Yesterday, I was shopping at the weekly Berkeley organic farmers’ market.  As I was picking up some beautiful shitake mushrooms at the Solano mushroom stand,  a shopper next to me mentioned that he liked my cotton produce bags, especially the mesh ones.  (I have reusable mesh and solid ones.)  He asked me where I bought them. I was happy to spread the environmentally-friendly info and said they are available locally at the Berkeley Natural Grocery. Later in the conversation, I found out that he sits on the board of the farmer’s market and very soon plastic bags will no longer be available at the market. Also, there is a move toward using compostable plastics at the market.

Most of the shoppers at the Farmers’ Market carry reusable shopping bags.  Surprisingly, I’ve only seen two or three other people use reusable produce bags in the environmentally-conscious Berkeley area, at the farmer’s markets and stores.  Most people are still entrenched in the usual shopper’s habit of ripping the plastic bag off a hanging roll and bagging each type of fruit or veggie.

The next step in the reusable bag movement is using reusable produce bags for fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Why should I care?

“All of these “free” bags ultimately cost both consumers and the environment plenty:

  • Each year billions of bags end up as ugly litter.
  • Eventually they break down into tiny toxic bits polluting our soil, river, lakes and oceans
  • Production requires vast amounts of oil.
  • Countless animals needlessly die each year.”

Source: Reusablebags.com

“Americans use 50 billion to 80 billion plastic bags a year.”
Source: Whole Foods Chain to Stop Use of Plastic Bags, NY Times, January 23, 2008

My husband and I have been using reusable shopping bags for many years. However, I became conscious of our small produce bag waste after I realized that we were using about 200 plastic produce bags per year for fruits and veggies!

The reusable produce bags I like are organic cotton and are washable. The mesh bags are good for veggies and fruits, and the solid ones for smaller items like nuts and seeds. I hope to see these bags made with renewable, low-impact hemp in the future.

Flaco's vegan Mexican food in my reusable, recyclable meal container.

Flaco's vegan Mexican food, from the farmer's market, in my reusable meal container.

Where to buy reusable produce bags

Note: Sells organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags and organic Cotton Net Produce Sacks.  Made with Fair Labor/Fair Wage. Machine washable. The vendor also sells cool Reisenthel shopping bags.

East Bay area (California):
Natural Grocery
Note: They sell organic Ecosac’s GardenSac mesh and net see-through produce bags. They are located on a stand behind a register near the book shelves, and near the produce aisle.

Related articles

Plastic Bags: Switching to Reusable Cloth Bags by Kay Bushnell, SierraClub.com, Accessed November 7, 2008.

SF supes vote to ban plastic bags in stores, San Francisco Chronicle, March 27, 2007

An Inconvenient Bag, Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2008

40 percent of Laysan albatross chicks die each year from plastic, montereybayaquarium.org, Accessed November 7, 2008.

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