An Environerd’s Nightmare + Book Update

So I finished rewriting the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the book (How to Save the Planet (or Should We?) [working title]), and given them to my agent. PROGRESS!! Will wait to hear if she thinks we’re good to go to publishers with it, but I’m moving forward with the next chapter, which is on . . . Waste (my pet topic, yo).

Meanwhile I bought this Canola oil spray at Target for $1.99 because my cast iron skillet needed some re-seasoning. I also figured I could spray it on my popcorn, given that it would provide much more efficient coverage than pouring melted vegan butter over it. (Writing requires me to eat a LOT of popcorn, which I make on the stove.)

Unfort I didn’t look at the ingredients label, because it’s not simply canola oil in a can. Au contraire. Evidently “nonstick cooking spray” is different. For one thing, it contains dimethyl silicone (for antifoaming), and no, you don’t need to know much more than that it includes the word “silicone,” which I do not desire to eat. The other ingredient (besides canola oil, which, according to the label, “*adds a trivial amount of fat” — as if I couldn’t figure out that there’s fat in fat) is soy lecithin.

Soy lecithin must be bad for at least some people, because right below the ingredient list are the words “CONTAINS SOY” with a box drawn around it. Again pointing out the obvious: that soy lecithin contains soy.

And below those indiscreetly boxed words, it says “Also contains propellant to dispense spray.” This turn out to be some unidentified chemicals used to drive the fluid out of the can. Now, ozone-depleting propellants that were previously used in aerosols aren’t used much anymore, but the kind that are used (HFCs) still aren’t awesome for the planet.

Sooo . . . now that I know I’m not going to use this stuff (and p.s., I sprayed a little on my fingers to taste it, and it’s HORRIBLE — kind of plastic-y, which I guess is the silicone?) . . . WHAT DO I DO WITH IT???

The can says “Empty Before Recycling” (not pictured). Huh? So . . . stand there for 20 minutes with my finger on the sprayer button thingie until it’s empty? Guys. There are “About 565 servings per container.” Oh, and then — breaking my heart even further — is that the plastic cap isn’t recyclable.

This is what keeps me up at night. Welcome to my world.

And if you have any other title ideas for my book, please LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENTS. I need help!! (Or just subscribe below to follow along.)


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Waste Management: The Show!

This week I did my first LIVE ONLINE performance. It was a blast!!

San Francisco theater company The Marsh asked if I’d do some excerpts from “Waste Management: The Show” on Zoom and YouTube Live on Wednesday night. And a little enviro-chat with the host and the Zoom audience. So of course I said, “Okay.” And then, “What did I just get myself into??”

But I transformed a corner of my dining room into a little TV studio, and voilà. You’ll get a sneak peek from my upcoming book as well, so grab a beverage, and settle in.

A woman with waaay too much on her plate gives herself 49 days to save the planet. (Or at least get people to use less plastic.)

Feel free to leave comments, thoughts, rotten tomatoes…

(And if you SUBSCRIBE to this blog — just below — it helps the book. Thx!)


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A Post-Trump Enviro Quiz . . . and a Wild Defense of Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, 2020 style! I hope you didn’t get stuck with an entire boatload of Brussels sprouts all to yourself, while your brother and sister-in-law now have to figure out what to do with twelve pounds of uneaten turkey. (As happened with some friends who called their family gathering off rather late in the game.)

Meanwhile Citizen Deb herself (moi) has been trying to decide what to write about . . .

Should I do a special holiday-weekend romp about the Pilgrims and the “Indians”?

Do I create a QUIZ to test your knowledge on Trump’s myriad environmental rollbacks over the last four years?

OR do I just pour myself a large glass of wine and eat some leftovers?

Well, obviously the answer is all three.

See, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been listening to an audio book of Washington Irving’s seriously funny History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Deidrich Knickerbocker — which Irving wrote in 1809. I mean, anything that starts at the beginning of the world has Citizen Deb written all over it. (It also happens to be how my own book-in-progress starts.)

But then I was looking over all the envirollbacks [sic] that Biden is going to have to try to unroll come January 20th. Or maybe it’ll be the job of John Kerry, the just-appointed “Climate Envoy” — Biden’s newly created cabinet-level position.

What?? Yeah, baby!!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Actually, Kerry’s job probably won’t involve EPA rollbacks, since the EPA (at least under the outgoing administration) doesn’t recognize the climate crisis or carbon emissions as part of their wheelhouse of protecting American citizens. The last four years they’ve been focusing more on protecting corporate billionaires’ profit margins, which meant a lot of undoing of regulations.

Remember the hamberders? It feels like a million years ago.

King Trump himself did (sort of) recognize climate change when he signed an Executive Order (EO) revoking Obama’s EO that set a goal of lowering the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 10 years. Even though it’s just a “goal,” King Trump didn’t think we needed that one . . . perhaps because his very good brain doesn’t comprehend “future”? I don’t know.

Each rollback is pretty bad. Like the one that loosened the offshore drilling safety regulations that Obama implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Whatever. I’m sure the honor system is fine.

But it’s when you read them all in a row that you think, “Why??? Why did they want to bring back over 100 practices that are clearly terrible for people?” Or perhaps you think, “Exactly how evil is this guy and his cronies?” Or is it that he and his cronies have some misconstrued view of the world and its inhabitants?

Actual size

After all, we’ve had misconstrued views of folks since the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and the Pilgrims didn’t know what to make of the unexpected brown people peeping at them from behind the trees.

It’s old news that Europeans pushed the natives into practical extinction throughout the Americas. Even 200 years ago, the young Washington Irving was pointing it out, by creating a brilliant satirical defense from his fictional “author” Diedrich Knickerbocker, who dutifully rationalizes the colonial genocide. (I especially like when he compares our invasion of the natives’ America with the Moon’s inhabitants’ invasion of ours — so hang tight for that.)

In his so-called History of New York, “Knickerbocker” begins his defense with a question:

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