Happy Earth Day!

Going green
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  April 16, 2008

Forgive my scattered thoughts this month — between the arrival of spring (and with it, Earth Day), and the passage across my desk of a flurry of relevant books and notices, I can’t choose just one topic on which to expound. What follows is a tilt-a-whirl ride through my green-saturated brain. Enjoy!

This week and next, a host of EARTH DAY-RELATED EVENTS will take place in the area to celebrate the 38th anniversary of this international holiday (the official date is Tuesday, April 22, but non-profits, arts organizations, and municipalities are taking the liberty of scheduling eco-events throughout the month).

On Earth Day proper, the local community-organizing group MENSK is putting on “YOU CAN GET THERE FROM HERE” in Congress Square, an event highlighting sustainable transportation, as well as other eco-issues. The mélange of happenings throughout the month — some of which aren’t pegged to Earth Day, but merely to environmentalism in general — illustrate the extent to which environmental awareness has become ubiquitous, at least in some circles.

Just this month, there have already been at least two green social-networking events (an upstart happy hour, PORTLAND GREENDRINKS, which takes place on the second Tuesday of every month, and the kick-off for The Nature Conservancy’s under-35 effort, TNC NEXT), plus one eco-related dinner (Environment Maine’s SOS: SAVE OUR SEAFOOD event, at which local chefs served up sustainable seafood dishes).

Were these well-attended events populated by the same people? If so, those activists are pretty dedicated (and appreciative of free food and booze). If not, Portland’s pool of enviros is growing!

But we knew that already, right? I mean, Whole Foods recently stopped using plastic bags, the city participated in Earth Hour at the behest of Mayor Ed Suslovic and the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club, and for ages, Longfellow Books has devoted a whole section of its front wall to healthy-earth tomes.

On May 1, they’ll have a new book to add to the display: THE COMPASSIONATE CARNIVORE: OR, HOW TO KEEP ANIMALS HAPPY, SAVE OLD MACDONALD'S FARM, REDUCE YOUR HOOFPRINT, AND STILL EAT MEAT (DaCapo), by Catherine Friend, a Minnesota farmer who advocates sustainable farming, and who unapologetically eats meat.

She’s developed strict criteria (unfortunately unmet by most of the agriculture industry) for acceptable meat-eating: “After observing my animals for many years, here’s what I think comprises a quality life for a livestock animal: the right kind of food, and plenty of it; fresh water; lots of room to run and exercise; fresh air free from stink and airborne diseases; and the freedom to engage in instinctive behaviors.” (73)

Friend doesn’t have a problem with vegans or vegetarians, but reminds her readers that “the more of us who remain at, or join, the table by seeking out and buying humanely raised meat, the stronger our numbers and the more animals that will be raised in sustainable, humane systems instead of as widgets in a factory.”

It’s a sound philosophy, and one that has wider implications about thoughtful consumption. If consumption, generally speaking, is on your agenda for the coming months — need some hostess gifts? — check out Tamra Philbrook’s ARTFUL WARES (artfulwares.com has an online store and a list of local shops carrying her items). Like the Portland-based SEA BAGS, which are made from recycled sails, Philbrook uses objects that would otherwise be tossed — in this case, reclaimed natural shoreline waste such as mussel, clam, and lobster shells — to create beautiful, environmentally friendly tableware. They’d make a good Earth Day present too.

Deirdre Fulton can be reached at dfulton@phx.com.

Related: Cheers to green beer, Hog wild on the farm, Corporate Shopping Alternative, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Vegetarianism,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE  |  July 24, 2014
    When three theater companies, all within a one-hour drive of Portland, choose to present the same Shakespeare play on overlapping dates, you have to wonder what about that particular show resonates with this particular moment.
  •   NUMBER CRUNCHERS  |  July 23, 2014
    Maybe instead of devoting still-more resources to food reviews, Maine’s leading news organizations should spend money on keeping better tabs on Augusta.
    Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, women represented just 15 percent of protagonists, and less than one-third of total characters.
    Former Mainer Shanna McNair started The New Guard, an independent, multi-genre literary review, in order to exalt the writer, no matter if that writer was well-established or just starting out.
  •   NO TAR SANDS  |  July 10, 2014
    “People’s feelings are clear...they don’t want to be known as the tar sands capitol of the United States."

 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON