Category: carbon footprint

Changing Lanes

With the advent of Amazon Now and Google Express- hyper convenient delivery services that are not only speedy but also inexpensive, catering to the whimsical and short attention spam masses, is this new culture of instant reception going to lend to an increase in other sorts of delivery service options?  Is this going to spill back over into the arena of the bike messengers, the cowboys of the city roads battling the automotive clogged lanes?  Is this increase in the demand for instant delivery going to add more two-wheeled and petal powered machines to the mix?  Personalized delivery is absurd because of how much behind the scene costs are required in getting that precious package to you. Cars, gas, insurance, and parking are all expensive.  A dude on a bike, way less of a down payment.  I hope to see more crusaders of cycle on the scene, filling in the gap of convenience driven culture.

The bicycle’s plea

What if there were bike lanes along the train tracks?  How would that change the biking scene in Chicago?  Frankly biking in this city sucks.  Yes there are a few bike lanes, but hardly any are protected lanes- where the bike lane is separated from the direct traffic, tucked in between parked cars and the curb.  Within this great and grandiose city there are the very few that do exist, and those teases lasts for but a short spell, like a lack luster summer romance.

Riding next to full blown rush hour traffic, squeezed in between semi trucks, garbage trucks, and food service trucks, and stopping every 20 feet for a stop sign or traffic light, is not fun.  It used to be thrilling, but now it is just straight up annoying.  Do I want to ride my bike everyday?  No because it is not fun anymore.  Stopping that precious momentum just to rebuild it again to that coasting status takes a lot of energy.  Then stop again as soon as you get going.

Regaining this momentum is a lot different from the experience in the car.  Yes start and stop is annoying, but on the bike it is downright challenging.  This, my driving friends, is why we cyclists cannot stop at every stop sign.  Not only the force required for the sake of movement, it is also the time involved.  In the time it takes to complete the stop, then to go, and finally to pass through the intersection, we are looking at a solid minute.  If instead, I look at the intersection and make sure all parties are reaching their stop, I will continue on my journey.  This agreement saves everyone time.  We are all in a rush.  So please cars, understand that we bikers have already seen you, and are not being jerks if we glide by seemingly unknowingly.

I am not justifying this agreement as a viable solution, do not get me wrong. It is clearly not working.

One ideal solution to the bike conundrum would be to make use of the avenues that already exist in the city: train tracks.  There is one old track line that has been reinvented as a bike and walking path: the 606.  This is a great solution and I want to see more types of this sort of innovative city structure to help carry us into a modern and green city, the type of city that Chicago is promoting, the type of city that adapts to the modern man’s hustle.  I want cycling to be a viable solution, an easy and stress free form of transportation that is not a life and death scenario, as it is now.

The advancement of the traffic jam

Dear Chicago,

Why are we stuck in a Jeffersonian era of traffic control? This constant stopping is slowing down progress, making all commutes much more cumbersome than necessary, creating a road rage anger that is deep-rooted and raw, superbly aggressive and panic-stricken.

The first traffic light was invented in 1868, and after 1920, the design has largely not changed.  Since Woodrow Wilson was president, the traffic light has not been upgraded, the flow of traffic has not been improved upon.  The only update we have gotten in 150 years is that there is a countdown for signal change.  This is not revolutionary, but it is included on the Wikipedia page because there is nothing else to say about this highly important societal tool that impacts just about everyone.

It is beyond time for a change, a drastic change, one that incorporates all this technology to help ease the burden of stopping and starting at regularly controlled intervals. The flow of traffic is not natural like the rushing river, it is sporadic like the ever changing Midwestern weather.  We need a system where the signals monitor the accumulated cars and then makes an informed decision on when to change.  Yes, an informed decision that accounts for multiple aspects, a technological decision based on data and real life events, not arbitrary parameters such as every two minutes regardless of the situation.  A scenario where they don’t blink on set schedule just for the sake of changing.  This is not a difficult or expensive fix, I bet the city could do it on its smart phone.

Same for the stop sign.  Lets make then digital so that you only have to stop if there is another car registered. The sign always says slow, but can change to stop when it is needed.

There needs to be bus priority lanes and traffic signals so that riding the bus is not so slow. Taking the bus is hardly a viable option because of how terribly slow the travel is.  The forever bus, that is what it is commonly referred to. The bus needs to travel faster than the flow of traffic, not slower.

Why Eating in America Sucks #5

Recycling is a concept.  It does not actually exist. Yes there are those blue bins dotting down the alleys, but is the trash even sorted in this great large city?  I have my doubts.  Remember when you were supposed to put your recycling in a blue bag, tie it up, and throw it in with the rest of your trash?  Yeah, that happened.  That was the city’s solution to the recycling problem for years.  Yeah right like somebody actually sorted the trash and picked out those gross blue bags.  This is why I have my doubts that the new recycling program with those fancy blue bins are actually getting the job done.

Unfortunately the full and disturbing extent of the issue does not stop here.  With the alleys full of blue dots, at least we are pretending to care.  Not in food service.  Here, we don’t even pretend to try to recycle.  There is only one bin, and let me tell you it is black.

Not even cardboard boxes are recycled.  It is truly sick.

Even the places that say they do, it’s about a 50/50 shot.   Don’t be fooled, recycling is not happening.

Yes, this is part where you are supposed to get angry.

Why eating in America Sucks #4

Our reliance on disposable product.

Not just disposable, but as an additional insult to our mother earth, non compostable. I know you don’t want to throw away those overcooked eggs left from brunch, but think about the environmental impact of that Styrofoam container that is your to-go bag.  I understand that you didn’t pick that vessel, but that is what exists and that is what you are going to get.

If I do take my divine leftovers, I ask for it to be wrapped in aluminum.  Straight-up.  When the server comes to the table, I say please just wrap it up like a burrito in a sheet of foil.  All restaurants have tin foil and it is the least amount of packaging available that can serve as a doggie bag.  If they won’t do that, then I don’t want the rest of my plate.

Also, to mention, I am pretty sure that you are not supposed to microwave Styrofoam because of toxic chemicals in this lightweight plastic mutant.  I understand that Styrofoam was developed and is so widely used because it is spectacular for thermal insulation, but unfortunately this hexagonal crunchy structure of  probably hydrogenated plastic is not the right answer.

Every Styrofoam container should come with a warning label, like the kind found on cigarette packages.  Warning: this product will certainly add to global warning, pose a hazard to wildlife, contains carcinogens and release some 57 chemicals with the heating of this foam that can lead to cancer.  How would that change the food service industry?

It’s not your fault portion sizes are too big, I know, but maybe try a small plate and split your American meal designed for one.

It’s not your fault, but you are part of the circus.  You didn’t interview for it, but that doesn’t matter.  Styrofoam is not acceptable under any circumstances.  This goes beyond our dependence on plastic, this includes an active role to cut down on waste that will continue to haunt the world for millennia.

Throwing away food is wrong, but so is compromising the environment because we don’t know how to responsibly store food.  Do your part, and do not support this closed cell polystyrene foam system that is so convenient for handling hot foods, being both lightweight and strong.  It is not responsible, especially since you know that this “disposable” product is not biodegradable and there is no recycling practice in place.  If you aren’t swayed by the health risked posed to mother earth, be swayed by the health risk posed to yourself.

Eating in America Sucks #3

Ketchup.

Heinz ketchup.

Heinz ketchup has single-handedly brainwashed every American.  Do not ever say foodie to me, ever, because I swear that you do want ketchup on that damn fine burger.  Don’t give me this a ‘hot dog doesn’t get ketchup’ bullshit when Heinz is in every kitchen across ‘Merica, from casual dinner, to upscale diner, to Artisanal burger bar, to high-end restaurants.

The thing is, nobody wants house made ketchup.  Every one secretly and openly wants Heinz.  Not the 27 variety spiel, just that one uniquely bland taste of tomato paste and corn syrup goodness.

Because everyone is addicted to sugar, that smooth sweet paste is craved by all.  Even you.

Hence we are all brain washed.  It has created such an understated niche monopoly on food culture, that we are hesitate even to notice how pervasive this product is.  Understand, there is no other ketchup. Heinz is ketchup like Bandaid is bandage and Rollerblades are inline skating.

I think it is time to buy stock in this company.

TV Culture

I don’t watch TV.  Its kinda boring is the thing.  I have hardly ever watched it in my life.  Sometimes I do, and when I do it is a splurge.  The overly dramatic but not too loud or too soft spoken scenario is a grand way to relax after strenuous work week.   To tune out by tuning in.

Other than the over-worked periods of my life, or to rebel against myself being defying my own rules, I don’t ever seek out the television as a constant companion.

What I don’t understand about television is the ads. They are the worst.  Commercials are beyond annoying, they are frustrating with their simplicity and complacency.  They talk to you like you are a child, like you are an idiot, like you can be convinced of anything.  When you watch advertisements that are so very short and so very full of the most eloquently packaged bullshit you have ever conceptualized, you still know that those naysayers are trying to trick you. You know that the footsteps are the fanciful jig of the devil.

We do outsmart the ads, but what I don’t think we realize is that after a while the ads outnumb us.  We forget that after watching so many terribly unbelieving scenarios,  our threshold of believability eventually drops.  We don’t ever buy the dumbest things, but we start to be persuaded by the ‘average to possible’ ideas.  Just because its plausible does not mean it should be attained.

I haven’t watched TV in over 6 months, at least, and oh my are the commercials so bad.  I can’t even do it.  And I am not mad about it.

-Marigold

Eating in America Suck #2

Americans have an unhealthy obsession with plastic and it has to stop.  I do not understand why so much disposable plastic is produced and wasted by everyone all the time.  EVERYONE ALL THE TIME!

Why does everything have to be wrapped in plastic?  People feel a weird sense of security when their food comes all bundled up like a chirstmas package.  Please do not let the outside world touch my food!  This food has been grown in a labaratory and has never been exposed to human hands, or pollution, or chemicals, or dirt of any kind.

A few examples:

Please be sure that you do not place any naturally wrapped food (which will peeled prior to cooking or consumption) directly on that dirty, god forsaken conveyor belt at the supermarket.  That thing is made out of rubber, and you know what they say about rubber.  Rubber really gets around.  Its nothing like pristine plastic.  Plastic is super clean.  Godly clean.  Pastic wrap is pretty much the closest thing to god that we have.  Nothing like that devil rubber conveyor belt that has touched literally everyone else’s food.  Gross.

For bulk buying, or food service demands, that thin membrane of the grocery store plastic bag isn’t strong enough to support the contents in the bag.  So please put fragile contents in a cardboard box.  But you know what they say about cardboard boxes, they are unreliable.  So mind as well wrap that cardboard box in plastic.  Godly plastic saves the day again!

I am not joking or exaggerating.  Plastic bags placed in boxes that are wrapped in plastic.  This is like normal.  Every day.

Oh, it continues, this PLASTIC rant.

Be sure to save the uncooked/unconsumed/ unused product in plastic.  As for your leftover dinner, be sure to also cover that in plastic.  That way, when you go to reheat it in the microwave, all you have to do is press a button.  Or course it is perfectly safe to eat things out of plastic.  Plastic is godly, and definitely does not cause cancer.

Clean up is a breeze when everthing is wrapped in plastic.  You don’t have ANY dishes to do whatsoever.  Simply take the plastic, and put it in the plastic garbage can that is lined conveniently with a plastic bag.  Dont worry, the plastic will disapear completely with no threat of getting into our food supply.  It’s magic, it’s godly.

So much plastic you can’t even imagine, I know.  It is sick.  We have a plastic problem.