Wal-Mart and Organics: A Neo-Green Dilemma

My sister-in-law sent Samantha and me an article from CNN Money yesterday, announcing Wal-Mart's entry into the world of organic food and clothing.

Let that announcement settle in for a second: Wal-Mart is starting to go Organic! Wow!

This is either one of the worst announcements ever in terms of its potential impact on the environment, or in the long run, it may be the best.

On the negative side, Wal-Mart's big-box, suburban-style development has wrecked a lot of natural land, added traffic to local roads, increased pollution and damaged local water tables/bodies. In addition, think of all the pollution generated by the massive amount of "stuff" that Wal-Mart buys and moves from factories around the world to its 7,000 store locations. Add to these impacts all of the negative claims made about the store's treatment of its workers , and this whole thing looks a bit scary.

Now, think about the potentially positive impacts of this announcement. Wal-Mart's massive size and efficient distribution system has the potential to lower the price of organic products, across the board, This is good news for those of us trying to live a greener lifestyle. It's also good news for the poor to middle-class consumers around the world who will soon be exposed to healthier food and greener products at Wal-Mart, at a reasonable price. Their sudden exposure to these products and their increased demand for them could change the way we shop, forever. Add to this Wal-Mart's October 2005 announcement that they will significantly increase fuel efficiency of their truck fleet over the next decade; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% over the next seven years; reduce energy use by 30% and cut solid waste generated by its U.S. stores by 25% in three years, and it's easy to see a silver lining.

So, check out the article here and ask yourself the same questions I'm struggling with. Wal-Mart is going Organic, but at what cost? It's a Neo-Green dilemma.

In The Future, You'll Wear Cassette Tapes

I have to admit it, even though I own an Ipod and use it religiously, I still enjoy pulling out my old records and cassette tapes and turning up the volume. Even better, I enjoy traveling to the city's used record shops and picking up new (old) records and cassette tapes. Ah, the warmth of analog, I just can't get enough.

Brooklyn artist (and 3r Living friend) Alyce Santoro has a completely different vision for old cassette tapes. When she looks at a collection of dusty old Bon Jovi gems, she sees the raw material for a new batch of Sonic Fabric . What's Sonic Fabric? Invented in 2001 as a byproduct of one of her art projects, Sonic Fabric is an amazing, shiny cloth made from recycled cassette tape which can be turned into anything from messenger bags to dresses. As an added bonus, after a little experimentation, Alyce discovered that she could take a modified Walkman and "play" the fabric (it sort of makes a "wooshing" sound). Try that with your favorite organic cotton jeans! (Here's a hint, it won't work.)

Anyway, I could go on and on about how Alyce has combined artistic vision and creative recycling to create beautiful pieces of functional art, but the best thing to do is to show you some photos and this amazing Japanese Television video featuring Alyce, Sonic Fabric and 3r Living . It's probably a pretty informative piece if you speak Japanese, but if you don't speak the language, you'll still get the idea.

Sonic Fabric Tell-Tail Thangka (Tibetan Prayer Flag) available here and here .

Sonic Fabric FishFlag - These flags are made from sonic fabric prerecorded with the custom sound collage made for Jon Fishman's (of Phish) Sonic Rhythm Dress.

E.T. Got Trashed

As i've mentioned before, i'm a bit of a video game nut , although I rarely have time to play the games I want. So, anyway, yesterday I was poking around on YouTube when I came upon a music video by the band Wintergreen. The video tells the story of the legendary, ill-fated E.T. Video Game, which was developed for the Atari 2600 in 1982. As you can imagine, there was some major hype surrounding the game, following the movie's incredible success. Unfortunately, Warner Communications rushed the project through to get it out by Christmas and the final result (see the picture to the right) was awful. In fact, it was so bad that nearly 5 million game-owners "phoned home" and sent the cartridges back to Atari.

So, what does this have to do with the environment? Well, guess where those 5 million cartridges ended up? In a landfill in the New Mexico desert. This video takes this obscure story of corporate greed and pollution and turns it into entertainment. It's actually kind of fun to watch. Check it out here.

At the end of the video, the boys from Wintergreen dig up some copies of the video game. I'm not sure that this part is real, though. I checked out a web site that claims that Atari crushed the cartridges and sealed them in cement.

Welcome to the Weekend

You know, spring in New York City used to be my least favorite time of the year. It's usually either too cold or too hot but this year, we are enjoying perfect spring weather. Wherever you are this weekend, enjoy!

Samantha and I are attending our first child-birth class this morning. That's right, we'll be enjoying the perfect spring weather inside a hospital. Oh well. Susan will be running the store from 11-4. We'll be in the store from 4-8.

Aisha will be working tomorrow.

For all of the mothers out there, Happy Mothers Day!
UPDATE- I'm an idiot. Mothers Day is next Sunday.

Prospect Park "Party for Playgrounds"

All of us at 3r Living are big supporters of the city's parks. For most New Yorkers, parks are the only contact we have with nature on a daily basis. They are our front yards and backyards and they provide us with a little bit of peace in this crazy city we call home.

In Brooklyn, we're especially fond Prospect Park . If you haven't been to Prospect Park lately, you are missing out! Get there soon, seriously. It gets better and better every season. If it has already become one of your favorite places in the city, the Prospect Park Alliance is looking for you, especially if you have children who enjoy its playgrounds and open spaces. (Did you know that more than 60,000 children live within one mile of Prospect Park?)

On Friday, June 2, the Prospect Park Alliance is hosting its second annual "Party for Playgrounds" outdoors at the Park's beautiful Beaux Arts boathouse. The event's highlights include hors d'oevres, live music by the VouDou Jazz Ensemble, electric boat rides, and an auction for such items as: weekend trips, spa days, fine toys and art.