Recently, I started using napkin rings again. It’s something I haven’t done in decades, since I was a child, living in France. Then, napkin rings were a holdover from the days before washing machines, when table linens were not washed after every meal and it was necessary to use personalized rings to identify which napkin had been used by which family member so they could continue using the same one until it was washed.
These days, if you happen to live in a part of the world (like I do) where water is becoming an increasingly precious resource, every small effort to save water makes a difference. I’m trying to reduce the amount of laundry my household produces each week, because even one time use cloth napkins pile up fast.
When shopping for napkins, I try and choose cloth napkins that are easy to wash, and preferably don’t need to be ironed. Some of my informal napkins are made from old tablecloths I cut up into napkin sizes. When I can find them, I’ll buy linen napkins, which are made from the fibers of the flax plant, which are more environmentally friendly than cotton, which uses a lot of water and chemicals to grow.
When washing napkins, wash them in cold water, using a biodegradable and phosphate free laundry detergent and whenever possible, line dry them.
I found these plain wooden napkin rings and added them to my store. They come in a bag of 25 and are ready to be painted.
Did you know…Napkin rings are an invention of the European bourgeoisie, first appearing in France about 1800 and soon spreading to all countries in the western world.
It’s awesome that we have Mountain Lions in Los Angeles! One of them, P-22, has become an international celebrity. Did you know…that P-22 grew up in the Santa Monica Mountains, and now resides by himself in Griffith Park, within a stones throw of the Hollywood sign.
He has his own Facebook page! “Hi! I’m LA’s loneliest bachelor. I like to hang out under the Hollywood sign to try and pick up cougars. Likes: Deer, catnip, Los Feliz weekends. Dislikes: Traffic, coyotes, P-45.”
P-22 and his mates P-33, P-44, P-35, P-13, P-38, P-31, P-40, P-27, P-12, P-19, P-23, P-41, P-42 and P-27 (Yes! These are all mountain lions in the Los Angeles area) need our help, and so does Beth Pratt, National Wildlife Federation California Director. She is behind a campaign to build a wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon, over the 101 freeway. To learn more: http://www.nwf.org/Save-LA-Cougars.aspx
-proposed Liberty Canyon Wildlife Overpass-
Beth Pratt wrote: “P-22’s journey across two of the busiest freeways in America and his ability to survive in the second most populated city in the country has inspired people across the world. His story also inspired me to help this urban population of mountain lions through my work with the National Wildlife Federation.”
According to Dr. Seth Riley of the National Park Service and urban wildlife expert, “this is a vital crossing in one of the last undeveloped areas on the 101, and building a safe passage gives us a chance to ensure the future of the mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and Los Angeles area. Habitat loss is responsible for the rapid decline in wildlife.”
Many other wildlife crossings exist already in the USA and in other countries, and are very successful.
-elephant underpass in Kenya-
Wildlife Crossings around the world
Rapid deforestation and excessive human intervention into wildlife habitat has lead to frequent straying of wild animals into human habitation. Intrusion into wildlife habitat typically occurs due to illegal encroachment and also when roads, railroads, canals, electric power lines, and pipelines penetrate and divide wildlife habitat. Wild animals attempting to cross roads often find themselves in front of speeding vehicles.
Road mortality has significantly impacted a number of prominent species in the United States and elsewhere, including white-tailed deer, Florida panthers, and black bears. According to a study made in 2005, nearly 1.5 million traffic accidents involving deer occur each year in the United States that cause an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damage. In addition, species that are unable to migrate across roads to reach resources such as food, shelter and mates experiences reduced reproductive and survival rates.
One way to minimize human-wildlife conflict is to construct wildlife crossings such as bridges and underpasses that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. The first wildlife crossings were constructed in France during the 1950s. Since then, several European countries including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and France have been using various crossing structures to reduce the conflict between wildlife and roads.
-ecoduct Kikbeek, Hoge Kempen National Park, Belgium-
Wildlife crossings have also become increasingly common in Canada and the United States. The most recognizable wildlife crossings in the world are found in Banff National Park in Alberta where the national park is bisected by a large commercial road called the Trans-Canada Highway. To reduce to effect of the four lane highway, 24 vegetated overpasses and underpasses were built to ensure habitat connectivity and protect motorists. These passes are used regularly by bears, moose, deer, wolves, elk, and many other species.
-wildlife overpass, Banff National Park, Canada
In the United States, thousands of wildlife crossings have been built in the past 30 years, including culverts, bridges, and overpasses. These have been used to protect Mountain Goats in Montana, Spotted Salamanders in Massachusetts, Bighorn Sheep in Colorado, Desert Tortoises in California, and endangered Florida Panthers in Florida.
The Netherlands contains an impressive number of wildlife crossings – over 600, that includes both underpasses and ecoducts. The Veluwe, a 1000 square kilometers of woods, heathland and drifting sands, the largest lowland nature area in North Western Europe, contains nine ecoducts, 50 meters wide on average, that are used to shuttle wildlife across highways that transect the Veluwe.
-ecoduct Borkeld in the Netherlands-
“ I have no illusions that the Glendale Bear or P-22 wouldn’t hesitate to dine on me given the right circumstances. But I’m still rooting for them. Deep down I’m hoping that if they can survive at the margins of human civilization without forsaking their wilderness, so can I.”
-Gregory Rodriguez, LA Times
Note: The use of rodenticide is hurting the wildlife. Call your local legislator and ask him to extend the ban on rodenticide in California: http://www.clawonline.org/ban-rodenticide-1/
-P-22 sick from Rodenticide. He has been treated and has now recovered.
To learn more and to donate: http://www.nwf.org/Save-LA-Cougars.aspx
In the art section of the Almanac newsletter, the focus is entirely on artists that are inspired by nature, or use natural or recycled materials in their work. For a moderate change of pace, here is a broad spectrum of multi-media from 25 artists who’s work I also enjoy…although nature is still the star!
Here goes and in no particular order:
Edmund de Waal
Doug and Mike Starn
Cai guo Qiang
This past weekend, I stopped by an event that Dr. Jane Goodall was speaking at regarding a recently published book about GMOs titled Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steven M. Druker.
It was so wonderful to hear that last week, she gave a copy of this book to the Pope’s committee investigating GMOs. It’s so great that Dr. Goodall doesn’t waste time getting information into influential hands!
I also learned from Dr. Goodall, about the work of research scientist Dr. Anthony Samsel, “who has been studying the toxicity of glysophate, the world’s most prevalent herbicide used in commercial agriculture on GMO crops for many years now.” As it turns out, Monsanto has known since the 1970’s that glysophate causes cancer, and yet they still put it on the market.
During the Q & A part, I asked one of my favorite questions:
What can each of us do to influence positive change?
Dr. Goodall, and the author Steven M. Druker (by Skype) agreed that our purchasing power carries a lot of weight. Each of us can influence positive change just by what we buy. Each purchase sends a strong message to the industry to take notice.
Learn more ways to be a peaceful activist in my book LOLA Lots of Love Always, chapter 9, pages 119-121
A hike in the hills over Los Angeles isn’t just about exercise for caterer and collector Kai Loebach but a great source of inspiration. He finds marvelous natural treasures which he then uses to create superb mis en scenes at Kai’s Catering + Events. Tree roots or gnarled broken branches are hauled back and integrated into the garden or perched above water ponds until they are required at an event.
For years, I’ve been admiring how Kai, who has a lifelong passion for gardening and design, uses plants and natural materials to create attractive, earthy and elegant table centerpieces.
He starts with healthy strong succulents, which he nurses himself.
Kai grows and propagates his plants successfully by not planting succulents or cactuses too deep in pots and also waters them infrequently.
Kai shared some good advice with me: don’t water plants from overhead because they don’t like it (especially lavender) and remove all spraying sprinkler heads, replacing the system with a water efficient drip line, which saves you money on your water bill and money at the flower nursery (due to plant loss).
When using succulents on a table arrangement for an event, Kai uses either potted specimens or just their heads as decoration. The following day, if the cut has sealed on the heads, they can be replanted in pots.
Gourds bought from a local Farmer’s Market are kept in bins, piled into pots during their days off or cleverly stored in metal crates which double as seats around an outdoor table.
These look so great: branches from a pruned fig tree are bunched together in a pot, looking like a multi limbed crustacean upside down.
Kai is currently working on what promises to be a most beautiful outdoor evening wedding in Hawaii this month, using locally found plants and wildflowers as centerpieces, setting up a large tent filled with LED light filled lanterns, and the tables will be placed in a circle surrounded by torches. Sounds stunning!
Kai Loebach’s Catering + Events is one of the leading boutique catering and comprehensive event planning companies in Los Angeles.
February 2014, I followed the High Desert Test Site trail to Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Museum in Joshua Tree, California. The location was undeniably unique and visually stunning. I was in heaven, surrounded by art made from all manner of recycled, reclaimed, repurposed and found ‘objects.’
Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Museum installation will be on view at The Los Angeles County Museum June 7th till September 27th 2015
I recently visited the wonderful Ojai Raptor Center, in Southern California. Raptors are really important because they maintain nature’s balance by helping control animal populations. If raptor prey such as mice, rabbits, rats and prairie dogs become too abundant, they can damage crops and lands and transmit diseases to humans, domestic livestock and pets. As with all wildlife, loss of habitat is the most significant problem facing raptors, followed by illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning.
These young Great Horned Owls were raised at Ojai Raptor Center in the spring of 2013 when they were orphaned or displaced from their nest. All were released in the summer of 2013.
The Ojai Raptor Center (ORC) is a state and federally licensed 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of birds of prey and other wildlife, and to providing educational programs about wildlife and our shared environment.
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT ORC, HELP PROTECT YOUR LOCAL WILDLIFE AND BIRDS OF PREY. YOU CAN BECOME A MEMBER, MAKE A DONATION, SPONSOR ONE OF OUR UNRELEASABLE AMBASSADORS, OR BOOK ONE OF OUR WILDLIFE EDUCATION PROGRAMS.
WE ARE 100% VOLUNTEER AND DONATION BASED, SO IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO HELP FINANCIALLY, YOU CAN GET INVOLVED AND VOLUNTEER WITH US.
Another way to take action to help save birds of prey is to educate yourself! Read about the different species of birds of prey that live in your area. Find out about how humans are impacting the natural habitats of raptors and share your knowledge! 80% of the patients we receive are admitted because of human impact, so as we say in the rehabilitation community, “more education = less rehabilitation.”
Below is a list of great links to help get you started. . .
LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
“At the ORC, we strive to both rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned birds of prey as well as develop educational outreach programs through our many appearances with our non-releasable birds of prey- our ambassadors. Each ambassador serves as a beacon of hope as they help us educate the public on wildlife laws, environmental preservation and co-habitation with the nature around us. I hope that you will join us in our mission to preserve our wildlife.”
All photos by me except for the first one of the orphaned Great Horned Owls.
To learn more: Ojai Raptor Center
The inspiring work ethic of YA LIVING and its creator Lisa Bittan is in step with living more sustainably through wasting less.
Lisa started YA Living 7 years ago, working with artisans in India making hand-made printed and embroidered fabrics, which she uses to create her clothing and home accessories line.
While working with the artisans, Lisa noticed how much fabric was wasted in the manufacturing process. When fabric is professionally cut to make clothing or other products, it is laid out on a long, wide tables. Sewing patterns (or markers) are laid out on top of the material in a manner that will maximize usage of the material. However, invariably there is always some fabric left over since clothing and other items are not evenly and regularly shaped and cut. The leftover fabric either falls or is swept off to the floor. It is what the Indians call “waste fabric”.
Lisa started saving the beautiful tossed away fabric
Last summer, while working on her spring collection in India, she realized that at last, the concept of “re-purposing” had gained a lot of traction and since she had been re-purposing “waste fabric” from the beginning, she decided to develop an entire collection of products created from re-purposed “waste fabric,” creating gorgeous, useful, and better-priced products. In addition to reducing waste, it generates work for the gifted artisans who create them– and whose livelihoods depend on it and it stimulates interest in hand block printing and hand embroidery and other ancient crafts and techniques that are quickly dying out.
You can find her notebooks, photo frames, notepads, pencil holders, desk sets, storage boxes, and hats and lots of other products at:
Did you know…Approximately 93% of all textile waste diverted to recycling is successfully reclaimed, yet 85% goes directly to landfills.
Did you know…In China, millions of tons of unused fabric at Chinese mills go to waste each year when dyed the wrong color.