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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


How to Follow Marie Kondo’s Method, Sustainably

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Lisa Friedman

There’s a lot going on in Washington and the world this week, but there’s also still a lot of buzz around the Green New Deal, a proposal put forth by Democrats that would reshape the American energy sector to tackle climate change and create jobs.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, has said he’ll bring the proposal to a vote in the coming months, a move that could force Democratic senators who are running for president to choose sides.

Young people who follow the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group, have protested at government offices in recent days to demand that lawmakers vote in favor of the proposal. About 40 young people, some holding a sign saying “Mitch, look us in the eyes,” were arrested Monday while holding a sit-in at Mr. McConnell’s Washington office. They and other critics have denounced the vote as a ploy to divide Democrats and throw cold water on the notion of an ambitious climate plan.

But activists aren’t focusing solely on Republicans. Last week a group of schoolchildren confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, over her resistance to the Green New Deal. Ms. Feinstein — who has a 100 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, which tracks lawmakers’ environmental records — told the students the Green New Deal had little chance of passing a Republican-led Senate. Video of the encounter spread quickly on social media.

For a deep dive into both the political perils of the Green New Deal and the technological hurdles of decarbonizing the United States economy, check out this piece that Trip Gabriel and I did last week. And if you’re confused about what the Green New Deal is, I try to offer answers to some basic questions here.

In other news, the White House announced last week that it had ended talks with California on whether the state could retain its right to set stricter automobile emissions standards than the federal government.

The breakdown of negotiations, Hiroko Tabuchi and I reported, signals that the Trump administration is moving toward freezing an Obama-era rule that would have doubled fuel economy standards by 2025.

And in the world of science, be sure not to miss this piece by Kendra Pierre-Louis on how extreme weather can start to feel … well, not all that extreme. Happy reading!


CreditTyler Varsell

Ronda Kaysen

For those of us hooked on the Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” this has been a season of decluttering. (If you haven’t caught the bug yet, consider taking The Times’s Tidy Home Challenge).

But when you clear the closets of the stuff that no longer sparks joy, or simply doesn’t fit, you are confronted with a pile of possessions in need of a new home. It may be tempting to take the junk to the dump, leave it on the curb or hand off a mass of unsorted goods to a charity that may not want or need them.

Do the planet a favor instead. Many items can be sold, donated or recycled properly, giving them another life that will be better for the environment.

Consider textiles, which accounted for 6.1 percent of municipal waste generated in the United States in 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2015, Americans recycled 2.5 million tons of textiles, but sent 10.5 million tons to landfills.

“Most people think, ‘O.K., my clothing is stained, it’s garbage,’ ” said Zach Cohen, owner of the Manhattan and Brooklyn franchises of Junkluggers, a hauling company. But there are textile companies that will take clothing, rugs and “anything that is made out of fabric and reuse it and recycle it,” he said.

Your tattered towels and worn-out socks, for example, can get new life as upholstery filler or insulation.

To help get your stuff to the right place, call the charity of your choice and find out what items it accepts. Some accept goods in poor condition for recycling, while others only want what’s suitable for resale.

You can also try specialized organizations, like Books Through Bars, a Philadelphia group that gives paperbacks to people in prison.

You could donate used bras to the Bra Recyclers, which has a drop-off locator on its website. Even an old mattress need not end up in a landfill. Bye Bye Mattress, for example, recycles mattresses in some states.

Have a pair of shoes you’ve hardly worn? Donate them to an organization like Soles4Souls. And Habitat for Humanity collects old furniture, appliances and even building materials.

Other lightly used possessions may still have value, if you have the patience to sell them online.

Contact your local sanitation department to find out how your city would like you to dispose of hazardous materials like latex paint, batteries and fluorescent light bulbs. Many communities have drop-off days.

Even those items most likely destined for the curb, like broken appliances, may have life yet as scrap metal. The more stuff you can keep out of the landfill, the better.

The author sampling his cricket bread. It was good!CreditPhoto Illustration by The New York Times; Photo by Hiroko Tabuchi

I’ve baked a lot of bread over the years, from basic Irma Rombauer white loaves to Tassajara sponge whole-wheat sourdoughs. But until a few weeks ago I had never baked cricket bread.

As in, bread with ground-up crickets.

Eating insects is common in many parts of the planet (the United Nations estimates that roughly one-third of the world’s population consumes them, and they are offered as street food in Mexico, Thailand and other countries), but it hasn’t fully caught on in the United States. Chefs are experimenting, and companies like Hotlix and EntoVida are making snacks and other products from grasshoppers, worms and other insects. (Can I interest you in a bag of mixed bugs?)

There are several qualities that may make insects attractive to consumers. They pack a lot of protein and other nutrients per ounce, more than beef and some other protein sources. And they get good marks from a sustainability and climate perspective — they convert feed to protein very efficiently, use little water and produce only tiny amounts of greenhouse gases. (Unlike cattle, insects emit little to no methane.)

But for many people there’s an ick factor to eating them whole. To overcome that, some companies are trying other means to get crickets into our diet.

That’s the case with Seek Food, a small New York City company. Seek sells cricket granola and other snacks, but it also sells flour mixes, including the one I used, “all-purpose,” which combines standard wheat flour with ground crickets. “It’s an entry-level approach to eating crickets,” said Robyn Shapiro, the company’s founder and chief executive.

Ms. Shapiro declined to say exactly how much cricket flour her mix contains, but said it was less than 25 percent. The resulting flour has 40 percent more protein than wheat flour alone.

In case you’re wondering, Seek’s crickets (the house cricket, or Acheta domesticus) are raised by a Texas company in stainless steel tubs. They don’t need much light or water, but the warmer the environment, the faster they grow. The bugs are fed an all-grain diet but they are not that picky — they can subsist on scraps or other food waste. “Crickets are omnivores,” Ms. Shapiro said.

After about six weeks, the insects are frozen until they are dead. Then they’re dried and milled.

The flour comes in a 12-ounce bag with a recipe on the back — a standard one that calls for yeast, sugar, water, salt and oil to make a basic loaf. The flour was darker than wheat flour, and had an odor that reminded me of malted milk powder. It mixed with the other ingredients easily, and the dough was light and easy to knead.

The recipe called for eight to 10 minutes of kneading, and I could understand why. Crickets don’t have any gluten, so it’s important to fully develop the gluten in the wheat flour to get the dough stretchy enough for proper rising.

The bread that resulted was fairly dark as well, but had a decent texture. I brought it to the office so my Climate colleagues could try it with butter and jam.

It was actually pretty tasty. I’d almost call it normal. Almost.

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