Oregon

Bamboo Sushi

Do you like sushi? When you go out to a sushi restaurant, do you ever consider where the fish came from, how it was caught, and what chain of events led it to your plate? If you’re the average consumer, probably not, but Bamboo Sushi CEO & Founder Kristofor Lofgren is aiming to change that!

Lofgren was planning a career in environmental law when he happened upon a failing sushi business. Seeing it as an opportunity for reinvention, he bought out the partners and created Bamboo Sushi, a restaurant modeled on sustainability. Unlike many restaurants that have hopped on the green train only to add an inconclusive pledge at the bottom of the menu, Bamboo Sushi has been designed completely around a web of eco-friendliness. This doesn’t come too soon- in 2010, the United Nations calculated that approximately 85% of the world’s fisheries were either overfished or at their limits. In addition, current commercial fishing methods create enormous wastes of life- for every 1 lb of fish that’s kept, 5 lbs are thrown back, including dead dolphins, whales, birds, sharks and sea turtles. Then, 20-45% of the seafood that makes it to gigantic storage facilities becomes inedible because of improper storage and transportation. Such enormous carelessness comes at huge costs- current rates of overfishing, combined with climate change, pollution and habitat destruction will make our oceans entirely devoid of fish by 2048.

Lofgren is fighting overfishing by changing the consumer’s expectations of fish- he wants eaters to know that sustainably caught, healthy fish feels better and tastes better. All of the fish served at Bamboo Sushi come from plentiful populations and are caught selectively, avoiding ecosystem harm. Bamboo Sushi follows the recommendations of institutions such as the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which advise fish consumption decisions based on each species’ capacity. Lofgren also extends his sustainable intentions to other aspects of the dining experience, including using local, grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic-free meats; 100% renewable energy; reusable teak chopsticks; double-flush toilets; biodegradable to-go containers; composting and more. Further, he uses a portion of the restaurant’s proceeds to support protected marine areas where fishing isn’t allowed, such as the 405,000 acre Berry Islands Marine Reserve in the Bahamas.

As for any nay-sayers who doubt Bamboo Sushi’s implements are cost-effective, the restaurant is doing quite well! They’ve expanded with a 2nd location and were voted one of the country’s best 10 sushi restaurants by Bon Appetit Magazine. Perhaps that proves Lofgren’s point: eating with a conscience is better!

For more information on sushi’s effects on the planet, watch The Story of Sushi (below):

Also, check out Seafood Watch Recommendations for your region of the country!

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Beth Shea

Beth Shea is a “green” mom and blogger and founder of the website Petite Planet. Formerly a beauty writer, she changed gears after discovering the myriad of toxins prevalent in the items she was featuring. Worried about the toxins’ harmful effects on her pregnancy and health, she resolved to make her home and daughter’s life as pure and chemical-free as possible. She started writing Petite Planet so that other parents could benefit from everything she learned along the way, believing that every “baby step” counts.

Beth’s top tips for moms to green the home are:

  1. Keep chemicals out of your baby’s feeding routine and out of your household cleaning regimen (breastfeed or use BPA-free baby bottles with silicone nipples and organic formula; use non-toxic utensils and dinnerware; and use all-natural cleaners or chemical-free, non-toxic cleaners such as Seventh Generation).
  2. Use cloth diapers and reusable baby wipes (such as gDiapers, which contain flushable inserts).
  3. Buy wooden, non-toxic, handmade toys instead of plastic ones.
  4. Use chemical-free bath products, bath tubs and bath toys (phthalate-free, BPA-free, and PVC-free).
  5. Remove your shoes at the door to avoid bringing in pesticides, lead dust and pollutants.

Beth has also taken on other changes in her household to attain more eco-friendly, healthy living, such as eating organic, locally-grown, non-GMO foods, limiting meat intake, recycling, walking instead of driving, using reusable bags, and limiting her family’s consumerism. She says that:

“from the moment I got pregnant, I had an awakening that it is every individual’s responsibility to tread lightly on this planet so future generations may inherit a better tomorrow. I think green design should become the rule as opposed to the exception.”

She believes that eventually, living “green” will become the norm, but until that point, she is happy to continue educating and helping families make changes to their lifestyles. Beth is confident that “all the little things we do add up to make a huge difference in improving health on an individual and global level, and that we’re all capable of taking baby steps to go green!

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Daniel Dancer

Daniel Dancer is the creator of Art for the Sky, a living art project that aims to re-create relationships between people and their environment. His idea started after his trip to Peru in the 80’s, where he observed giant images chiseled into the desert by the Nasca people 1,500 years before. His first attempt to bring the art form home involved working with Kansas field artist Stan Herd, using crops and a tractor to create a portrait of a Native American chief. Dancer used school children to symbolize the beads of the head piece and voila- his art form was born.

The Art for the Sky project goes into schools and offices and combines a curriculum on a relevant environmental/social topic with a planned, impermanent art piece. The chosen design is outlined in an outdoor space and participants use colorful shirts to create the full image. Dancer, an environmental photographer, then uses a crane or hot air balloon to photograph the image and show the artists their masterpiece from a bird’s eye view.

Art for the Sky has become a transformative way of gaining perspective on environmental issues a la the big picture, which Dancer terms “sky-sight”. Dancer sees our personal and societal problems as hard to grasp from our normal frames of mind- but when we use art to model the problems and height as the vantage-point, he believes we can come closer to understanding and form wiser solutions. Dancer says:

Training our imaginations to awaken our sky sight, to rise above our problems and see the elusive Grand Picture and how each part fits into the whole is a vital skill that can lead us to the most creative solutions. By embodying a bear, a salmon, an eagle, or other creature, we can begin to learn to see through the eyes of all beings and through the eyes of future generations.

Dancer believes that his practice not only aids in solving environmental troubles but also fosters community building and collaboration, which are necessary in decision-making. The Art for the Sky project uses every child/employee from a school/office and each body makes up a crucial part of the image, so there is no hierarchy and no exclusion. In addition, since studies show that experiential learning is most effective, Dancer hopes the projects have a lasting impact on their creators.

When Daniel Dancer isn’t creating large, living art, he is living at an intentional community he founded in the Columbia Gorge area of Oregon. Spurred by news that a pristine area he loved was being put on the market for mega-development, he decided to purchase the 200 acres and form a 10 parcel neighborhood called Rowena Wilds. The acreage is filled with nature lovers living in earth friendly, possibly recycled-material homes. The community, like his art, is the fulfillment of his desire to eliminate the illusion of separateness between human beings and our surroundings. They are both representations of his belief (and mine) that creativity can change the world for the better.

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