‘Green’ Bullets: For the Ethically and Environmentally Conscious Hunter?

April 6, 2009
It’s amazing to me (but not surprising) that industries whose practices are not only notoriously cruel and often superfluous, but blatantly damaging to increasingly fragile ecosystems are able to advertise that they’re ‘green’. Like the greenwashing of furs, coal, cars, and more – Julian reports on a movement within the hunting community towards ‘green’ bullets. We learned a lot about the phenomenon of greenwashing in the book “Toxic Sludge is Good For You”.  And we must ask – what’s next? ‘Green’ bombs?

‘Green’ Bullets: For the Ethically and Environmentally Conscious Hunter?
by Julian Dezorzi

About a month ago, The Discerning Brute jokingly awarded the Canadian Fur Council’s “Fur is Green” campaign with the “greenwashing award of the decade” (see entry here).  The CFC certainly struck a chord with people who know anything about the toxic, cruel, and unnecessary fur industry.

Not to be outdone, some hunters have decided to follow suit and go ‘green’ in the name of ‘environmentalism’ by switching to copper-based ammunition rather than the more often used, highly toxic, and (of course) cheaper, lead-based bullet alternatives. Now, not only will our environment be protected from the adverse effects of all those toxic lead bullets, but the animals on the receiving end of the slug would be thrilled to know that the person who shot them from a hundred yards away was doing their part to protect nature from – you got it – something that might kill. Or as one of our ‘environmentalist’ hunter friends, Phillip Loughlin, who, “made a choice he knew would brand him as an outsider with many of his fellow hunters,” rationalizes: “I believe that we need to do a little bit to take care of the rest of the habitat and the environment — not just what we want to shoot out of it.”

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Have you ever seen what a copper mine looks like today? And what copper looked like in the days of the gold rush? Watch this short video. Or how about the effects that mining for the highly depleted copper metal that will go into making these so-called ‘green’ bullets? It is unlikely these bullets are being made from recycled copper, and peak levels are exceeded, making copper mining much more costly and hazardous.

I am not claiming to be perfect – after all, I am typing on a computer with copper in it, knowing it was built somewhere in Asia and it’s construction is causing cancer. This article, however, is about the greenwashing of bullets used to kill animals. Let’s turn our attention back to the article and see how hunters are beginning to warm up to the idea of going ‘green’.

What exactly is ‘green’ about the killing of thousands of animals a year? Population control? O, the old population control rationalization. This is often the argument that hunters and rifle aficionados use to justify their desire to bag the ‘big’ buck, go on the canned hunt, and get the trophy that will sit atop their mantle piece as a testament of their skillful manhood rooted in some primal fantasy. Although there are numerous reports that suggest that population control does work in some instances, these studies are countered by numerous studies suggesting otherwise. (See here and here, for example).

Then there’s the effects that hunting has upon land management within many of the private lands that are deforested in order to create a ‘hunter-friendly environment’, devastating even more forest systems and forcing animals to become ‘pests’ as they seek out food in ever-expanding residential areas and farmlands.

The main argument that this article is attempting to put forward is that lead-based bullets are hazardous to the health of the humans who will eventually consume the animals they kill. The article cites a study by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources “which found that when lead bullets explode inside an animal, imperceptible particles of the metal can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound — farther than previously thought” or, as Dr. William Cornatzer, a dermatologist and falconer, after testing a number of venison samples and finding that “about half of the 100 samples — all shot by hunters — tested positive for lead,” points out that “the scary thing is these fragments are almost like dust in the meat. They’re not like metal fragments you would feel when you bite down.”

The implicit megalomaniacal assumption made by this article is ultimately just another example of the speciesism that is part of the dominant social and cultural fabric. This assumption is that human health, safety and lives are intrinsically more valuable than the lives of other animals and the natural environment. Never once does the article acknowledge the ramifications that hunting has upon the habitats that house the thousands of animals that are hunted, for sport and otherwise, each year.

For the majority of us, hunting is not necessary for survival. Most of us can thrive on a plant-based diet. Of course subsistence hunters are not the problem here. I’m not asking the Inuit, Aboriginal or Uru to go vegan. And subsistence hunting is often more humane than farming animals (so if you cringe at the idea of hunting, yet salivate for cheap bacon, it’s time to come to terms with factory farming). However, sport hunters will often invoke the romantic life-or-death imagery of subsistence hunting in order to justify their sport.

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Although the article could conceivably be lauded for the concern it addresses for both human and the natural environment’s well-being through switching to these ‘green’ bullets (arguments that, as I have briefly shown, are highly problematic and belie the actual effects that hunting and mining have upon the natural world) it must equally, and perhaps even more forcibly, be attacked on what it fails to address, namely, the total disregard for the safety and health for the actual animals that are being shot and shot at by both lead and the copper alternatives. For example, what are consequences that lead-poisoning has upon the bodies and cognitive systems of the animals that often ‘get away’ wounded? Such oversights and miss-acknowledgments are sadly the norm. Indeed, this article has striking similarities and echoes the lack and total disregard for addressing such questions in the news media’s coverage of the USDA’s unprecedented recall of 164 million pounds (!) of meat that happened last year– a recall that came to light as a result of a number of whistle-blower videos showing ‘downer cows’ and reports surrounding the egregious and just plain disgusting treatment, handling and killing of cattle and other factory-farmed livestock.

While new reports came in everyday, I found myself searching in vain for at least one report from the mainstream media outlets that condemned and/or attacked the actual perpetrators of these acts to no avail.

I am not claiming that people’s health should not be a nation’s number one concern, nor am I arguing that the weight and severity of these events should not have been reported. Quite the contrary! These reports and the videos that triggered them are essential to informing the nation of the horrendous acts being committed everyday by the meat and dairy industries, as well as the hunting industry. It is of utmost importance for people to be aware and (hopefully) concerned with what they are putting into their bodies for daily sustenance and there must be more oversight and regulations put into place in order to protect not only humans, but animals as well.

This ‘green BULLets’ story is just a part of the ‘green-ification’ agenda that all industries are trying to cash-in on. The absurd notion that something as destructive as ammunition can be ‘green’ is not only deceptive but is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. Being ‘green’ means undertaking actions in order to live within a sustainable world that respects the fact that environmental resources are scarce. It is an acknowledgement that our actions have effects upon the world we live in and an attempt to offset, reduce, minimize, or even reverse the impact that these actions have upon the earth and its resources.

There is nothing sustainable about the hunting industry. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The amount of energy it takes to extract the copper it will take to support this $1.08 billion a year industry, the environmental ramifications that the deforestation measures that are used in order to accommodate sport hunting, and the imbalances to the populations of animals hunted for sport are just a few examples of the consequences that this industry has upon the natural environment and a testament to its lack of sustainability.

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The Discerning Brute’s featured contributor, Julian Dezorzi, is a recent grad-school graduate. Julian De Zorzi is an activist and aspiring writer-filmmaker who lives in Brooklyn.

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DBTV Valentine Special: TODD OLDHAM HEARTS YOU

February 9, 2009

Don’t be jealous! Ever since I watched a green-haired Todd Oldham on “House of Style” back in the nineties, I knew that I had to get crafty with him one day. So, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Todd and I got together at his downtown NYC studio to show you how to make some heart-shaped gifts that come from the heart. We both agree that this holiday is all about affordable, DIY craftiness.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From his features in ReadyMade & Dwell, to crafting Amy Sedaris’ interactive vaginal diagram on the Chelsea Lately Show, and with a line of vases for FTD,  a classic menswear-inspired carpet collection, and design book series called Place Space, Todd is a royal of the creative world. To top that, he is a photographer, filmmaker, interior designer, fashion designer, and can see through walls …well, maybe not the last part.

Mr. Oldham is no stranger to being ethically handsome, either. A vegetarian and environmentalist, he has worked with Peta on undercover investigations, encouraged the sales of plantable oak trees through FTD, and even raised money for the NRDC. He continues to find innovative ways to use eco-friendly, recyclable, and animal-friendly materials (from soy based inks, to un-coated, recycled cardboard) in his products, and one thing we agree on is that having mainstream skills along with aspirations for environmentalism, animal rights, and social justice, is a recipe for making change from the inside.

Chocolate Heart Cake

Jodi Taylor

Organic, Vegan, Cake by Joshua Katcher & Todd Oldham Photo: Jodi Taylor

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
• Two 9″ heart-shaped baking pan
• 3 cups organic all-purpose flour
• 2 cups organic, unrefined sugar
• 1.5 cups organic cocoa
• 2 tsp aluminum-free Baking Powder
• 1.5 tsp Baking Soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 cup organic coconut oil
• 1/4 cup organic canola oil
• 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
• 1/2 cup prepared egg-replacer (Energie or Brand)
• 1 Tbs vanilla
• 2 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
• 2 cups cold coffee
• 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
Icing
• 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
• 1/4 cup coconut oil (not melted)
• 1/4 cup Earth Balance (or other non-hydrogenated margarine)
• 4 cups organic powdered sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1/4 cup soy creamer
(for pink, add 1/8 cup beet juice or 3 drops of red veg-based food coloring)
Marzipan
• 1 cup marzipan
• Natural veg-based food coloring
• Small cookie cutters

CAKE DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375º, and coat your pan with non-stick cooking spray or canola oil.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: Flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, & salt.
3. In a separate bowl (or using a mixer) beat the coconut oil, canola oil, shortening, egg replacer, and vanilla until fluffy.
4. Pour the coffee and almond milk onto the dry mix, then add the whipped oil and egg-replacer, and stir in the chocolate chips until the mixture is smooth.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes (or until edges pull away from sides of pan).

FROSTING DIRECTIONS
1. Beat the shortening, coconut oil, and margarine until smooth.
2. slowly add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
3. Finally, add vanilla and soy-creamer and beat for about 5 minutes until fluffy.

*Once cakes have cooled, take out of pan. If storing prior to decoration, line pan with wax-paper, then put cakes back in tins.
SEE VIDEO FOR DECORATING INSTRUCTIONS!

Jodi Taylor!

Alternate decorating idea! photo: Jodi Taylor!


Heart of Flowers

hearcarnation

Heart of Flowers by Todd Oldham & Joshua Katcher

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
• 20 carnations
• heart-shaped pan (at least 2″ deep)
• 2 – 4 bricks of floral foam
• water
• scissors

DIRECTIONS
See Video (above)


Designer Highlights: Thieves, Vuori & RHLS

February 2, 2009

Ruffeo Hearts Lil’ Snotty has some amazing new products, and a snazzy new website to boot. If you don’t remember, these Brooklyn-based designers turn deadstock, and reclaimed fabrics into geometric fashion wetdreams. From the ‘Rainbows Shooting From a Mystical Pot of Gold’ underwear/bathing suit, to the ‘Big Black Double Barrel” hoodie – RHLS continues to mystify – creatively and ecologically.Image of Rainbows Shooting From a Mystical Pot of GoldImage of Big Black Double Barrel

picture-1Vuori makes organic garments that celebrate activists. Their range of menswear is graphic tee-shirts made from 100% organic cotton. What’s so great about organic cotton? The fact that it’s not conventional cotton!

“Vuori honors the men and women whose heroic efforts, so often unnoticed, propel us towards a more sustainable future. Using fashion as a medium, Vuori recognizes the environmentalists, activists, and humanitarians whose visions inspire us to live with more awareness. On the inside of each garment, we pay tribute to these individuals and their respective heroic endeavors”

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picture-7Thieves is made by Canadian designer Sonja den Elzen. This is a really sophisticated line – something that big designers who haven’t caught on to the fact that we live on a finite planet should be afraid of – because artists like Sonja will be taking their jobs in the next few years! My favorite is the organic cotton twill trench! drool…

The line does use wool, silk, and found antler buttons on certain garments- but it’s mostly animal friendly. The images below are totally vegan and 100% organic cotton.

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Laban Pheidias: A Recipe For Radness

January 10, 2009
photo © Ted Newsome

photo © Ted Newsome

He has a huge beard, a knack for being photographed mid-air, and more counter-culture punch than any rebel I’ve met. He’s also challenging the television and film industry to be more green, starting an eco-skateboard line, and making more videos than a vlogger on speed. This west-coast boy was raised vegetarian, became vegan, and thinks driving a veggie-diesel car and everything from Gypsy Music to Nick Nolte is cool. Meet Laban Pheidias. And remember his name, ’cause you’ll be dropping it later.

Photo © Ted Newsome

Photo © Ted Newsome

Discerning Brute: Hey Laban! Good lord, you have so many things going on. How do you make time for it all? Tell us about your recent projects, what you’re the most stoked about, and whether you were always an over-achiever?
Laban Pheidias: I enjoy having a lot of things on my plate. Not every project or thing I do gets to see the light of day, or at least not right away. It has to be the right time for certain projects. Right now, 2headedhorse (our production company) keeps me and my biz partner, Ted Newsome, pretty slammed. We just moved 2headedhorse into a big building in Echo Park. It’s cool because now our employees don’t have to see me in my underwear at our house. We’re currently wrapping up season 2 of Stupidface (our crazy comedy show). The series premiere is on 1/1/2009 at 1:00am et (10:30pm pt)on Fuel TV. We also just inked a deal for Built to Shred season 2. And we’re also gearing up for American Misfits season 3. This is very exciting to us  because we’ve taken such a long break from it and we’ve got a bunch of new ideas that will invigorate it. I can’t say to much about it now, but let me put it this way, we’re getting out of the bosses clutches and steering it in a new direction. Also, on the horizon are two very unique projects that entail music videos and a feature film.

Photo © Christopher Donez

Photo © Christopher Donez

DB: Wow…you are busy. Skating is clearly a total lifestyle for you. When did you get into skateboarding, and did it have anything to do with your veganism, or vice versa?
LP: I grew up with skateboards in sunny California, but I really got into skateboarding when I was about 14 years old living in Maine. Rob Collinson (Lowcard zine) was the local outcast skater kid in town. We became friends and skated (and ran from cops) every day. I was born and raised vegetarian so I’ve never eaten meat, but it wasn’t until I was living in Oregon when I was around 16 that I became aware of the vegan lifestyle. I met this over the top punk rock activist dude with a big spiked mohawk and a “leather” jacket with the words “Fuck you! It’s not leather” written in red on it. He told  me about all the terrible things that happen to dairy cows and egg laying chickens and how those industries are tied to the meat industry. From that day on I couldn’t ignore this link and the unnecessary cruelty that these animals suffer.

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Photo © Ted Newsome

DB: I had a similar experience at 18. I finally had to live in consistency with the knowledge I gained from watching a doc on factory farms. I got my sleeve as a big reminder to stay true to those values. Speaking of ink, who does your ink, and what tatt is your favorite? Any good stories behind them?

Photo © Ted Newsome

Photo © Ted Newsome

LP: The first tattoo I got was when I was fifteen and it’s the words “No War, No KKK, No Fascist USA” across my back. This is one of MDC‘s songs. My brother gave it to me with a whole made tattoo gun. I returned the favor and tattood the same statement across his back. I get tattoos from different artists. It really depends on where I am. The last three tattoos I got were in Oregon. I got a camping goat on my side from Roll Hardy at Atomic Art Tattoo Studio, a raven on my shoulder from Ryan Mason at the all vegan tattoo shop Scapegoat, and some finger tattoos from Steve Fuller at Triple Six Tattoo in Ashland, Oregon. Right now my favorite is probably the trident on the back of my arm.

Photo © Ted Newsome

DB: The camping goat seems really anti-establishment. Does counter-culture still exist?
LP: Yeah, I definitely think counter-culture exists and hopefully it always will. Counter-culture keeps people in check, because they know that at the right time an idea sparked from the subculture can explode in the face of convention and social norms. There are plenty of ideas that run counter to the mainstream and I know a lot of these things will eventually get their time to shine.

DB: That’s a pretty eloquent expression with both realism and optimism. It’s refreshing. What made you start giving a crap about ecosystems and animals? And do you think other people are finally ‘getting it’ with environmentalism?
LP: I’ve always cared about ecosystems and animals. My parents were a big part of shaping my compassionate point of view towards this planet.  The environmental movement is great but I don’t think a lot of people really get it. There’s a lot of people who call themselves environmentalists because of their Prius and then eat a bloody hamburger. This is the epitome of hypocrisy. You’d be doing the world better by driving a fleet of gas guzzling Hummers while eating a veggie burger. Frankly, I’m sick of the green movement trying to sweep under the carpet and blatantly ignore one of the biggest environmental disasters of this century – factory farming and slaughter houses. It’s time for people to become aware of this fact. But to end on a more positive note I just worked  on a great project with the director Henrik Hanson at RSA films. It’s a psa on driving veggie oil cars (click Vegetable Oil). It just aired on the Sundance channel and has gotten a lot of good feedback.

Shred For Life, Eco Skateboards

DB: The meat/global warming connection is so frustrating! Especially when people like Al Gore are not making it priority number one. Cool vid!  I made a similar PSA for CurrentTV about oil addiction. We should collaborate someday soon! Is there anyone you’ve worked with that totally blew your mind? Who do you want to meet or work with that you haven’t yet?
LP: My business partner Ted Newsome continually blows my mind with his dedication and creative touch. One of these days I would like to work with Nick Nolte. I wish I could go back in time and work with WC Fields. That would be amazing.

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DB: How did you come up with your eco-skateboarding company? Where the hell can I buy one of these boards, and who are the artists doing board graphics for your shred sticks?
LP: Me and Ted have some good friends that don’t have a skateboard home right now and we thought why not channel these guys into a new deal. It’s called Shred for Life. Right now the team consists of myself, Chris Lambert, Jesse Hotchkiss, and Chuck Wampler. No boards or merch are for sale yet, but it’s all in the works and hopefully stuff will be available in the near future. Right now Hotchkiss is on graphic duty and coming up with some good ideas.

Photo © Ted Newsome

Photo © Ted Newsome

DB: You’ve also won an EMA award for doing a really green production. Tell us about how you did that, and how I can that too on my next production! I’m so jealous! Green with envy… derr..
LP: We’ve always tried our hardest to be a green production company. It’s basically being conscious of every part of production and trying cut waste wherever possible. One of the first things we did was to convert all our cars to run on veggie oil. Now we have a 250 gallon tank in our car port filled with veggie oil that we get delivered from a company called green diesel (greendiesel1.com). There is a lot of recycling, vegan catering, and common sense things like using environmentally friendly paint for sets. We took it to a whole other level on one of our episodes of Built to Shred. It’s the episode called “Solar Shred”. Check it out. You can watch it for free at hulu.com.

DB: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to make more ethical lifestyle choices, but still wants to have fun and be cool, AKA a Discerning Brute?
LP: To me the only way to have fun and be cool in life is to be ethically conscious. Of course in art I like to break all the rules. Also, I think it’s a hell of a lot cooler to do what you believe even if everyone seems to diss you because of it. Granted, sometimes it won’t be a lot of fun, but hey, doesn’t mean you can’t have ball anyway without the haters.

DB:  Who you are listening to, what you are reading, what you are eating a ton of,  and should we do it too?
LP: I’m listening to my favorite band Taraf de Haidouks. I’m reading about anything that interests me on wikipedia.org. I’m eating a lot of homemade hot sauce. And you should check it all out.

DB: Anything else we need to know?
LP:You need to know about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Peta. Also, about how amazing “gypsy” music is.

Photo © Ted Newsome

Photo © Ted Newsome

DB: Lastly, give us a super-easy recipe.
LP: Here’s a recipe for radness: one vegan potluck, two quarter pipes, four cases of New Castle, one bottle of absinthe, and the Petrojvic Blasting Company playing the party.


Discerning Philosophy: On The Inadequacy of Anthropocentrism

March 21, 2008
Head in the Clouds

In the same way that we might imagine a cat being unaware of the existence of a Planet Earth or an abstract universe, and a fly that is buzzing around the cat being furthermore unaware of even the city or the house the cat is in, and a virus living in the fly being even furthermore unaware of the existence of the very fly it lives in – and all of these entities may be unable to entirely perceive or decode the functions and patterns of our human creations and abstractions – we live through our understanding of time and space while immersed in, surrounded by, filled with, and dwarfed by things beyond our comprehension. Even statistically speaking, human perception is greatly outnumbered by other subjects of perception. We reside within the limitations of our biological hardware; our recognized five, possibly six senses. And in that, we can only look for and compare other things to the senses we are equipped with.

Moth

It is arrogant to maintain human-centered, or anthropocentric physical and cognitive abilities as the standard for desirable intelligence. It is also arrogant to assume that other organisms like trees, tarantulas, and termites are simply automatons carrying out robotic gestures that our scientists can neatly place into categories for utilitarian purposes.

Wild nature no longer inhabits a spiritual and meaningful place in our human generated environments. Instead, this culture has steadily aimed to reduce everything that is not human (and in many cases, humans that those in power consider less deserving) to a stockpile of resources to be exploited. Simply because this culture has become good at physical manipulation (consider how drastically our civilization has impacted the biosphere over just the last 10,000 years) most of us naturalize this massive devouring and shifting of the physical earth as a sign of supreme superiority and progress.

Eye

Until elephants build a supercomputer, or raccoons write laws, or penguins invest an abstract representation of their resources in a stock-market, I’ll consider human beings smart and everything else stupid,” might be something you’d hear from any typical person that considers themselves intelligent, yet something as simple as radio-waves flow through us unnoticed. A tool interprets it, and changes it into a dialect we can perceive. What other phenomena transpire in ways we haven’t the hardware to grasp, or tools to interpret? What might exist outside the scope of our ability to express something’s characteristics? What lies beyond our biological vocabularies – even beyond all the materials on this planet’s potential to create tools to interpret some of those phenomenon, and beyond anything in the universe we think we could know or observe; even beyond those abilities to create tools with which we may interpret phenomenon we cannot biologically perceive? The possibilities are endless, unimaginable, and humbling.

If none of us had sight, how could we ever understand what it was or even know there was a plane of perception involving sight? We can’t see sound, although we can see the effects of sound, maybe something vibrating – maybe a visual representation of sound waves, but we know they exist. What other phenomenon must slip by not just one or two of our senses, but all of them? What organisms that we write off as unintelligent and unimportant are sensitive to these phenomenon that pass us by?

Leave Veins

Now, back to that cat, fly, and virus. The possibility that these entities are equipped with hardware or software that we cannot comprehend (because we can only compare within our bodies and biological tools’ limitations), and that they are functioning on levels that we cannot percieve is likely, if not probable.

Dare I refer to the phenomenon existing outside our perception as spiritual? Maybe ‘supernatural’ feels safer? Consider ant colonies. Migration. Schools of fish, swarms of bugs, oceanic mammal navigation – Non-humans could be, and probably are functioning on planes we cannot perceive. We do not consider ourselves less intelligent for not sharing these abilities and perceptions, yet we hold non-humans accountable, and often justify their exploitation with that double-standard of not being enough like us to respect their will to live and to let them carry out their activities without being subjected to human standards.

Question: Is it a sign of intelligence to be a successful member of an ecosystem – meaning, not destroying your niche’s ability to support your life? It would seem that organisms that outgrow their niche die off. If they overpopulate, over-consume, over-exploit their home – they tend to die. Considering that humans have been around for a few million years, and within the very brief (almost fluke-like) period of our civilization, we have destroyed so much, I would argue for a reevaluation of what we consider intelligence and progress.