All posts by Rachel

Drop Off Locations for Free Food Scrap Composting in Chicago!

Food waste makes up about 22% of municipal solid waste in America. When this organic material is sent to landfills, it produces methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Composting food scraps avoids that and also creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can help manage stormwater, prevent erosion, and improve plant and soil health. Plus, composting creates more jobs and revenue than landfilling or incinerating garbage!

Chicago residents can now, for the first time, at no charge, drop off their food scraps at one of 15 sites that are open 7:00-7:00 daily.

To get started, check out the city’s food scrap drop off website to watch a short instructional video and find your nearest drop off site on the map, and sign up to receive updates about the program and show that Chicagoans support the composting of food scraps.

ONLY food scraps can go in the compost bins. NO BAGS, not even ones labeled ‘compostable’ can go into the compost bins – but there will be a regular black bin for bags and other trash at each site. Preventing contamination is key to the success of any composting program! 

I recommend storing food scraps in the freezer to avoid attracting bugs or generating smells – as an added bonus, this makes storing and taking out your regular trash easier and less yucky!

Directory of Feminist Philosophy Archives

Back when I was working for Hypatia as a graduate student, I helped set up a digital archive for the journal’s own internal use. It was a huge project (one that has continued and morphed since my time with the journal), but it was also one that I really enjoyed working on, in no small part because of the crucial role that archives play in helping transmit knowledge about our past, our present, and our future possibilities. Such knowledge is especially valuable for historically marginalized communities.

So it was with great pleasure that I learned about a new directory that makes various feminist philosophy archives more accessible to all sorts of scholars and members of the general pubic.

I encourage you to check it out!

Upcoming Talk: “Justice in the Cafeteria”

On September 14th, I’ll be giving a talk with my co-author, Jeremy Fischer, at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario called “Justice in the Cafeteria.” Here’s the abstract:

School meal reform efforts generally center around health, financial accessibility, and environmental sustainability, all of which are important. However, key ethical and political aspects of school meal programs have not received adequate attention in public discussion. We argue that whether school meal programs provide animal-based foods is a matter of justice for kids and for the society in which they live. Our child-centered arguments against providing such foods offer animal advocates and others who have a stake in the school meal debates a motivationally potent resource for their advocacy—without presupposing any particular view about our duties to animals.

Since COVID isn’t over, I’m doing what I can to minimize the risks of the trip for everyone concerned, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to a bit of a philosophy road trip, spending some time in Canada, and the chance to meet some friends from the APPLE reading group in person!

a color image of mountains in the American West superimposed with a gold foil dollar sign

Book recommendation: Billionaire Wilderness, by Justin Farrell

Yale sociologist Justin Farrell’s new book, Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West, is an amazing piece of scholarship that provides detailed insight into how wealth concentration is shaping the human (and more-than-human) communities in Teton County, Wyoming, which is both the richest county in the United States and the county with the highest wealth inequality (on various measures).

Farrell’s research, both qualitative and quantitative, is meticulous and presented in clear and accessible prose. The excerpted interviews provide candid (and sometimes stomach-churning) insight into the hearts and minds of both the ultra-wealthy and the working poor whose labor makes their lifestyles possible in Teton County and thereabouts. For various reasons that Farrell thoughtfully articulates, rural communities are under-researched, and accessing the ultra-wealthy for research purposes is challenging. But we can no longer afford to neglect such research and this book provides a model for much work that is yet to be done.

I strongly recommend this valuable book to anyone who is working on or simply interested in issues relating to climate change, conservation, wealth inequality, and/or social justice more broadly.

Video of My Recent Lecture

If you want to check out the lecture that I gave to the Conceptual Engineering Network back in May, that video is now posted on YouTube!

The talk is called “Conceptual Engineering as Taking Responsibility for Concepts.” It builds on a pair of papers I published in the European Journal of Philosophy a few years back, in which I argued that we can be (backwards-looking) morally responsible for the concepts that we possess and use. In this lecture (a work in progress!), I argue that sometimes, doing conceptual engineering projects involves taking forwards-looking moral responsibility for concepts.

The key example that I talk about in the latter portion of the talk is the concept EMPLOYMENT, and the possible replacement concept HUMAN RENTALS. There, I draw on some fascinating work about workplace democracy by David Ellerman – you can download the whole book here!

Online Lecture May 16: “Conceptual Engineering as Taking Responsibility for Concepts”

On Tuesday, May 16th, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM Central Time, I’ll be giving a talk as part of the Conceptual Engineering Network (CEN)‘s online lecture series.

While philosophers tend to talk about moral responsibility in its backward-looking form, moral responsibility also comes in a future-oriented form. In this talk, I’ll focus on the forward-looking kind of responsibility and make a case for the claim that when we undertake conceptual engineering projects for moral reasons, we are taking forward-looking moral responsibility for our conceptual repertoires. To illustrate my position, in the latter part of the talk, I’ll explore the moral reasons we have to do some conceptual engineering when it comes to the concept EMPLOYMENT.

You’re welcome to join us on Zoom for approximately an hour’s worth of lecture and an hour of Q & A. (But if you miss it, the lecture portion will be posted on the CEN YouTube channel after the fact.)

Zoom meeting ID: 614 8076 0079
Zoom passcode: CEN23

Composting in Chicago

The Climate Reality Project’s Chicago Metro Chapter recently asked me to step up and be the co-leader (with my new pal, Florita) for the new Chicago (as opposed to suburban) Team. Our team has two main areas of activism for the near term – I’ll be taking point on composting, and Florita will be taking point on building decarbonization.

So, if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns relating to how we can reduce the barriers to composting in Chicago and support a culture of composting, I’d love to hear from you!

Online Workshops, Reading Groups, & Lecture Series

There are so many cool (free!) online workshops, reading groups, and lecture series nowadays! I’ve been taking part in more of them of late, and really getting a lot out of them, so I want to take a moment to say kudos to all the organizers and participants that I’ve been learning with and from (and to give other folks a nudge to join if they are so inclined)!

Check out the following links to some of my recommendations:

Work In Progress Groups

Workshop on Gender and Philosophy (WOGAP)

Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics (APPLE)

Emotion and Society Lab WorksIn-Progress Series (brand new – I’m looking forward to the first session)

Lecture Series

Conceptual Engineering Lecture Series (CELS)

Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals (SSEA) Online Colloquium Series

“Creating Carnists”

Jeremy Fischer and I have once again teamed up to co-write a paper, “Creating Carnists,” which is now forthcoming in Philosophers’ Imprint!

We’re so happy to have placed our second academic collaboration in another open access journal so that money won’t be a barrier for anyone who wants to read it. I’ll paste the abstract below, and if it sparks your interest, there’s no need to wait until the final, copy-edited version is published – feel free to take a look at our penultimate draft.

Abstract: We argue that individual and institutional caregivers have a defeasible moral duty to provide dependent children with plant-based diets and related education. Notably, our three arguments for this claim do not presuppose any general duty of veganism. Instead, they are grounded in widely shared intuitions about children’s interests and caregivers’ responsibilities, as well as recent empirical research relevant to children’s moral development, autonomy development, and physical health. Together, these arguments constitute a strong cumulative case against inculcating in children the dietary practice of regularly eating meat (and other animal products)—a practice we call “carnism.”

Advocacy Groundwork: Manageable Steps Toward Climate-Friendly Investment/Divestment

Many students and teachers interested in sustainability advocate divestment from fossil fuels as a way to defund unsustainable energy practices, take a symbolic stand, and help train new organizers. October’s Philosophers for Sustainability forum, which I’ll be co-leading, will involve thinking through some possibilities and strategies for divestment advocacy:

What strategies are in reach for overworked academics who endorse financial activism but work in settings where most people in power are (currently) indifferent or hostile to institutional divestment? In this forum, I’ll share some ideas from a recent mini-campaign and invite discussion about organizing. We’ll also have time to discuss other sustainability advocacy projects that may feel daunting in scope or low in likelihood of success.

The forum will be held by Zoom on Friday, October 7, 11am-noon ET (eastern USA and Canada time). Email me for the link. We look forward to seeing some of you there!