Thursday, October 29, 2009

new job, new life

the life of a hermit, that is.

I'm heating water on the stove because i realized that the hot water isn't working, and I can't take a shower in tepid water when i'm going on day three of not showering. This isn't a problem i usually run into (the not showering), but this week I've officially become a hermit and showering just seemed like such an enormous effort when i really needed to get some work done. Last week I had a hard time focusing while working from home, and this week, well, I'll give you an example of what has happened.

I no longer answer my phone, but let it go to message. i think I am afraid of it. I'm starting to talk to myself. Really. I also sing. left my apartment once yesterday, at 7:30, to go to book club for an hour and a half. And I was really debating whether or not to go. I've been waking up at 6:30, rolling over, and getting right to work. On the plus side, I'm exhausted from my day of sitting by 10:30 and so have been going to be at a reasonable hour. Last week I ate all local, this week cooking seems like too much trouble so i ate pistachios and string cheese for dinner. Neither of which is local. But at least I'm saving water by not showering. Last week I couldn't get anything done if anything was out of order. This week, my roommate left for the week and I am finally getting around to dishes. Dust bunnies are scurrying around my floors and the bathroom needs serious attention, but it can wait. sun is shining. I'm in workout clothes but feeling the pressure of getting this grant done so I'm debating whether or not to go out today. I feel like I am such a slow learner at this, and I am spending all my time trying to get it right. So much so that I might be going crazy. It doesn't help that the boy who was my distraction called it quits and ran off to Bali.

I'm blogging not because I have time (i'm subtracting these 10 minutes from my working hours today, unfortunately, i only count productive hours of work) but because I think i'm trying to intervene for my own sanity.

I think my time would be well spent riding my bike to the bookstore. Getting some fresh air, interacting with humans, and buying a manual on grant writing. What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

don't get scared.

It's just Zombie Prom with Karly (from San Diego! On her way to Senegal! Thanks for coming!), Jeff, Laura, and Tyson.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pistachios don't grow in New York

But other than that mindless munching that I did this afternoon, I've been pretty darn good with this eating local challenge today. I'm working from home these days, which means that afternoons get a little bit slow for me. So after a breakfast of smoothie (blueberries and peaches I picked in New Jersey, raspberries from connecticut, milk from ny), I headed outside (yay! beautiful sunny day!) and was about to head to my usual coffe shop haunts when I thought, uh oh, do they serve locally grown food? The tea I was craving today was a vanilla rooibas-- from south africa, and I'm just not sure what teas are locally made, so i opted to not have any (luckily, again, not a cold day, because chocolate also would be questionable for being local). I wandered in and out of a few different coffee shops and restaurants, finding organic and a fish sandwich shop, and an all local gourmet hot dog restaurant (!) called Bark, which looked yummy and local, but for $4 a dog was a little spendy, and they had no wifi, but I'll probably make my way out there later on this week as I try to keep this up.

I finally ended up at Blue Marble, a fantastic ice cream shop/cafe with the best ice cream in new york, locally made! I had a bergen bagel, glass of water (mason jar) and pumpkin ice cream cone. No waste and all local, and all sooo good. So far so good.

And then I ended up coming home and trying to work some more. but since i was up pretty late due to hanging out late with a nice boy, i was struggling to stay awake and started popping the pistachios-- not candy... and then realized that they were from San Joaqin, CA. Blast! Ah well, dinner reformed me, with roasted local potatoes from the farmers market (a yummy mix of blue, red, white, and sweet potatoes) and sauted mushrooms, onion, and celery. Not elaborate, but good. The question I guess is then, can I use salt? I'm pretty sure that's not local, but it is kosher.

So, eating local all the time? probably not feasible for me right now. But trying to? I am a believe in this-- eat local, eat seasonal, eat less processed-- it just seems healthy, it tastes delicious, and it is environmentally more sound. Cost-- well, a body that doesn't fall apart in my 50s, no heart disease or diabetes, well, that's worth it to me.

What about you? Where does your food come from?

Monday, October 19, 2009


Day 2: Monday: Trash
"Find out if wasting less improves your life."

Today, the task was to create no trash. Think about it for a moment, do you even realize that you are creating trash? I'm usually just proud of myself for remembering to throw things away or recycle stuff. So I spent today thinking and wincing each time i threw something into the rubbish. Which made me try to avoid it as much as possible (do you think it counts if i just tucked something liek old papers away to throw out next week once the project is over? Sigh, i didn't think so.)

An examination of my trash today (sorry, this is kind of personal):
- kleenex
- cough drop wrapper
- pistachio shells
- paper towel used for drying veggies
- tampons
- napkin at the restaurant for dinner
- dryer sheets for laundry
- cotton pad for makeup

Not bad. Most of that was, i feel, unavoidable. So today I was constantly thinking about what it was that I was throwing away, but what is it like usually for me when i don't think about it? Old school papers, magazines, clothing, food garbage... I'm producing so much trash. And it goes into the garbage bag, which goes down the stairs to the trash, and into a truck, which then travels through NYC picking up other garbage, then taking it through the Bronx to the dump along with all the other NYC dump trucks (and there is a LOT of trash in this city), all of which produce so much pollution that kids in the Bronx nearby have abnormally high rates of asthma. The story of trash.

Memories of trash--
walking by a river in Cambodia, which was totally polluted with garbage. There was a fishing net draped across the river where the garbage-- old tires, plastic bags, dead animals, rotten food-- was caught. A little further down the river and around the bend, I found the swimming hole. Kids, jumping and playing in the river, maybe 12 feet from where all of the trash was filtering the water they were swimming and playing in.

another memory-- I was in Tanzania, living in a tiny fishing village called Matemwe on the island of Zanzibar. it was early one morning, and I was on my way out of town for a weekend in the main town. before leaving, i wanted to get rid of the nearly overflowing blue plastic grocery bag in the corner of my room, so I tied it up and went wandering to find the dump. But there was no dump to be found. Any trash was thrown into the strips of rocks and plants seperating one section of the village from another-- old flip flops, plastic bottles and bags, scraps of paper... But my trash bag was too big, too full, and now I was ashamed for having made so much garbage when evidently no one else did. I had papers and plastic wrappers of all sorts, empty jars of nutella and fanta cans, and I can't even remember the rest, but just thinking, wow, no one else is throwing this much away. but i had to do something, so I opened the bag and dumped out the contents, hoping no one would trace them back to me.

We are lucky to live in a place where we aren't confronted with our garbage. it smells much nicer here. but, maybe if we were, we would be horrified into not making as much of it.

Have you thought about how much garbage you make each day? How can you reduce that?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Day 1: Sunday: Consumption
"Live a fuller and happier life by buying less stuff."

We (Laura and I) watched the Story of Stuff tonight, and while a bit didactic and simple, also tells a powerful story about where our things come from and where they go. The most powerful take away for was pointing out that our (American) economy and values are based on the continual consumption of goods, and how industries since the fifties have focused on creating not goods that last a long time and are of high quality but break continually so we have to buy the latest model. I’m not as embarrassed anymore that I’m typing this on my 2005 iBook G4, even though it isn’t sexy at all. In order to be a good American, we are supposed to consume goods to fix the economy. Well, I don't want the old economy, I want a better one.

It’s Sunday, and so I can’t help but related this to some of the things I’ve learned at church. Tithing is one of those things that as a missionary I was always loathe to mention, because seriously? No one wants to hear that they are required to give 10 percent of their income to God. YOU work hard, you earn this money, you have needs and wants, and then you have to give 10 percent to a church?? But, in fact, it is a reminder from God that all that we own comes from Him, and to not become too attached to it. There was a great talk by a church leader, Robert Hales, about living providently. While a simple story, the story of his wife telling him that they couldn't afford to buy a new dress for her was one that came to mind. There are so many things that I don't need to have-- can't afford to have when looking at my finances, the space I have in my apartment, and with the impact that owning this new item has on the world-- the materials it is made from and what I do with it when I'm done with it.

So, how do I take this challenge to decrease my consumption and become a more conscientious consumer? This week, my challenge is to not buy anything new. Since I just got a new job and I need to start paying off loans soon, that shouldn't be too hard, but still, i know that when I do buy things, I tend to go with cheap and immediate. So, I guess my criteria for being a wise consumer will be:
1) Do I need it? Or can I borrow this from someone else for a day?
2) Can I get it used? Or local?
3) Will it last a long time?
4) Are there any harmful materials/practices that were involved in its creation?

What do you think? How can you be a more conscientious consumer? Any recommendations for me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Impact Experiment

I may have scoffed at the idea of living no impact when I first heard about Colin Beavan's experiment. A ploy for a book; a passing fancy; a yawn because this guy is going to now be all superior about consuming less than everyone else. But, as I came to read the No Impact Man blog and heard him speak, I found him to not be a self-righteous environmentalist, but a sincere individual who wanted to try living no impact for a year for a book and found it to be incredibly fulfilling and positive lifestyle change. Every time I read something, my heart gets kind of warm and fuzzy, and I think, man, I wish I could live no-impact. And then sigh, and continue to forget to bring my canvas bag to the grocery store.

And so, when I heard about the No Impact Experiment, I decided that I could commit to living this lifestyle that I so admired for a week, to evaluate my own consumption patterns, and to see if I could live just a little bit kinder to the earth and my community. I'm excited! It starts on Sunday, so if you are interested, go here. And join me! I'll keep you posted on how it goes for me on the blog.