Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day’

It was Earth Day,  and we’re working late. Both of us are in K’s office finishing up the last minute deadline. This weeks, what-do-you-mean-you-didn’t-know-it-was due tomorrow deadline.

“I’m hungry. Let’s order in.”

So I look up places to deliver on Menu Pages. I think about the garbage that any take out is going to bring in, but right now I don’t care. It’s almost 8. I’m hungry. And my justification is that I’m not going to do this a lot.

Justification. It’s a beautiful thing.

Because it’s so late, we decide not to order, but to walk across the street and see what’s open. There’s always Chipotle,the wheel-heeled cousin of MacDonald’s, which is also across the street. But I really want sushi, so we try the Japanese restaurant on 41st street first.

We are in luck. They are clearly closing up, but they haven’t shut the register. All the pre-made sushi in the case is 20% off. My nose for a bargain is excited. My instinct for self preservation feels a bit shaky. Nobody wants “fishy” sushi.  All that’s left is little packs. So not only am I stuck making garbage, but I’m stuck buying three or four cute little containers of questionably fresh fish.

As we are paying, I ask K,”Do you mind if we use one bag?”

“Sure,” she says. It’s one of my least weird requests and actions over the last few weeks.

“Just one bag,” I tell the cashier. She nods as if she understands. Then she grabs another plastic bag to put our miso soups which are each already wrapped and tied up in a clear plastic bag like goldfish from a pet store. She looks really confused.

“I’ll carry it,” I tell her. It’s as if the words don’t registers. She can’t figure out what I’m doing or why.

“I don’t want to make garbage,” I tell her.

She nods politely as if anything I’ve said has made sense.

We get back to the office and start to unwrap.

“Can you do me a favor?” I ask K. “When you uwrap your miso, can you untie the bag so I can save and re-use it.”

“Sure,” she says in her signature sing-song tone of voice.

I’m not sure if sushi is sustainable. I’m not sure if tuna or salmon or any of the fishes I’ve bought are on the endangered list. Last I heard, we were not supposed to eat wild salmon because it was being over fished. And I’m pretty sure the salmon sushi is not wild — it’s got that pale farmed salmon color. Of course farmed salmon are fed corn. I had stopped eating it a few years ago because the environmental impact fish farming has on the sea. Apparently it really messes with the eco system. But honestly, as I’m choosing my dinner, I don’t even remember that I know anything about salmon being an issue. It doesn’t cross my mind, until I sit down tonight to write about it.

In the  moment, I just want sushi.  So we get back to the office and we sit down to eat, and it’s pretty delicious.  After we’re done, K says, “Are you going to save all these little containers?”

I nod yes, I collect them all — hers and mine — and bring them to the sink in the kitchen.

They wash out very easily and once clean they fit together neatly in a nice clean stack. The tiny silver soy sauce tray is adorable. They can easily be re-used. And, now that I’ve committed to not buy more plastic wrap or ziploc bags, I am sure they will come in handy. What we don’t use for containers, I am sure the kids can use for arts and crafts projects.

Still it is not a small bag. I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t get rid of these bits and bobs of plastic. I have a flash of my apartment, which is pretty cluttered as it is, cram packed with empty containers, shiny soy sauce trays, and pretty red chopstick wrappers. And I think, maybe if I am stuffed to the gills with garbage, I’ll chose not to make more more often.

One can only hope.

Links for more info on what kind of salmon we should eat:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Watch a disturbing video about the environmental impact of farmed salmon:

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Today  is Earth Day, and there is a lot going on. Funny thing, I don’t feel as inspired by the hype as I think I should.

For starters, I’m suspicious of hype. And although I am grateful that there is a movement of people, a ground swell attempting to make change, I’m also nervous. Because  see two different things happening at the same time: I see an energized faction — and a whole lot of status quo. A status quo that’s educated on the issues but just has other priorities right now. And me, despite this blog, I’m still teetering somewhere in the middle.

My garbage-colored lenses
Since I started this project,  my perspective has certainly shifted.

I don’t see just my friends eating lunch at their desks. I see the plastic container, the plastic bags and the utensils they used when they bought their deli salad. It’ll all go in the trash. And I totally understand why.

I see my mommy friends running after their kids with bottles of water. And I totally understand why.

I see supermarket aisles with boxes of things like coconut water  — tiny little drinks of trash. The display was almost as tall as I was which makes me  wonder, how many people must be buying this stuff. That one little market on 23 Street alone,  had aisles after aisles of boxes, and cans, and bottles.  There’s just so much stuff. Will my not buying a loaf of bread make a difference?

Food embargo time?
Food that used to make me feel cultured now makes me feel guilty. I see imported cheese and have a mixed reaction.  I still want the Swiss Gruyere from Switzerland — but now I have to wonder is deliciousness  worth the environmental damage? I guess imported is off my shopping list. Even as I write this sentence, I feel proseletizing — I’m boring myself.

Urban selection
Part of the joy of living in the city is the excitement of having options — different foods, music, theater, people, everything. Does trying to be sustainable paint me into some sort of boring box. The word provincial technically means that a person is restricted in the way they think about things. That includes palate. When I used to to says, that person’s taste in food is so provincial, it wasn’t a compliment.

Problems, problems, problems
Part of what’s going on is that each one of these silly little day-to-day connundrums sends me in a panic. The anxiety of rethinking every detail of my life.

Do I pick up a bottle of water from the store when a friend asks?
Do I say, we can’t have lunch in this restaurant in the park because they’re serving food in take out containers?

Yesterday, when these two little puzzlers came up, I opted for the polite and just went with it. Then I felt bad.

In truth, these are teachable moments. For other people and myself. I love that restaurant in the park. I wonder if I said, I can’t eat here because you use take out containers, if they would rethink the issue. If everyone stopped going because we didn’t want to have a side of garbage with our lentil soup, they would have to.

Sustainable Actions
It seems that it takes a lot to make us shift our perspective. Yesterday I blogged about how I am not going to buy certain things once they run out. Right now my list includes aluminum foil, paper towels, napkins, plastic wrap, plastic bags. I was thinking of adding toilet paper in honor of No Impact Man, but I need to see what they actually used — but not giving it up completely if we run out. I thought I’d just make them go without for a day.

As a parent, I want to make my children feel that they are safe and that I can provide for them. I think it’s hard for them to really understand what not having could really mean.

Right now, we think we have a choice to be green. Or how green to be. We really aren’t getting in a tangible way how our choice to not be green is a choice to go without. Even I don’t really get it — I’m still whining like a baby that I can’t have a cup of coffee or get take out at lunch.

I think this little “Earth Day”  experiment could help. I haven’t told the kids yet. Stay tuned for their reaction.

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