Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seventh Generation

We all recycle. Big deal. When JustAwesome found me four years ago, that is just about all I was doing. Fair Trade? Local? Organic? What are those words? I had no idea. I’ve come a long way, baby. These are some of the tiny, little things we’ve started doing that we hope will make an inpact. Do these things help? I have no idea.

Of course, we live in Manhattan—don’t own cars, don’t have children—our carbon footprints are pretty small. We do a little traveling and when we can, when we remember, we try to offset our carbon emissions. Do these things help? I have no idea. I just try to do what I feel good about. I try to picture the planet still being here for my nieces and nephews’ offspring and their offspring and so on. For seven generations, as the Native American do, as best as I can. (Ok, I was an American Studies (double) major. One of my professors was Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondogas. It made a big impression on me). Can I do more? Most definitely. I’m not trying to pretend that there isn’t room for improvement. I’m just doing what I can reasonably do.

I watched No Impact Man. You should, too. He is a little annoying, but he was doing what he could. He was trying something. He admitted that he did it to get work, as a project, as a challenge. He wasn’t trying to be noble. And people gave him crap for it, which is odd. Why be mad at someone who is trying something?


Gold cones. Still using filters? Really? I love not buying filters. They’re silly and wasteful. In my opinion.

Cloth napkins. No, you don’t have to iron them. In fact, the more you wash them, the better! I like the ones from Sur La Tabla. I think they’re 4 for $9.99. Bright, fun colors. If the meal isn’t particularly messy we put napkin rings on them and reuse a second time. (One ring for me, two for JA)

Reducing paper/plastic bag use. Bring your own bags. It is very easy. I think all supermarkets should give an incentive for this. $.10 off. $.5 off. We have an awesome cart that we lugged back from France a few years ago. Not your Granny’s cart. Pretty pale blue. You can even get an insulated one. Great for the Farmers’ Markets. Great for lugging local growlers home from Whole Foods.

Batteries. For most things we use rechargeable. It is a big layout all at once but you never really have to buy batteries anymore. For everything else (hearing aids, smoke detectors), we recycle. Whole Foods does it. Ikea. Walgreens. Imagine if everyone used rechargeable batteries on all of their kids’ toys? Or (better yet) imagine they didn’t allow their kids to have toys with batteries? You know, you can make limits. I had one hand-held video game that a friend gave me. The 9-volt battery lasted for 25 years. No joke. It just stopped working recently.

Plastic bottles/Metal bottles. So, apparently plastic recycling is not great. Paper is much better. At this point, plastic recycling reduces a lot of waste into a-little-bit-less lot of waste. Boo. Your 5 minute refreshment lasts how long? JA uses these. And stop refilling your plastic ones. Full of bacteria and leaching. Blech.

Plastic bags. I’m guilty of this. I wrap things in sandwich bags, storage bags, freezer bags. But I am trying to rely more and more on Tupperware. Working on it. I rinse and reuse.

Seltzer. If you drink a lot of this (I don’t really but love gadgets), you must do this one little thing. It is so easy. Like the batteries, big layout at first but...

Wine. File this under “I have no idea if this is true or makes a difference” but we generally drink wine that comes from France and Italy rather than the West Coast. By boat rather than by train. Ideally we’d keep it local—keep it east coast—but we are human.

Green products. Do Seventh Generation products make a difference? I don’t know. I don’t want to find out if they don’t. Things cost a little more but I waste plenty of money on sillier things. I thought it was fun bellying up at the soap bar with my dishsoap container. I think it was about $.12 a litter or something.


Mail. Quit your job and spend three months on the phone, calling every company and asking them not to send your their catalogs and to email your statements. It is painstaking work, doesn’t work super-well, but will make you feel like a hero. I promise you.

Composting. We just started this tonight. Considering that we filled up our 3 gallon bin completely during the preparation of one single meal, I’m thinking that maybe we are good candidates for this action. Hopefully it doesn’t suck the soul out of me. Wish me luck.


Lightbulbs. I haven’t gotten around to this yet.

Biodegradable doggy bags. I will start to use these. I promise. They offer such deals on the other bags, I will try to resist. I know, I shouldn’t use bags at all, but I believe that not everything is about the planet. There are so many people that go through the garbage in NYC, I really feel that it is the most humane thing to do. See? I’m all about doing what I can, doing what I feel right about.

Happy Thanksgiving. Think of the Seventh Generation to come. Do what you can reasonably do.


  1. Lady, we are media twins - I saw NO IMPACT MAN last week and have been reading the blog. Pretty interesting. Yes, he kinda lost me on the no toilet paper thing, but interesting nonetheless. I signed up on the website for the no impact 1 week experiment that starts in January - interested to see how I do.

    The funny part is the first thing I did was the lightbulbs. I was spurred on by my parents who bought 5 bulbs for me and 5 for my brother and told us it was that important to them - so there ya go - been working on it ever since. Interested in the composting but a little nervous about it to be honest (saw the flies in the movie and well... not a fan of those!). Let me know how it goes!

  2. Ok, I'll do the lights! Our building is doing the actual composting so all I have to do is collect it! Maybe you should move here... :-)

  3. Great post and I like that you broke it down to small changes. Love love love my cloth napkins, and I'm thrilled that we got the composting going here!

    I'm not sold on the lighhtbulbs, however. It's a case of what may seem like a no brainer, but then the multiple news reports come out talking about one drop of mercury poisoning 1,000 gallons of water, and cleaning up after one of these broken bulbs requires actions short of hazmat. Oh, and they do have be be disposed of as hazardous waste. Their packaging is the worst plastic.

    So, like with products in general, including green, the manufacturer's goals are still to have you buy 'em. In the case of lightbulbs, while they're still available, I'll just keep my incandescent (with it's lovely glow!) at 15, 25, or 40 watts, and turn out the light when I leave.the room.

    P.S. Heard on Leonard Lopate that NYC is the greenest place in America!