July 13, 2007

Inside and Out Pledges

We are all about slow subtle changes around here. The new food pledge has been going quite well, especially with the lovely farmers around to explain not only what the never-before-seen vegetables they are selling are, but also how to cook them. The last thing we tried was kohlrabi, a kind of half-broccoli half-potato half-turnip both in texture and taste. I diced and pan-seared it in olive oil with green beans, green onions, and some garlic. Delicious, and quite a pretty-looking meal too - too bad I forgot to take a picture. I do have to say that I'm saddened to realize that not everything that I find so exotic at the farmer stalls is actually unknown to me. Much of it is food that I've just never seen in its just-picked state before. We really are so very divorced from what we ingest. If I weren't already so depressed from watching Al Gore's movie, I'd read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma."

Have you watched "An Inconvenient Truth"? I had to turn it off after about an hour because I couldn't really handle it any more. This is why my Netflix list is all comedies, people. Still, Misha and I talked about our wasteful lives and what we want Lara to see us doing as she grows up and starts to ask questions. So on top of the new food pledge, and the no new clothing pledge, we are instituting a home-greening pledge. I've been very inspired reading about the example of Colin Beavan and his family, who are living a net-zero carbon footprint year that includes no electricity, no buying anything new, and no generating any garbage at all. Oh and did I mention they are doing this in Manhattan? And they have a two-year old and a dog? Read more about them at No Impact Man. I don't think we can go whole hog like that, but maybe the fact that I've posted about it on the blog will actually make us follow through.

I'm aiming for small, incremental changes. Here's what we've done so far to give you a sense of what I mean:

  • Recycling! Of course!
  • Unplugging instead of just turning off devices not in use. You know how your phone charger stays warm even though your phone is not plugged into it? That's because it's actually still drawing electricity, constantly, while plugged into the outlet. We've put pretty much every device on a power strip that can be turned off with a switch. I've noticed about a ten dollar drop in our power bill every month. Plus, the harder the TV is to turn on, the less of it I watch.
  • Turning the thermostat way up. We're way too tired running around after Lara all day to be kept awake by a higher temperature at night.
  • Using paper towels as a last resort.
  • Switching to Trader Joe's non-toxic dishwasher detergent and dish washing liquid. The more I read about what's in everything the less I want Lara eating it.
  • Buying local, organic produce.
  • Driving as little as possible and taking public transportation or walking when we can. Lara loves - nay LOVES - the bus, and how would I ever have found this out otherwise?

Changes we're considering in the future.

  • Switching to Seventh Generation diapers, which are not bleached with chlorine and thus do not add dioxin to the environment. I'm pretty intrigued by the cloth diaper option, but I'm not sure I can go there quite yet. Then again, if we switched to cloth diapers, we would no longer need to consume plastic bags - a current necessity that I can't figure out how to get rid of.
  • Even more responsible and minimized consumption - buy more things second hand, and consider seriously the need-to-want ratio of any new item. I do have to say that this one melds nicely with the turned off TV. I find that the less TV I watch the less I want things. Seriously, I can't believe how much effect advertising has, even when you KNOW what's it's doing!
  • Switching to all non-toxic cleaners. I'll do this when the ones we have run out. There's a fine balance between green and non-wasteful!
  • Switching to efficient light bulbs (likewise, when the ones we have run out).

We're always open to other suggestions!


Hannah said...

I don't know f you've checked out the science behind Al Gore's flick, but I would. Always makes me chuckle that he drives an SUV and lives in a (non-green) 10,000 square foot house and takes private jets everywhere.
Either way, your new ideas sound great!
We live in a 200+ year old farmhouse and are slowly turning it as green as possible.
Love your blog, just found it recently.

rayna said...

love your blog. can i leave some nerdy ideas? no plastic grocery bags, just canvas totes or other alternatives. if your shower water takes awhile to heat up put in a bucket, use the water for garden/pot plants/flushing toilet, depending on presence/absence of garden. when you boil eggs, let the water cool and put onto plants - it's really good for them, and saves a bit of water from the tap. can't think of anything else off the top of my head...

dlr said...

First off, I wholeheartedly applaud everything you are doing, both for the environment and to set a great example for your daughter. Since you are open to suggestions, here's mine...

Eat less meat. I know, I've got my ulterior motives, but have you checked out the UN report on greenhouse gases and the livestock sector? Livestock production is among the top 3 contributors to global warming, land destruction, and a whole host of other nasty problems.

Say what you want about the PETA crazies (and while I sympathize with their goals, I don't often agree with their tactics), I find it much harder to dismiss this kind of multinational coalition.

To make it even easier, Mark Bittman has this new book out - have you seen it?