Monday, October 12, 2009

"Going Green"

I read an interesting article recently (can't remember the title, though, so sorry) in which I encountered a really great thought about the whole "green" movement: it doesn't do anything unless the underlying assumptions about how we engage with our world have been changed. I like it. Too often I feel that people do the green thing because it's just that, a "thing" or a "fad" that is cool.

I'll be the first to admit that while I would love to be this great environmentally friendly person, I'm not. In the first place, my husband and I each drive to work-R has about 45 miles and I have about 56 miles to get to my work place which amounts to almost 200 miles A DAY between the two of us. I hate that, but there's not anything I can do about it. R could conceivably take the train and the T once he gets into Boston, but it's more expensive to do that than it is to drive...I could work in Worcester, but there aren't any jobs. And we can't afford for R to take public transportation for now, especially if the MBTA cuts the commuter rail service significantly like they've been talking about (for example, no service after 6 PM...if you work until 5:30 then you can't catch a 6 PM train. BOO). If I get into a Boston PhD program we would be able to commute together a few days a week, but it's still a lot of fossil fuels being used up. And we can't afford a new hybrid, or even a used hybrid. So there you go.

Which just goes to show that being really environmentally friendly is expensive, up front in a lot of situations (hybrid cars, Photovoltaic systems) and in the long run in other ways (organic food). There's not a good organic or local food store near us-there's a Trader Joe's which isn't bad but they don't have a good produce section, and the nearest Whole Foods is in Shrewsbury, which is a good 30-40 minute drive. That and organic food is expensive-just shop around Whole Foods a little and you'll see. "But you should sacrifice" some might say. Well, when you've got almost 700 a month in student loan payments, a mortgage, car insurance, house insurance, health insurance, utilities, gas for the commute to and from work, and only one of you working a full time job (not me because there were no full time jobs) then there's not really a luxury to get the fancy food. To be honest I would prefer to buy local over organic, but I've found it ridiculously difficult to find anything local that's not an apple or a pumpkin (although Big Y does have a decent local food selection every now and then).

So what is a girl to do? Well, for starters we recycle alot. I would say we have more recycling every week than trash. I know that sounds like I'm still in 2nd grade and am learning to "reduce, reuse, and recycle" but there you go. We also maintain our cars-regular oil changes, tune ups, checking the tire pressure. R is so fab with cars that this is pretty easy, and regular car maintenance is better for the environment because it makes your car run more efficiently. We don't keep the house incredibly warm or cold. We've switched our light bulbs...I buy fair trade coffee.

But I never feel like it's enough. I don't know if I'll ever feel like I've done enough for our earth. But I DO plan on using cloth diapers whenever we have kids. And I've now entered the world of...resuable sandwich bags! I hate the disposable ones because they're so flimsy and plastic. Ugh. I try to reuse them but there comes a time when too much peanut butter is enough on the inside of one bag. So I got these:

LinkThey're reusable sandwich bags! These are made in western MA so not only are they resuable but they're also local. Win win! The bottom one (with the guitars) is a snack sized bag, and the top is a sandwich bag (although it's huge-my sandwiches would fit in the small one but a wrap or something wouldn't so I got a big one too). The inside is nylon and they close with velcro. You can wash and dry them by hand or stick them in the dishwasher. There are a bunch of different designs as well-these were just two that I liked. They're not really cheap-one was 6 something and the other 8 something, but since you can use them over and over again I think you'll save money in the long run. The website is: if you're interested. This week will be their trial run, but I think they'll be great.

Reusable bags aren't a huge step in the journey towards eco-friendliness, but it's something. And if it's what I can do right now, it's what I can do. If you know of any cheap methods of being more environmentally conscious, I'd love to hear them. Every little bit helps, you know?


m. connor sullivan said...

those look great (and cute!). I will check that out.

I'm actually writing another post for soonish posting about taking baby steps and whatnot. one easy thing we did that is recommended (and along the lines of cloth diapers) is cloth napkins, which we just wash in our laundry. we got a bunch for the wedding, and it's not like we entertain that much and have to save them...

Hilary said...

Yeah we have a mix. To be honest we usually get away with not using napkins (I don't know how and we're not slobs but whatever) but I usually use a cloth towel or napkin if I need it. We got a couple for the wedding and I have a bunch of kitchen towels from my New Haven apartments so I just use those.

And the Snack Taxis are cute :) I got them from's on Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter squares (near Rosie's bakery and Boca Grande, basically). I like that they're made in MA. Makes me feel like I'm supporting local stuff. They have non-girly designs too. I was torn between the flowery swirls and some owls. Maybe for my next addition I'll get owls.