Friday, April 27, 2007

The dangers of being green and type A

Ah, what a week. We’ve had babies throwing up, Daddies being ill, babies getting colds, Mummies getting colds, torrential rain…clearly we are all under too much stress and need a holiday. (Oh, but we just had one of those. Dammit!) As a result we’re staying in town this weekend. Dot sleeps less well in a strange crib upstate and less well when she has a cold. I think the combo would kill me.

So, another busy week. In terms of greening, I’m trying to get the paper I want to distribute finished (I say “paper”; it will of course be distributed electronically with a line asking receivers not to print unless they absolutely have to). I’ve been working on it for weeks now but only in fits and starts, as a result of which it’s progressing at snail’s pace. I’m blaming the day job and the fact that we can’t afford a cleaner. The hubby, on the other hand is blaming the fact that I’ve developed a pathological aversion to feeding Dot jarred food and simultaneously sprouted a compulsion for making batches of food for her almost every night from fresh organic stuff.

“Has it ever occurred to you that if you stopped doing that just for a week you might actually get your paper written?” he said last night as I wearily forced yet another batch of rice and pear through a sieve. I pretended to ignore him and stomped off to the loo where, while staring morosely at the dust and chest hairs (his not mine) that had already started to accumulate around the skirting board (I only cleaned the floor this morning goddamit), allowed myself to drift off into a reverie about how nice it would be simply to open a jar and spoon it out for Dot.

But I was soon snapped back to reality by the image of baby food jars piling up in the sink - I know the jars can be recycled but as we all know recycling creates a false sense of security and it’s way better to reduce than to recycle - and the certainty that, just as tinned soup is not nearly as vitamin-packed as fresh, so jarred food has to be less nutritionally sound than the real thing.

I am considering giving myself just a few days off. After all, of course Dot would be fine and even I have enough perspective to realize that my health and sanity are more important than a few glass jars.

But will I actually do it? All I can say is, once an over-achiever, always an over-achiever...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Talking Trash

One thing I find it particularly thrilling to do these days is check the bin in my office before I leave work to see what’s in there. Yesterday’s inventory: six pieces of gum and a used post-it note. Today’s: six pieces of gum, one square of kitchen roll (that’s paper towel to you Americans) and the empty wrapper of a bar of Green and Black’s 70% dark chocolate. Both made me extremely proud.

So what does this tell you about me – besides that I have a pretty serious gum habit (which I am sure is really bad for the planet, let alone my teeth/insides) and that I should get out more?

Well, when you compare it to my bin the same time last year, which would probably have contained a coffee cup and paper sleeve, muffin bag and paper towel from breakfast, a plastic salad box, possibly plastic cutlery and napkins from lunch, several old powerpoint decks (our building doesn’t recycle paper), possibly a newspaper or trade mag or three and some junk mail, it says that I’m actually doing pretty well on the not contributing to landfill thing. Nowadays I bring my lunch in my natty Sigg lunch box, take my paper home to recycle (I’ve cancelled my newspaper subscriptions) and am a complete no-printing Nazi as far as possible (this has the added bonus of meaning my desk is no longer evidence of my atrocious filing skills; you can even see a bit of desk through the few pages I have grudgingly printed or other people have printed for me).

Of course what doesn’t show up here are the paper towels I use in the bathroom. I do usually, in very ladylike fashion, dry my hands by wiping them down my jeans but now and then I lapse. So I keep meaning to bring a cloth with me for general hand-drying, napkin usage etc. which can then be washed and reused. Must pack one for tomorrow.

The gum and chocolate habits will be harder to break. After all, even a green girl has to have some vices.

By the way, am watching Robert Redford's new green segment on the Sundance Channel. Pretty interesting. Am all excited at the idea of changing our car to run on biodiesel. Now just have to find out if we can get our hands on some here. We couldn't last time I checked. Will let you know.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Carbon Criminal

Thursday was not a good carbon day.

I had to fly to Rochester to visit a client. It started at 7am with a car service to the airport (I should probably have looked into public transport but it would have involved going into Manhattan and back out, and as it was I had literally five minutes with Dot before I left, and as always she won - sorry earth). Then breakfast in a plastic carton at the airport. Followed, of course, by the flight. Because of that torrential rain (and yes UK readers, I am aware you're basking in glorious sunshine at the moment) the plane sat on the runway with engine running for two hours (at least it was JetBlue, not one of those awful prop planes we used to take before JetBlue existed, but not good for mr. earth) before take off. Then it was a cab to the offices, followed by lunch in a client cafeteria that plays host to more styrofoam than I have ever seen in one place at a time, and that includes McDonalds circa 1981 (this made me feel sick, but what do you do when it's the most senior client and there's nowhere else to eat for miles around? At least I'd brought my refillable bottle with me. "Is that organic water in there?" quipped my colleague).

The meeting was what it was, and then we set off to repeat the whole thing in reverse, only this time we had a four hour delay at Rochester airport (fun!), so I got home at 10 instead of 6, obviously completely missing bedtime and making me so tired and grumpy that before I knew what I was doing I'd accepted a 30ml bottle of water on the plane - surely the least environmentally sound way to quench your thirst there is. (By the way, this isn't eco-unfriendly, but just to give you the complete picture I should add that there isn't much that is dignified about pumping your boobs with a hand pump in a miniscule aeroplane toilet during severe turbulence; nor doing the same in the scary 1970's-esque cubicle of a client toilet (loyal readers will remember my irrational fear of institutional loos), nor indeed the toilet stall at Rochester airport. Ah, the glitz and glamour of advertising.)

Anyway, I finally got home around 10 bedraggled, knackered, with sore boobs and many more pounds of carbon dioxide in debt to the planet. I'm hoping to convince work to pay to offset my flight, let me take a hybrid car service next time or better yet, not make me go at all. I hope it works because from an ideological standpoint this day was, except for the holiday, the worst offense since I started the blog.

But the worst bit of all was that Dot wouldn't speak to me on Friday morning. I mean she literally wouldn't look me in the eye. The harder I tried to ingratiate myself with my best raspberry-on-the-tummy, hair-flicking, disco-dancing, finger-waving, neck-nuzzling, peekaboo dog and pony show, the more studiedly she refused to meet my gaze (even my friend Sally noticed. "Don't be mean to mummy, Dot," she said. But Dot is a determined young lady). I think I was being sent to Coventry because of my unexplained absence rather than the carbon criminality, but you never know.

Anyhow, by bedtime she was thawing and today I was back in the good books. But for several reasons I think it's best if I try to avoid business trips for a while. I'm so blue, my mummy is a carbon criminal. Oh, I suppose she's ok really.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On her tummy, on the clean floor

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Not co-operating

Friends, I'm sorry I've been so neglectful (or is that negligent?) of you lately For all I know none of you are out there any more. It's just that in between all this frantic working, pureeing, commuting, greening, popping upstate and of course as much Dotting as humanly possibly, not to mention getting drunk with some green girlfriends last night (it was legit - we were brainstorming ideas for my work initiatives) it's really hard to squeeze the blog thing in. But I'll keep trying for at least twice a week.

We were up in Milanville for the weekend. I took the opportunity to catch up on a bit of green reading, particularly the latest from No Impact Man ( - sorry no links as am on the hubby's mac), of whom I am in equal parts deeply envious and in deep admiration.

He's forced me to admit something that's been wafting round in the back of my head lately - that I've been getting slack, and that going back to work is no excuse (well, it is, I mean I'm constantly knackered and barely have time to pee, but when I do pee I'm using loo roll which is more than he is, and so I need to get back with the program. And in case you wonder what he's doing instead of loo roll, he's using rags and laundering them along with his baby's nappies. You can imagine how the hubby reacted to that little idea. And anyway we don't have a washing machine, so that's that one out the window).

So, inspired by Colin I had a weekend of green stuff. Since I'd run out of facewash and toothpaste, I followed his example and used baking soda for both. It makes for crappy toothpaste (makes me gag; I never could stand baking soda toothpaste either) but I think it might acutally be a great facewash - mildly exfolitating, it left my face feeling soft and glowy, like a Clean and Clear ad; it might be the last time I buy a plastic bottle of facewash. I also washed in a bowl with a flannel instead of having a shower Saturday morning (this was salutory - I got quite clean enough for a day of raking leaves and shovelling compost, with practically no water at all; maybe I wouldn't do this on a school day, though). Then, since the child development class I attended Friday made me feel like I was a dreadful mother for not having Dot on her tummy on the floor with her legs bare 24/7, I mopped all the floors with water and vinegar to excellent effect and plonked the little lady down. Later we stocked up on leeks, spuds, eggs, carrot and meat from River Brook farm (Alice told us she's going to have 24 varieties of potato this summer. 24 potatoes! Who knew?). I tended to my compost heap, mixing it up with lots of dead leaves from the garden to make it all nice and welcoming for the future worms (still too cold for them, though) and, as usual, chased the hubby round the house turning off lights after him.

By the time we left I was feeling fairly virtuous. Which is probably why I got up on my high horse with the hubby about the co-op on the way home. This involved me going on and on about when were we going to join and him coming up with a million excuses for not doing it, until he confessed under substantial pressure that his main objection was to having to spend one of his two spare afternoons a week 'stacking shelves next to some middle class wanker'.

I think I then went off on one about the ethos of a co-op being all about co-operation and how two and a half hours a month really wasn't much, etc. etc.

"So you're going to leave Dot again when you're not at work to go and do it, are you?" he challenged. "Or are you going to do it after she's in bed when you're so tired you can hardly stand up?"

Oh. I sulked for a bit after that because he had a point. We drove the rest of the way in silence. I'll warrant this debate will be continued...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Weary, weary, weary.

Dot's like, I know work has got really busy but that's no reason I shouldn't wake you up three times a night just to check you're still there.

Plus I feel like all I've done this week is work, cook and wash up. Yes, I know this is my lot as a working mother and that compared to most I'm terribly lucky, but last night I had a small tantrum on the hubby. "I just want a dishwasher," I whinged, "I don't care how environmentally unfriendly they are." I think I even stamped my feet. "Leave it. I'll do the washing up in the morning then," he offered. But I've been at home with a baby and I know it isn't that easy to do the washing up so I did it anyway.

When I got home this evening I decided I simply couldn't face cooking another thing - or more accurately, I couldn't face another day where all I do once I've put Dot to bed is cook, puree, freeze, wash up and crash out. Trouble is, the hubby decided the same thing - or at least decided he was at least as hard done by as me and as such, shouldn't be expected to cook either. "We could get take out," he said on the phone from the pub, his voice suggesting he knew exactly how well that suggestion would go down. "No," I said in a tone which brooked no dissent, for I have completely outlawed take out. "Alright, I'll get you some pasta from the shop on the way home," he sighed.

So I'll admit it - being green is sometimes hard work. My hands are dry and itchy, my back aches, last night we ate a disaster that didn't pass for mashed potato and I haven't exercised, read the news, spoken to a friend or relaxed in, oh I don't know, a while.

But at least I don't have any unrecyclable take out containers on my conscience. And only one more day till the weekend.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Just spent another evening obsessively making food for Dot - this time organic brown rice porridge and organic sweet potato laced with tofu. The stupid part being that I know she'll refuse to eat any of it and wait for dinnertime and yoghurt to roll around. Doesn't stop me trying, though.

So, very quick tonight. Just thought I'd post this cartoon I found on Treehugger. The Union of Concerned Scientists is launching their second annual search for the funniest cartoon about political interference in science. My personal favourite from last year:

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Are you suffering the Whole Foods effect?

So I've been dying to tell you about my trip to the Food Co-Op the other night. Members can take a guest (guests can't shop though) so Sarah very kindly took me along. It was all it promised to be and more. I can't even begin to go into the details but it is a green geek's paradise, more or less. Silos heaving with grains, nuts and pulses, shelves bowing under the weight of every conceivable herb and spice, organic, locally reared meats aplenty and an array of organic fruit and veg to match any farmers market. I could have spent hours wandering the aisles fondly caressing the produce but it was 9.30 on a school night so we kept it brief.

About halfway round we came to the beauty aisle. I'm in the market for new shampoo and conditioner but every eco-friendly variety I've tried seems to turn my hair to straw. I mentioned this to Sarah and we soon found ourselves in conversation with another member who recommended the Nature's Gate shampoo. We thanked her and bent to check it out. "Hm, contains parabens," said Sarah. This was no good since, per Ideal Bite, parabens are hormone disruptors, no good for mummies and babies. Since I couldn't buy anyway this was no problem, but I use a Nature's Gate body lotion so spent the rest of the shop worrying about whether, unbeknownst to me, the unscented, petroleum-free lotion I'd got when Dot was born contained parabens I'd been unwittingly transmitting to her via breastmilk all along. I figured I'd check when I got home.

When you're done you have to check out twice. You'll recall it's staffed by members. As such, our first cashier was a woman with dreadlocks down to her butt; the second a middle-aged man in a business suit and wide-striped silk tie. You pile your groceries into (reused) cardboard boxes on a big metal trolley and a member in a luminous orange waistcoat walks you home, waits while you unpack, then takes the trolley (and I suppose the boxes) back to the store. It was totally great. It will be lethal once we've joined. I'm hoping to do it Monday or Wednesday night this week.

As soon as I got home, I checked the body lotion (I figure I don't have enough on my plate these days so I better obsess over body lotion). And sure enough, there at the bottom of the label, something-or-other paraben. Bugger. Since I'd bought it in a a hardcore health food store I thought I was in the clear with that one (I call this the Whole Foods effect. You buy something in Whole Foods so you assume it's eco-and human-friendly so don't bother to check, much as a friend of mine assumed plastic bags from Whole Foods are ok because they're recyclable. They're not ok, though, ok? Still takes petrol to make them. Anyway I digress...)

So on an Ideal Bite tip I've just ordered this new paraben-free body lotion from Max Green Alchemy. I'll let you know how it is.

Oh, and I eventually picked up some paraben-free Burt's Bees shampoo in the health food store tonight. Washed my hair with it (the new plan is to do this at night to maximise quality Dot time in the mornings) and though it had that washing-up liquid feel in the shower, the hair as of now looks surprisingly glossy. Let's see how it holds up to a hard day at the office. Night.