Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Green Geek

I'm getting a bit of a reputation for myself around the office as a green geek. Equipped with my (now fairly battered) SIGG bottle, my Williams Sonoma reusable coffee cup (which keeps the coffee far too hot for too long but you have to suffer for your planet), a bag to stuff all my paper in to take home for recycling (the building doesn't do it - it's cheaper for them to pay the $2000/year fine than to recycle) and a ceramic plate which I dutifully cart to the cafeteria to collect my lunch, I'm doing fairly well in the no-garbage stakes.

A few weeks ago I caught my partner in greening the agency drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup. He claimed it was greener than paper or somesuch nonsense. He now keeps trying to catch me out by offering me coffee. I get all excited until I remember I haven't got my cup on me so I tell him I can't have one but not to let me stop him. This makes me seem like a total green matyr and definitely boosts my credibility as the go-to person for matters green. I also turn down bottled water in meetings, preferring to go thirsty if I've forgotten my SIGG than have a plastic bottle on my conscience.

The plate thing is the gesture which draws the most attention. As I take my sandwich back upstairs in the elevator it's almost as if people have forgotten that lunch doesn't just manifest wrapped or boxed in plastic. But I like it. Somehow lunch at your desk feels a bit more like proper food when eaten off china with a cloth napkin. My next-door neighbour at work has adopted the plate too and reports she's finding it a great awareness raiser for the good fight.

With all the spoddy gestures, people have to taken to saying to other people of me, 'oh Freya, she's hardcore'. This in turn is helping keep me on the straight and narrow - don't want to wreck my credibility by getting caught with my green trousers down (or a styrofoam cup in my hand).

But I must be careful not to let it all go to my head. After all, hardcore by New York ad agency standards is...well I can't think of a good analogy but compare me to, say, No Impact Man, and I can assure you I am really pretty useless.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Does not compute

Every so often I lose my momentum a bit for the green thing. The something comes along to give me a kick up the backside. This time it was a recent Newsweek cover story Entitled "Global Warming: a Hoax" which charts the deception perpetrated on the US people - and government - by industry groups seeking to deny climate change. You can read it here.

We knew this, but this article reminds us of how systematic and calculated the deception has been.


What staggers me about this above all (and it staggers me on many levels) is that, when it comes down to it, these people have put the health of their business (so I suppose their wallets) above the health - indeed the survival - of their children.

How does that work?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Odds and Ends

We're staying in the city this weekend. Although I absolutely love being at the house, this somehow feels like a holiday. But it reminds me there were some anecdotes from last weekend I'd meant to post.

The first: as we drove across the river to the house at the end of a rather long journey up, I became conscious of a sort of high pitched wheezing which I realized had been going on in the background on and off since we left the city.

'What's that noise?" I aksed the hubby.

"Oh, that's the gaffer tape I stuck over the hole in the engine," he replied in an offhand way, like he mended car engines with tape every day of the week.

"What, so our car really is stuck together with sticky tape?" I replied. How very Blue Peter. I'd only thought it felt like it was.

Then there was the trip to Pecks, the local supermarket, where as usual I was forced to eat humble pie. As I was trying to fit far too much stuff into the one reusable bag I'd brought with me while wrestling the credit card from Dot, who was lording it over the supermarket from the vantage point of her first ever go in the child seat of a trolley (in our poncey Brooklyn supermarket she sits right in the basket on one of those mini-basket-trolley things), the cashier said, "Oh, hold on, I need to take some off because you brought a bag."

This was new. "Really, how much do I get back?" I asked, thrilled.

"Three cents," she said. Well, ok then.

As I was manoevring Dot's chariot out the door I noticed a pile of red cloth bags with a 'Shop Rite reusable bags' sign next to them. I think they cost 10 cents or something. How brilliant is that?

Next time I'm going to spy on the other shoppers to see if the plastic bag message is doing any better there than it is in Manhattan. Here I keep seeing people on the subway, an Anya Hindmarch 'I'm not a plastic bag' in one hand and...a plastic bag in the other.

I think I also meant to tell you how unbelievable the selection is at River Brook Farm at the moment. I go to the UK for 2 weeks and they go harvest festival-tastic. Quite unbelievable - garlic, (pink) potatoes, watermelons, squash, spinach, basil, (purple) carrots, aubergines, peppers, broccoli, dill, fennel, salad, (green, purple) tomatoes and so on and so on - and there are only three of them doing the whole thing. Incredible. We also got the most delicious white peaches, blackberries and plums from the Callicoon farmers market. Good times for farm market geeks like me.

I think there was more to tell but it eludes me and I better get to bed. The hubby's sighing and yawning in a way that suggests he's trying to get my attention.

I'm channeling Bon Jovi. Please help...

I can't believe how long it's taken me to get round to telling you this, but I think the mother-in-law has cracked the shampoo issue.

She came to see us several weeks ago laden down with gifts, among them a bottle of Green People moisturising shampoo. It's great. Leaves my hair all smooth and silky, like it hasn't been since the Kerastase amnesty. It is of course paraben-, petroleum- and sodium lauryl sulfate-free. Hurrah. I could even use it on Dot (though she has her own California Baby, don't you know).

She (the MIL) subsequently got me the conditioner too for collection it when we were in the UK. It seemed full of promise. Then the hubby packed it in his hand luggage on the way from Dublin to Bristol and it had to be relinquished at check-in - bugger.

Am now trying to decide if I can justify ordering some online and incurring the airmiles. I've done a bit of
research and they're such a nice company I think I might have to. Or if anyone reading is planning a trip over soon, will you be my Green People mule to cut down on postage and packaging? Humid August in New York is not a good place for anyone's hair.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Some holiday snaps

Dazed and confused

Dear friends, I'm so sorry I've been quiet for so long with not even an explanation for you. We went off to see the family in England and attend our friends' wedding in Ireland, in between which we stole a few days to ourselves in a cottage on an organic farm in Tipperary with an overnight sojourn to the Aran islands.

Ah, it was blissful. Over two weeks hanging out with my darling girl and the hubby exploring, slowing down, walking, breathing, reading (real books!) and staring at the sort of landscapes that heal the soul (I can recommend the view across to Connemara, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher from Dun Aengus, a 4000-year-old fort on Inishmor, at sunset, especially if surveyed while inhaling the scalpy scent of the flaxen-haired 11-month old pixie snoozing in the baby bjorn on your chest).

Seeing the grannies was also marvellous (and when I say grannies, I include grandpas and uncles and aunts, and great grannies and great uncles, too) partly for the extra pairs of hands but mainly to share the pixie with people who get almost as big a kick out of her as I do. I have a nasty feeling I shall need to un-eco-friendlyly fly them here more often; either that or move home...

Things seem to have gone a bit haywire since we got back. A jetlagged baby is never a pretty thing but tonight poor little Dot puked all over the baby food aisle of a supermarket (and her mother and herself) in Battery Park City (downtown Manhattan near the World Trade Center) and was found to have a temperature of 100.6 on arrival home (she's sleeping peacefully now so fingers crossed). We were in downtown Manhattan because the hubby and I think we've decided this commute is no good for me (it cuts into my Dot time too much, psychologically I feel too far away from her, it's nearly an extra hour on the trip upstate and anyway I want to be riding my bike to work) and we miss our old life (no subways, just strolling round the West Village of a summer's evening) so in a burst of activity we decided to look at Manhattan apartments. Whether we can afford to live in the city is something we're not really talking about; for now it's enough to poke about on the offchance we find something ideal. We tend to get lucky like that.

And then we did. Well, if we find ourselves with $1.2M to spare, we did. A green building going up right on the river. Green roof, recycled water, fresh air circulating, bamboo floors, energy-efficient devices, a poet's cafe, organic bakery, kid's playroom and branch of the NYC public library on site, free bike storage, Zipcar pick-up center and swings and other kiddie stuff right out front. All with air that feels fresh and a 20 minutes from work. It's kind of greenie heaven (although I struggle with the fact it's a new build and the kitchen cabinets are decorated with hardwood - i.e. not that green but anyway...)

The weirdest bit was the hubby loved the idea. I'd barely bothered to suggest a green building even though I'd been reading and dreaming about them, assuming he would scoff and dismiss it out of hand.

"No, it makes total sense," he said. "Apart from anything else, everyone will want a green building in a few year's time so it'll be worth a fortune."

So we went back to look today. Dot was laughing and boogieing all over the apartment. The bathroom was a bit naff but otherwise it was lovely. The sun was shining, there was a refreshing breeze, people were biking, blading, sailing and kayaking past the front door. The hubby was sizing the place up to see if he could shoot there.

Then Dot was sick. Then I hit a rough patch. Was it worry about her puking? The thought of dragging her in the buggy back to Brooklyn and up endless stairs on my own in shoes that were rubbing and with 73 bags of crap to carry? The hormones from being back at work, apart from Dot? Being a spoilt brat at seeing a dream apartment which ticked all the boxes but that we couldn't afford? Or the reality of another manic day in the office, dreaming of the greening/Dotting/blogging days of yore?

Ah, who knows. And now I'm home in Brooklyn it's cool and peaceful and I wonder if we should just stay. The other option is to go and live on Inishmann for a year to grow vegetables and write a book. That's what I'd really like to do.

At least I think it is.....