So. I've been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking lately about carbon footprints, pet-safe household products, the caves the Hudson River glacier left across the street from my new apartment, recycling, and making fiscally-responsible choices. It feels like I'm discovering all of this information around the same time and taking it as an opportunity to reassess my life.
Now, if you know me well, you know that I used to shudder at the mere mention of the word "organic". No more! Thanks to Bark magazine, I learned that when it comes to household cleaners, paint, and flooring choices, organic means it's probably safer for my spoiled puppy. (I should mention that as I write this he is curled up in a doggie donut on the sofa next to me.) Which, in Bekah-speak, translates to "the word 'organic' is now a very good thing." After reading why organic is good for the dog, I started to read more to figure out why it's good for people. Besides those delicious pastries I get on Saturday mornings from the bread guy at the greenmarket a block over are organic and, boy, are they good!
Oversimplified, everything comes down to CO2 emissions -- the so-called carbon footprints we leave behind. Remember that hole in the ozone that in the 80's we were told not to widen by using hairspray? Yeah, that one. Now it's not just aerosol cans, it's a lot of things, but basically wasting energy or using products that require a lot of energy to produce leave a bigger footprint than if you use only what you need. The bigger carbon footprint you leave, the bigger you make the hole. Get it? OK. Moving along...
I already do my part to reuse: those blue New York Times bags come in very handy on walks with Guster, most of my cookware came from my mom's cupboards, my "new" year-old laptop is a hand-me-down from my dad, and I use cut-up tee-shirts instead of Swiffer rags. And I already do my part to reduce: I use CFL lightbulbs, I read the paper online instead of getting it delivered, I use Tupperware instead of baggies, I use a Brita pitcher instead of bottled water, and I am pretty good about bringing coffee from home in the mornings. As far as the third "R" goes, I've been horrible about seeking out the recycling barrels in the City, but, if you broaden the definition just a little, Guster is a recycled dog! All that is to say that I have been doing my part, but here's the catch: I was doing all that to save money. Hmm.
Once I started reading, I found that I could make a few more changes without sacrificing the stuff that I enjoy. 'Cause I'm not giving up showering to save water, that's for sure! For example, rather than using paper napkins at the office during lunch, I use a cloth napkin I bring from home. On the days that I wake up too late to make a pot of coffee, I know that if I bring my travel mug to Starbucks I'll save at least one cup, one cup sleeve, and two paper napkins. Still Starbucks, just in my mug! And on Saturdays, if I take a second to grab a couple canvas totes or a backpack, I can avoid getting extra plastic bags at the greenmarket. (Besides tasting better, the produce at the market is way cheaper than any grocery store in the neighborhood!) Those are the little things.
I'm not planning on making huge changes, like giving up my car -- which, by the way, gets amazingly good MPG for a non-hybrid. I'm not perfect and I'm not taking the full leap into becoming a model citizen in ecological terms, but I'm trying to be better without giving up many of my creature comforts. At the risk of sounding like a true hippie (the horror!), the bottom line is this: I've finally moved to a beautiful and remarkably green part of the City and I don't want ruin it.
PS -- If you haven't already, you should sign up for the daily tip emails at www.idealbite.com.