When we last spoke, I was contemplating the impending peril of our second family Christmas. Here’s what I tussled with these past two days:
1. Food. Always food.
While I wrote and published that post, my boyfriend was being a complete doll and cooking a feast so that I could focus on working: roasted carrots, roasted whole organic chicken, and ravioli topped with ricotta from Bedford Cheese Shop. I uncorked some conventional red wine a friend had gifted us because I wanted wine, ok? But when we sat down to eat, I casually got back up, went into the kitchen, and took a look at the empty pasta packaging in the recycling. Sadly, it was conventional and processed, with a lot of unpronounceable ingredients. I ate only the chicken and carrots, then shoved my pasta bowl over to my boyfriend, apologizing profusely. “It’s OK,” he said. “I’m not taking it personally, I promise. If I had known, I would have looked for organic pasta.” Unfortunately, the chicken produced unrecyclable plastic. Meat is a problem, even when it’s free range and organic.
Christmas dinner, however, turned out to be manageable. The cooking duties had been passed on to my aunt and her partner this year, who are into organics. They wanted to stick to my grandmother’s budget, so they opted to do conventional but whole ingredients. I installed myself in the kitchen to help so that I could keep an eye on all the ingredients.
At dinner, I avoided the pot roast (“Just a regular roast, sorry,” my aunt told me. She understands) and the gravy (made from a packet), but helped myself to mashed potatoes, salad, green beans and corn. It was plenty.
Oh, and I consumed about 10 mini Reese’s cups, which came in my stocking. I tried to pawn them all off on my mom, but she didn’t want them either, and left them in my vicinity for the rest of the day. I mean, at least mini Reese’s come in recyclable foil and paper packaging? I emptied the cashews and pistachios that came in my stocking out of their plastic bags and poured them into my reusable zip bag to take with me for a healthy snack.
When I got back to NYC, after munching on my nuts as a snack–thanks, fam!–I stopped by Babycakes to pick up some cupcakes for a friend who is sick and gluten-free. I asked for them to throw in two extra donuts for my boyfriend and I as a separate order, but when I saw that meant putting them in a plastic box, I told them to just add it to the gift box.
Now my pastry gift box is a little ratty, because I had to break the scotch tape they used open and take the donuts out. I retied it with twine.
2. Trying and Failing to Travel Green.
Before I left NYC, I scheduled a GoGreen Ride to pick me up at my apartment and take me to the far off land of 33rd Street and 11th Avenue, saving me 30 minutes of sleep and a long walk from the subway. But when I went downstairs to find the Prius, it wasn’t there. Turns out I had somehow put in my pickup address as TriBeCa. (The interface on the GoGreen Ride app isn’t the very best.) I had to cancel it, and call an Uber, or else I would late.
I knew that a full bus is the greenest travel option. But my bus was only half full, making it not so green. It would have been better to take the train, but at that time, at the height of the commuting hour, it would cost me about $130 more! Fortunately, my bus on the way back was full.
3. Green-ish Gifts
I had done a good job of hammering it into my family about Christmas presents. I got two donations in my name, one to Earthjustice, and one side of the family pitched in on getting me a Brooklyn Slate cheese board. Love, love, love.
For my aunt and my partner, I got them something from Zady each. I donated in my grandmother’s honor to her church. For my cousin who is paying off her student loans and wanted to abstain from presents, I wrapped up two back issues of Modern Farmer (she mentioned she’s into farming, being a recent culinary school graduate) in a old fairly made silk scarf. For my aunt I got earrings made in NYC. But respecting my other cousin and her husband’s request, I got them new, conventional board games and a conventional hair straightening iron. (Is there any hair iron that is not conventional?) As they took the plastic wrap off their games, I thought about how I could have tried to find used versions. But that seems tacky for a gift, no? My solution to the straightening iron was to do research and find a very well-reviewed one that would last her for a long time.
4. Non-Toxic Toiletries
Before I left home, I went through my travel toiletries and got rid of the conventional travel deodorant (recycled the plastic, trashed the deodorant part) and replaced it with Meow Meow Tweet, the conventional BB cream (stored it) and replaced it with a sample sized Suntegrity, and the conventional travel toothpaste (stored it) and replaced it with tooth soap.
For my overnight trip, showering wasn’t a problem. I didn’t wash my hair, and I don’t use bodywash or soap. But I forgot about body lotion. The stuff on the counter had parabens in it–I checked–so that was unusable. So I crossed my fingers my skin would be OK. Spoiler: It was fine. Probably because I don’t use soap or bodywash, which dries out your skin.
But, after using the bathroom twice, I checked the ingredients in the Ulta hand soap and there it was: sulfate as the second ingredient. I rummaged in the cabinet, but every single hand soap had sulfate as the second ingredient: Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelows, even Method! I guess from now on I’ll be carrying non-toxic hand sanitizer around with me. I’ll pick up some Burt’s Bees from Duane Reade.
Reusit – reusable home, food, and travel items