Sustainable and toxin-free living

Sustainable and toxin-free living

No Compromise Month Day 2 and 3: Saying No to Gifts

It’s Day 3 of No Compromise Month, when I try to live 100% by my sustainable values, no matter what. Here are five things I tussled with today:

1. Cute but Conventional Gifts

I have found over the past two days that to not compromise on your values, you need to get temptation out of your home.

Yes, I’m talking about food.

I thought I could just leave the non-organic, processed stuff in my fridge and pantry, waiting for my boyfriend to eat them. But it’s not that easy.

For Christmas, my sister bought me a two Reese’s cups … that were a half pound each. (Hey, she knows I like Reese’s.) I sliced them up like pie and put them out at a party, but my guests didn’t polish them off. So when I went into the fridge yesterday looking for a snack, the remaining quarter pound of a cup called out to me. I didn’t even think before I picked it up and began munching on it. Horrified by my lack of willpower, I wrenched it away from my mouth and tossed it into the compost bin. (But then I had to trash the wrapping, which isn’t recyclable at all.) Later on, I polished off the last cup of Canada Dry ginger ale that a friend had brought over.

I had to face it: willpower would not serve me well on my journey. I can’t just accept gifts and think I can stash them away without eating them. I also snacked on beautiful little candies from Tokyo a friend had given me. They came in a crinkly little plastic pouch, and their ingredients are in Japanese. When I came home today, my boyfriend told me he had gotten us each a cupcake for dessert. “Where from?” I asked warily. “From the shop on the corner, Brooklyn Cupcake.” I pick up our cat and snuggled with him, hiding behind him while I mumbled, “I can’t eat it right now.”

“It’s for after dinner,” he says.

“No, I can’t eat that this whole month,” I tell him.

I hate this part of No Compromise, saying no to little tokens of love and appreciation. It just feels shitty and ungracious. But perhaps I’m using this as another excuse to eat what I want? It hurts now, but if I were more clear about my values, perhaps I wouldn’t be getting these tokens that I’m not allowed to eat! And let’s be honest, everyone I know loves Reese’s. That’s why I get them as gifts.

I just have to say no. Clearly.

The problem is, I have Christmas number two with the other half of my family tomorrow. I’m hoping I can skate under the radar by sneaking all my stocking candy into my cousins’ stockings, and casually not putting any meat onto my plate. I’ll ask if anything is organic, but I’m expecting the answer to be no. Which means I’ll just have to eat the simplest vegetables possible.

And then when the gifts come … I’m not confident.

2. Tissues

It was flurrying in NYC, and my nose started to run while I was out. Unfortunately, I left my handkerchiefs at home and had to surreptitiously wipe my nose when no one was looking. This is yet another thing you must bring with you when you don’t use disposables. (By the way, you can get handkerchiefs for $5 a piece at many vintage and antique stores.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 7.46.12 PM3. A Better Lint Brush

As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve been using a lint roller with tear-off sheets that you toss when you’re done. To solve this, I stopped by Kaight on Atlantic Avenue, who carries The Laundress Pet and Lint Brush. I could have ordered it, but I wanted to keep the packaging and shipping to a minimum. Unfortunately, the new lint brush comes in plastic packaging. They sold me the display one that was out of the plastic. But does that count? Maybe it would have been better to buy one in the plastic so I could add it to the stretchy plastic pile to go to Whole Foods.

4. Training the Boyfriend

Up until this point, I’ve taken a very hands off approach to indoctrinating my boyfriend into the cult. But as this experiment has started, I’ve been micromanaging. I’ve told him he should compost hair and toenail clippings, and I’ve been very, very specific about food shopping.

“If you’re going to get parmesan, be careful about the packaging,” I instructed him today before I left. “Ideally it would be in a wrapping that is recyclable, but if the wrapper isn’t recyclable, get the pre-grated stuff that comes in a plastic tub because we can recycle that.”

Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive boyfriend. He’s always holding things up to check if they’re recyclable or not. And today he went to the Bedford Cheese shop to pick up some high quality, local cheese. What a doll! It was wrapped in saran wrap, which can go in the stretchy plastic recycling pile.

5. Just Ask

I met up with a friend for brunch at Buvette in the West Village. On their itty bitty menus, there is no mention of where the ingredients are sourced from, or whether they are organic. I spent more time than usual quizzing the waitress: “Where does your meat come from? Are the ingredients here organic?” She was very patient with me, telling me that all the ingredients are organic. She double checked on the meat, and came back to inform me that except for the smoked salmon, it’s sourced from local farms. This left me free to order almost whatever I wanted from the menu.

More good news: As I wrote this post, I decided to give Brooklyn Cupcake a call. I wouldn’t want to besmirch their name on the internet without fact checking. Turns out that they use organic ingredients in their cupcakes.

Yay! Cupcakes for me!

I’ve learned over the past couple of years that many places are eco-friendly, but just don’t talk about it. So just ask! Either they will be able to tell you about their eco-friendly practices, or you’ve communicated your desire for eco-friendly practices to them. It’s a win-win. (Even though I know it can feel a bit awkward sometimes.)

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