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I’m trying not to compromise any of my sustainable morals this month! Read all the other posts so far, or just get right down to reading about what I’m grappling with today:

1. Making Food Requests of the Host

I’m discovering that people are OK with my making food demands requests, even if I am a guest in their home.

My friend is feeling under the weather, so she’s staying at her grandmother’s with her mom way out on Long Island while she’s between semesters. I offered to go visit her. And of her own accord (not even having read my New Year’s post) she asked if I was OK with eating meat that wasn’t local but was organic (I told her no), and told me that the eggs were actually from a local farmer. #impressed

So I set out in the snow on Tuesday morning, taking the G to the Atlantic Terminal for the LIRR. I brought with me some reading material, a paperback copy of The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and treats from Babycakes, since she is allergic to wheat.

When I got to Smithtown, all I had to do was walk three minutes through the muffled snowfall to her grandmother’s charming old house. Inside I found her mom mixing up spinach for a gluten-free spanakopita loosely based on a Smitten Kitchen recipe. I had forgotten that her mom has been doing organics since before it was cool. Long before it was cool, when canned fruit was considered an absurdly healthy snack for a elementary school student. So we sat inside the farmhouse-style home, eating a hot, whole lunch followed by vegan, gluten-free treats and organic tea, watching the cardinals in the snowy sapling outside, and catching up. It was one of the loveliest days of my winter so far.

And she’s not even an outlier. A new friend invited Illich and I over to her and her partner’s place in Park Slope for dinner on Friday. “Do you eat fish?” she asked in a Facebook message. Normally at this point I would just say, “Yup!” But instead, I typed. “We do eat fish but the weird thing is I only eat fish that isn’t overfished. So tuna is out, unfortunately, and a few others too. I hope that isn’t a huge pain!!”

“Not at all! How about salmon or Branzino?” she responded. “Branzino has bones but we will clean it before serving.”

Well, that was quite simple! Maybe I’ve been much too scaredy-cat about putting other people out. After all, a lot of people are quite eager to please. They’re not your cranky great aunt from Idaho.

2. In the Mail

I was disappointed to find that my new non-toxic nail polish remover from Abe’s Market arrived from New Jersey wrapped in tape and bubble wrap. I guess Abe’s does drop-ship, which means they don’t keep inventory. They just connect you with sellers who ship to you directly. Normally, I would just mutter under my breath, but this time I decided to do something about it.

I recently bought your lavender nail polish remover off of Abe’s Market. Since you sell such an eco-friendly product, I was very disappointed when I received the package and found the bottle wrapped in bubble wrap. I don’t know what the recycling is like in New Jersey, but here in NYC, I can’t recycle that bubble wrap.

I know that there are alternatives to this kind of shipping. You could look to Rodale’s as an example. I’ve bought from them several times, and my items always come in sustainable packaging made from paper, cardboard, or recycled air pouches. (The latter isn’t my favorite, but I can drop it off at the Whole Foods stretchy plastic bin, at least.)

I wanted to email you because 1. I personally hope you will look into alternatives and 2. You should know that your decision to use bubble wrap makes me question your attention to detail in other areas regarding your product, and is likely disappointing your other customers.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to reading your reply!


The owner got back to me later that day sounding distressed,  like English was his second language, or both. He wanted suggestions, since he is a “one-man show.” After some quick Googling, I sent him to this packaging, which looks familiar and like the right thing to use. I almost feel bad for him. But I don’t regret sending him that email, because he later forwarded me confirmation that he sent an inquiry to the packaging company. I feel like I just scored one for Mother Earth.

3. Plastic Everywhere

In other news, last night my boyfriend and I were out for just an hour at a club. (Yes, I’m that kind of girl.) He asked if I wanted a drink, and I told him whiskey-ginger without thinking. When he came back, he gave me my cocktail, straw included. As I sipped it, I realized I should have gotten the cocktail myself so I could specify, “no straw” but also to request a local or sustainably made whiskey, and choose another mixer besides whiskey. That was a major fail. I took the straw home so I could personally ensure it would be recycled.

Today I ate my lunch of conventional almond milk and organic cereal from a plastic inner bag. These are from last month, and I’m OK with this for now, because I need to use this stuff up before it goes bad. But soon, I’ll describe for you my new and improved grocery shopping plan.

I also unwrapped my next birth control packet, with all its wasteful packaging, and threw away my old packet. I’ve tried to fix this before by getting a non-hormonal IUD. But it was a disaster. The alternative is discussing condom use with my boyfriend, or trying the hormonal IUD.

Sigh. I’ll get back to you on that … I guess.


  • Don’t be afraid to make requests of the host, with the understanding that they have the right to turn you down. Be cheerful about it, and you might get your way!
  • Also, don’t hesitate to email feedback to companies. A small business owner told me last night that she wishes more customers would email her, so she can improve but also explain to them the eco-friendly facets of her business they aren’t noticing or seeing.
  • I personally know it’s hard to remember, but tell bartenders you don’t want a straw. Seriously, you don’t need it.