The weather was cold and snowy last week when an email popped into my mailbox from the Greenpoint/Williamsburg CSA (community-supported agriculture). “Join now!” it exhorted me, “Time is running out!” Really? Is it time to start thinking about spring planting, and summer growing? Yes, of course it is — spring is almost here.
And with spring, the season of new beginnings, the time of change and growth, why not expand your green repertoire a little bit? Sure, you’ll probably do a little spring cleaning… so why not make it spring greening (which incorporates some of said cleaning)?
First off, if you eat, you should be joining a CSA. You’ll support local agriculture, it’s true, and probably meet a whole bunch of cool health-minded people too. You’ll also save money, and eat better, the more you cook at home. It’s not for nothing that the contestants on The Biggest Loser have to cook all their own food. I’ve been doing a lot more home-based food production, with supplies from my local farmers market, and I’ve saved a ton of money taking lunches to work and eating dinner at home.
For information on NYC-area CSAs, go to JustFood.org — almost every neighborhood in the city has a CSA.
When you do start that spring cleaning, go ahead and hit the bar. No, don’t mop drunk, DO start using bar soap instead of plastic-cloaked liquids. It’s been an ongoing experiment in my house since early last year, when I realized that we’re (both literally and figuratively) choking on plastic. And, I found out, it’s more efficient to transport soap products without the added liquid weight, which, of course, is just water.
I started by replacing my dish soap with a big bar of Dr. Bronner’s — it works just as well as dish liquid, it just takes a little longer to rub it onto the sponge. When I ran out of liquid to make spray cleaner (for cleaning counters, etc.) I took the end of a bar of soap, sliced it into pieces small enough to stuff into my spray bottle, and added hot water. The occasional shake mixes the soap and water, and it works really well. For floor washing, run water over a big bar of soap and into a bucket. Or buy powdered soaps!
Cleaning windows is a great thing to do to brighten up your place, and it can be done 100 percent green-style. Mix up some white vinegar and water in an old spray bottle, spray, and wipe off with crumpled-up newspapers. No streaks, no lint, and none of the lung-damaging chemicals and perfumes from those blue glass-cleaners which shall remain nameless.
Speaking of replacing things, I finally made it to Sustainable NYC, the eco-products store on Avenue A at 9th Street. They have a good selection of green supplies: if we all switched a couple of staples it could really make a difference. Mr. Objector found organic cotton socks to replace the cheapo ones he usually buys, and I found a green alternative to conventional hair bleach, which was my last really non-green indulgence. Bye-bye Clairol!
They also have useful household stuff like recycled aluminum foil (all those cans have to go somewhere), 100 percent biodegradeable compost and garbage bags (to make composting easy and tidy), bar shampoo (another plastic-free favorite of mine), and eco-alternatives to disposable diapers and much more. Maybe investing in one of their bamboo cutting boards would make all your CSA home cooking more fun?
I finally decided to really walk the walk, and bought my first pair of eco shoes at Sustainable NYC too. And no, despite the hemp, recycled-paper insoles and recycled-tire outer soles (not to mention solvent-free adhesives and more), I don’t look like an extra from Hair.
If spring means a new spring wardrobe, consider the green solutions now on offer almost everywhere. I’d much rather support local businesses, like Sustainable NYC and Moo Shoes, or the fabulous vintage-and-new Treehouse on Graham Avenue, but even the Gap’s getting in on the act, with loads of recycled-fiber garments on their shelves this season. If that sounds silly, believe me it’s not. Our addiction to cheap clothing has created a worldwide glut of used textiles.