Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Not-So Green Birthday...and other random stuff

Last night I went to my mom's house for dinner and to celebrate my birthday which is this week. She made a meal per my request. It is one of my favorite pasta dishes: Pasta with shrimp and asparagus in a vodka cream sauce. It is light and flavorful and fabulous. The recipe was featured in a Bon Appetite magazine probably 12 years ago or more. My mom still has the recipe she cut out of the magazine per my request. She also made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting which was surprisingly not as rich as I expected it to be and not overly sweet. The meal was fabulous but I couldn't help but wonder how much waste had been generated by purchasing the ingredients. My mom doesn't shop in the bulk section, she doesn't buy organic. She usually puts her produce in a plastic produce bag but she does bring her own bags for the check out. They have zero sort recycling at their apartment so she recycles what she can. There were definitely at least 6 plastic bags of various sizes thrown out at my expense and just for 1 meal. I guess what I could have done is offered to help purchase the items that she didn't already have to make the meal and then I could have had more control over the packaging of those items and whether or not they were organic. Though since it was for my birthday my mom probably would have insisted that she purchase the items. It's a sticky situation.
My sister got me some plastic free swag for my kitchen which I was very excited about. She got me a second glass cookie jar with a metal top (great for storing bulk dry goods) and a stainless steel spatula and spoon. She got them at the specialty cooking store in town so I'm sure those 3 items were not cheap. She is so sweet!!
My mom's husband made me a homemade card which was awesome. It was a life-size hat with a cartoon rabbit inside. It's hilarious, I'm putting it on display.
My mom, aside from cooking for me, got me a bouquet of flowers. Which she put in a large plastic pig shaped watering can. The flowers were beautiful local seasonal flowers (peonies that are going to bloom any moment) but a plastic pig...really? I tried to politely decline it but my mom said that since she already bought it and she has no use for a watering can that it would be wasteful for me not to take it. I am thinking I will check to see if the tag is still sticking to it and if so return it. Otherwise I will probably be stuck with a pink plastic pig watering can. I really wanted to get a classic looking metal one too...bummer. Later in the evening I reminded my mom that I am really trying to reduce the amount of plastic that I purchase and use, that I am trying to be more environmentally conscious, and that I don't want to support companies that are not environmentally responsible. My mother hates clutter and junk in her life so I told her that I got that quality from her so I don't want clutter and junk either.

I have some more green projects planned as I get some free time...there's still so much to do for the apartment and I am trying my best to get organized. When I'm not putting things away I am currently working on knitting some cleaning rags and wash clothes. I made some sponge sized clothes for cleaning dishes, counters, and sinks and they work really well. I'll probably want to sprinkle them with baking soda and boil them once a week as they will probably hold onto germs like a sponge would. I would just throw them in the laundry but I only wash with cold water so that won't really help much. I am planning on using the water from steaming vegetables to quickly boil my rags once the veggies are done. That way I can re-use water that's already pretty hot.
I also still haven't purchased any sewing supplies for making myself a hanky book and some bags out of old shirts...so many projects, so little time (and energy!). My boyfriend is still buying sandwich bread in a bag so I'd like to try to make a loaf that he would be happy using for sandwiches. I think he likes the cheap airy bread so it might be difficult to mimic at home but I'm willing to try! I'll probably have to slice it up for him and re-use one of his bread bags to store it. I'm ok with that though.
I still haven't finished my garden. If it would stop raining for 5 minutes I could go outside and work on pulling up the weeds/moss in the area where I want to expand to. I also need to get more compost/soil to lay down which means I'll be adding to my collection of bags...ugh. I am hoping my local garden shop sells pea and zucchini plants as it is probably a little late to plant seeds.

This weekend I'll be making my first trip to one of the local weekend farmer's markets. I'm also hoping to go strawberry picking if the weather cooperates. I really want strawberries for smoothies and desserts but I don't want to buy those stupid clam shell packs!


  1. I saw the stupid plastic pig when I got home (which does not have a tag any more...damn) and told my boyfriend how sad it was that this stupid plastic pig is going to be on the planet for a heck of a lot longer than we will be. I seriously felt like crying about it. The ridiculous stupidity of our culture and the fact that plastic is EVERYWHERE and that it won't ever go away is just so frustrating. I truly believe that as consumers we CAN make a difference by refusing to buy plastic crap we don't need. I guess it's even more frustrating that my own mother would buy stupid plastic junk...and for me! Why?!
    I thought about donating the plastic pig to the thrift store so someone else can use it. Then I thought that whoever buys it will probably throw it away after this summer. So I should keep it and use it forever. Then I got to thinking about how plastic leaches. If I water my plants with water that is in that plastic pig will the plastic leach into the water and then get into my plants? Will my tomatoes and basil be tainted? I'm sure the effects are minimal. I guess it just overwhelms me to think about just how horrible plastic really is.

  2. Hi, I just found your blog, and I'm really enjoying reading it! I understand your frustration. I don't see my mother often (we live far apart), and last week I spent some time with her and her boyfriend. It was truly shocking to see all the bags, bottled water and stuff like that they went through.

    That said, I have to say that the pig watering can sounds kind of cute. :) I understand your concern about watering food plants with it, but, in my mind, even organically grown foods are probably exposed to leaching chemicals through their irrigation systems, not to mention other environmental pollutants that are, unfortunately, everywhere. I would use the can- just don't let water sit in there for long before you water your plants, and I would think the leaching would be very minimal. Just my two cents!

    P.S. would love to see pics of your apartment and some of your furniture scores! I just love seeing what other people do with their living spaces!

  3. Julia, thanks for reading!!
    I think you're right about using the plastic watering can, as long as the water doesn't sit in the can long it should be fine.
    I am planning on posting some pictures once we get everything put away. We still have quite a few random boxes of things that need to be put away so the apartment still looks rather cluttered. I know, it's been over a month. Unfortunately unpacking stuff is low on my priority list as the summer fills up with fun and interesting things to do.