Monday, October 12, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

our family of environmentally-friendly Sigg reusable drink bottles.'s been a busy few days. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post on Friday:
  • Sampling cask wine with my wonderful book club girlfriends.
  • Buying fresh veggies and gorgeous sunflowers at the Hub City Farmer’s Market.
  • Designing a potager. (pot-ah-zhay; French) A kitchen garden, typically a formal, decorative kitchen garden. We’ve fenced in a section of the backyard so that it’s dog-proof, and I’m trying my hand at a practical but beautiful fall/winter kitchen garden. More on that later this week...
  • Starting eight varieties of heirloom lettuces.
  • Sowing seeds for fraises des bois, also known as Alpine Strawberries, a culinary treat.
  • Shopping in the rain for fall veggie transplants, since my seed growing is behind schedule.
  • Freezing my butt off after said shopping trip, since I haven’t changed clothes and am soaked.
  • Checking my Facebook account obsessively, since I’m among the thousands whose accounts have been undergoing “site maintenance” for more than a week. Still no FB as of today.
  • Polluting the environment with a large styrofoam drink cup.
OK, let’s get the bad news out of the way first so I can clear my conscience.

While I did stick to my resolution to give up Diet Coke cans, I’ve failed miserably in my efforts to forgo my favorite burst of caffeine. Today, being a Monday, felt like a good day to start fresh with my more DC. Well, that lasted until 9:30 a.m., when I was between errands and my head felt ready to explode.

So, here it is:
Yes, not only did I break down and drive through McDonald’s for a large Diet Coke, I completely screwed up--McD’s large drinks are in--gasp!--styrofoam cups. Now, I need to find a station that recycles #6 styrofoam. Yeesh. inappropriate purchase, a Diet Coke housed in styrofoam.

Oh, but it tastes sooooo good. It’s a sickness, I know.

Obviously, I’m not going to win any “environmental woman of the year” award. It’s amazing how many non-ecological things sneak into your life, and in the oddest places.

As I mentioned, we went to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Of course, like the good environmental steward I am, I took my reusable bags. It always bothered me, though, that I put my beautiful, sustainably grown vegetables in plastic produce bags that the vendors provide.

While I was talking with one of my farmer friends, I told him about our family project, and I turned down the plastic bag he offered for our Japanese turnips. He pointedly looked at my sunflowers, which I had just purchased from a wonderful flower farmer, with whom I always spend an extraordinary amount of time chatting. two bunches of sunflowers were wrapped in--gasp!--plastic flower sleeves. Damn. I’m such a hypocrite.

Here’s the problem: I was trying to keep an eye on Mikey and Kristen, who were a little obsessed with touching all of the gorgeous flowers, and when I looked up--my friend had already wrapped the sunflowers in plastic. I just didn’t have the heart to ask him to unwrap them.

I’m such an eco-wimp.

It’s not the first time I’ve been an eco-wimp. A funny thing happened this spring, when I was selling heirloom veggie plants at the Farmer’s Market. The plants that I sold through my business, Garden Delights, were all sustainably grown from seed, pampered by me, and packaged to minimize the impact on the environment. I sold all of the plants in peat pots. Peat pots are terrific because the plant’s roots aren’t disturbed when you transplant it into the garden--you plant the entire pot, the plant is happy because it’s not shocked during the transplanting process, and the pot breaks down in the soil. No worries about my business contributing plastic flower pots to the landfill. I also found an environmentally-friendly method for customers to carry home their purchases, since most people, thankfully, bought several plants: cardboard drink trays, an easy-to-recycle/compost solution to plastic nursery trays.

The irony is: a very sweet customer visited me every Saturday with a gift--a bundle of plastic grocery bags. Most vendors at the Farmer’s Market purchase these t-shirt bags, as they’re known, for their customers who don’t bring reusable bags. Since I was selling plants in peat pots with recyclable trays...I had no use for the bags.
But I never told her. I always thanked her for thinking of me, and took the bags home... where they piled up, waiting for me to take them to the recycling station at Publix.

See? Eco-wimp.

I’m trying to be strong and smart about our purchases without being abrasive. I’m curious, though...what might happen if I took my Sigg bottle into McD’s and purchased a drink--without the cup? How would they charge me for the drink? Would I throw off their cup inventory system, since I would be using my own drink container but my order would show a “large” drink purchase? Can you imagine the havoc I would wreck with the McD’s staff? Hmmm. Might be interesting. Stay tuned to see if eco-wimp turns into Environmental Goddess, Champion of the Earth...

Finally, I did promise to share a bit about our cask wine sampling. I bought the Wine Cube, Pinot Grigio, California, purchased at--yes, you remembered--Target. Personally, I thought the wine was pretty good--a little sweet for my taste, but definitely drinkable. According to our book club members--and I asked for honest opinions--they also thought it was good. Of course, I’m not sure how honest these ladies’ reviews were, because they are an awfully nice group. They may have been humoring me, just like I wasn’t very honest with my plastic bag-bearing customer...

So, Peter and I are on the search for another cask to sample. Casks are tricky to find in our area--Publix, Sam’s Club, Target--all have very few choices. We’re going to check out a liquor store later in the hopes of more selections. I’ll let you know what we find.

Ah, my head feels better. Thanks for letting me clear my conscience. I’ll try to behave tomorrow...

Until then, here’s a question for you:
What is your favorite eco product?


  1. One step at a time :) You don't have to erase your footprint over night!

  2. My favorite eco-products: the shopping bags from Germany! Every time I use them, I am reminded of the eco-savvy environment there. (You have to pay to have your groceries bagged in plastic, but brought-from-home reusable bags are free - brilliant!) It really pushes me to do the little things.... packing vegetables from the grocery store freely instead of in tissue-y plastic bags... recycling the tiny pieces of plastic that come from any number of things... picking up garbage on campus...