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Archive for the ‘Second Nature Sustainability’ Category

by Ulli Klein, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant, Second Nature

Wait.

Another day, another bag of delicious German licorice scolding by certain VP of our nonprofit after she tasted one of these heavenly creations… reminding me that something that was imported from Germany to a store in California, then sent to me by German friend in CA, is not appropriate to eat on a day like today.

FAIL on that front. Licorice has been safely secured out of mind sight.

Transportation yesterday wasn’t as big of a challenge until I went out at night and totally blew it, because I helped someone move some furniture around, which required transportation. I am usually so GOOD, since I don’t own a car and use almost exclusively public transportation.

Today…well…local food. I stocked up at the farmer’s market, I continue collecting trash, trying to reduce the water I use, reusing things at home ect.

Just about that licorice….

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by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern

Today’s challenge is transportation, but it hasn’t been too difficult for me.  I’ve been walking to work as much as possible and taking the T at all other opportunities **Note:  low carbon transportation works great when you don’t have a car :)

I am a little nervous for the food activities tomorrow.  I recently gave up veganism because I found that I was relying way too much on foods that had little nutritional value (bread, candy, pre-packaged meals).  I love vegan food and the vegan lifestyle, but I no longer have the time or financial resources to keep up.  So, rather than eating crappy pre-packaged things, I’m cutting myself some slack and eating cheese and eggs…Mainly indulging in the delicious cheese I’ve been forgoing for the past several months.

One of the problems I have with all of the food related lifestyles out there is the extreme variety of feedback.  I always buy organic and locally when it is possible and within my budget, but then there’s the added worry of buying vegetarian and vegan food.  Then you have the group of Raw foodists telling you to eat only raw food.  On top of that are freegans who go around and get wasted food from businesses at the closing of each day.  Don’t forget the 1600 calories/day diet.  Eat only foods that aren’t packaged to minimize waste.  Low carb.  Low fat.  No fat.  No sugar.  Low sugar.  Cool Cuisine–The global warming diet.  Eat foods or meals with only 6 or less ingredients.  Seriously?

Taking all of these perspectives into account, it’s hard to decide what choices to make when it comes to food.  It gets even more complicated when you take into account people’s cultures, medical conditions, socioeconomic statuses, and face-paced lifestyles.  Sometimes, I step back, just to remind myself that the purpose of food is to nourish us so that we can live.  All of the options and perspectives out there make food more complicated than it really is.  So, my strategy is to keep it simple, eat what my body wants, and keep in mind the environmental impact of my meal.

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by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern

Even though transportation day isn’t until tomorrow, I started my walk to and from work commuting strategy today.  I was overjoyed when I woke up and saw that it was 37 degrees outside. YAY.

37 degrees = GOOD MORNING BOSTON!

37 degrees = GOOD MORNING BOSTON!

I encountered my first road block this morning when cut my toe on my umbrella, which I conveniently left next to my bed last night.  So, how do you use a band-aide without producing waste?  Not sure.  I guess it’s something I can look into for future umbrella battles.

Things have been going well in the office as far as waste saving.  The only things I’ve seen so far in the trash are paper towels and food waste.  Having seen all of the paper towels that have been produced here since 9 am, I think investing in more cloth towels for the bathroom and kitchen is something the Boston office should definitely consider.  Also, in regards to food waste, perhaps we could go in on getting a composting system with some of the other organizations in the building?  I’ve looked into it and the Sustainability Committee has talked about it as well, but now would be a great time to act on it!

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A sunny day = no unnecessary lights on at the Boston office.

Monday at the office

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by Dan Abrams, Second Nature Intern

“Garbage day is a very dangerous day.”- Rocko, from Rocko’s Modern Life

Rocko on the left, his dog on the right.

Rocko’s Modern Life was a cartoon about a wallaby and his dog on Nickelodeon circa 1998.  It is a brilliant television show.  That quote has little to do with No Impact Week, but every time I garbage or trash day comes up in conversation, I can’t help but to think of that quote.

If I could divide the environmental problem into subgroups and pick favorites, I would choose garbage/waste and food. The food post will come later, but in terms of trash I am a trash warrior.  Nearly all on campus housing options for upperclassmen at Northeastern are apartment-style with full kitchens.  So I have been cooking in an apartment for the last three years.  And you better believe that I bring a GIANT plastic tub to each and every apartment I move into for recycables.  I remember when I moved into my apartment last summer my roommate showed me a text he recieved from my other roommate that said, “Oh, no.  Now that we’re living with Dan we have to start recycling.”

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by Ulli Klein, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant, Second Nature

I went to Shaw’s yesterday and walked out with a Pyrex bowl. That was pretty much it. There really isn’t much local food to buy there, especially at my Shaw’s, because it’s not really catering to people who try to shop local. At all.

In other news:
photoThat would be one of my countless re-usable bags with a bio-degradable trash bag (hey, I am not going to toss my teabags into it) for my trash collection this week.

I am somewhat amazed at how far behind the US is with some of this stuff. My parents in Germany have 4 containers in front of their house. A huge blue “trash can” that gets picked up every 4-6 weeks for paper only, a yellow one for aluminum and plastic, a brown one (if you don’t compost, that’s the one for bio stuff) and then a black one for residual trash.

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by Anthony Cortese, President, Second Nature

TonyI just got back from CA and am getting organized. I appreciate the comments of everyone so far. It is a good thing we were not doing this last week since Michelle, Barbara and I traveled to the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA across the Golden Gate bridge from SF.

I have a transportation challenge this week on Wednesday – I have a professional meeting in a section of West Roxbury which is nearly impossible to get to by public transportation. I will investigate if I can do it. Otherwise I will use a hybrid ZipCar.

I have been walking one way to work (3 miles) 2 days per week and taking the Red Line home the rest of the time. This week I will try to walk 3 days both ways, take the T one day and will probably take ZipCar the other.

Donna and I have been trying to eat vegan – moderate success at home – much harder when we travel.

Making my shopping/non-shopping list now.

Tony

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by Ulli Klein, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant, Second Nature

After successfully stuffing all of my home trash into one popcorn bag last week, I decided that that is a worthy repeat goal. Maybe even less trash.

This morning I was asked to join friends for brunch. Instead I decided to make my own breakfast. That’s what I do anyway, as I find brunch a waste on me. I always eat the typical breakfast food anyway, but it actually felt good to tell them why I will not join them.

Later today, when and if the rain ever stops, I will walk to my local store to get a few things.  I was nifty yesterday and went to a local East Boston bakery called Spinelli’s. I had to dodge a few “family members” (no joke) on my way, but I bought a fairly large bag of home-made whole wheat pasta. That should last the entire week for possible lunch/dinner options.

My goal this week is to keep my entire grocery budget under $50. This will include going to the Farmer’s Market at Government Center which is at least a $20 trip because I am stocking up on bread for winter time.

As I am typing this, I realize that I am pretty confident I can go to the store today and not spend more than $25 for groceries this week……

…this may require me to do something I rarely do and don’t particularly enjoy: turning on the stove and planning my meals. No quick Kashi or Lean Cuisine frozen dinners this week. Zip. Zero. I will, um, finally do some cooking.

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by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern

Ever since I started trying to really incorporate sustainability into my lifestyle, I’ve been getting plenty of feedback from family and friends–not all of it reassuring.  Just ask my grandmother what she thinks about me boycotting her cooking (vegetarian + crazy italian grandma = occasional violence).  This is definitely an example I use a lot, but it is an important one.  When people hear about “going green” and all of the hype about sustainable lifestyles (freeganism, veganism, all those isms), it’s often scary to them.  A lot of people fear these changes and think that it means that they need to sacrifice some aspect of their life or culture.  For me, it’s easy to see that that idea is not true, but for others, it’s harder to notice.

Because No Impact Week is a “trial” lifestyle of sorts, I am really excited to see the press and feedback that it gets.  This is a great opportunity for people who might be a little nervous to make changes to their lifestyle to try it and (hopefully) realize that a lot of these changes aren’t that big of a deal.  Maybe, it will motivate them to try something even bigger, like sell their car and buy a bike to use instead.

As for me, I hope to break my shopping addiction.  It’s a shame that our office is so close to H&M and Macy’s…

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by Dan Abrams, Second Nature Intern

No Impact Week begins Sunday and I have mixed thoughts.

On one hand, I really love the absolutes idea.  Reducing is good, yes…but to a point.  Reducing the worlds carbon emissions will be a benefit – but we would still be emitting carbon so the problem still exists.  The only true solution is to stop these actions all together – produce absolutely none of the bad problems.

I also like that this is supposed to be hard.  An environmentally positive life will not be easy.  There really is no such thing as a “lazy environmentalist” or “101 ways to save the earth.” Drastic and serious measures are required to legitimately stop global climate disruption.

But what I don’t like is the message this gives.  People don’t want to hear that to save the world from climate change, they need to get rid of everything and anything they love and enjoy.  People often equate the terms “saving the world from climate change” and “must live in cave.” I don’t even think I would live in a cave (so dark! And I don’t think I like bats?) and that’s not the answer anyway. But I think this challenge eludes to this bad message.  No Impact Week offers an interesting water reduction strategy: sponge baths.  Hm…not very practical.  The real solution is a way to take that hot shower that everyone knows and loves without directly harming our earth.

In a perfect world we should be able to do everything we’re doing now…but without harming the environment. 100% clean electricity needs to be used to power our 100% biodegradable ACTUALLY DISPOSABLE products.  Our lives will most certainly change, yes. But life’s comfort should not.  With clean energy powering our automobiles, for example, what we now know as a “car” may be  entirely altered.  Yet the fundamental principle behind the “car” remains.  There still needs to be a product that will get us from point A to point B with the capability of speeds 60 MPH+. But again, the only solution is a product that creates zero waste and runs only on clean energy.

I think I will manage to do this week though.  I love challenges and I love being hardcore. Go big or go home, right? Part of the reason I was vegan is that I work really well with black or white situations.  I couldn’t eat meat or dairy..period. There were no ifs, no buts…period.  So this will be hard, but easy to follow.

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