Sunday, November 30, 2008

Excuse Me, Are You Green?

I recently found out that jetBlue had gone green and that they had opened a new terminal at JFK. In last week’s post, I decided to do a little investigative reporting to see if there were any fun, green things going on at the new terminal.

So, as promised, with Sigg bottle and luggage in hand, I set out on my mission.

My plan of attack was to question the stores to see what they knew about the new building or if their company was doing anything to go green.

The first stop was a sushi restaurant. There were two older Japanese men at the counter frantically chopping up raw fish. “Excuse me.” I said. Neither looked at me. I gave it one more try. Nothing. And so…I ran out of there. But that’s OK. I don’t eat sushi anyway!

Next was Borders. I picked up a birthday card made from recycled paper and printed with soy ink. This was good. I placed my card on the counter, took a deep breath and asked the saleswoman if she knew whether or not the new terminal had gone green. She looked puzzled. I added words like eco-friendly and sustainable. She still didn’t know what I was talking about. But she did ask if I would purchase a children’s book to give to a child in need. So I did.

The next store was Muji to Go…a great little place that sells fun household items. The saleswoman also didn’t know about her store or the terminal’s green elements, but we became engaged in a lengthy conversation about how NYC should get rid of plastic bags and make taxis all hybrids.

At the end of our conversation, she let out an “Oh!” and led me to a display. Shirts and socks made from recycled yarn! I was getting somewhere. I bought the socks and continued on my investigation.

While most of the stores’ employees had no idea as to whether this building was green, they were helpful in pointing out their own store’s little touches. For instance, a market that sold some organic foods, a store that sold candles, sweat suits and undies made from soy, and a pharmacy that carried natural body care products.

My last stop was the food court. I asked one of the counter guys what the restaurants were doing. He said the food court’s cooking oil is recycled (not for human consumption) through a complicated process that left me more puzzled than the first saleswoman I encountered.

At this point, my flight was boarding. I got on the plane with new knowledge and some comfy recycled socks – and I can’t wait to try my new soy underwear!

Monday, November 24, 2008


My grandmother is turning 90 this week and my whole family is flying to California to celebrate with her. I’m really looking forward to it. Well, most of it.

See, I hate to fly. I hate the sensation of taking off and God help me if we hit a few bumps along the way. I grasp onto my chair, close my eyes and pray.

Even worse, I hate watching the flight attendants collect the headsets at the end of the flight. I watch that bag fill up with barely used audio devices just to be taken to the landfill. Don’t these people have iPods? Don’t they know their headphones are better than the free ones?

And then there is the issue of empty soda cans. I can only hope that the trash is separated and someone turns in those cans for the 5 cent refund.

But aside from headsets and cans, there is something even more deadly to our environment and that is the carbon footprint left by our favorite mode of transportation.

It’s no secret that flying isn’t very eco-friendly. And believe me, if there were another way to get me to Cali in less than 3 days, I would take it. But there’s not.

So the next best thing is to buy carbon offsets.

You choose what you’d like to offset, like a plane ride, car trip or home energy use. Then the company providing the offset invests your money into clean energy like wind farms or other projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a great idea and controversial but I figure, if Ed Begley, Jr. will fly with them, so will I.

My airline of choice is JetBlue. Not just for the blue potato chips but for the comfy seats and, most importantly, the little TV’s. I also appreciate the light humor the flight attendants provide. The whole experience makes for a nice flight.

So…imagine how ecstatic I was to find out that JetBlue is flying green!! They’re all about reducing their impact on the environment with new technology and they even support environmental and social activities in their local communities, encouraging their employees and customers to do the same. This is my kind of airline!

They’ve even opened a new, green terminal at JFK. So I thought that while I’m waiting for my flight to board, I would explore the new digs and see if Jet Blue is doing any other fun green things.

You’re probably thinking, why don’t you just read a book like the rest of us? I’m thinking, I have a follow-up story for next week!!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Green Travels!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Greener Shade of Blonde

I am a natural blonde. Well, sort of.

I’ve been highlighting my hair since high school. A few years back, I had an acting teacher who told me I’d be more marketable as a redhead. It was not a good look for me. Coupled with the cut I was sporting, I looked like Mamie Eisenhower. My mother was horrified. I went back to being a blonde.

But being blonde takes a lot of commitment, money and of course, coloring. When I turned green (my lifestyle, not my hair), I found a salon that used students, charged less, and colored with a naturally derived permanent hair dye. How much better could it get?

I was so excited for my new salon. I even planned a new look -- uber blonde. I sat in the chair for three hours while they showed me color swatches, chose my perfect shade, and layered my hair in foils.

When they took the foils out, my hair looked like it had hardly been touched! I was about to burst into tears. The girl got her teacher, who picked through my hair, saying, “Sometimes the lift doesn’t take.” Now the student looked like she was about to burst into tears too.

They offered me a complimentary re-do. When I went back, they assured me that this time I would be REALLY blonde. Three hours later, I was REALLY not.  

The teacher said that for some reason my hair wouldn’t take their natural dye and that I needed to use a bleach-based product.

Great. So I was green, but my hair wasn't. If I wanted to get my blonde ambition on, I was going to have to fry my follicles.

Then I went home and my husband said, “I thought you were getting your hair done.”

That did it. I was going to have to go for bleach.

And so I did. I sat in the chair and was slathered with chemicals, all to make me look like I had just returned from California. When it was time to rinse, my hairdresser said that I should breathe through my mouth since the fumes were strong. What was I doing?

I left there with my perfect blonde hair, which I loved...but which came with a hefty environmental price tag.

My roots will be coming in in about two months, which means I have that amount of time to find a salon that uses naturally derived products that my hair -- and my conscience -- will take.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The People-Pleasing Vegetarian

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. She made spaghetti with meatballs. Something I love. But there was a problem. I couldn’t eat it because I’m now a vegetarian. And I couldn’t tell my friend because I’m a self-proclaimed people pleaser.

So what did I do? I ate the meatballs, of course.

As a people pleaser, I will do almost anything to avoid upsetting others. This includes, but is not limited to, going out to a crowded bar at 1 AM on a Sunday night, spending exorbitant amounts of money on bad plays, and eating foods I don’t eat anymore.

For me, going vegetarian is an important part of going green and leading a healthier lifestyle. But going veg and staying veg are two different things.

I haven’t made the full transition. I’ve only eliminated fish and meat so far. Fish because of its high mercury content and over-fishing, and meat because of its impact on the environment (run-off from factory farms that pollute our waterways and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from just one kilogram of beef, to name just a few).

After the dinner with my friend, I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere if my convictions were as soft as her spaghetti noodles. I would have to stop pleasing others and start pleasing myself.

My next dinner invitation, I held my ground. Sort of.

It was my father-in-law’s birthday. They were serving ribs. I panicked. I took a deep breath and told myself that I would not eat them. Unfortunately, I also didn’t tell anyone else. So, while they were getting stuffed on ribs, I was getting starved on salad.

My stomach kept growling…loudly. The kind of growl that attracts attention. I excused myself. “Did you eat enough?” someone asked. “NO!” I screamed inside my head but let out a quieter, people-pleasing,“Yes.”

I couldn’t get home fast enough. We walked through the door and I ran for the fridge. I grabbed anything I could get my veggie hands on. I had a three-course meal of sunflower seeds, black beans and old grapes.

Then I felt sick. All because I was too afraid to ask for something else to eat. Was this any better than not eating meat?

The problem wasn’t my eating habits. The problem was my pleasing habits. I realize I need to reduce them and ultimately get rid of them.

There should be Jenny Craig for people pleasers. You would be allowed certain portions of people pleasing per day.

Or a reality show called The Biggest Pleaser. Instead of trying to get along with others, contestants are rewarded for standing their ground, no matter what others think.

I’d sign up for a show like that in a second. But only if it didn’t upset someone else…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We just came inside after taking Bailey for his walk.  The city is electric.  Everyone is cheering and screaming and horns beeping madly.  I've never felt anything like this!

CONGRATULATIONS President-Elect Barack Obama! I and the City of New York look forward to an amazing 4 years!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

You Can’t Always Green What You Want

In my journey to go green, I’ve made some cold-turkey changes…like changing out my light bulbs and carrying reusable shopping bags.

But many things aren’t that simple. I am constantly finding out that you can’t always get everything you want into one neat little package.

For instance, my deodorant. I always used Secret. Loved it. Kept me dry and non-stinky. But then I found out the secret. Aluminum. That’s what was keeping me fresh as a daisy. But aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's, cancer, and God knows what else. The other ingredients in my favorite deodorant weren’t much better. So I decided to switch to a natural brand, Tom’s.

I began my crossover in the winter when I barely sweat. Worked like a charm.

And then, it started to get warm. I felt myself starting to get sweaty. I took a sniff. Crap. It was the deodorant. The missing aluminum! It wasn’t clogging up my sweat glands. I was definitely au naturale.

It was the same with my toothpaste.

It was supposed to be a routine visit to my new dentist. A simple cleaning. He put his magnifying camera in my mouth and there I was on the screen in front of me. He took a laser pointer and started showing me little marks. Cavities. And a lot of them. I’ve had one cavity in my whole life and now I have…a lot! I brush, I floss. How did this happen?

He asked me what toothpaste I was using. “Tom’s” I replied. He gasped. “You need the fluoride!” “No!” I shouted back. Fluoride is known to be toxic and linked to osteoporosis and now he wanted me to go back to using it! He told me it was the equivalent to not using bleach to clean your tub. Well…we know what happened to me the last time I used bleach and I won’t go there again.

So the big looming question…what do I do now?

Isn’t the presidential election like that? You’ve chosen your candidate, you’re solid in your choice and then he reveals something you just don’t agree with.

My candidate acknowledges that global warming is happening. He believes in wind and solar power and creating green jobs. But some of his solutions, like clean coal technology and off-shore drilling, are not the best things for the environment.

And so the question comes up again…what do I do now?

The truth is, I don’t want to smell and I hate the drill. So I compromise. Secret in the summer, Tom’s in the winter. Colgate in the morning, Tom’s before bed.

My candidate’s positions that I agree with outweigh the ones that I don’t. With that in mind, Obama gets my support, but not for everything. If he wants my support for clean coal technology, he’ll find, like I do, that you can’t always get what you want.