Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Trying to be good (for the environment)

My brother has written a couple of posts recently, about the joys of running errands by bike, and how he has these urges to drop his good college teacher impartiality in the classroom when it comes to the issue of making people drive cars less .... seems clear to him that the root of all evil is over consumption of fossil fuels.

On Monday I thinking a little along the same lines - a friend of a friend is a furniture dealer, who used to have a large store, and now has a small store, and a warehouse that is so stuffed it is surreal - I have been negotiating with him to get chairs and maybe tables for the supper club. I went over there by car Monday since I had a chair to return to the furniture guy, and sealed the deal for the last of the chairs and two tables. The warehouse is on the east side of town, I live on the west, and work downtown in the middle. I had a meeting on the east side, that was supposed to start about a half hour after the furniture dealings were through - and I realized I had left my hand-held device, calendar, etc. on my desk at work. Since I had a car, I drove back to my office, got the palm, and then went to the meeting with 5 minutes to spare. I was thinking that was truly gas guzzling behavior - how hard would it have been to live without the damn gadget for overnight? - but I probably could have done the loop on a bike - it would have been no more than 4 - 5 miles of riding altogether.

But I didn't - so less exercise for me, more burned carbons into the air. I should grocery shop by bike - I have gone along with my brother on his Sunday morning round of coffee and groceries, and it was quite civilized. He is fortunate to have the food co-op across the street from the supermarket; my range again is more sprawled; farmers' market downtown, food co-op east side, grocery store west side. I bet I could do it if it wasn't for all the bottled water that we buy -- but we shouldn't buy so much of that, either.

And I don't need to shop every week like I am restocking the pantry (or the cold war bomb shelter), like a suburban housewife - as soon as you crack the ketchup you buy that extra backup bottle even though it will probably take a year to empty that bottle you just started ....

My brother's friend Andrew was just writing about enjoying serendipitous meals that come together using just what you happen to have on hand, with leftovers thrown in. I like these fridge & kitchen cabinet puzzles, too - what can I make that will use up stuff in the best way? On erev Yom Kippur when Andrew was making a chicken mole, I made a dish of greens with spicy peanut sauce, accompanied by crispy tofu, and soba noodles - not only used up a bunch of stuff that was in the fridge & cabinets, the greens were good for lunch in pita, long as I didn't spill them. Who needs shopping - especially when, like the author of the recent NYT mag article that Andy was quoting, we tend to have pantries that are stocked so that we can survive WWIII?

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