How Green is My Cottage

Ummm…not terribly, I’m afraid.

I try. I finally started a compost pile about a month ago. The delay was in deciding where it should go. I finally put it way in the far corner of my lot, 200′ from my back door. So it’s inconvenient, but it will get me out in the woods every day, where I can say hi to the deer that don’t come right up to the house to say hi to me.

I would never dream of mixing newspaper with cardboard when I go to the town dump. They have separate containers for each, with stern posted warnings not to even think about throwing plastic bags in any of them, but to put those in the Non-Recyclable Materials dumpster. We separate glass, metal, and plastic here in East Hampton, whereas New York City is happy just to get it all in one bag.

I got the last remnants of the previous owner’s oil-based paints and boat engine fluids and pesticides to the dump on toxic-waste disposal day last month.

I remember to carry a cloth shopping bag most of the time. Even so, I amass far too many plastic bags under the kitchen sink. Plastic bags are a scourge, along with unwanted catalogues. At my last address, I managed to staunch the flow of catalogues eventually, but that was a) time-consuming (they want your customer # for each retailer), b) took ages to take effect, c) never fully worked anyway, and d) resumed in force when companies caught wind of my new address. I haven’t ordered from Neiman Marcus in 10 years, but somehow I’m back in their good graces. I get several catalogues a week from them, along with Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Victoria’s Secret, etc., and I don’t think I can be bothered to go through it all again.

I hand-painted, painstakingly, a rattan sofa, which took three days, but I just couldn’t see using a dozen cans of spray paint, knowing that much of it would be released into the empty spaces between the sticks of rattan, and thereupon into the atmosphere (and my lungs).

Still, and I’ve been researching this question for months, there doesn’t seem to be any way to get a handle on thirty years of rampant wisteria growth without Round Up, and even then, only time will tell if my finicky ministrations with a sponge brush to the cut ends of the vines have made much difference.

And although I use compact flourescent bulbs outside, I haven’t found any as warm as incandescent bulbs for indoor use. Soft, warm light is very important to me. I’m exquisitely sensitive to glarey, harsh, cold lighting. It depresses the hell out of me. I’ve tried numerous CF bulbs but found none I’m happy with.

In general, moving house increases one’s carbon footprint to Sasquatch proportions. All those packing materials. All the stuff that’s left behind or thrown away. The mountains of garbage I found in this house and basement and had to discard. The old appliances that went into landfills somewhere. The quantity of cleaning supplies you go through (I rarely spring for the very expensive ‘green’ ones).

Green guilt: it’s even worse than garden guilt (for not deadheading the rhododendrons, not washing out the clay pots before putting them away for winter, etc.)

Do you have green guilt, too? About what? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

10 thoughts on “How Green is My Cottage

  1. Had friend from high school days who gave it all up (after being jilted by a girlfriend), moved to the Everglades and set up his own hermitage (years before being green was a fetish). Jungle Jimmy we called him and when we went to visit him, he could be found (after driving miles and miles on dusty dirt roads) in his squat in a tree top smiling and communing with the ‘gators.

    Fast forward forty years and he’s still down in the northern-most ‘glades, with a five foot long lizard as a pet, twenty-five primo, meticulously landscaped acres, horses, a Tudor-style home he built by hand and still has that smile on his face. He was green before anyone but, as is the way with us civilized folk, has (re)cycled through it all and come to a comfortable compromise with the earth.

    Perhaps that’s the way to come of the green movement: twenty-five acres and a John Deere (that gets 25 hours to a gallon).

  2. While it isn’t yet a popular opinion, I feel certain that we will rue the day everyone decided to buy compact fluorescent lamps (in their ridiculous plastic packaging), thinking we were doing good. Those lamps contain mercury and how many people will bother to dispose of them properly? I advocate using regular incandescent lamps with dimmers. And keeping the lights off when you aren’t using the room.

  3. Give yourself credit for all the used furniture & tchotckes you have been picking up at tag sales! That is great recycling!!

  4. I get green guilt. I just read a book called “green this” to start by using non-toxic chemicals around the house. Luckily, our little Georgia town is one of the only places around that gives us a recycling bin to mix all items. We don’t have to sort! We always have more recycling than trash, and that makes us feed a little better. We recently attended a meeting at our city’s waste dept, and really learned a lot about recycling. We also try to donate any and everything we want to get rid of in our efforts to de-clutter. You can usually find someone to take anything from clothes to old appliances to avoid sending to the landfill. My husband just last night said he wants to start composting our food waste, so I guess that is next on the list. The best part! Our city recycling program does take those horrid plastic bags!! We are using the cloth ones now when we can and remember!

  5. No comment on the green thing, we all do the best we can, right? Just wanted to tell you that I’ve just found your blg and love it – you’ve got a new regular reader!

  6. Just paid to have a wasps’ nest removed from my compost pile (after being stung which was nasty.) The guy said to be sure to tamp it down after turning so there are no nice air pockets in which to build a nest.

  7. Fifty years from now, people will be saying, “I can’t believe we used all those plastic bags!” Soooo unnecessary. Thanks for reminding me about donating stuff – and yard sale shopping too. That all counts toward greenie points.

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s