Second Nature Team

Trashy Business

October 19, 2009

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.


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!

Check out our trash:

Way too many paper towels

Oatmeal packet and towel paper in the kitchen.

Trash Day

October 19, 2009

by Dan Abrams, Second Nature Intern

"Garbage day is a very dangerous day."- Rocko, from Rocko's Modern Life

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."

I recycle EVERYTHING.  I think I recycle things that aren't even supposed to be recycled.  But whatever.  If it has a recycle sign and a number in it, it has the potential to be recycled.  We should be able to recycle all 1-7 plastics no matter the type so it's not my issue if the recycling facility which my recycling goes to decides it doesn't feel like recycling one of the numbers.  I also think that Northeastern's recycling program has much room for improvement, so by over-recycling I feel like I'm sending a message. :)

Shopping Isn't Easy

October 19, 2009

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:


That 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.

All are free except for the black one. The black trash can is taxed by # of people in the household. The trashcan actually has a second bottom, so my parents actually have very little room each week for their residual trash. This forces people to recycle, because, like good Germans, we actually have people walking around giving tickets if you don't. And if you overfill you residual trash can regularly, you will be given more space, but that will get taxed higher.

Works great. Oh, and every village and town has a glass collection site. Containers for brown, green and white glass. I remember being 6 years old and thinking how cool it was to throw bottles in there and hear them shatter. That was always one of my favorite trips.

Would be nice to see that here.

From Tony...

October 18, 2009

by Anthony Cortese, President, Second Nature

I 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


October 18, 2009

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.


October 16, 2009

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...

First Thoughts

October 16, 2009

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.

And my bicycle rusts away...

October 16, 2009

by Rima Mulla, Communications Associate, Second Nature

East Boston is a great neighborhood to live in. It's colorful, it's affordable, and most importantly it's within a stone's throw of downtown Boston. No, really -- check out the view from my deck!

The distance from my apartment to 18 Tremont is only about 3 miles. I catch a bus right outside my front door down to the T Station, and from there it's a mere 5-6 minutes to Government Center. All told, I spend between 40-50 minutes on public transportation each day. I really can't complain about my commute...

... except that I wish I could bike to work! Particularly for No Impact Week, but in general, too.

Unfortunately, bicycles aren't allowed in any of the harbor tunnels that connect East Boston to downtown, and even if I were courageous enough to bike on the Tobin Bridge (Route 1 on the map below), I'm pretty sure it's not permitted there, either.

So while I'd love to be able to eliminate my use of mechanized transportation during No Impact Week, I'm going to have to make some compromises. My plan is to put on the sneakers and walk the 20 minutes to my T station, then take the train one stop across the harbor (rather than the three stops to Government Center) and walk the rest of the way. Weather permitting.

So no making fun of me in my office attire + gym shoes, ok?

Starting Off Right....

October 16, 2009

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

No Impact Week is coming up and our entire office is going to join forces and see what happens, it might even be a friendly competition. We do have some empathy for the few staff members who will be on an airplane next week (sorry guys, you may come in last).

In preparation for No Impact Week, I was actually watching my trash output this week ran out of bio-degradable trash bags at home and am fairly please to report that I can fit all of my trash into one popcorn bag.

I am looking forward to seeing how next week will look, but more importantly at work as we are going to apply No Impact Week to work and home.

It's all about thinking before printing.

That's one motto I am going to channel. And I might actually have to cook real food and bring it with me to the quick jog down the street to get a sandwich. All in all, we are all pretty excited to see what we will experience next week.  Even if you just join for one day, you really should!


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