The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Clean Hippie has moved!!! August 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alden @ 6:58 pm

I’ve moved my blog over to it’s very own URL! Mosey on over to for new posts. Cuz you won’t see any new posts here.

Really now, go over there. Nothing to see here. Very boring. New website? Awesome! This website? Not so much.


Look! It’s My Room! (Kinda) August 6, 2010

Filed under: Apartment — Alden @ 2:47 pm

First off, I’m leaving for Ocean City, NJ today to visit Katherine, so I won’t be posting for a few days. Check back Monday!

I was bopping around on some design website, and saw this picture.

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “That looks familiar.” Indeed, it looks like my bedroom!

Yup, that bedroom must be in this apartment building somewhere, or at least built at the same time, 100 years ago. Um, if they don’t compare favorably, please keep in mind that I’m 23 and renting, mmk?


Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cosmetics August 5, 2010

Filed under: activism,Products — Alden @ 8:09 pm
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Is Conscious Consumerism Just a Huge Farce?

Filed under: activism — Alden @ 7:37 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

This thickly accented speaker, Slavoj Zizek, makes a long, convoluted argument that buying Toms, buying Fair Trade Coffee, buying organic is really just hypocrisy. We are “helping with the one hand what we ruined with the left hand.” In short, whenever we buy something that donates to a cause, we are still supporting the economic structures which gave rise to poverty, bad working conditions, and ecological degradation.

My response is two-fold: Yes, I agree that you can’t buy your way out of the mess we are in. Going out and shopping all the time for organic, fair-trade clothing that you don’t need is not the answer to poverty, environmental degradation, and disease. But if you need shoes, why not buy from Toms? If you must get a new, clean t-shirt, why not make it organic?

Anyway, take a look, and tell me what you think:


For a Green Apartment in NYC – Check out Green Depot August 4, 2010

After my lovely farmers market cooking class on Sunday, I had the afternoon to waste and it occurred to me it was a perfect opportunity to check out the Green Depot.

And…. there goes my budget for the month. How could I get so excited about a place that sells paint, cleaning supplies, building supplies, and baby stuff? I don’t know, but I did.

I needed to figure out why I keep killing my herbs, so I bought a guide called Organic Crops in Pots. I wanted to learn more about running our itty-bitty household in a green way, so I bought make your place, an adorable, bite-size, hand-written treasure trove of recipes for face-wash, cleaners, salves, and even natural pain relief. I wanted to find a better way to mark my herbs (once I succeed in raising them) than plastic spoons, so I bought adorable up-cycled markers made from vintage silverware. I wanted to be able to keep the outlet in my room off as much as possible, save energy, and get off the coal-powered grid just a little bit, so I bought a solar-powered battery pack that will charge up during the day, and charge up my phone at night as I sleep. I wanted to figure out what to do about my brand new organic white sheets, which are rapidly becoming a casualty of hot NYC nights. (Read: I sweat a lot. TMI? Whatever.) so I bought Oxy-boost for my laundry, in lieu of bleach. I wanted to tackle our pre-war bathroom without using that caustic stuff, Comet, so I had a long discussion with Patricia and she recommended Green Depot’s own bathroom cleaner, whose bottle I can refill over and over because they have it “on tap.” Finally, I wanted to figure out what to do about all the food scraps we toss in the garbage every week. So I picked up a guide to composting in NYC, and will be carefully considering my options in the next month. (Compost in the apartment? Drop it off at a garden? Give up?) In case I decide to go forward with it, they have the most classic and un-hippie-like compost pales in silver and white.

I walked away with a $147 bill, I’m not kidding. The most expensive item by far was the solar-powered charger, at $55. Was it worth it? Ehhhh, maybe. If I turn off my electricity except when I’m running the air conditioning or my hair dryer, I could probably make up the difference within a few months. Also, it’s just cool.

When I left, I walked west from Green Depot’s spot on Bowery, and found myself smack dab in the middle of the Soho shopping district, where every store front is filled with dresses, purses, and shoes. “Don’t look don’t look don’t look don’t look,” I told myself. “Just make it through without stepping in a store.”

I made it through ok. But what does it say about my priorities that I will pay $150 for herb-growing supplies, solar powered chargers, and green cleaning supplies, but not a cute dress? (Which, by the way, I have far too many of.) I think it says my priorities are firmly in the right place.


Farmers Market Cooking – the Right Way August 3, 2010

As you know, I’ve had several forays into farmers market cooking. It is usually sporadic, however, and often involves potatoes. They keep well and need nothing more than olive oil. But lately I’ve been seriously lagging, mostly because all the farmers markets close at five. Five! Unless I make it there on Saturday or Sunday, well, than it’s off to Whole Foods, or – even lazier – my corner grocery store for pesticide laden produce from California.

I’m a bad person. I know!

Anyway, in an attempt to redeem myself I signed up for a cooking class with the owner of Home Cooking NYC, Jennifer Clair. The menu was composed almost entirely of farmers market goodies, save the lemon, sugar, salt, and flour. Hmm, maybe the butter too. But really, it was a very small percentage wasn’t fresh from the stalls.

Jennifer is extremely knowledgeable. In contrast to my last cooking class, which was long on knife technique and short on instruction on high quality ingredients, Jennifer was all about getting the best stuff. She talked about the meaty wonderfullness of heirloom tomatoes, the robust flavor of fresh garlic, the dense nutritional value of farro (an “uber grain” she called it), the merits of salt, and the demerits of processed food, how to store various fresh herbs, and the importance of choosing sustainable fish and humanely raised meat.

In short, she imparted a gold mine of information about how to cook and eat healthfully. She agrees with Michael Pollan on many points, including the fact that Americans devote a too small percentage of their budget to food. “I spend most of my money on food,” she said. As someone who enjoys paying $4 for an heirloom tomato so she can bite into like an apple, she was definitely telling the truth.

So what goodies did she demonstrate? Check out these photos of the fresh ingredients before they were whipped into munch-worthy shape by Jennifer:

Fresh Tomato, Fennel and Corn Relish over tilapia fish. Lightly floured and tossed in a non-stick pan with olive oil, tilapia is an easy cook – it holds together well and is always a good choice for the cook who is conscientious of depleted fish stocks.

Roasted Ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic, bell peppers, thyme, tomatoes, basil, and – a untraditional addition which really amped up the flavor – kalamata olives, all spooned over farro. A great choice for this time of year, ratatouille brings together a bounty harvest of mid-summer flavors. It may be a “peasant dish” but it tastes like royalty.

Magret duck with a summer fruit compote. Seeing that the Columbia farmers market near me has no chicken, but has duck, I was grateful for this recipe. It combines savory duck, with sweet fruit in a way I didn’t think possible. It wasn’t quite as good as the duck from Bobo in the West Village, but that is a really, really high bar. You can also try the compote over chicken or pork, or mix it up with other fruit, even apples. Tasty!

The empanada and the peach pie met, fell in love, and had a little bastard child called “hand pie.” It’s got it’s momma’s good looks and it’s daddy’s money, and it’s flaky, buttery crust encases a sweet fruit filling that will knock you out. Did I mention it was yummy?

The end result was a family-style lunch that was just the right amount of filling, and good conversation with other aware foodies from NYC and Connecticut.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t reproduce her recipes here, well, a. it doesn’t do them justice, and b. I don’t want to steal her thunder! I highly recommend Jennifer’s classes. Find more here, including private lessons in the home and lessons in her home kitchen in the Hudson Valley.

P.S. It’s National Farmers Market Week!


I Just Got Laid Off August 2, 2010

Woah woah there, hold the hugs. You’re going to make me cry. Step back a little bit. Let me just collect myself.

Ok, listen, it’s not as bad as all that. Haven’t I told you before that I hate my job? Oh? I haven’t? Well it seems like I told everybody. Everyday I arrived at 9:00, booted up my insanely slow, company-issued lap top, checked my mail, and then started working with spread sheets. I did work that only eight people in the whole world cared about.

I could feel my soul slowly draining out through my black high heels. I would replenish it on weekends with my friends, with work-outs and yoga, with laughter and art and reading, only to have it drain away again from 9 to 7 everyday. My favorite part of the workday was jogging or biking before it even started. It was a rare lunch stolen away from the desk. It was whispered conversations with my friend on the floor below about our weekends. It was having the time to write and blog about living well, my passions.

The job wasn’t challenging (ok, I guess it was, since I obviously wasn’t able to master it), it definitely wasn’t inspiring, and it wasn’t what I worked four years for in college. I listened to my supervisor tell me that to get to her position I had to come in early and leave late, I listened to other associates tell me I had to learn how to suck up to our passive-aggressive client whose main goal seemed to be to spread misery around and stonewall any attempt and doing vaguely creative work, and I thought, “For what? I don’t want to be in your position in three years, in ten years. That isn’t life and it’s not happiness.”

Like any other person, I was scared. I was scared to admit I had failed at choosing the right thing. I was scared to say “This isn’t success. This isn’t happiness. This is not my dream.” I was scared to quit without having a solid plan. I’m lucky that someone forced me out the door, instead of letting me stay.

So today is different. I woke up at 6. My new supervisor had told me to come in early, so I skipped my workout and just biked to work. Before I went to my desk, though, I went to the roof. It was still cool outside. I sat and I meditated, feeling the cool breeze across my face and thinking about anything but work. I felt the sun come out from behind the clouds and warm my face. And then I slowly unfurled my legs after fifteen minutes and walked down to my desk. It was only two hours later when my boss called me down to a conference room and told me that he was letting me go.

I managed to keep my face fairly expressionless until my boss left. It’s hard when someone tells you that you aren’t good enough, even if it’s at something you hate. After he left, I teared up a little and the HR lady looked at me with such pity. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

“Don’t,” I choked out. “Just don’t.” I took a deep breath. “This is good,” I told her. She looked confused. “This is good. This job wasn’t for me.” She nodded, and told me that they would give me three days pay, which is something they don’t usually do. I didn’t ask why. She tried to console me by saying that other places were surely hiring.

And she’s right. I had interviews at other agencies before I took this miserable job. But I’m not going to sell my soul again. This is going to take courage, because once I publish this post it’s out there for everyone to see. Grey won’t come knocking now. But I’m going to say it: No more working for clients on stuff I don’t believe in. No more meaningless work. No more, no more, no more. I would work for an agency doing work they believed in for companies that want to improve the world. I would do PR for a company that is trying to educate consumers about how to truly live better lives. But I won’t do what I’ve been doing for the past eight months again.

I went upstairs to gather up my stuff. It’s a good thing I carry two reusable, fold-up bags with me at all times, because now I had something to put all my things in. I untacked the little card from Holstee and read it again. I placed it on the desk. I underlined some things.

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, then quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching tv.

If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite.

Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is. And share your inspiring dream with them.

Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them.

Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.

Life is short. Live your dream, and wear your passion.

I tucked it in my bag. I walked over to say good bye to the one person on my team who I think would understand. She is always so cheerful, she just wants to make people happy.

“I haven’t done it yet,” she said when she saw me, “I’ve just been so busy – ”

“Hey,” I stopped her, “I’m leaving.”

She grabbed me and pulled me outside of the doors. “What? Why?”

“I’m not good at this job,” I told her.

“Don’t say that,” she said.

“No, this is good that I’m leaving. I was a journalism major!”

“Oh girl, yeah, this is not for you,” she said. “You need to find a place that is a little bit less…..”

“Soul-sucking?” I offered.

“Yes!” She laughed. “I saw Matrix this weekend, and I thought…I thought, ‘Oh my God, something that is how I feel.”

She gave me a hug. “Go find something that you like.”

So I grabbed my bike out of the garage, hung my bags on the handle bars, and biked uptown to the apartment. I turned on the CD that my friend Parks made me before I left for South America. I’ve been trying to work my way through it. Cat Steven’s voice drifted out as I made a list:

1. Do some yoga

2. Write a plan for my cool new website that I’ve been wanting to do for 10 months.

3. Go to the farmers market

4. Call Katherine and tell her I’m coming to the beach early.

6. Have lunch with Jake [my friend I’ve been blowing off for months now because of my job.]

7. Sign up for some classes: photography, drawing, graphic design, sewing, anything.

8. Talk to my friends in Europe and see if they want a visit.

I leaned back to think some more. and I started listening to the lyrics of the song playing.

if you want to sing out
sing out.
And if you want to be free
be free.
‘Cause there’s a million things to be.
You know that there are.
And if you want to live high
live high.
And if you want to live low
live low.
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go.
You know that there are.

You can do what you want.
The opportunity’s on.
And if you find a new way

you can do it today.
You can make it all true.
And you can make it undo
you see.
it’s easy.
you only need to know.

if you want to say yes
say yes.
And if you want to say no
say no.
Cause there’s a million ways to go.
You know that there are.
And if you want to be me
be me.
And if you want to be you
be you.
Cause thee’s a million things to do.
You know that there are.

I offered up a little thank you to Parks, wherever he is at the moment, for making me this CD. He knows what it’s like to wonder where you are going, and if you are making the right decisions.

I’m only 23, I’m lucky I’ve figured this out so early. I just wished I had been fired at the beginning of the summer so I could have taken advantage!

So please excuse me, I’m all written out right now. I have a lot of things to do today, and I can’t wait to get started.

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain