The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

What can YOU do to Help the Gulf? June 23, 2010

Filed under: activism,bicycle,green angst,Lifestyle,sustainability,Tips — Alden @ 4:43 pm
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Are you pissed? Of course you are! When something like this happens, our first inclinations is to just boycott the offending company. Sounds easy right? Just don’t fill your tank at BP. Punish the bastards for their lax safety standards, their laughable contingency plan, their outrageous hubris, their lies about the extent of the oil spill, and even now, their bullying of reporters who have been trying to cover the damn thing.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds to vote with your dollar, not when it comes to BP. As this WSJ article points out, BP’s profit from their stations is just a sliver of their overall billions. Who you really hurt when you boycott their station, are the independent dealers who have long term contracts with the company. And even when you bypass a BP and pull into a Chevron. Guess what? You still might be buying BP oil. It’s all mixed up together and delivered wherever. So much for consumer power.

So what can you actually do to stand up for the pelicans, your grandparents down in Florida, and a better future? Stop buying oil!

Whoa, whoa. Stop buying oil? My goodness that’s impossible!

OK, yes, in the next fifty years, it is impossible to completely get away from gas. But you can try to reduce your consumption. If the average American drove 4.2 miles less a day, we wouldn’t even need offshore drilling. How about that? Only 4.2 miles less a day. You know what that is?

It’s renting a bike at the beach this summer, instead of driving back and forth from your house to the waves. (Bikes make me happy!)

It’s designating one day a week as errand day, and planning accordingly, instead of making lots of little trips. (So much nicer!)

It’s vacationing at the beach that is two hours away, instead of all the way down South. (Screw road trips. Give me the beach NOW.)

It’s skipping the taxi and taking the subway, or better yet, commuting by bike. (Taxis are annoying anyway. Stop honking already!)

It’s picking up your friend(s) on the way to a party and leaving together. (It’s what the popular people do, don’t you know?)

It’s using Netflix instead of going out for a movie. (That sh** is overpriced anyway.)

It’s cooking your own meal at home, with lit candles, instead of eating out. (Now THAT is romantic.)

It’s going out on a sailboat instead of a motor boat or jet skis.

Such little things! Yet they could make a difference. And guess where all these little things are taking you? More time with friends and family, and less time alone in your sad deathbox. Oops, I meant SUV.

You can also use less plastic. Buy glass containers instead of plastic, and buy in bulk. I just love the look of a pretty pantry full of jars, instead of torn boxes and bags. I, for one, wash and reuse my cutlery and work everyday. It’s the little things, y’all.

In the long term, this obviously won’t be enough. We need the infrastructure as a country to support biking, walking, and taking the train, for healthy, fun neighborhoods. But until then, why don’t you get a little exercise in? That bike path is looking pretty good, eh?


Oil is the problem. Is B-Cycle the solution? June 18, 2010


Rain rain go away, come again anoth- oh, f*** it. June 11, 2010

Filed under: bicycle,Lifestyle,New York — Alden @ 7:54 pm
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“If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain….”

Yesterday I woke up at 6 am with a slight hangover. The night before I went on a charity cruise with my friend who works at Deutsche Bank. (Think: a lot of bankers and their girlfriends and wives, drinking too much) Good times had by all, but I might have drank a bit much.

The forecast said cool and foggy, but it wasn’t raining anymore. My bike was still at work, so I decided, why not? I gulped down some water, stuffed some clothes in my backpack, strapped it securely on my back, and set off on a jog down to work. It was only four miles, though jogging with a backpack takes some getting used to. I’ve seen other people doing it before on my ride home and wanted to try it.

I jogged past my usual turnaround point and down a path I had never seen before that curved an arc out over the water in a sort of bridge, then through some beautiful landscape work with roses and tall grasses. I decided I would definitely do it again next time I had left my bike at work. Why ever take the subway?

When I finished up with work at the end of the day, I popped down to the gym to pull on a pair of shorts underneath my t-shirt dress (don’t want to flash the masses!) grabbed my helmet, and went to the garage to get my bike.

As I unlocked it from the rack, I looked up to see the first fat drops of rain streaking the window. It took me about 3 seconds to decide that I would ride home anyway. I didn’t have an umbrella, and I wasn’t about to take a taxi, so either way I would get soaked. The night before I had taken a taxi because I needed to run home and change before the cruise, and the traffic was a royal pain. So I strapped on my helmet and wheeled out into rain.

At first I shivered as the drops came faster and faster and  I waited for the light to change at the West Side Highway. I kept my bike far away from the street so I could avoid puddles being splashed up from the cars moving past.

Once I crossed the street, though, things got pleasant. There were plenty of other cyclists and joggers out and I warmed up as I pedaled north past the piers. My t-shirt dress was already pushing it a little as far as being see-through, but now I – along with plenty of other female joggers – were engaged in a full on wet t-shirt contest. Luckily we all had on sports bras too. Sorry boys.

The bike path home from work takes me under the highway overpass for about a half mile, which gave me a reprieve from the rain. Usually it’s just cyclists, but today there were plenty of pedestrians standing underneath: joggers fiddling with their iPods, a young guy leaning against one of the huge columns smoking a cigarette, a middle-aged couple holding hands, and mother with her two little girls sitting on a blanket, all gazing out at the rain that fell on the soccer fields, the landscaped paths, and beyond that the Hudson. The basketball players continued their game, shielded by the concrete humming with cars a hundred feet above.

As I approached the end where the path curves toward the Hudson and out from underneath the highway, several cyclists were stopped to wait it out. “Sissies!” I called out playfully. One guy looked up at me as I said this but I was already gone, back out in the rain.

In the east over Jersey the clouds had parted to reveal a blue sky. I splashed through muddy rivulets of water pouring off Riverside Park, not really caring whether I got muddy at this point.

Another cyclist pulled abreast of me. “I was just cleaning off my glasses!” he said, smiling. It was the guy from under the overpass! I started laughing as he pulled away, and just then the rain slowed and stopped, and the sun came out.

I took a different route home. Instead of cutting up into Riverside park, I went straight, which took me on a pretty new path. It was another path that went out over the water, with nautical themed lights and freshly varnished wooden railings. (I just love the care that NYC puts into its parks, it never gets old.) By the time I got home, the birds were having a field day, and my t-shirt dress was starting to dry.

“Hi Phillipe!” I called out to the my doorman. “Hey Alden,” he said, always with a smile. He helped me lift my bike up the steps into the lobby.

“I don’t know how you ride in those heels,” he said, looking at my espadrilles. “It’s better than walking in heels,” I told him.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right!”

I took the elevator upstairs to my apartment, saying hello to the cats as I stowed my bike in my room. I poured myself a glass of wine, and settled into read with Luca sitting on my lap and Matteo watching me from on top of a pile of magazines.

Life is good.