The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

A Country Wedding July 16, 2010

My friend Irene is an amazing woman.

When we were in high school, while I was off spending my whole allowance on Abercrombie clothes, Irene would head over to Goodwill on the first Saturday of every month, it being the 50% off day and all. That just blew my mind – Goodwill is cheap enough, but half off too?? And she would put together the cutest outfits from all that junk.

Fast forward five years and Irene is getting married. No wedding planner for this girl – she’s got a huge network of family in friends all living within 20 minutes, and she took full advantage. She had a family member take the pictures, another do hair and makeup, another bake the wedding cake, and another bake cupcakes. She designed her own invitations, save the dates, and programs, and had her sister who works at Kinkos print them up. She even put out matching Sodoku, word search, and Mad Libs with the programs at the service. We had a great time filling in the Mad Libs with dirty words for Irene and Anthony to enjoy later.

After the wedding everyone drove out to the Jorden farm, where friends on four wheelers directed parking. The pouring rain from the morning had eased somewhat, and all the ladies had changed into flip flops and the men into short sleeved shirts and shorts. It was a good thing it was casual too, my hair was a hot mess in the humidity.

Having green as the color scheme made everything easier too. At midnight the night before the wedding, a band of friends and family were hanging green lanterns from the ceiling of the tent and cutting greenery from the side of the road to put in the vases. A family friend stayed up until four AM early in the week hand peeling tomatoes for the salsa. Family and friends even stole all the chairs from a firehouse and classrooms around the town (to be returned, I’m assuming) and covered them with white covers. The tables had green burlap sack. My favorite part, of course, were the mason jars Irene had been slowly collecting over the months. I used mine over and over – first for beer, then for alcoholic snow cones, then for wine, then for liquor.

At the edge of the tents was a home made corn hole game that kept the kids and the grownups alike busy. As night descended over the farm, fireworks smuggled up from South Carolina exploded in the sky. The tables were put away and in their place popped up a mini city of tents.

Two of the boys grabbed their guitars from home and plugged them at the barn to jam out. We finished the night sitting around, sipping beer, reminiscing about high school and dancing like hippies to guitar riffs.

I don’t think Irene had sustainability in mind at her wedding. After all, it was catered by a delicious but conventional barbecue joint, and there were plenty of plastic cups and styrene plates available from the caterers and beer trailer. (That’s right, there was a beer trailer. MADNESS.)

But even if she wasn’t actually thinking “What is the most eco-friendly way to pull this off?” I still consider it mykind of wedding: hand-made, thoughtful, and genuine. It wasn’t pretentious, or wasteful, or extravagant. As usual, Irene looked at her budget and created her way around it with joy and laughter. All anyone could say was “That was a really good wedding.”

Congratulations Irene!


OMG OMG I’m Famous! July 15, 2010

If you are a netizen, then I think you might have seen the barrage of hillaaaarious commercials coming from Old Spice. Well guess what my friends, my and the Old Spice Man are like this. (Crossed fingers.)

Here’s my original tweets, by the way:

Does the @oldspice guy’s vocal cords get tired from talking like that in like, a bajillion commercials?? My god.

Seriously, my throat hurts from just listening to him:

I know, right?? How exciting is that? They’ve been blitzing the internet, responding to tweets and YouTube comments within hours. But then my bubble got popped. Check it:

Ingredients in it are linked to cancer and may harm the brain, and, yes, the reproductive system. The ingredients in that product can lead to infertility, reproductive organ cancers, and birth defects. Doesn’t sound so manly to me.

[via Grist]

Ouch dude. I make fun of Mike enough for using Axe (comon babe, that’s for teenagers) but now I know that Old Spice will make my baby less of a man? No way. I don’t want him to smell like the man my man could smell like. Wait, what?

In summary, thanks for the entertainment and the shout out Old Spice, but I’ll pass on buying your product for MY man.


Vote for Zach Charlop-Powers (aka: “Science Rapper”) June 17, 2010

My friend Rachel forwarded me her brother’s science rap video in hopes of drumming up support for him in a video contest. I actually have no earthly idea what he is talking about, but those beats are crazy, yo.

Also, he’s pretty hot….Rachel, wanna give me his number? A hot nerd is hard to come by…

Click here to vote for him in the Video Thunderdome at Central Science.


Do you have enough? June 13, 2010

Filed under: shoutout,sustainability — Alden @ 5:40 pm
Tags: ,

If you ever had enough, would you recognize it? Lately on my mind: being grateful for all that I have.

I definitely have enough. 🙂

[via Elephant Journal]


EcoSalon Shops! (And so Does Alden) June 8, 2010

Friday night my friend Agatha and I went straight from work the the EcoSalon Shops! event downtown. Things got off to a rough start, when a sign on the front door of the address directed us around back to a grimy alley covered in graffiti. (And not the artsy kind.) Agatha and I looked at each other, the dark alleyway, and each other again, wondering what to do.

Luckily another girl was waiting, and she assured us it was the right entrance to Green Spaces, an eco-friendly Coworking space where the event was being held. The heavy metal doors creaked open and we boarded a freight elevator that rumbled slowly up and up. “I bet this place has asbestos,” Agatha mumbled.

“What are you talking about??” the operator of the elevator exploded. “You are here to go to an event, not make unfounded assumptions about whether or not there is asbestos. Every building in New York City is required to be asbestos free….” he went on and on, while Agatha stood mute. Finally we reached the top and he pushed open the doors, still fussing at us. We escaped with relief into a long room packed with racks of clothing, boxes of shoes, tables laid with jewelry and accessories, and fashionable ladies milling about, drinks in hand. I grabbed a glass of wine and went to work perusing the offerings.

Lara Miller

Agatha and I were especially taken by Lara Miller’s hand-loomed pieces, which could be switched around to be almost anything you wanted. Lara modeled this… well, I don’t know what to call it exactly but it’s pretty darn cool. For myself I picked up a simple cream t-shirt with a draped front.

Agatha got into a deep conversation with Lara, so I wandered over to look at….


T-Luxe features beautiful underthings made of organic silk, cotton, and soy fabric. I had read up on the line beforehand, and was already excited to check it out. Tiffany Phipps, the designer, was nice enough to chat with me a bit while I perused her offerings.

“So how does this look under a t-shirt?”

“Not good,” she admitted, “it’s really just loungewear. All that ruching…”

Well, I can dig that. Sometimes a girl just needs to feel pretty, and I can’t think of anything more adorable in which I can beat the summer heat while I “lounge” in my sauna of an apartment. I snagged the panties, the matching bralet, and a camisole as for $95, which is a steal for such high quality stuff! I hope you’re ready for some half nakedness in the apartment, Vicki.

Feisty Elle

We loved the simple and high-quality nature of these laser-cut felt earring from Feisty Elle. While I didn’t get a pair for myself (I have too many earrings that I don’t wear) I could easily see integrating the bright colors into an everyday wardrobe. Leslie Young, the Californian designer, was a sweetheart too! Check out the website, because my pictures just don’t do them justice.


How lovely are all of these pretty baubles from Sara Brancato of Miasunta? All of her materials are either vintage, or sourced from the leftovers in manufacturing processes: extra chains, leftover metals, and vintage keys complete the look of eco-friendly charms.

Fair Vodka

Ever heard of vodka distilled from quinoa? Neither had we, but it is exceptionally smooth. I can say that with confidence because I drank it straight, having come too late for the chocolate martinis that everyone was raving about. You better believe that next time I’m in the market for vodka, I’ll be picking up some of this Fair Trade certified hooch. Luckily enough for me, it’s sold in nine New York City locations including 94th street, only two subway stops from my apartment. You can find a comprehensive list of purveyors here.

Divine Chocolate

Next to the vodka was Divine Chocolate, another component in the chocolate martinis. If you are in Whole Foods and jonesing for some chocolate, you have GOT to pick up a bar. It’s co-owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana, and – most importantly – it’s outrageously delicious. I mean… yeah. It’s amazing.

A Perfume Organic

Lately I’ve been hearing rumblings on how conventional perfume contains harsh chemicals. I’m loathe to give up my Dior perfume, but this stuff made a serious case for the switch. The woman working the A Perfume Organic table encouraged me to rub my fingers on the plants to pick up on the scented oils, then test the corresponding perfume. Each perfume contained several notes anchored by mint or other natural base notes. Who wouldn’t want to smell like a summer garden?

Study NY

I picked up this matching bolero and skirt set from Study NY, which I plan to wear to work sometime soon. Keep a look out!

Rebekah Froberg

Agatha said she was “obsessed” with the pretty gemstones in Rebekah Froberg‘s collection, which are handmade from recycled metals and stones like diamonds, tourmaline, sapphires and topaz.


Agatha loved the beaded detailing and tiers of eco-friendly fabric in this shirt sold at MissionSavvy, and store that donates 5% of profits generated to “a select group of animal welfare and conservation groups.” While we decided the shape of the tank favors those who are a little less endowed in the upper region (it’s hard being us, for sure) you should check out their website, as it seems to have some of the most pretty and practical sustainable pieces I’ve seen in a while.

There were a lot more booths there, that I just can’t cover them all. Here’s a list of designers, stores and products I didn’t particularly care for, but may suit your style:

H. Fredriksso

Feral Childe


Doucette Duvall

Cri de Coeur

Buddha Nose



Zhena’s Gypsy Tea

Juno & Jove

Most of the designers I talked to said their stuff can be found at  Kaight, the eco-friendly and sustainable boutique on the Lower East Side. If not there, you can check out their websites for a list of stockists, and some of them even sell direct on their website.


Dispatch from the Gulf May 27, 2010

Filed under: shoutout — Alden @ 6:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

Did you know I have family down in the gulf? My Nana grew up in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She spent her youth pulling raw oysters right out of the water from her family’s boat, dabbing on some tartar sauce, and popping them in her mouth.

When she told me this, a few years back, she added, “You can’t really do that anymore. It’s too polluted.”

Obviously things are about to get worse. I asked my great aunt Carol, who still lives right near by in Ocean Springs, to fill me in on whats going on down there.

While much of my Mississippi coast is still trying to recover from the horrendous effects that Katrina unleashed on us in ’05, anxiety levels have spiraled upward once again. There are so many uncertainties regarding the BP Oil Spill. The Deepwater Horizon explosion’s long-term effects are unknown at this time. There have been several days when the smell of crude oil permeated my home in Gautier and also where I work in Ocean Springs. At the moment, there is no oil on the beaches here and we are told that seafood is still safe to eat. But, should the oil move more to the east, all that is subject to change. Prices in the seafood markets and restaurants have already seen increases. Smaller seafood suppliers have had to shut their doors due to the closing of the gulf waters. Thus far, no oil has come ashore here in Jackson County and no tar balls have been seen as in other places. Fishing from the MS River to the FL Panhandle has been closed in federal waters. As the oil continues to spread, our coastal marshes will suffer greatly and the breeding grounds for our blue crabs, shrimp, oysters and many species of fish will be destroyed. All wildlife that live and breed in our coastal marshes will be killed by the toxins. So sad on so many levels. I shutter [sic] at the thought that so many species will be affected by this as well as the beauty of our marshlands. There has never been a catastrophe of this magnitude in our gulf waters and marshes. It seems to me that the government and BP are both unsure about methods to treat the situation. I’m of the opinion that BP has done too little too late in being prepared for such situations. They should be held to the fire and accountable for all costs now and in the future and, believe me, recovery is going to be years in the making. It hurts to see so many people being affected by this disaster. So, once again due to a coastal disaster, my heart is heavy just thinking about all the scenarios that are yet to surface due to this oil spill.

At this point, I have trouble believing ANYTHING that BP has to say. They have been deceptive all along and had not taken precautions that they should have with their equipment. They should be held accountable for all the damage that their negligence has created. It will be years before the full extent of the oil spill damage is known while in the meantime our gulf waters and marshlands are going to be ruined from the toxins. Not to mention that thousands of people’s lives are being changed….some will lose their seafood business, some will have to close their businesses. and the list goes on. I hate the thought of what this is doing to my Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Note: My Aunt is a self-described Republican. A disaster on this scale has the ability to transcend political lines… hopefully.


In Defense of Nerds May 26, 2010

Filed under: shoutout — Alden @ 6:40 pm

Last Friday I was out to dinner to celebrate my sister’s graduation. After my mother and step-dad left, I was left with my sister, her husband, her mother-in-law Patsy, her mother-in-law’s girlfriend Maggie, her sister-in-law Kristen, and her sister-in-law’s girlfriend Vanessa. (My sister has married into a rather unconventional but awesome family.)

So I got into a rousing debate with them about the meaning of the word “nerd,” and all it’s synonyms. I call myself a nerd quite often. As in “I’m being a nerd and hanging out on the internet tonight.” Or, “I’m such a nerd. I love this stupid stuff,” in reference to any of my varied interests – artistically executed advertising campaigns, discussions on the current state of toxin regulation, or deep philosophical ruminations on whether or not an apocalypse is coming, for example.

Maggie asserted that “geek” is as complimentary as “nerd.” In fact, she often calls herself a “flower geek,” because she works in a nursery, and is quite proud of the title. To her “geek” confers an expert status on a subject matter. Fair enough.

Vanessa thinks that “dork” is more complimentary, while “nerd” denotes social-awkwardness. “Dweeb,” we all agreed, is never a good name, along with “goober.” (Wait, does anyone even use the word “goober?”

So are any of these titles complimentary? Or are we, having finally broken free from the chains of high school and even college, just taking back the dignity that was stolen from us in high school by the jocks?

Alright, alright, I was a jock in high school, even if I was an honors student. But more and more I’m finding that “nerds,” as I call them, are the most interesting, fun people ever!

For example, my new friend Nick is a total nerd. He introduced me to geocaching, he is a Yelp elite user, he participates in every social network ever, and he even joggles.

You read that right. Joggling.

“I went joggling for a mile the other day,” he told me at the end of a Sunday of geocaching. At first I thought he said jogging. I snorted and raised an eyebrow, thinking, “Ooooh a mile!” But then I realized I had misheard. Not jogging, joggling. Joggling is jogging while juggling, he explained. I started laughing, even while he told me that it’s apparently a hard sport, and can bring a participant to tears between trying to watch out for strollers and errant dog poo, and trying to keep three plus balls in the air.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Nick is hugely fun to hang out with. I much prefer him to the sort of blase type whose favorite past time is criticizing others for such grave offenses as having an offbeat personality. Myself having an offbeat personality that I have spent far too long trying to smooth, I appreciate that. I really do.

After all, we all have a little nerd in us. If you don’t, well, then I think you are vapid and soulless and I don’t want to hang out with you. Sorry.

And nerds aren’t just good at computer stuff. Nerds can mean they are especially artistic, or have an insane amount of knowledge on fringe topics. Or they just aren’t afraid to laugh loudly and often about silly things.

Make friends with nerds, and watch your happiness factor sky rocket. Make friends with “cool” people, or “the beautiful people,” and be prepared for the worst experience ever. In fact, a study that came out a couple years ago showed that it’s better to date a nerd. Why? Nerds are being themselves, and cool people are not. They are just trying to fit in, which really is no fun at all. (I heard this on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, aptly enough, since that show is nerd heaven. I can’t find the original source, though. Sorry!)

Nerds are wonderful creatures, capable of making you laugh, showing you new things, and making you feel appreciated, no matter how odd you are. They run shit. They created the Mac Book, which – let’s be honest -makes you feel so cool.  And they are always kind, if not especially suave. I would even venture to say they are charismatic.They make the best dinner conversationalists, they are the person to contact when you are visiting a strange city. They like to share and discover. They. Are. Awesome.

Go! Go find a nerd and make friends! Be prepared for an awesome, enlightening experience. After all, yours truly is a sustainability nerd, and proud of it.