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.


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


Put it on the To Do List: The Hester Street Fair July 27, 2010

Sunday, after having a delicious brunch at the sustainable and organic Community Food and Juice in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side, Vicki (the roomie) and I set out on an adventure all the way down to the Lower East Side. I was actually just there Saturday night with Agatha, my friend from work. But I wasn’t going down there on Sunday for Ommegang beer and gin and tonics. Nope, I was headed down to sample hand crafted macarons, spicy popsicles, and peruse some vintage wares and locally-made crafts.

Allow me this rant first: Sometimes I really hate the MTA. New York’s transportation system is like a five year old’s birthday party run by a drunk grown up: nobody knows what is going on, it’s always a mess, and there ends up being a lot of pissed off people.

I had gone jogging earlier in the morning at 9, and reported back to Vicki that it wasn’t “that bad. It’s doable.” But as we came closer to noon, the heat became close to unbearable. Vicki and I found that the subway 1 line was not stopping at 125th, 116th, 110th, or 103 going downtown. Since we live at 110th, this put us in a predicament. We waited at the bus stop, panting like poodles in the heat. One bus rumbled by, too full to stop. Another pulled over to let over a little old Asian couple, but didn’t allow anyone on. Our trip to the fair seemed like it might be a huge mistake. Vicki suggested we walk east to the AC line, four long blocks West. Peering out from our shady spot under the bus shelter was like gazing from an oasis across a parched desert. But I finally agreed. We passed through a pedestrian fairway with shady trees, and finally managed to get a train going in the right direction, cooling off in the wonderfully icy interior of the subway car. From the Grand St subway stop, the fair was only a few blocks away.

The Hester Street fair is deceptively small. With only a hundred yards of grounds, you would think you would get bored quickly. And yeah, you might if you like to speed shop and you aren’t hungry. But Vicki and I spent nearly an hour as we hopped from booth to booth, gossiping with the vendors, asking them about their foods and crafts, and nibbling on the tasties.

After passing by some cute stationary (which is getting old, I feel like a see at least one – if not three – hand printed stationary table at every fair in New York) we stopped at DBA. I thought DBA only produces beautifully simple biodegradable pens, but upon visiting their site right now, I’ve found all sorts of nice little sustainable things that are “forthcoming,” like a dishrack, an extension cord, and a heater. Ok, sounds boring, but it would be the most stylish extension cord you ever owned, trust me. But right now, besides the matte black pen that uses non-toxic ink and is 98% biodegradable, they also have an “endless notebook” that can

be combined and rearranged to create your perfect little notebook. It’s 100% post-consumer waste and chlorine free. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can just send the pen back, and they’ll take care of it for you!

I scribbled a bit using the pen and chatted with Niamh (pronounced Neev – she’s one of those Irish beauties whose name is crazily spelled) Hughes, the Business Development Manager. She tried on my Kayu glasses, saying she had  been salivating over them for some time. I think they actually looked cuter on her than on I…Obviously, I bought a pack of the pens, happy to support the venture.

Next door: the Macaron Parlour with Simon Tung manning the table. We’re lucky we didn’t come Friday, because the shop had sold out, riding on a wave of customers after a mention in the Daily Candy. But today he had lots of flavors. I tried the lemon macaron, which seems silly in hindsight, with flavors like candied bacon with maple cream cheese, thai chili, and earl grey available. I mean, I’m not saying was disappointed with my choice. I bit in

to the flaky crust which melted away to reveal the ganache filling – tart and tasty. “This is better than Laduree!” I declared. He practically blushed. “No way, that isn’t true. Though Christina [Christina Ha, his business partner] did study under Pierre Herme in Paris.” I nodded like I knew what he was talking about. It sounded impressive, at least.

Vicki ordered the cinnamon pistachio with morello cherries, which I nibbled on as well. Not bad!

Moving on to the next yummy thing, I had a iced lychee white tea, then a delicious waffle with sweet red bean in the center. A bean filling sounds savory, but this one was sweet, almost like a fruit filling. And they were shaped like fish! Charming. I felt bad for the pair manning the griddle, in the 90 degree heat though. Luckily nearby there was a tent whose sole purpose was to cover visitors with a cool mist.

Also, I almost got a ping pong ball the to the face, but luckily one of the players snatched it from the air by my head. Of course, I had no clue until they both started laughing. Typically me.

Vicki and I perused some vintage jewelry and dishes, marveling at an old butter churn and examining old postcards. I gave some serious thought to getting some lovely jars (something I’ve been obsessed with lately) but the swing-top lid was so rusty it was a struggle to get it open and that’s not something I wanted to deal with on a daily basis.

I passed by Laura Fisk’s table and fell in love with her printed cotton accessories. There were classy cobalt blue napkins with ruby pomegranates. “If I had a real house with more than two seats at a table, I would get those,” I told Vicki. Instead I opted for a pretty little apron with an adjustable neck, and cupcakes on the front. I was giddy when Laura yanked on the strings and the apron slid up. “We short people always have to fold it up,” she said. I totally agree. It gets annoying that normal aprons starts right under my boobs. She also had a children’s book, stationary, and some children’s-sized aprons. They’re printed with non-toxic inks as well, though I wish it was organic cotton. Can’t win ’em all!

You can see her stuff at

Of course, it wasn’t all stuffing my face with food and shopping for myself. I shopped for other people too! I bought Mike a very manly belt from Feur Wear made from out-of-commission German fire hoses. That’s Dave, above, posing with the belt. His company, Holstee, is selling the belts for Feur Wear, because they like the German company’s stuff so much and wants to see them in the US. Holstee designs and curates beautifully designed sustainable goods, and you should really give their website a look, because there is some uber-cool stuff on there. It debunks the myth that sustainable design is all hippie skirts and fanciful stationary.

I especially love their manifesto:

“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, 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…” And on. (I don’t want to brush up against copyright infringement by reprinting the whole thing here…” You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Next to Holstee was a table displaying some select stuff from Sustainable NYC: adorable fold-up reusable bags, Toms shoes, soy candles, and upcycled purses. I did not even know this place existed, but now I feel like I have to go there! It’s at Avenue A and 9th St. A bit out of the way for me, but still….

At this point another vendor piped up, saying a huge rain storm was about ten minutes away. To the West the sky was dark and ominous. Vicki wanted to leave right then, but I wanted to stay a little longer.

Finally we stopped at Xoom for some smoothie samples. I wish this smoothie and tea shop wasn’t so far away from me, because if Xoom was on the UWS, it would replace my obsession with Juice Generation, I’m sure. Not only because the smoothies are delicious, but their green creds (to the right) are top notch.

At this point we hurried away from the fair to beat the rain. As fat raindrops spattered the sidewalk, I took one last picture of the bike valet and Vicki and I promised each other we would come back to try everything else. What we didn’t get to sample: the ice cream sandwiches, sassily flavored popsicles, and barbecue. Not to mention the adorable yoga bags I forgot to go back for. Another day, another time…

Vicki set off in a dead run for the subway, with me calling after her. “Wait up!” as I struggled to run in my Jack Rogers. You would think she would melt or something. We waited on the platform for a full twenty minutes, watching train after train go by on the opposite platform. Finally a voice over the intercom. “Wah wah wah Brooklyn bound only wah wah.”

That’s when we saw a sign saying no north-bound trains at that station. Awesome. We emerged, walked ten steps and then the skies let loose. Luckily the Green Market farmers market was right next to use, so we hid under a tent and chatted with the Green Market worker about her time in India while waiting for the downpour to ease. (I love New York!)

When the rain eased up a little, we walked on, stopping at The Pickle Guys for Vicki, and then we hopped a bus and took it up to The Strand. Can you believe I’ve never been to this bookstore before? I could spend hours in there, but I stuck to my shopping list and walked away with Markets of New York City (natch), 101 Things I learned in Culinary School, and Remember Be Here Now, the classic hippie tome about the spiritual life. That and psychedelic drugs, ha.

Finally we hopped on the subway and came home. I cooked some stir fry up for Vicki and Mike, Vicki made mimosas, and it was a good day.


Danes Heart Bikes July 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alden @ 4:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Whenever I get into it with someone about how amazing bicycles are, I always point to Denmark: the happiest country in the world and a mecca for bicycles. Check out this video:

PS: Thanks for paying me a visit,!


Brief Weekend Hiatus… June 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alden @ 3:16 am

I’m going away for the weekend, starting at 8 AM tomorrow, so no posts until Sunday night. I’ve got plenty to write about, so stay tuned!


Shoutout to Mah Homies! June 24, 2010

It’s always fun for a blogger to get a comment. OK, not ALWAYS fun. I got my first mean comment a couple weeks ago. But really, most of the time it’s such a great moment when someone took the time to read your post, think about it, and write a reply. So I want to recognize those awesome readers who did so.

Corey Gaber! (My number one thoughtful commenter, and a fellow alum of W&L) Find his comments on all of these posts:

The Downside of Loving the Environment

In Defense of Nerds

Sometimes Things Get Crazy, But in a Good Way

Blogging about Personal Stuff: is There a Right Way?

Jonathan Rogers: Another W&L alum and really nice guy. Check out his own blog here. He was nice enough to comment on these posts:

Food Washing: Like Greenwashing, but Grosser

UGH, I’m Never Taking a Taxi Again. EVER.

In Defense of Nerds

Peaches: I don’t know who she is, but she is the very epitome of what we want from commenters. She took offense to my post on Ocean City, yet took the time to correct me where I was wrong, defend her hometown, and didn’t resort to any personal attacks while doing it. Thanks Peaches!

Jen: Jen wrote a nice little response a little while back when I was trying to figure out who my readers are. She runs a blog about running a farm down in NC. Thanks for reading Jen!

Melissa: Love her blog! She runs a homestead too, and always has some thoughtful stuff to say. Thanks!

Cheryl: I tried out Cheryl’s recipe for french bread, and it didn’t work out so well. She gave me some advice on what might have gone wrong. Whoops! Shouldn’t have let it rise on the stove. She hasn’t been posting to her blog in a while, but I hope she starts again soon!

Other commenters:

Ashley Van (Great blog on eco fashion!)

Rob Favole: Check out his conscious shop Elegant Roots

That definitely isn’t everyone. But it really gave me a boost to look back over all the nice, supportive, and informative things friends and strangers alike have had to say. Keep reading, I do this for you!


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.