My parents were visiting this week, helping out with their home that is being built in our village, and helping me out a lot along the way. (Thanks Mom & Dad for all the garden and building support!) Their presence changed my shopping patterns in some interesting ways. For one thing, my mom decided that she needed to bring all the food for the week, somehow believing I had been existing purely on air and sunlight. (OK, who are we kidding, until this week it would have been air and snow.) She was shocked (“shocked, I tell you”) when she found she couldn’t fit it all in my fridge. Conversely, their presence got me started on some home-improvement projects I had been putting off, with attendant purchases.
Good: I go to a local dentist. We don’t have one on site (yet) but I think that’s good enough. (Also good – just going for the cleaning and not having any cavities or other problems to complain of.) On the grocery side I picked up some milk (inspired by the butter last week, I got this from Byrne Dairy, which has returnable/reusable glass bottles!).
Plantings. I picked up planting potatoes and onions at our local Agway. Admittedly I’m not certain where they get these, but considering these will be truly growing In My Back Yard it’s hard to call this one bad.
Concrete blocks. I picked up a few of these for a construction project, thinking that they were definitely going in the bad or ugly category. It turns out that at least some cement is made regionally and it may be boat-shippable. Not sure where mine came from, but in the realm of how to get things here, this is at least plausible. (Not that extractive industries themselves are sustainable. Also, I feel guilty buying this from a big box store, but I was trying to match what was already installed.)
Bar drinks. My “bars and restaurants” post was a result of Wednesday and Thursday night’s activities. I try to get to karaoke with DJ Dale at The Haunt when I can, but this week we were stymied by a confusing calendar which showed both the karaoke (false) and a band playing (true). We wound up at Felicia’s Atomic Lounge instead, a place that has a distinctly hip NYC feel but with a heavily locally-slanted bar menu. I selected a cocktail featuring one of the two local gins, and got some things for the other folks (including the folks… my parents) that probably erred on the local side though I don’t have all the details. On Thursday, I explored the opposite side of the STBC/GLBC equation from last week, and had a Right*O*Way*IPA at our local “Thirsty Thursday” networking event.
Bad: Bananas. Source of potassium for parental units. Not local, not likely to ever be. At least they were organic, and maybe they can be shipped by boat, which may be more sustainable. Rice. Still a staple grain in my diet. This is Lundberg organic basmati from California; although this is domestic, it’s possible that the shipping across the US is worse for the environment than shipping by boat from India. That’s a hard one to calculate.
Propane Refill. After 18 months (548 days, if you want to get precise) I used up my first 40lb propane tank. That’s 0.07lbs/day or if you convert to CO2 emissions, about 3oz per day. (Although there’s a big difference between living and fossil carbon, considering I breathe out 2.3lb of CO2 each day, I think I’m not going to get too bent out of shape about 3oz to cook my food.)
Misc fasteners. That’s what they call all those little nuts and bolts at your local (or national chain) hardware store. Regardless of where you shop, there’s a pretty good chance they get their inventory from the Hillman Group. It could be worse: nearly 60% of what they sell is made in the U.S. But… it’s a bit disturbing how dependent we can become on a single bottleneck like this one distributor.
Ugly: Toothpaste. I can (and do) buy Tom’s of Maine, but it’s not at all clear to me that they’re “of Maine” or even “Tom’s” any more, since they’re owned by Colgate-Palmolive. Interestingly, their web site doesn’t whisper a word of this vicious, nasty rumor… er, fact. Still, I’d like to keep not having cavities when I show up at the dentist, so what to do? Brush and floss as best as I can.
Cat Food. I’m not entirely sure what to do about this. If the furball would feed himself entirely off of the rodents In My Back Yard I’d be rather happy, but he seems quite certain that I own him 3 (or 4, or 5) square meals a day, and will take it out on me (or out of me, in flesh) if I don’t live up to his expectations. And… whaddya know, he’s allergic to grain. So unless I want to deal with cat dietary allergies (don’t make me elaborate) I wind up feeding him the fancy all-fish stuff made on the west coast. Well, at least they sell it in local stores?
PVC plumbing parts. There really should be a better alternative, but when people don’t remember that you have to leave faucets open in the winter so they don’t freeze, I don’t want to pay for replacing the parts with brass. I still have to go to Agway and get a replacement for the 55-gallon drum (recycled, food grade, less than $20 last I checked) that burst open from the freezing water – and figure out if that fits in a Prius!
Also, two more reasons that I love our local Agway. First, when my second propane tank appeared to be malfunctioning, they help test it, bleed air from it, and topped it off again for free. Second, when the sprinkler head for one of my garden watering cans cracked, knowing that these aren’t sold as replacement parts, store manager Dan Lee found a spare one he had kept from a shipment that had a damaged can, and gave it to me for free. In this day and age, who does that? Ithaca Agway does.