The Just Noticeable Difference

(Mis)adventures in going green and living aloha

#6 For the love of peat!

…now, where were we?

Seriously, what happened the past couple years?  I blacked out and forgot about my fun blog for a bit.  But fear not, eco buds, I am back and still on a mission to save Mother Earth (not a in a creepy way).

Just a quick update since our last chat: I moved from the ocean to the mountains.  I thought I had seen snow before.  I hadn’t.

Good thing I love shredding the (green circle) slopes as much as I do the (1 – 2 ft.) waves.  Hey, gnar is gnar.

I’m of the strict mindset that aloha is where you find it.  (Thanks to our father Gerry Lopez.)

So I shall continue this journey in my new locale by sharing eco-tip #6:  Get a compost bin.  Even better if you can make it!  The manly man doing a Crossfit WOD with the snowball found nice wood for ours in a dumpster near our house.  (Couples who play together, stay together.  And by “play,” I mean “dumpster dive.” It’s way more fun than you think! #datenight)

Look what I made, Ma!

[picture coming soon.  and by soon i mean as soon as i get home.]

Bottom line: Composting will help you be less trashy.  I didn’t think that was possible for me, but it happened.  Wait….that’s not what I meant…ugh…whatever, I’m leaving it.

After building ours, we now only put our city garbage bin and recycling bin (for 2 people total) every 2 weeks at the MOST.   That saves an awful lot of biodegradable, natural stuff from needlessly ending up in landfills.  Plus, you will create some awesome, organic material (let’s call it peat, shall we?) to mix in with the soil in your garden beds.  (Can you see which post is coming next??? Can you??)

Glad to be back.  Aloha, y’all.



#5 e-file your taxes

That’s right, kids.  It’s tax time again.  I hope you all filed online using a service like TurboTax!  It not only eliminates unnecessary paper waste,  e-filing your taxes also allows you (and when I say “you” I mean me and my friends–most of whom are graduate students (i.e., broke)–to file for FREE.  Now that deserves at least one fist pump…maybe two.

This year was actually the first year I had to pay the feds any money.  Ugh.  “Apparently, I earn too much,” she mutters aloud over her generic brand boxed mac and cheese meal…the same thing she ate for lunch yesterday….and three days prior (in a reusable container! With reusable utensils!)

Coworker:  “Wow!  Mac and cheese again!  That must be your favorite food.”

Um…yeah.   That’s it.

But before I continue to dwell on “problems” faced by a resident of the developed world, I’ll go ahead and say what all my friends are thinking:  “Well, fiddlesticks, TJND!  I LOVE mac and cheese!  And you just don’t seem to appreciate the intricacies involved in the preparation of the contents of that loveable blue box.”  (FYI, the generic brand box is blue too.)  So, really, I love mac and cheese.  Or anything smothered in cheese, really.  Or anything remotely involving cheese.

My friend, who is a Wisconsin native, sent me cheese in the mail the other day.  Did you get that??!  CHEESE IN THE MAIL!  I seriously had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I opened the box.  I heard Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. (But oddly enough, it was this version.)  I might have cried a little.

Plus, eating mac and cheese while you e-file your taxes can be one way to a balanced, sustainable lifestyle.  Did you know that chickens (*ahem* sustainable egg source! write that down!) like mac and cheese?  Duh. Check it out.

Chickens love pasta.

Okay, so this is fettuccine.  And the chicken is not eating it.  But the mother of said Wisconsinite friend just started raising chickens, and she swears by mac and cheese as chicken snack food.  (Not sure what this implies about my own palate, but I’d rather not think about it.)

Mama Wisconsin took this pic for her photography class.  No chickens were harmed in the making of this shot.

Or this one.

Chickens love wine.

Mmm…wine and cheese.   Okay, I can’t take it anymore.  It’s dinner time.

#wine #cheeseforchickens #developedworldproblems #taxefiling

#4 Ignorance and bungling: A tale of love, fishponds, and skirts

“Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill without.”

–Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849)

Well, it’s a good thing, Henry.  I slapped up this quote because 1) It’s Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, and I thought it appropriate to make my newest post love-themed…sorta.  2) Because my love for the environment might be bungling and inexperienced, but hey, I’m trying here.  Allow me to explain:

Last Friday, inspired by this Honolulu Magazine article on volunteering, I thought, “By Golly! I’ll participate in a community workday at the Paepae o He’eia Fishpond! What a novel idea! Splendid! Indeed!”

I even got 4 of my friends to commit to it too, but when I called to ask about parking, the receptionist informed me that the workday had been booked for months.

“Oh, my.  Well, this is embarrassing.  I had no idea one needed reservations to volunteer. I should’ve gotten a shmancy suit* for the occasion.”

So volunteering this weekend=epic fail.  Well, okay, not epic.    I made reservations for a later date to help out.  And seriously, good for the fishpond!  Not every site has a line of volunteers jumping at the chance to help out.  Go you, O’ahu!

I guess we all just need to keep in mind that being good to the earth doesn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing” situation.  But don’t use that as an excuse not to do everything in your power, even if you have to start slowly. My good intentions for the Fishpond were not put to work this weekend, but they will be in the near future.  And there are tons of other ways to help.  Check out the Honolulu article (above) for more ideas! (If you fail, I suggest reading some Thoreau.  He’s a pretty good healer of wounded pride.)

Just get out and DO SOMETHING.

*Too bad I lost my pencil skirt.  That’s right.  I’m an adult, and I lost a good quality (and pretty) piece of business attire.  Apparently, I’ve reverted to my preschool habits.  (I was a very well-dressed 5-year-old.)

I admit it.  Losing clothing is an untold (until now) hazard of biking to work.  I am almost 100% sure I left my skirt hanging on the hook in the bathroom stall after changing for my ride home one day two weeks ago. *sigh*

I, of course, asked the security guard at the front desk of my building if there was a “lost & found” box.

SG: “Why? What did you lose?”

Me: “Um…my skirt.”

SG: “Oh..ummm….n-  no.  I haven’t seen any skirts…but I’ll let you know.”


It was so young. I had only worn it once.  I’d have liked to think it was free somewhere, perhaps drifting down King St. after it fell out of my backpack.

But that was the end of it…or so I thought.

Me (walking into the building with several coworkers after a company-wide meeting): “Morning!”

SG: “Morning!  Hey, did you ever find your skirt?!”

Me (ignoring the wide eyes of said surrounding coworkers): “Umm…no, but thank you.  Bye!”

Awkward x 10.  I thought about explaining myself.  But it’s funnier this way…right?? (Someone please help me feel better about what just happened.)

Who doesn’t want to bike to work now, knowing special moments like these are in store?

And, everyone, keep Henry’s quote in mind this Valentine’s Day.  Someone with the best of intentions may just not know how to carry them out successfully–Like that time I tried to make Southwest-style turkey burgers from a Paula Deen recipe after one beer (which apparently makes me lose the ability to distinguish between tablespoons and teaspoons) and ended up overdosing myself and my dinner guest on salt.  (Sorry, Mark. Hope your taste buds have made a full recovery.)  I feel like I should get him a balloon or something…

#thoreau #heeiafishpond #volunteer #honolulumagazine #kickstarter #onlaurabeach #love

#3 Fork it.

My grad student roommate just emailed me to say she needed something fun and funny to read on her lunch break…and maybe to help her procrastinate further.   Lucky for you all (y’all?– I’ve never felt cool enough to say that even though I’m from the South), I am both fun and funny.  Okay, fine.  Should you choose to ignore the rest of this post, there’s a YouTube link below for ~2 minutes of viewing pleasure..but it’s hidden, so you have to scroll through my post anyway.  Mwahahahaha!  But honestly, what else are you going to do on your lunch break?  But honestly, don’t answer that…

Speaking of lunch, I present to you eco-friendly life step #3: Instead of continuing to use plastic utensils (also provided free at my company), I brought a set of silverware from home today.

All my grad student homies, a set of reusable utensils will allow you to perpetuate that image of professionalism (especially if they are polished metal…ooh daaaang) and preparedness you’ve been building up lo these many years.

For all the rest of you, you can do this!

Now THAT’S humor 🙂

In sum, no more of this business:

Plastic utensils bad. Pretty flowers good.

Plastic utensils bad. Pretty flowers good.

(What flowers?  Oh, those old things?  Just a little something I picked up in Chinatown for a photo shoot yesterday.  I can’t carry them home on my bike, and I wanted someone to see how pretty they are! Am I right?)

If you’re noticing that I’m still using tupperware, get off my back!  At @Mary Walworth’s suggestion, I’ve been checking Ross regularly to see if they have gotten any more shipments of bowls made of plant-based plastic.  No luck yet, though these lunchtime trips down the block have added a little excitement to my days.  Yesterday, after purchasing the aforementioned orchids, I decided to take a jaunt (that’s right, a jaunt) down to the first floor of Ross.  With one store escalator down for repairs (and, in fact, completely gutted), the other one has been stopped, serving as stairs–a very expensive set of stairs–as well as the only connection between the upper and lower floors.  While I was descending, a small woman (we’ll call her SW) and her young child were ascending.  I should mention also that said escalators are freakishly narrow. Perhaps this is why SW decided to suddenly start yelling and cursing at me as we passed one another.  Or maybe I just look like someone she’s loathed since birth?  Either way, no aloha.


I would also like to mention that I (5’4″ and 115lbs.) am not exactly Godzilla-sized, so she didn’t have to squeeze past me or even move her purse to the other arm. Dearest SW, I hope we can put the awkward stair (escalator?) incident behind us and one day learn to be friends.

If you do choose to start bringing your own utensils, you can even get ones made from bamboo (maybe at Ross?), a renewable resource to make Mother Earth proud.  I plan on getting some of my own soon, but for now my minuscule bank account says I should be content with my K-Mart flatware.  Just don’t set the rolls too close to me.

#lunch #escalatortrashtalk #forks #orchids #charliechaplin

#2 Potatoes in the Paddy Wagon

Anyone?  Anyone?  Mr. Harrison and @Dr. Monson would be proud of the reference….or mortified.  Is it weird that I still really want Dr. Monson’s approval? Even though I passed biomedical physics and folk music & acoustics…7 years ago?  Don’t answer that.

Okay, so by “paddy wagon,” I mean reusable, microwaveable tupperware.   Allow me to explain.  I was absolutely famished* when I got into work this morning.  (Lately I’ve been eating huge quantities of food at a time.  Recent frequent biking is the cause, methinks.)  Luckily, I had brought some fried potatoes with garlic (both obtained from the Fort St. farmers’ market) to work yesterday in a recycled yoghurt (how British of me**) container.  Who doesn’t love fried potatoes for breakfast?!  Score.

potatoes & yoghurt

Only thing is my yoghurt (still makes me giggle.  It’s spelled like that on the container!  It’s not even the shmancy kind.  How fancy can that spelling be?  The second half of it is “hurt.”) container, which obviously can’t be microwaved, prompted me to automatically reach for a paper bowl–free at my office–so that I could enjoy the goodness that only warmth can bring to refrigerated potatoes.

But, folks, an amazing thing happened.  In the midst of my zombie-like state of starvation (a legitimate threat to small children and pets), my tunnel vision lifted, and I put the paper bowl down, choosing the aforementioned reusable, microwaveable tupperware instead.

But now I’m conflicted.  I feel I should be proud of myself for choosing a reusable container, eliminating the potential for unnecessary paper waste.  However, the reusable container was made of plastic, which requires the mining and processing of fossil fuels, which is bad for the environment and not something I want to advocate either.  I really wish I had the sad trombone sound I could play out loud right now.  ***Wamp wamp wamp…

Seems like it’s time to add something to my list — use reusable containers made of Earth-friendly materials and by Earth-friendly means.  Lesson learned.

* I would just like to clarify that I mean the “hungry” sense of the word.  I once worked with a girl named…well, never mind her name.

Girl: “I’m so famished!”

Me: “You should go eat something.”

Girl: “What?”

Me: “If you’re hungry, you should go take your lunch break.”

Girl: “Oh….I thought famished meant ‘tired’.”

Me: “I think you’re looking for ‘fatigued.'”

Girl: “Yeah! That’s the one!”



** & *** And speaking of whacky accents and sweet instruments, who honestly pronounces it po-tah-tow? I’ve yet to meet one person.  #Letscallthewholethingoff #louisarmstrong  #ellafitzgerald

#1. Hi, high

Hi there.

I’ve wanted to start this blog for a long time, so thanks for helping me realize a dream.

Okay, enough chit-chat.  Time to rip this bandaid off.

#1.  The first step toward creating an eco-friendly lifestyle that works for me began three weeks ago: I started riding my bike to and from work. (Groundbreaking, I know.  If you’re rolling you’re eyes, good.  Now take that attitude and go look at my “About Me” section for further explanation.

Up until then, I had been taking the bus, which is also a great gas-saving and eco-friendly option.  But, in true spoiled grad student fashion, I like to do what I want to do when I want to do it.  This attitude does not coincide with the city bus schedule, which is always accurate.  Yes…accurate….that’s it.

The fact that I am also a magnet for crazy, yammering weirdos might have had something to do with the switch too. (I’m serious. On two separate occasions, as I was sitting in the window seat minding my own business–in fact, reading a book–a man addressed the person sitting in the aisle seat next to me, saying, “Move.  I want to sit by her.”  Yikes. One of them got really mad about the word pâté, which he spied in my copy of David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day.  Who knew? #davidsedaris #pottedmeat)

I digress.  Here I am, a few hairstyles ago with my pride and joy.

My bike

If you live close enough, I recommend you give biking to work or school a try.  Don’t worry.  Flamingo tank tops are optional.  And exercise is good for you, ya heard?  You get that “hey, no big deal, I just worked out” high (at least until you miss your mouth while trying to take a well-deserved drink of water from your water bottle and pour water all over yourself and that highlighted, color-coded assignment you’ve been working on for weeks).  I was never a cross-country or 5k runner (or any kind of runner for that matter) growing up, but I really look forward to my daily ride.

If your workplace has showers, you have one less excuse in my eyes.  (My office has no showers.  Good thing my ride to work is downhill all the way.  I swear I don’t smell bad.  Let’s be friends?) Plus, the uphill ride on my way home is awesome stress relief, so my roommates are spared any venting that I may have been plotting pre-ride.

Happy cycling! #cycling



P.S. For the love of Allah, God, Jeebus, Shiva, or whoever, wear your helmet!!!

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