We just got back from three nights in New York City–Ron’s first trip to the city and the first time I’ve visited as a tourist in many years.
It’s definitely not the farm.
Of course, we enjoyed seeing exhibits at the Met, touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, walking through Central Park in unseasonably comfortable weather, and trying Oaxacan tacos, ramen noodles, and Hungarian cuisine.
It’s definitely not the farm.
We generated four paper bags and several plastic bags in less than four days. It usually takes us several months to do so at home because we use reusable sacks for almost everything. I brought all the bags home either to use (paper sacks for the paper recycling) or recycle (plastic bags).
We also produced a mound of other recyclables that we sorted into bins in the city–plastic to-go containers up the wazoo in addition to the normal recyclables we produce at home (cereal box, toilet paper rolls, etc.).
On the up side, New York City seems much more serious about recycling than it used to. I’ve always been disturbed by the huge mountains of garbage on the side of the street every single night. Even worse is seeing recyclable stuff in see-through plastic bags. But this trip we saw building superintendents spending a lot of time bringing garbage and recycling out of buildings, and sorting the refuse. Some supers had amazingly neat piles–plastic bags with cans, glass, and plastic, paper and cardboard in other plastic bags, newspapers tied by string into tidy pyramids. I wonder how much time they spend doing this–and what incentives (or penalties?) the city has created to make sure more city residents’ detritus actually gets recycled.
Waste is, though, a big theme of the trip. For instance, many old buildings have centralized heating. The apartment we rented had old radiators that rattled when they were on. It was impossible to control the temperature and the heating was too high most of the time, especially at night when you want it cooler to sleep. Consequently, we opened the windows in the living room and bedroom, and actually ran the AC fan, to get the temperature to a more reasonable level for sleeping. So all that heat was wasted, further increasing our carbon footprint for the trip.
We also noticed black plumes of smoke coming out of the top of a number of apartment buildings, especially the bigger, older ones. We weren’t sure what this was at first, but guess that these are oil-heated buildings. We also saw several oil delivery trucks pumping oil into basements as we navigated the city’s always crowded streets.
The farm is a lot of work. We worry about the animals (too much at times). It’s been harder to get away for trips and vacation, especially together since we scaled up the farm. Ron and I haven’t had many vacations together since we got the sheep in the summer of 2015 since it’s difficult to have both of us away at the same time.
But the trip to New York City reminded us of many of the positives of Ithaca and the farm, and the choice to live in ways that attempt to be commensurate with our values.