Becoming Carbonara Neutral
I don't like environmental news.
At least I think I don't...
I haven't read an article about earth since I was in tenth grade. The news then was this: we're killing earth, everybody knows it, there is no end in sight. I'm assuming that's still what's going on. I can't read news about our dying planet because I'd feel so guilty that I'd end up eating peat, living in a yurt somewhere. Which would be sad because for the most part I like civilization. But don't get me wrong, I frown on matricide. That's why I try to do the right thing - I just don't like it feeling like I'm doing the right thing. Case in point - Mission: Carbonara neutral. To get to SF I have to travel 380 miles -- that's a lot of dinosaur bones; I've created a mission to zero out my carbonara* emissions.
* Like so much of the vocabulary around green living I find the words "carbon neutral" off putting, so I'm going to use the word "carbonara" every time I mean to say "carbon." Carbonara is rich, creamy, satisfying and lush like existence, the whole reason "sustainability" matters in the first place.
How bad are you messing things up?
This is the only part of the mission that feels like work, but trust me it's the most painless way to figure out your role in the carbon apocalypse. Cool California is a nonprofit that was created to spoon feed you information about global warming. The site features a carbon calculator that measures how much carbon you emit through transportation, housing, food and services. It allows you to compare how you're doing vs. other native Californians and the US in general. It also provides a simple guide telling you how to reduce carbon. If you want to pay for your sins head to TerraPass --to buy carbon offsets (they're based in downtown San Francisco.)
Shut the lights off.
Traditional light bulbs are bad for the environment. Fluorescent light bulbs are bad for your aesthetic environment. Personally, I think light is overrated (one of the reasons I prefer SF over LA), but if you stub your eye on something in the dark you're not going to be into this whole carbonara neutral thing. Solution? Candles. Aside from surgery, there's not much that isn't enhanced by candlelight. They're the salt of home design -- they make everything instantly better. In fact, the only things that don't look good in candlelight are television and laptops so shut those off while you're at it. To stock up on wax, head to Mill Valley Candle Works; they have a kiosk in the Ferry terminal. Their candles are hand poured in the Bay Area, the wicks are organic cotton, and if you buy certain candles they donate to charity. They also floss daily, use their turn signals, and call their moms. Ask for Michael.
Find Your Food
Foraging is the opposite of littering. Amble around, pick things up off the ground and eat them. It's as elegant as environmentalism gets. Of course it takes a little time and know how to know where's where and to distinguish what's what, that's where Iso Robins comes in. Iso owns and operates Forage SF a company that delivers a box of all wild foraged food and products for biweekly/monthly pickup or delivery. SF is teeming with edible treasures like wild mushrooms, nettle, moiners lettuce, fresh fish, sea bean pickles an fresh fruit. Oscar Wilde described gold as a good walk ruined -- foraging is a good walk enhanced. Foraging locally ensures that the food has the absolute lowest carbonara impact possible.
Let off some steam
You know how in teen dramas theres always the one friend of the opposite sex who's been with you through thick and thin and in the end turns out to be the person you were supposed to be with all along? That's Anchor Steam. San Francisco's beer was a local product before the word "local" got subsumed into the list of magic food words that makes things expensive like "artisanal" and "natural." Local means less shipping time which means better for the environment. Double carbonara karma points -- steam beer is so called because it was created without ice; Anchor Steam is still cooled using the cool air of San Francisco. Take a tour.
Listen to the Smell
Not the fragrant oil that lives in perfumes and yoga homes in Berkeley, but the band Vetiver - one of San Francisco's finest. How are they carbonara neutral? The acoustic guitar is their weapon of choice. Vetiver's lead man is Andy Cabic and he writes sturdy, understated songs for a sparsely adorned guitar accompanied by lyrics about love, rascals and America. Highlight's "Angel Share" from their eponymous debut, "I Know No Pardon" from To Find Me Gone and "Everyday" from their new album Tight Knit. George Harrison would be listening to this. Isn't that reason enough? Aside from their own top notch catalog Cabic is a student of music history and can play a slew of covers like an unplugged jukebox.
King of the Tank
La Flaneurism, aka urban hiking is not only carbon neutral -- it's hands down the best activity in the world. My favorite hike begins anywhere in the 7X7 and ends on Tank Hill - the best view in San Francisco within San Francisco. Named after a water tank that used to live on top of the hill, legend has it that when they drained the tank to remove it goldfish ran down the street.