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For these poor marshmallows.

At Easter, my au pair family was nice enough to give me a little easy basket of my own. I never say no to chocolate, so I loved it. But these packets of marshmallows, in surprisingly thick plastic, made me kinda sad!

Why must everything come  it at least two or three layers of packaging?!

I’m posting this to raise the age-old question: what do you do when someone gives you a gift and it has three unnecessary layers of plastic? In this case, the only thing to do was to make hot chocolate, heartily enjoy those marshmallows, and recycle the plastic. But note well: this little plastic packet was one of two (to make “individual serving sizes” and the entire thing was wrapped in another layer of plastic.

I’m all for food safety, believe me, but I’m not actually convinced that we all need individual, moon-landing ready packets of everything. Any suggestions how to steer generous-minded people away from this kind of gift? Any ideas how to avoid giving this kind of gift in the first place?

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There are few things I love more in life than dark chocolate and Earl Grey tea. I think a fresh, ripe, in-season, local peach would win out over both these things, but a bar of chocolate is a most reliable treat. Even better, I’ve recently found a French brand of dark chocolate infused with Earl Grey, and it’s fair trade!

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Although I might as well admit that chocolate is a staple of my diet, it’s not vital in a nutritional sense. Because it is a luxury, my first priority, to be perfectly honest, is that I really thoroughly enjoy the chocolate. However, as it is a luxury, I also feel more committed to making an ethical purchase. I shouldn’t have access to luxuries that cause or worsen poverty conditions for others.

Unfortunately, fair trade and organic production isn’t “normal.” In many grocery stores, fair trade and organic products are not even on the same shelves as the ‘standard’ versions of the same products. For example, the Equitable chocolate was in the organic/fair trade/(let’s just call it “hippy”) aisle; my other two favorite kinds of chocolate were two aisles away.

It’s not surprising that stores are organized this way; on the one hand, if you are only going to buy fair trade, all of the products you might want are right there grouped together. On the other hand, isolating all the more ethical choices also makes it difficult to compare prices. While you might automatically assume this would actually help organic/fair trade stuff–the reputation for these kinds of production methods is that they are always more expensive–that’s not actually the case.

These are my two other favorites, and the Equitable chocolate bar was almost exactly in the middle of the price-range, not at the top. The Café bar on the left is about 50 cents more; the Côte d’Or bar is about 40 cents less. A related sidenote–while I love the taste of the Côte d’Or brand, they’re getting kicked out of the local Carrefour, probably because they weren’t willing to go any cheaper with their prices.

 

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All three bars are roughly the same dimensions, although both the Côte d’Or and Nestle bars are thicker. They’re not directly comparable in terms of taste because they are very different flavors. The café bar does have a strong coffee taste; the truffé noir one is a very, very sweet, creamy, soft-centered bar. By contrast, the Ethiquable-brand Chocolat Noir (+ Thé Earl Grey) is thinner, crispy, and very light and almost spicy tasting (that’s the bergamot talking).

I’m likely to continue buying all three types, because I like them for different reasons and different appetites. As I said, my first priority is taste. The Equitable chocolate certainly measures up, but it’s a different taste–and sometimes what I’m really looking for is the thick, creamy coffee of the Nestle bar! However, I’m excited to have an option that seems like a better ethical choice without being economically unfeasible.

The real advantage of fair trade products is that they’re not just paying workers a higher wage, they’re often involved in specific projects meant to organize and multiply the impact of whatever additional financial resources they can provide. Ethiquable cacao producers and their families benefit from social projects, such as water sanitization, scholarships, and medical centers brought to isolated areas; and microcredit loans, especially those to assist women’s entrepreneurship.

Fair trade isn’t perfect. However, market forces too often force producers into selling their products at a price that is too low to keep them above poverty. One of the issues with agriculture is that you often have a product that is ready to be sold at a certain time; you also have good years and bad years. In the U.S., we have many programs devoted to flattening out some of these issues so that (the hope is) farmers can have slightly more security from year to year (there are a lot of issues with some of these programs, to be sure, but that was the intention).

When we import products that won’t grow in our climates, we’re already taking advantage of another culture’s natural resources. The least we can do is pay fairly for the effort and knowledge that has gone into producing such delicacies! It’s a shame that we have trade that isn’t fair at all, but the fair trade label at least seems like a step in the right direction–and one that often will not break, or even jostle, the bank.

I just set my iPhone’s timer for 20 minutes, because 20 minutes is just the right amount of time for the delicates I’m hand-washing to soak, before I rinse them and hang them up to dry. I’ve written about my iPhone before, but that was back in the beginning of my relationship to the ubiquitous gadget. Having fully integrated the little brick into my life in a way I would never have expected, I think the device merits a second round of evaluation.

Originally, I praised the iPhone’s gender neutrality. iPhone cases tend to be much more “gendered” (or marketed at different targets) than the iPhone itself. But inside the phone–I didn’t think it would really matter. I figured I would use it for the occasional text or phone call. And that’s true. It holds up to these functions (although I don’t like the way it seems very easy to remain ‘on’ a phone call when you think you’ve hit ‘End’).

What I was most worried about was that I would become addicted to the phone, yet another clueless cult member experiencing very little of reality outside the edges of the screen. I think that could still be a risk, especially if I used data for internet browsing or downloaded games. The configurations that you choose for the iPhone really change these effects, though.

I do have a small amount of data on my plan, but I save it for when I really need it–primarily when I’m lost, or when I at least want to have a searchable map backing me up. So what this means is that under “Settings,” I have cellular data turned off. I use WiFi if I want to use my phone for Internet browsing in the house (or in a café with WiFi), but I’m not walking around refreshing my Facebook feed.

In fact, most of the reason I like the phone so much is for what it does for me at home. (The big exception here is the camera, which I’ll get to in a moment.) As someone who has to and generally likes waking up early (ish), I am still more often than not generally unenthused about getting out of bed, especially in winter. But I do like checking email, listening to music, and generally starting to think a little bit–all before I get out of bed. These activities, more than trying to guilt-trip myself into putting my feet on the cold tile floor, get me moving.

I’m using an iPhone 4, so presumably the screen display has improved a bit in updated versions. It probably doesn’t matter very much though, because the iPhone 4 is already damned good. Even my blurry, sleep-filled eyes can handle the screen. So I read an article or two on the NY Times or Al-Jazeera, and I check my email, and I put on some music that makes me feel a bit more positive about the day, and then I get out of bed. It’s not actually a catapult (what I probably need), but it helps.

Moby Dick, better looking but much less approachable than the Kindle version.

After getting out of bed, my day in iPhone usage continues. I have an app that is connected with the bus timetables for Lyon, so I check to see when the next bus is coming. As I sit on the bus for 30 minutes in my morning commute, sometimes I read a “real” (paper) book, but often I turn to my Kindle app. If I end up standing, holding the iPhone is sometimes easier than dealing with a paper book. Plus, I’m trying to get through Moby Dick, and it’s satisfying to have the percent completed edging up at the bottom of the screen.

I can also turn to Moby Dick rather discreetly while watching the kids, if I do it on my phone. I can also look up song lyrics on the fly so that I can try to teach them more songs to add to their somewhat limited repertoire (for my sake if not theirs). If I’m trying to Skype with my parents on an evening when I’m working in the afternoon, I may be shooting off emails to them negotiating the time we’ll agree to sign on as I’m juggling my babysitting duties.

When I’m traveling, the phone changes functionality completely, or at least I change the way I use it. It becomes almost purely a tiny email device, and I use email (or Facebook messenger) in lieu of phone service. In this way, I can connect equally well–and equally cheaply (i.e. for free) with friends and family. With the ubiquity of free WiFi in and near cafés in many cities, it’s easy to use email as a stand-in for text messaging, avoiding international phone charges. It’s also nice to be able to send quick emails to my parents letting them know I’ve arrived or departed safely without having to haul around or locate a computer.

And then there is that camera, the reason I initially decided to swing for the iPhone instead of a cheaper phone and a pocket camera. I don’t take my real (big clunky) camera out enough, but I almost always have my iPhone on me. Many of the recent photos I’ve shared on Photo Fridays have been taken on my iPhone. While I could have gotten better resolution from my Nikon, I had the iPhone with me–and that makes all the difference.

So, I was wrong. I use this device a lot, and I like it a lot. Best of all, I haven’t become addicted. It stays in my pocket or purse when I’m with other people, but by myself, it gives me a lot of functionality in one small device. Instead of the bulky, rather ugly CD player/radio I used to have next to my bed for my waking-up-to-music thing, I have the iPhone. It also replaces watches, alarm clocks, to a certain extent maps (though I still find paper maps much more reliable if I have thought ahead but am truly lost), and timers. It is small enough to fit in some of my pockets (which is a feat for women’s clothing–check out our pockets, guys, it’s pitiful) and yet large enough that it isn’t easily misplaced. 

What I like best about it is that it is one thing and I will probably not be updating it for a very long time, as it currently does its many jobs very well. I have found a few ways to use it that I didn’t predict, but I can’t say that I need it to do anything it already does better. So, as long as it keeps working, that’s it–it’s something I don’t have to think about anymore. 

The biggest thing that I don’t like about it is something that doesn’t seem to be changing in updated versions of the iPhone: BATTERY LIFE. I go through a full charge about once every 2-3 days, and I think that’s really pushing it. By contrast, I used to charge my flip-phone once every two weeks or so. Granted, I never checked email on it, but I texted, made phone calls, and used the alarm at the same rate. 

The second biggest downside is the phone’s fragility. While I use and love and totally rely on the Otterbox Commuter Case, I hold my breath every time I drop this baby. Which I do. Because I’m often carrying real babies, or a load of laundry, or whatever, and the thing gets bumped off the table by the 4-year-old, or… well, a lot of things can happen. I still don’t take it running (although I know people who do and haven’t had any problems) and I would be very hesitant to use it in a lot of situations where it could easily be damaged. 

Finally, from an environmental standpoint, I worry about the phone’s life once I eventually part with it. Can the rare metals used to produce it be recycled? I feel guilty relying on such a gadget–I feel even guiltier that I got this phone while I already had a phone that worked perfectly well (albeit not in the country I currently live in). In addition to being something of a precious object itself, it also requires all that energy from frequent charging. Overall, it’s not something I’m really proud of. 

So, while I use it, I like it, and I am now taking full advantage of it, the iPhone is part of a lifestyle I’m not altogether proud of. I’m using up resources more than I’m making any or making good use of what I’ve got. This is always the flip side of technological breakthroughs. It’s exciting to be able to check email before I’ve even fully opened my eyes, but do my everyday luxuries justify the environmentally harmful mining that had to happen for these to be produced? 

My only consolation is that the cluster of gadgetry and alternative devices I would use to accomplish the same functions are also produced in ways that are harmful to the environment. By reducing so many functions into one physical object–semi-precious though it may be–I am at least consolidating my demands for physical objects. 

Two years ago, one of my best friends introduced me to applesauce in a plastic squeeze thing. Never before had I laid eyes on something quite so hideously wasteful. More packaging than product, the applesauce seemed hesitant to emerge from its Capri-Sun like package. The hard plastic screw top of the thing seemed like serious overkill, especially considering how little of the fruit was inside to begin with. Even toddlers would have a hard time not finishing the thing in one go, let alone hungry college students.

Then I moved to France and thought I would be in for a life sans… whatever these things were called. Little did I know I would soon become a compote-dispensing machine, handing the little devils out nearly every day at 4:00 for the kids’ afternoon goûter (snack, basically).

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The offending culprit.

This is the post-comsumption waste generated by one of these things, minus the cap, which was already in the trash can. They weigh nearly the same full or emptied. The biggest advantage to them is their extreme portability. They can be eaten sitting down, but more likely they are being hurled at children too busy to stop playing on a playground; the kid, if she has some hand-eye coordination can grab it out of midair, twist off the top, and suck away while doing one-handed gymnastics on the local equipment.

Or they can just be imbibed like mother’s milk to recently weaned toddlers, or whatever. They are the ultimate in “no mess” food because the little tunnel the compote comes out of is so small that the kids really have to get it shoved in their mouths to get anything out of there. I.e. there will be no mess anywhere, except the hulking pile of trash which you’ll probably have to run across the playground, stoop down, and pick up just so you can throw it into the nearest bin–already chock full of the things.

They’re ubiquitous and weird and I get it, because I’m awkwardly filling the role of parent sometimes and I realize how heavenly it is not to have to wipe children down after every bite of food happens near them, but I don’t get it, because why is this considered more food than plastic and aluminum? Why are not calling this a long-lasting materials compote with a little bit of fruit substance in there by chance? The wastefulness is incredible, especially since the packaging is actually so strong that it’s hard to suck every last bit out.

Good lord, has snack time really come to this? Let them eat cake!

What could it BEEEEE??

What could it BEEEEE??

A few days ago, I stumbled across these… things… while taking a walk in Lyon. One of the best things about living in an urban environment is stumbling across stuff like this all the time. It’s reassuring to find signs of human creativity and positive thinking, especially when you’re not looking for it!

But this isn’t some kind of art project (though there’s nothing wrong with that), these are beehives! And, coincidentally, I read something about them in some local newsletter that was sitting on the table today during lunch. This style beehive is springing up all over Lyon as one of many green efforts going on here. I need to do some more investigation (and some more neighborhood walking!), but I thought this project was worth bringing to attention.

(Source: http://www.neatorama.com/cdn/images/2010-07/nga-bee-beard.jpg – not sure where poster found image)

Beekeeping is becoming borderline trendy right now, and it’s a good thing. Maybe it was only a matter of time before bees became part of hipsterdom… after all, they have long been known for making excellent beards. But while it seems they are a well-predicted next hipster trend, and trendiness is often very short-lived, we really need bees around… forever, not just for now. 

I don’t know whether or not these bees were “planted” by hipsters, but this does seem like a good idea. For one thing, this particular spot is a super ugly patch of ground by what looks like an abandoned building (or at least one where one wall is falling down, which is not necessarily the same thing here–some of the bridges in this area date from Roman times)–you might as well put bees here. It’s not big enough for a (human) house or most other forms of animal husbandry, but bees fit nicely.

A better perspective on the hives.

A better perspective on the hives.

I’ve heard of similar programs in the UK and the US, but I really do not know if we have significant results yet from these hives. Most seem to be in the early stages so it would be unrealistic to have great statistics already. While it is absolutely vital to provide habitat for bees in the face of more and more colony collapse disorder, I wonder how much this will relate to bees pollinating major food supplies, which seems like one of the more critical areas to be concerned about in light of CCD.

At the same time, clearly more urban bees will only help urban farming efforts. While a lot of people have phobias about bees or bee swarms, bees are not actively going to try to hurt anybody (though of course they may react defensively). The biggest issue facing most of these urban beehive projects is probably funding and maintenance, not mean bees.

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Notice the little log near the base of this herb spiral in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo–just enough room for some bees! This nice little space isn’t a solution to every sustainability problem. However, it is a nice example of some thoughtful design to create and enhance interrelationships between mutually beneficial species–the herbs, the bees, and the people tending to all of this. Here are a few links to learn more:

  • URBANBEES – the organization responsible for this spot [in French, but English version available if you click on the “English version” link right under the title at the top-right of the page]
  • Urban Bees – UK version of a similar idea
  • Urban Bee Company – [US] they will come install urban bees for you
  • Urban Bee Network – Canada

Things Organized Neatly may be the Tumblr window to my soul. I’m crazy about it. I’m also crazy about — in the sense that I am neurotic about — things like drying racks, fridge organization, the best way to sort socks. Perhaps it’s in my genes. One of my earliest memories is sitting on a table with piles of daddy’s (mostly identical) gold-toe socks, matching pairs by–wait for it–wear pattern and fading. A few pairs had even helpfully had a loop of colorful thread sewn in at the top to facilitate even easier sorting.

Bones I found, organized (somewhat) neatly. A rejected submission to "Things Organized Neatly."

Bones I found, organized (somewhat) neatly. A rejected submission to “Things Organized Neatly.”

At various points in recent history, environmentalist has been synonymous with “dirty hippy,” and organization is not something that necessarily comes to mind when you think about environmentalists. I dropped out of a vegan co-op because I couldn’t stand all the food waste… due to fridge organization. Or rather, the lack thereof. The connection between organization and environmentalism is, for me, clear.

Many anti-environmental decisions in our individual lives (like driving somewhere when you could walk, or ripping off a paper towel to sop something up instead of using something reusable) are based on prioritizing convenience over conscientiousness. Making environmentally-friendlier choices more efficient can help make them into the “easy option.” Being organized can save time and money, too.

But how do you do “being organized”? Here, I’m going to indulge my neurotic side and give you the rundown on tips and tricks for drying rack and fridge optimization. Am I leaving something out? Comment with your own solutions!

Drying Rack

The Badoogi BDP-V12 Foldable Heavy Duty and Compact Storage Drying Rack System, Premium Size. Photo from Amazon.com

A lot of posters giving you “ten ways to save the world” or whatever tout using a drying rack instead of an electric dryer to dry clothes. While I wouldn’t go so far as to save the world, I will say that this is a good idea. Here are other side benefits just to get you really warmed up to the idea:

  • clothes tend to shrink/stretch less dramatically when dried en plein air, which means they fit better and last longer
  • if you don’t own a dryer, you can save a ton of quarters
  • even if you do own a dryer, you can prioritize its use and use the drying rack simultaneously (personally this saves me time, because it means I’m not waiting on a bunch of sequential loads)
  • if it’s really dry (which it might be, especially indoors in the winter), clothes may dry even faster than they would in the machine!

Okay, cool, we’re into it. Here are the drying rack organizational principles:

#1: Air flow is key

More important than air temperature is air flow. The more space between garments or bedding, the better. The drying rack pictured to the left is pretty extreme–usually drying racks are much smaller, so you have to be even smarter about space usage.

Jeans, sweaters, and towels are the three things that consistently take the most time to dry. So, I try to place them as far away from each other as possible, with quick-drying items in between. As these items dry, I can remove them, throw them in a laundry basket, and speed up the drying process of the ultra-heavy stuff even further.

#2: Location, location, location

I like to keep the laundry basket near the drying rack, and the drying rack in a room where I’ll be frequently throughout the day (without having it in the way, ideally). You can often find drying racks about the right size to go under a window; here in Lyon I even have one that hooks onto the radiator under the window (perfect!). 

At college, I would sometimes set up the drying rack in the kitchen sheerly out of desperation for space, but then I found myself folding towels or tee shirts in down time between taking things in and out of the oven and it actually seemed like a good idea. You’ve got to be considerate about housemates, but as long as they’re on board with it, hanging up stuff to dry or taking it off the rack can also be a great way to keep your hands busy while chatting about your days.

Ideally, the laundry basket can slip under the rack and be ready whenever something’s dry. The fewer things on the rack, the faster these things will dry, so if you think about it, it’s always good to give a little check and see if you can take something else down.

#3: Love it and leave it

Alternatively, if you’re not at home all the time looking for things to fiddle with, you can very simply lay out everything neatly on the drying rack and then leave it. In a few days, everything will be dry, you can fold it all up in one go and put the drying rack away while you’re at it. The point is, you’re using the drying rack.

When the pink sheet dries, towels will be moved to be further apart.

Current setup.

Fridge Organization

Poor fridge organization kills me. It inevitably leads to food waste, and it’s so damned expensive!

#1: Basics in place

Just because it’s a vegetable drawer doesn’t mean vegetables need to go there. But basics like butter, milk, eggs, bacon (or whatever your basics are) should go in the same place every time you buy them. This way, you know exactly how much you have, you can quickly judge when you’ll be out, and you don’t have to rummage around forever only to discover that no, you actually don’t have a second carton lurking somewhere and will just have to eat cereal dry this morning thankyouverymuch.

#2: Preservation is the name of the game

Milk spoils much more easily than butter; the door of the fridge changes temperature much more than, say, the middle shelf. It might be a good idea to put the milk on a shelf, and the butter on the door, eh?

The leftovers and odds and ends that will spoil the quickest are the things that should be basically the easiest to spot in your fridge. If you’re following #1 already, you have the locations of your basic supplies more or less memorized, and so you can save an eye-grabbing spot for leftovers you might otherwise easily forget and let spoil. For me, this is often the top shelf, right in the middle.

Reserve the shadowy corners of your fridge for condiments that can be forgotten for a while.

#3: Banish the darkness

… but saying that, it’s better not to forget about anything in your fridge, really.Try to keep the minimum supplies on hand, and keep it neat. If something does spoil or spill, clean it up as soon as you can. That kind of mess tends to spread, only leading to more death and destruction (of legumes). Don’t be afraid of a little empty space, although if you find your fridge is mostly air, you’ll want to place containers of water in the back of the fridge to help maintain a constant temperature (or just keep a pitcher of water in there and you’ll always have chilled water handy!).

In general, a little bit of forethought can make these mundane tasks go so much smoother than they would if approached haphazardly. Consciously thinking about daily tasks for a while can pay off–once you get into a pattern, you may find that this even gives you more time to think about more important matters!

>> What does your fridge say about you? Curious, photographer Stephanie de Rouge photographed households and their fridge interiors in revealing diptychs. 

The family I live with is in the process of getting ready to move. That should explain some of my current neurotic evaluation of material possessions (but yes, only some of it). While I’m the lucky one right now because I have only two suitcases’ worth of stuff to haul the (maybe) five miles to the new house, I am still thinking about ways I can streamline.

Something I won’t be leaving behind–anytime, anywhere–is my Moleskine 18-month monthly planner. For some reason, I cannot find these listed on the Moleskine website, or the Barnes & Noble website (I bought mine in a B&N, so you’d think…), or even Amazon. Or anywhere else, actually. Typically when I like something, it seems to get discontinued shortly thereafter… but I really hope that is not the case with this gem.

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A horrible and boring photo of a lovely and boring thing.

In short: I love the thing. For my current life, 18 months is the perfect length for a planner. It also means that I can buy a planner that starts in January for my next planner, when I have (hopefully) gotten a few things in my life sorted. It has a page for notes between each calendar spread, and there are several sections for information before and after the main calendar pages.

It seems excessive, but for my current lifestyle, all those extra pages come in handy–and carrying one notebook is much easier than toting several. However, because I put passwords and that sort of thing in here, I rarely do casual traveling with it. Still, it’s travel friendly–with a soft cover, it’s very light.

But this is me, so let’s get a bit more philosophical. Does one need a planner? In an age of smartphones (when I have one myself), do we need paper planners? Is it an eco-friendly choice to have such an object? Isn’t this just some kind of status symbol or weird totem of faux-intellectualism?

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a possibly disturbing look into my November weekend plans

I derive great pleasure from the aesthetically beautiful qualities of this item. For me, that alone almost makes it worthwhile. Almost. But I do have to take other considerations… into consideration. Buying it was a funny experience for me, because my typical method of purchasing planners is haphazard or nonexistent. I rely on post-it notes, blank notebooks, corners of pages. It usually works. But I knew that this year was going to be one with a lot of changes, travel, and logistically complex situations. I wanted one thing that could keep information about all those other things corralled safely.

The Moleskine answers that call beautifully. The monthly layout is also perfect for my daily needs. In addition to numerous long- and short-term deadlines, I have a personal code of markings that makes it easy to track certain things over the course of a month. One mark means I’ve written and scheduled a blog post for that day. Another symbol means I went on a run. I’ve just started using the blank square at the end of the week (pictured above) to make prioritized to-do lists of the major things that must be accomplished by the end of that week.

While I started out with a pretty free and easy schedule–and I’m still far from booked–I have taken on more social opportunities and more commitments, and I’ve increased my goals for my time here. The planner is starting to look like I have a life! It also makes it easy to keep information about the hours I work and the amount I’ve been paid in one place. While it’s one of the most extravagant planners I’ve ever bought, I’ve never experienced the frustration that I’m used to with planners. It answers all my desires and was only $22. If only boyfriends came like that…

Still, I haven’t addressed the enviro side of things. That’s sort of the elephant in the room, isn’t it? Here I am, getting orgasmic about a planner, yet theoretically I should be out hugging trees instead of chopping them down for Moleskine & co.

It helps that the product is made with acid-free paper and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Yet more importantly than that, I’m sitting amidst a small pile of paper-based products. I have a handful of paperback sketchbooks for drawing, note-taking, etc.; I have a notebook for french classes; I have a journal friends gave me right before I left (filled up now!), and a simple school cahier I bought here for a journal when the first one ran out. While I spend way too much time on my computer, writing things out by hand is also part of my life.

This isn’t necessarily an eco-friendly choice in the sense that, yes, I’m killing trees. A friend of mine wrote in a yearbook that my sketchbook habits alone would get me locked up for killing rainforests. He may have had a point. However, all of this written and drawn expression is part of what keeps me sane. I have yet to find any computer-based solutions to the hard-copy planner, and honestly, I don’t think it’s possible–one of the primary uses I have for the calendar is taking notes on information I want available once I’ve shut down my computer.

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Can you believe it’s already the middle of November? I can’t!

Beyond that, this is a well-designed object. Unlike planners I’ve had in the past, that I’ve bought and gradually stopped using before they were used up, this is a planner that has become more and more part of my lifestyle. Although I initially balked at the price, since I use the item every day, $22 doesn’t seem like a lot for 18 months of organizational assistance.

It’s also found additional use in my life as a table substitute. When I find myself trying to work off-line for a bit, I sometimes need a hard surface to write on. At my disposal, I only have a tiny card table that is covered in green felt. The Moleskine’s rigidity is just enough to provide a smooth work surface.

While I’m still not sure I can justify the purchase in the name of sustainability, I can say that by being an extremely well-designed item, it has helped encourage me to spend more money (per thing) on fewer, higher-quality items. This is a sustainable principle, but it was one that, for me, needed positive reinforcement to stick.

If you don’t need a planner (WHO ARE YOU???) or you already have one you like, don’t go out and buy this. But if you are in the market, you’re looking around, and you’re wondering if this is really worth the money–yes, yes it is.