Gurney's Inn
August 22, 2007

Kiss & Tell

Carbon Footprints In The Sand

The first time I ever heard the word "carbon footprint" was at a fundraiser for the Rainforest Foundation at Project Greenhouse this summer where I was lured not only by the good cause but the silent auction item of two tickets to sexy Brazilian designer Carlos Miele's show during fashion week. Although I am only a size 8 or maybe a 9 in a fancy European shoe, I was astounded when I took a quiz about my ecological life to receive the following message, "If everyone lived like you, we would need 5.8 planets."

Clearly this test wasn't designed for people in the Hamptons where the multiple choice question about your home's square footage maxed out at "2500 square feet or more" and your waste consumption compared to people in your neighborhood can rate a "much less" even though it's more than an African village.

But still, like my friend who, after watching An Inconvenient Truth for the third time made all her friends she'd driven walk home, I decided that changes needed to be made. The first step had to be recycling all the Chardonnay bottles which instead of tossing (always embarrassing with all that clanking) I have decided to make into boho-chic candles, and with their growing numbers will soon have no need for LIPA. I bought my reusable water bottle, which has a tricky top and completely soaked every item in my purse except my lip-gloss, which is non-biodegradably airtight.

My new prized purchase is a reusable cloth grocery bag, which actually looks fairly chic. I am still trying to get comfortable as some of the ladies in the aisle give me dirty looks because they believe when I tuck in the Tampax that I am shoplifting. I try to point to the "I am not a plastic bag" on the side, but I guess they don't know this is not only ecologically correct but a fashion statement. However, when it comes to the check out people, I am not a criminal but a hero. "We probably have to get to the point of charging people for plastic bags to encourage the shift," said the woman at Bob's Country Store in Bridgehampton.

I was feeling quite proud walking out with my not-a-plastic bag full of groceries and heading to my next stop, the farm stand, to buy local – an aid in reducing my carbon footprint to at least a size 7. But when I got out of my non-hybrid car I realized my cloth bag was full of groceries, and short of dumping them all on the back seat to reuse it I didn't have the proper bag for the fruits and vegetables. Well, I thought, maybe I can fit them in my purse.

OK, now I really did look like I was shoplifting which truly, I swear, I would not be so petty as to steal two tomatoes from a farm stand (something only a tampon shoplifter would do). But if I broke down to use a plastic bag then I'd be back up to size 7.5. Then I remembered my beach bag in the trunk, and it came to the rescue. As I crunched on sand in my salad that night I still felt vindicated although uncertain about whether I'd gotten my emissions down to needing just an extra two or three planets.

That's when I discovered you can earn credits. I could still run the blow dryer, air conditioner and curling iron at the same time (yes, the quiz did ask if you were male or female) if I planted a lovely blue spruce. And contributing to environmental causes also counts. Fabulous, the money I paid for the fashion week tickets all went to the Rainforest Foundation, and if I took the Jitney into the city that would fall under public transportation, right?

It is, I realize, a process, but at least now my carbon footprint in the sand won't spark rumors of Bigfoot hitting the Hamptons.

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Gurney's Inn