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My Green Routine


Asking an environmentalist to keep a journal of a day’s worth of green steps is a little like asking a dieter to write down everything she eats; it’s bound to be a little embarrassing. The risk of “too much information” could easily lead to the conclusion that one is a little “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”

With the best of intentions and purity of purpose comes a whole lot of frustration. It’s impossible to live in today’s world with exacting standards. You recycle, but you’re still using too much plastic. You bring your own bags to the market, but you buy apples flown in from Chile. Life has gotten way too complicated and trying to live “greenest” can be daunting. My solution: Do the best you can and then try to do a little more. Even the smallest shift in consciousness almost always leads to a larger one. And that is ultimately where we all have to get to in order to start dealing with the enormous health and environmental problems we’re facing.

Each day, I try to go by the philosophy that it’s not about doing everything (perfect is the enemy of the good), it’s about everyone doing something! And yes, even some of us become a little more cuckoo than others. So, with that in mind…here goes!

6:30 am

Wake up; go to kitchen to turn on coffeemaker and realize I forgot to set it up last night. Grumble under breath while dumping coffee grinds into the compost bowl, put in organic coffee, press button.

6:35 am

Walk outside to get the New York Times and have my daily internal discussion—why can’t all those plastic bags covering all those newspapers all around the world be completely biodegradable? Note to self: Write letter to New York Times. Reuse bag later that day to scoop puppy poop.

7:45 am

Wake up kids; put out granola with sliced local, organic strawberries, hormone-free milk, toast and a jar of homemade Concord grape jam (my friend Monina and I made so much of this stuff, we desperately need your ideas for new uses for jam). Grab two tap water-filled stainless-steel bottles from the fridge and put one by each bowl so my kids remember to take them to school, along with their “no waste” lunch (cloth napkin, reusable containers, real silverware) made from yummy dinner leftovers. I wonder why the forks never seem to make it back? Who is hoarding my forks?

8:15 am

Drop my youngest daughter at school. Yell sweetly to a dad to stop idling in the carpool lane (make note to self to find a new carpool to join). Steer my old hybrid to the Santa Monica farmers’ market with a mission to find all of the in-season passion fruit being sold today. Love, love this amazing, high-in-vitamin-C fruit that grows like crazy here in California. I have two vines in my backyard, and I check the dangling green fruit every day for the first sign of “I’m ready, pick me!” purple. Today I hunt them down and load up! (Try them over cereal, ice cream, in your tap-water pitcher at dinner or all alone—they are perfect with just a spoon to scoop out the crunchy insides.)

9:30 am

Take a long walk with our new (slightly mad) puppy, Finley, that my daughter adopted from the pound. I had no idea dogs could have ADD and OCD! Look for passion fruit growing wild in the neighborhood (not kidding when I say my family can’t get enough)… bingo! Found a prolific vine only five blocks away! Purple fruit just lying on the ground, begging to be picked up. Look both ways for nosy neighbors. Use my handy canvas bag to lug them home. Finish workout at my large outdoor composter—five turns of that thing and my biceps are done for the day! Can’t stop Finley from barking nonstop at the composter; I wonder what she thinks it is.

10:15 am

Take a “shower.” No one in my family does it faster than I do, and we are a family of three sisters, four nieces, and nine kids. Once, I challenged Sheryl Crow to see who was quicker. If my memory serves me correctly, I won.

10:45 am

Finally get to my desk. Reload printer paper slot with old screenplays I saved (and completely confuse myself when I print out a speech).


Head to kitchen and rinse a few shower caps (you heard me right) that are waiting in the sink. In our household effort to reduce the amount of plastic wrap we use, we discovered the genius of shower caps! Yep, they are plastic (good luck trying to get plastic completely out of your life—trust me, it can’t be done!), but at least the caps are reusable and easy to slip onto almost any shape or size. And they come in happy pinks and polka dots. As a bonus, opening your fridge will give you warm, cozy flashbacks of your Grandma Minnie.

12:15 pm

Reheat (love the microwave for reheating, not so much for premade, processed “meals”) last night’s Chicken Schnitzel and Big Peas, Little Peas, from page 45 of The Family Dinner book. Did you see that Jaime Oliver segment from his TV show about what’s actually in all of those “chicken” nuggets we’ve been feeding our children? I want my money back! It’s so revolting, so we came up with a healthy alternative that my kids love, and yours will, too.

12:30 to 2:00 pm

Work on the computer in my home office (I am so lucky to be a work-at-home mom). Wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post about family dinners after divorce (keep doing them!). Took a break and went downstairs through my dark house. (I’m not kidding; I constantly turn lights off, even though it’s raining out and the house is dark and freezing. See? Cuckoo.)

2:15 pm

Went out back to our small veggie garden and reveled in the growth spurt from all the fall rain. Zucchinis are multiplying, lettuce and kale are exploding. Pick tons of lettuce and snails (they love my organic garden, too—no pesticides!). Will use some for dinner and give some to friends (my own private CSA). Grab a pinch of herbs and enjoy that happy warm feeling I get knowing I pick just what I need and no more. Also glad I didn’t have to buy expensive herbs from the store that are suffocated in plastic and Styrofoam. (Pet peeve: buying organic produce overpackaged within an inch of its life!)

3:00 pm

Pick up daughters at school. (Note to self: Find a carpool!) Pull into my spot and turn off the car. Idling is so yesterday.

3:20 pm

Have after-school tea and snack with my kids and hear the details of their day. Give them a little present—a new chemical-free deodorant I discovered. A little disappointed with the response; they weren’t quite as excited as I was. Check to see if forks came back from school with lunch box. Yes!

4:00 pm

Back to work. Pull out several phone chargers that I see were accidentally left plugged in. It’s staggering how many things need charging these days.

5:30 pm

Start dinner. Turn on music. Make Grains Greens and Cheese Please from The Family Dinner. I have turned Meatless Mondays into Meatless Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Place article about bullying from the New York Times on the table to discuss at dinner. Make salad. Rinse lettuce in a big bowl filled with water to avoid running tap water the whole time. After the lettuce is clean, take the big bowl of dirty water and the few swimming bugs outside and pour into my lavender plants by the kitchen door (lucky bugs). Take a quick look around for some fall leaves to put in bowl for centerpiece.

5:45 pm

Finally turn some lights on. Girls are complaining—something about living in a cave?

6:30 pm

Take the vase of drooping sunflowers by the front door and cut them shorter and put in a smaller vase to get a few extra days out of them. Pour a glass of wine.

7:15 pm

Shout, “D-I-N-N-E-R!”


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