I first started using the word incongreenient when I moved to Tokyo in 2008. I wasn’t sure if it was actually a word but that didn’t bother me. It suited my purposes well. Tokyo was years ahead of New York in terms of recycling and the process left me weary. It was not unusual to see six different receptacles for sorting your garbage, hence the need for a word like incongreenient. When I returned home to New York in 2012 I moved to a town (Rye) that had banned plastic bags. I must admit to the huge eye roll and the reoccurrence of the usage of my trusty new word. I shook my head each time I would run into CVS to buy a small box of tampons and be given a huge (grocery sized) bag to put it in. This couldn’t possibly be a good thing. So now the back of my car has at all times an assortment of reusable bags that I have purchased at Whole Foods, Stop and Shop and Trader Joe’s. I don’t always remember them when running into the store which causes me to frequently buy a new bag or four. But the term incongreenient has taken on new meaning and might not even fit the bill anymore. A new study was done in 2011 in California and Arizona which tested reusable bags and found that 51% of them contained coliform bacteria. Here’s how it gets there. We shop, we don’t always separate meat from vegetables in our bags, we empty the bags without washing them and then we throw them back into our trunks where they sit and roast (depending upon where you live and the time of year) and voila! the bacteria grows ten fold. The study reports that we can eliminate this risk by 99.9% if we wash our bags! Excellent news. However it goes on to say that only 3% wash our bags. Immediately following the plastic bag ban in San Fransisco, the ecoli admissions at the area hospitals grew by 46%. Sometimes, when lawmakers pass laws with knee jerk reactions to appease their citizens we end up with unintended consequences. And by the way, those plastic bags that use too much oil to make and pollute our waterways and kill marine animals – they only represent .6% of our total litter problem. Now that is incongreenient.
So, its been almost 2 months to the day since I last wrote a blog entry. Not the best idea if you want people to follow you. But when I started the blog it was to write about musings on life in Japan by a 40 something American woman. Well, that’s not how I can describe myself anymore but life is all about change and change brings lots of things to write about so I’m not going to be stuck on my original terms. Like many of my friends, this past June I left Japan after several years and returned to my “home”. Well, sort of. We moved to a different house in a neighboring town and the girls started school somewhere they have never gone before. Hayden went off to college leaving our house severely uneven in terms of estrogen and testosterone (poor Tom) and things are just…different. I feel like I am playing house. Its similar to the feeling I had when I first got married and I was a new wife. Living in a small apartment in the middle of a large city forces you out into the streets and here in Rye, I feel tethered to my home. Everything revolves around your house in the suburbs. Cleaning it, decorating it, maintaining it, sweeping the leaves, tending the garden – its a lot of time and effort so I guess there is good reason we spend a lot of time here. I’m also finding it harder to be spontaneous. Things are more programmed here – time more allocated, kids more dependent. I feel I have lost some of myself moving back home. And not all my friends came home. Many of them are still living my life back in Japan and I get to watch it daily on fb. Not easy. But on the flipside – there are so many good things about being back in New York again: pillsbury ready pie crusts, credit card machines in nyc taxis, 900 television channels, backyards, garbage pails on every corner, restaurants that deliver, shoe stores with sizes bigger than 6, real bagels, New York Times home delivery and of course family and old friends. I’m determined to start some new projects and finish some old ones. It’s certainly not a bad thing to take stock of one’s life at 47 and decide what and who really make them happy. And then start making decisions based on that inventory. So regardless of whether you moved back from Japan recently or if you’ve lived in the same small town for decades – life is too short to do things that really don’t make you happy. It’s a huge cliche but when I moved back to Japan in August of 2008 I went with a carpe diem sort of attitude. And I intend to do the same here.