A Letter from Founder Victoria Riskin
July 2019. 10:30 am. A beautiful weekday morning.
It was vacation, and everyone felt entitled to sleep in. I had started a pancake breakfast when our niece Nora came in to help. Her kids — Wiley, 10, and Simone, 14 — would need something hearty for another perfect Vineyard day of hiking, kayaking, and swimming, before a barbecue dinner.
“Can you recycle paper towels?” I asked Nora, soggy paper towel in hand. Recycling can’t be this hard, I thought.
“No,” she said. “And by the way, you can only recycle No. 1 and No. 2 plastic, at least where we live. I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
Nora and Walt had been raising the kids on five wooded acres on Bainbridge Island, across the water from Seattle, with a yard full of chickens, goats, and a horse. They had been living a sustainable life for years, and she’d know if anyone would.
For some time, faced with incontrovertible evidence of climate change — in California with its wildfires, the flooding around the country, the Vineyard with its hurricanes and rising sea levels — I’d been determined to live more responsibly. Do my part. Sort trash, reduce plastic, start a vegetable garden, eliminate beef from my diet, drive an electric car. The challenges felt daunting.
I missed the reassuring spirit of Erma Bombeck, the humorist who was so practical and wise: Don’t try to be perfect. Have a sense of humor. “When humor goes,” she said, “there goes civilization.”
But Erma was gone, and here I was in my kitchen, defeated by a soggy paper towel. Who was I to think I could make a difference?
Then, almost miraculously, I found inspiration from the Martha’s Vineyard middle school kids who successfully campaigned to ban single-use plastic in West Tisbury and Chilmark. I watched the video of them at the West Tisbury town meeting, their earnest faces, their intelligent and carefully researched remarks, persuading the adults in the room to vote yes. Unanimously. I cried.
If they can make a difference, so can I.
I’ve taken dozens of small steps in the days since — I opted for sustainable clothing, makeup, and non-toxic cleaning supplies. I’m avoiding plastic (not easy), beef, and packaged foods; have acquired a countertop electric composter, and am buying less and feeling more confident by the day. Nora tells me she’s proud of me.
I’ve learned so much about what’s going on on the Island and elsewhere that I created Bluedot Living: At Home on Earth to feature and support the many people on Martha’s Vineyard working on climate issues. We will host Bluedot Roundtables — public events with the sharpest minds and innovators to help us solve these problems together. (Stay tuned!)
My partners in this venture are Peter and Barbara Oberfest, who own The Martha’s Vineyard Times, and Jamie Kageleiry, The Times’ associate publisher.
This is our first quarterly issue — well, three this year, four next year.
P.S. No, you really can’t recycle normal paper towels. You can compost them, or use reusable paper towels — yes, they exist — or even better, try Swedish sponges. One lesson we’ve learned already: Whatever the Swedes do, they usually do it perfectly.
–Victoria Riskin, founder, Bluedot, LLC
A Letter from Editors Leslie Garrett and Jamie Kageleiry
From the Editors:
You might be wondering why people publishing a magazine dedicated to sustainability decided to produce a print edition. We talked a lot about whether we should. In the end, as lovers of print, we opted to hew to sustainable principles and make it as green a process as we could. What you hold in your hands was printed on recycled paper (helping ensure a market for recycled materials) and with soy ink, which is not only benign but makes the paper more easily recycled. We’re also hoping this issue is so useful that you hang on to it and don’t need to recycle it.
We’d like to thank the advertisers who supported this inaugural issue. A big thanks also to South Mountain Co. for funding for our incredible intern Kyra Steck.
We would love for you, our readers, to be part of the conversation. Write us a letter, share your favorite sustainability tips (see ours on the masthead), who you think should be our next Local Hero, and about any other stories or resources you’d like others to know about.
In our next issue (out July 23), we’ll feature Farley Pedler’s passive solar house, introduce the M.V. Atlas of Life, and entice you to join a brigade of citizen scientists. Leslie Garrett will consider carbon, Mollie Doyle will tackle her closet, and Geoff Currier will cruise with Laurie David.
Until then, happy trails.
– Leslie Garrett, Jamie Kageleiry, editors