Dear Dot

Dear Dot is here to answer all your sustainable living questions from her perch on the porch. Got a question for Dot? Send her a note for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue.

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Dear Dot: Is It Time to Ditch Diamond Engagement Rings?

Dear Dot, My longtime partner and I are planning to get married. I don’t usually go for a lot of the conventional stuff but we have decided to give each other rings. I’ve heard some nasty...

Dear Dot: Compost or Recycle Paper and Cardboard?

Dear Dot, In my town, we have curbside paper/cardboard recycling, but we also have municipal composting that accepts paper/cardboard. Is it better to recycle paper or compost it? —Nikki Dear Nikki, When I first considered your question, I...

Dear Dot: Is parchment paper reusable?

Dear Dot, I’ve been doing a lot of pandemic baking. Can I reuse or recycle my parchment paper?  –Nancy, West Tisbury Dear Nancy,  As long as there’s no discoloration, feel free to reuse your parchment paper a few times....

Dear Dot: What do all those sustainability certifications mean?

Dear Dot,  I never know what to think about the sustainability certification labels on various products. Are they reliable?  –Michael Dear Dot, I recently bought a piece of FSC-certified furniture from Pottery Barn. That’s a win, yes? –Victoria Dear Michael and...

Dear Dot: Can I use food past its expiration date?

Dear Dot, How accurate are the best-before dates on packages? What can I do with non-compostable food, like meat and cheese and yogurt that have gone bad? –J.K. Dear J.K., Just last week I unearthed a block of blue...

Dear Dot: Are carbon offsets a flight of fancy?

Dear Dot After almost two years of staying put during COVID, I flew to California to see friends and family on JetBlue. The captain proudly announced that Jet Blue had a carbon offset program so that...

Dear Dot: What’s the greenest Christmas Tree?

Dear Dot, I know the old fake Christmas trees are awful, made of petroleum products and the souls of children. But what about the new fakes, made of recycled plastic bottles? They’re good, right? —Max, Vineyard Haven Dear...

Dear Dot: How should I clean my veggies?

Dear Dot, Do I need to purchase a special wash for fruits and vegetables, or is it enough to give them a good rinse with water?  Will Chilmark Dear Will, For many years, I made my own fruit and veggie...

Dear Dot: How do I get my household on the eco-bandwagon?

Dear Dot,  I am feeling hopeful. I've dispensed with plastic baggies to preserve food, and upped my game on recycling. I buy organic, and try to get out of the market without too much plastic, and...

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Slab City Reaches Its Boiling Point

An off-grid California desert community offers refuge for the overlooked, misunderstood, and disenfranchised. But with deadly heat more frequent, residents face increasing danger.

In West Virginia, It’s So Long King Coal, Hello Tourism

Can recreation replace the state's traditionally coal-powered economy? As I sit underground in a coal car in the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, Don Barrett tells...

GoGo Refill Reduces Packaging Waste

The South Portland, Maine retailer is part of the ‘refill revolution’ around the country Most people detour to Portland, Maine, for its multitude of craft...

Mountain Lions to Join the Daily Los Angeles Commute

Save the Cougars plans a bridge to genetic diversity. In just a few years, commuters may see mountain lions strolling over a 10-lane freeway in...

Banning Ranch Goes Wild

A former oil drilling site, Banning Ranch is nearing transformation into a nature preserve Once a full-scale oil drilling site, Banning Ranch, the largest remaining...