Delivery miseries (Day 86)…

May 25, 2007


I don’t care if it’s delivery or Delissio, I’m having none of it!

Well, obviously there won’t be any Delissio because I’ve unplugged my freezer, but as of today I’m saying no to all delivered food — unless it happens to be packaged entirely in recyclable or biodegradable containers, and arrives either by bicycle or Sherpa.

In most other countries, delivery men (and, OK, the occasional delivery woman) do use bikes and scooters to get around, and usually pile as much as they can onto the back in order to make fewer trips. But here, food is almost always delivered in a car and, unless it’s pizza, comes in styrofoam or foil containers with bags of plastic cutlery, napkins and way too many of those squidgy packets of ketchup, mustard and vinegar.

As I think I’ve said before, I’ve never been an active member of the fast food nation; my weakness when it comes to delivery is the quarter-chicken dinner from Swiss Chalet with that special, special sauce (seriously, is there MDMA in that stuff?), which I order online — all my deets are programmed into the system for maximum efficiency, too. However, since I stopped eating any meat unless it’s certified organic and free-range, that’s been ruled out anyway.

Naturally, this rule only applies to food, as I still need to be able to accept other deliveries, like mail. And presents. Lots of presents.

Photo delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free from here

The zit remedy (Day 85)…

May 24, 2007


I realize that headline caters strictly to fans of Degrassi, but I couldn’t resist. At least the cartoon above, courtesy of the snortingly hilarious Natalie Dee caters to pretty much everyone, unless you’re some perfect, zit-free being, in which case I want nothing to do with you. Just go. Go!

Yes, the sad reality of life is that acne is much like that weird guy from accounting with the stain-resistant khakis who’s always the last one to leave the party: You can’t help but sigh and roll your eyes when it shows up, and when it’s still lingering by the empty keg at 2 a.m. you just want to squeeze his head until it pops.

Even if I clean my face regularly, eat tons of healthy crap and try super hard to be stress-free, I still get zits, usually at the most inconvenient times and even more inconvenient places (my personal favourite is right between the eyes).

Treatment up until now has consisted of trying to mentally will it back into submission and Oxy, but both have led to disappointing results. In fact, sometimes I think this stuff actually makes the zits bigger. Then, I checked the expiry date on the bottle, which might explain things: it was March, 2003 (what can I say, it lasts forever; it could probably even withstand a nuclear bomb).

I had to throw it out, not really because it was expired but because it was completely ineffective. Of course, zits are ineffective too, but they don’t seem to be getting ready to leave any time soon. So I went looking for an alternative. I’m slowly getting better at remembering that the words “natural” and “organic” don’t necessarily mean the product is toxin-free, and I’d already put a couple things back on the shelf after seeing all the parabens and stuff I couldn’t pronounce in the ingredients list.

Then I came across Dr. Burt’s Herbal Blemish Stick, which admits to being only 99% natural — I’ll forgive that one percent of evil — and contains safe stuff like willow bark, juniper, calendula and tea tree oil. It stings a little, which I like, and while it doesn’t zap the suckers into oblivion, it does seem to work better than the Oxy. I also like that it comes in a glass container rather than plastic.

Green giving (Day 84)…

May 23, 2007

There’s nothing more heart-warming than a truly thoughtful gift, whether you’re giving or receiving it. My friend Meghan is good at this: for my birthday, she gave me something that not only reflected what’s important to me but what’s important to her, too: a stylish tote bag full of homemade, nutritious goodies, all stored in reusable mason jars, wrapped in some funky crinoline she found in her apartment, leftover from a bridesmaid’s dress. It satisfied both the eco-nerd in me and the health-geek in her, all while being stylish (Meg does have a degree, and a gold medal, in fashion after all, but that’s a whole other story).

So my next challenge is to make sure I always incorporate some “green” element into my gift-giving, whether it’s a tote bag, some cake from a local farmers market or contributing to a good cause on their behalf. When I first started this blog, one Thistle reader (was it you, Shawn? I can’t remember!) said he always hands out CFL light bulbs in place of loot bags at parties, which is another great idea.

But the key is to make sure that the gift is still something my friend or family member wants, as opposed to something I feel they should want. Because while I, personally, would love to get a solar-powered battery charger or the latest in composting technology, not everyone is so into that. My first green gift was to my mum recently: I copied Meghan and went for the tote bag, but got one with a nice artsy photo of my sister and me screened onto it rather than one with a slogan like “I’m not a plastic bag” on it, because that’s just not her, as well as some body wash.

Anyone got any other green gift ideas? Remember that I’m not using my oven or fridge anymore, though, so homemade cookies are unfortunately not an option.

A needle in a hayfever stack (Day 83)…

May 22, 2007


Ironically, despite my newfound love for green, I also happen to be allergic to most of it: slightly to grass, pollen and a few trees, but especially to the plant seen above, the one with the ugliest name, ragweed.

Those who have allergies will be familiar with that pin prick test doctors do on your arm to determine sensitivities to everything from foods like soy and eggs to environmental things like mould and dust, and even animals like cats and dogs (they’ve somehow bottled cat and dog in liquid form and use an eyedropper to dispense them, which never ceases to creep me out).

The idea is that if more than a few millimetres of redness appears around where they prick your skin, you’re allergic to that substance.

Well, when they tested me for ragweed, my entire arm turned into one big, swollen rash. This means, not surprisingly, that come mid-August I either need to take five over-the-counter anti-histamines, like Reactine or Claritin, each day; or two to three prescription-strength pills; or … drumroll, please … Pollinex shots.

I think the most environmentally friendly option is the latter, as it creates the least amount of packaging and waste. It also is said to be the most effective, which means I shouldn’t need to buy any extra Visine or nasal sprays, and it leaves me all the more time to romp around the great outdoors and hug trees.

MP3’s not a crowd (Day 82)…

May 21, 2007

I didn’t exactly grow up in the vinyl era but I was around for the cassette (in fact, somewhere in my closet is a dusty stack of mix tapes made for me circa ’95), and I most definitely have a fair-sized CD collection.

Now, I’m far from being a Luddite: I have one of those cell phones with a camera, I’ve downloaded stuff from an ftp site and, heck, I maintain this here web log. Years ago, I made the switch with everyone else over to mp3s with the help of a not-so-legal (at the time) service called Napster and eventually transfered all my music to my playlist and onto my iPod.

But I still buy CDs. I’m not sure why — the whole thing about better sound quality doesn’t make much sense to me, it’s nothing to do with supporting the artist because I can do that by paying on iTunes, and I can’t say it’s for the liner notes without wanting to punch myself in the face. I think it’s something about the tangible, sensory appeal of cracking open the case, popping the disc out and hearing that first spin before the music starts.

CDs, however, require more production, packaging and shipping than downloading music in its electronic form, plus it means committing to the whole album rather than buying individual songs. So from now on, with apologies to my local music store, I’m opting for mp3s instead. Thanks to Matt S. for the suggestion!

Fall of the Amazon Woman (Day 81)…

May 20, 2007


I love Amazon. I love being tricked by technology into thinking I’m special with their cutesy greeting: “Welcome back, Vanessa! We have recommendations for you.” I love that I can get books here for almost half the cover price, and I love seeing just how little I can spend over the $39 mark to qualify for FREE Super Saver Shipping. I love pre-ordering stuff, which makes me feel like I’m ahead of all the other literary plebes, and I love ripping open my package when it comes in the mail. So, Amazon marketing team, mission accomplished — pat yourselves on the back. Hard. I’ve succumbed to all of it.

Until now! Obviously, buying books online like this creates pollution from shipping trucks and/or planes, not to mention the packaging and paper required to make the books in the first place. So I’m logging off all online bookstores for the next 283 days.

I’m also abstaining from purchasing anything from the big chain bookstores, and while I will try not to buy as many books — because there are tons on my shelf I still haven’t read yet — I believe in supporting local, independent stores. So if I desperately need the latest Atwood, Franzen or Pollan, I’ll walk next-door to Type or down the street to Pages.

No steaks on a plane (Day 80)…

May 19, 2007

Recently, I confessed to booking a somewhat elaborate summer vacation that requires a fair amount of air travel (which I’ve at least offset with TerraPass). On the plus side, I made sure to take one big chunk of time off work, so for the most part the flights will be short-haul; on the down side, due to scheduling conflicts, it also means taking a lot of connecting flights (and by “a lot” I mean … um… *cough* nine).

As I’ve already committed to eating meat sparingly — and, when I do, it has to be free-range, organic and/or grass-fed — this means I’d have to pick apart all my in-flight meals, being careful not to get genetically modified pork residue on the peas.

But the reality is, whether or not I eat the meat on my plate (or rather plastic tray), it doesn’t make a difference by that point; the demand for it is created as soon as I book my ticket.

Fortunately, this greenie plans ahead. I requested that all my in-flight meals be vegetarian or nothing at all. Most airlines these days are very accommodating — besides having veg options, they usually offer kosher, low-cholesterol, gluten-free and even bland/ulcer meals.

Unfortunately, I can’t request that they leave out the plastic cutlery set or make sure that both the coffee and any chocolate in the dessert is fair-trade. But if the cutlery comes separately, I’ll pass it back (then again, if I can’t get my portable chopsticks past security, this could be a problem).