Green Recap: June

June 30, 2007

The first quarter of this year-long challenge was defined by a pervading sense of fear and anxiety about whether or not I could actually pull it off. As more and more people kept asking me things like, “How are you going to think of 365 things?”, “Have you planned this out?” and “Are you OK?”, I got more and more panicky.

Now that I’m a third of the way in, I’d say the fear has subsided and been replaced with weariness. It’s not that I feel secure about succeeding in this, because there is a serious chance I won’t, but there are so many days when the last thing I want to be doing is sitting in front of my computer wondering what my 124th green change will be. My mother tells me that I smell, my hair looks like crap and I’ll never get a boyfriend. I’m not really concerned because she’s already spent years trying to coax me out of ill-fitting jeans and into pretty dresses to no avail. But I have to admit, some of these changes are making me more stressed and irritable and the gaggle of zits on my forehead, which have somehow attained permanent-resident status, don’t help.

Interestingly, the no-fridge thing hasn’t been nearly as big a problem as I thought it would (although when I stopped by my parents’ house recently to raid their tool kit, I suddenly found myself raiding their fridge instead, gorging on their tub of cold, cold yogurt as my lactase enzyme danced with joy). It’s often the little things that bug me, like remembering to save used water for my plants, asking every cashier if they have to print out a receipt, and if they do, whether or not they can recycle it. Or there are the times when I do something stupid like refill my bottle of laundry detergent before a shopping trip with my sister, which in that case meant I had to carry it around with me into every store (on the bright side, it was a great conversation starter).

It’s these niggly things that are truly getting to me. Everyone was shocked to hear that I actually sold my car, but to be honest, I love being able to bike to work in the morning and get some sun and exercise, or take the subway and read my book, instead of sitting in traffic on the highway getting road rage and listening to inane talk radio. Even hand-washing my dishes has been an easy, relaxing experience.

This is what I’m realizing is important: We should all be taking baby steps towards greener living, but sometimes it’s the biggest things that are the easiest to give up. I’d rather toss out a few receipts and not have a car than recycle them all and drive everywhere; I’d rather drink an Australian shiraz and keep my fridge unplugged than restrict myself to Ontario plonk and have cold food. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. We’re brought up to place great value in things like cars, fridges and dishwashers, yet these really aren’t as necessary as they seem.

I’m late for my second meeting with Bruce in the lumber department at Home Depot (keep reading next week to see what that’s all about), so that’s it for the recap. I hope it wasn’t too depressing — I promise my mood will be a lighter shade of green once I’m on vacation!


An increase in creases (Day 122)…

June 30, 2007


There’s nothing I hate more than waking up and finding a new wrinkle — whether it’s one on my forehead or one in the shirt I planned to wear to work that morning.

But of course every time I iron my clothes, more electricity gets used, especially because I have no idea how to do it properly and end up taking forEVER to get the job done). Now, I’m not about to show up to a hot date or job interview in a pair of wrinkley, bunched-up pants, but I will be limiting how often I use my iron, as well as how high I crank it.

I’m hereby restricting its use to special occasions and/or crease-prone materials like linen. Furthermore, when I do use it, I’ll make sure to keep it on medium heat and try to get batches of stuff done at once rather than individually.

Image courtesy of WeeRobbie on Flickr

From record album to photo album (Day 121)…

June 29, 2007

photo album

After months of searching for an eco-friendly photo album and coming up with nothing but plastic-coated this and ugly papier-mâché that, I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled upon Re-cover, a company based out of Halifax, N.S., that takes old record albums — with the record still in the sleeve — and spirals them together with recycled paper to make photo albums and journals. Every one is unique; I chose the one above ’cause The Supremes are cool:

Re-cover also makes journals and notebooks made from similar materials, and all of them are geared towards different types of consumers, so whether you want a sexy address book or a cutesy photo album, chances are they’ll have it.

I’ve already started cutting and pasting all my 4 x 6 memories into my Supremes album, and they look great. While there’s authentic vinyl in the cover, there are no vinyl overlays, so I can write little notes around each picture. At $30, it’s a little pricey, but considering I’m not only helping the environment but adding to my record collection, I think it’s a steal.

Cereal killer (Day 120)…

June 28, 2007


One of my all-time favouritest foods is cereal. I start my day with it, then have some more after lunch as a snack, and I may even indulge in another bowl after dinner if I’m still hungry.

For most of my childhood, I remained loyal to Honey Nut Cheerios, but in my teenage years I developed a sweet tooth and quickly became addicted to Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes and Capitaine Crounche (if you’re Canadian, you’ll understand why I have to use its French name). During first year at university, I entered a monogamous relationship with Weetabix, but by the following year I was rebounding with Crispix, Honey Bunches of Oats and Special K.

Recently, I strayed from the cereal path with instant organic oatmeal because without a fridge it’s hard to keep milk, but after finding a soy substitute that lasts for a few days at room temperature, I’m back off the wagon and somewhere in between infatuated and obsessed with Kashi Go-Lean Crunch.

Needless to say, when a new cereal bar opened in Toronto, I shed a silent tear and felt like somebody finally understood me.

Sadly, though, cereal almost always comes in plastic bags and cardboard boxes, so after I finish my current stash, I’m going to restrict myself to whatever I can find in bulk bins (which for some reason almost always seems to be dusty mueslix or imitation Cornflakes).

I figure I can make things more interesting by adding coconut, walnuts, cinnamon, berries and other fun stuff, but if anyone has any ideas — or, better yet, a recipe for how to make homemade cereal taste like processed cereal — feel free to let me know!

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk on Flickr

A token of my eco-love (Day 119)…

June 27, 2007


Now that I’ve sold the car, I’ll be riding my bike as much as possible. However, Quentin (that’s his name) will only get me so far. Yesterday, for example, as I was cycling home from work through the ravine, an air tumor suddenly appeared in his front tire, growing and growing and finally exploding with a loud bang on a quiet residential street, forcing me to walk to the nearest streetcar stop and take the TTC the rest of the way home (using a $5 bill because that’s all I had in my wallet).

I realized then that I’d need to invest in a proper Metropass, or at least some tickets or tokens so I wouldn’t be constantly stressing out on the steps of the 501 about whether or not I had $2.75 in exact change.

Because I hope to repair Quentin as soon as possible, a Metropass might be a bit of a waste, financially. When it comes to the other options, at first it seems tickets would be the most environmentally sound, but they get thrown out after each use and probably aren’t printed on post-consumer recycled paper with soy-based ink (note to Adam Giambrone: feel free to look into this).

Tokens, on the other hand, get reused, and while I’m not exactly sure what the manufacturing process involves, I feel like something so teensie couldn’t possibly make such a big carbon footprint … but then I also like reassuring myself with sketchy logic like this, so there you go.

I think, then, that I’ll opt for the tokens, unless any public transit experts, subway-button-wearing TTC fanatics or Giambrone himself tells me otherwise in the comments below.

My dishes get a helping hand (Day 118)…

June 26, 2007


Another appliance bites the dust today, as I unplug — at least figuratively speaking, I’m not sure I can actually reach the socket — my dishwasher.

Now, I know there’s a lot of debate in the green blogosphere about whether dishwashers use more water than handwashing or less, but it sort of depends on the unit itself, how modern and efficient it is, whether or not you’re using the appropriate cycle and/or the air-dry function, the quantity of dishes getting cleaned, etc.

All I know is that my dishwasher sucked to begin with, and after I switched to Seventh Gen detergent, things got worse; I kept having to rinse everything beforehand, then soak the spoons afterwards to get all the persistent oatmeal residue off. On top of this, because I have so much stuff that needs to be cleaned by hand anyway, like my French press and champagne flutes, it would end up that there’d be a massive pile of dishes in the sink every night and only a couple stinky bowls in the dishwasher.

So I figure as long as I’m careful about how much water I use, keep it cold or lukewarm rather than hot, and rinse sparingly, it’ll be best to do my dishes with old-fashioned elbow grease.

Photo courtesy of Wenspics at Flickr

No more car! No more car! No more car! (Day 117)…

June 25, 2007


I did it. I sold the car.

It wasn’t an easy decision: A whole lot has happened in the seven years I’ve had my Bugaboo, and saying goodbye made me pretty misty-eyed. But it went to a good home — a nice girl from just outside the city, who found my listing on Facebook‘s marketplace.

We settled on a fair price, shook hands, and as she drove off (not quite into the sunset, but almost), I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’ve pumped up the tires on my bike, and I’m officially ready to move on to a more debt-free, carbon-free lifestyle.