That is sew green (Day 270)…

November 25, 2007

sewing machine

I really don’t know the first thing about sewing, but the further I go into this green challenge, the more I’m realizing its importance as a skill, not just a hobby. If I buy a coat from a vintage store and it’s missing a button, I need to know how to sew one on; if I cut up an old bed sheet to make some extra hankies, it helps if I can sew up the sides to prevent fraying; and if a sock starts to get a hole in the heel, I’d like to at least try to darn the thing before using it as a cleaning rag.

I already have a little mending kit and can thread a needle, as well as sew a fairly straight line in either a backstitch or a running stitch. I don’t know how to use a proper machine yet, but I think I’ll stick with whatever I can do by hand in the name of conserving electricity.

So, does anyone out there have any tips or advice? Any online guides that might help me learn the basics? And are buttons as complicated as they look, because I’ve got a few on my coat that are dangling by a thread (quite literally) and might drop off any second.

Photo courtesy of Julie K in Taiwan on Flickr

A refurbishing dervish (Day 269)…

November 24, 2007

old couch

Moving from a condo to a house, from living solo to living with others, means that one couch and a tiny IKEA table just isn’t going to cut it furniture-wise. But I don’t want to go out and buy all new stuff, so instead I plan on trawling Craigslist, antique stores and thrift shops for used pieces.

If they’re in good condition, it’s a bonus, but if not I can just whip out the tool kit (or find a nice handyman, preferably one who’s single and cute) to help refurbish them. Often, all it takes is a bit of sanding or recovering and suddenly a 40-year-old chair looks like new.

Image courtesy of Photo Matt

Not a mag lady anymore (Day 268)…

November 23, 2007

waiting room

I couldn’t help but notice in the comments section the other day, after I mentioned how the rubber band from my rolled-up newspaper might work as an emergency ponytail holder, a reader was in shock — SHOCK! — that I still got a “newsPAPER” every day.

Well, what can I say? I work at the National Post, the management gives me a complimentary subscription, and the online version kind of sucks (but is currently being relaunched, so who knows, maybe I’ll convert); plus, I truly love the tangible quality of flipping through a broadsheet every morning and getting ink on my fingers.

However, I do think that I’m receiving a few too many magazines at the moment. While I’ve already committed to not buying any junky tabloids and GreenDimes has cut back on my Victoria’s Secret catalogues, I’m still getting stuff like Fashion, Time and the Condé Nast Traveller.

These really aren’t essential. I do still want my deliveries of Plenty, E/The Environmental Magazine and Toronto Life, but that’ll do me just fine.

The problem is, once you’ve paid for a subscription, it seems silly to cancel it outright. So what I’m going to do is take the ones I get and donate them to a doctor’s office (I’m thinking my doctor’s office could definitely use a few mags that aren’t four-year-old copies of Macleans). Then, when the time comes to renew the subscription, I won’t.

Image courtesy of richpix on Flickr

Silver goes green (Day 267)…

November 22, 2007


In the midst of cleaning out all the junk under my bathroom counter (people at open houses can be pretty snoopy — I am, too, actually), I found lots of silver jewellery that had been sitting unused, getting tarnished and dusty. I still like all of it, though, and am not quite ready to give it away or toss it out, but it definitely needs a good polish.

Instead of using a solvent like Twinkle or Tarni-Shield, however, I’m going to go the green route and try boiling it in a pot of water with some baking soda and tin foil. I’m not quite sure how this works on a molecular level (Rhett, maybe you can explain for those of us with itty bitty left brains?), but the hippies seem to think it’s just as effective and far less toxic. At the very least it’ll be less abrasive than that Scourmaster up there.

Image courtesy of these highly polished folks

The chopstick bun (Day 266)…

November 21, 2007

chopstick hair

My hair isn’t quite long enough to do this anymore, but I used to be able to: as the girl in the above photo demonstrates with a Hello Kitty chopstick, you basically twist the hair up into a regular bun and hold in place with any stick-like object — a chopstick, a pen, a straw or a twig.

Providing you use a found object instead of buying something new, it’s a very eco-friendly way of keeping stray hair out of the way. It means no butterfly or alligator clips, barrettes, elastic bands, bobby pins, headbands, snap clips, or god forbid, the dreaded scrunchy (which almost made a comeback a couple years ago — scary!).

All these things are made of plastic or metal and come packaged in even more plastic, paper, glue and so on. So as of today, I’m not buying any more hair-related doodads, and if I’m in desperate need of an elastic, I’ll just use the rubber band that comes on my newspaper every morning.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Rudd on Flickr

Really, REALLY aggressive environmentalism…

November 20, 2007

OK, in my opinion, this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, but bear in mind that I also have very crass and offensive taste in humour and probably like Will Ferrell more than is healthy.

Here’s the link to the Green Team video at Funny or Die (thanks for pointing it out to me, Em!)

The best line: “Just because I’m an environmentalist, doesn’t mean I’m a sissy, motherf***er!”

Only 100 days left, and I’m in stitches (Day 265)…

November 20, 2007

knitted scarf

This is the very first scarf I ever made — a bright orange, mixed-up-texture thing done with a garter stitch on honkin’ big needles. My mom helped me buy the yarn at Romni, then taught me how to cast on, keep the tension consistent, fix any dropped stitches and finally cast off. I’ve made other scarves since, as well as a few not-quite-symmetrical mittens, but there’s something about that first one — it’ll hold a special place in my closet.

Knitting is of course a very environmentally friendly hobby. There’s barely any packaging with a ball of wool, no machinery is required other than what’s used to spool it, and there are fewer transportation and shipping costs associated with the final product. Now, you can even get bamboo yarn, which feels wonderfully soft, and organic fair-trade yarn.

As the weather here in Toronto starts dipping down to the freezing point, I’m realizing I need to stock up on winter gear. My change today, then, will be to knit as much stuff as I can rather than buy anything.

Oh, and P.S. — Today officially marks my 100-day countdown! Woohoo!