Green Recap: December

December 31, 2007

Two more months. Just two more months. Then, I’ll finally be done.

Not that this is torturous or anything, don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy to continue on my newfound green path in life. But this whole coming-up-with-something-new-every-day thing is really getting to me.

I mean, yes, part of leaving the lightest footprint possible involves being creative, being disciplined and at times being extreme. But what I’ve realized now is that it also involves enjoying and appreciating life — and while I derive a lot of satisfaction from using tote bags, clearing out my closet and supporting local green businesses, I’m equally happy watching the latest episode of Dexter, which I can’t unless I go out and rent it because there’s no cable at my house anymore because television uses electricity (OK, and I was pretty broke at the time, too).

Perhaps a better example: I love that my bi-weekly CSA delivery forces me to cook with foods I’d normally never buy, like turnips, yams and cabbage. But you know what I’d also love? Roasting those vegetables. Which I can’t. Because I unplugged my oven.

Yes, yes, it’s all about being green in moderation, making positive changes without depriving oneself of all things fun in life. I know this, I do. But coming up with 365 ways to green my life ain’t easy, and it definitely involves giving up some of the fun stuff, like joy rides on my sister’s motorcycle, ice-cold martinis in the summer and avocados.

On a lighter note, though: A couple ideas this month have turned out to be surprisingly easy and fun. Drying my dishes in the top rack of my dishwasher and letting the water drip into my houseplants is working out perfectly. It’s a bit annoying having to walk around it when it’s open, but it means no tea towel getting soggy and smelly and less worrying about the last time I watered my succulents. And avoiding corn (unless it’s of the organic and edible variety) has been remarkably easy, but perhaps that’s because I’m naive and don’t quite realize when I’m consuming it. The only downside is, all yogurt seems to have corn starch in it, and making my own ketchup just seems like it would be a pain in the butt.

Less wonderful this month is the fact that my legs are getting hairier and my floors are getting dirtier. But then I guess that’s just part of the whole authentic hippie experience, right?

OK, I got about two hours sleep last night on account of New Year’s so I’m cutting it off here.


A ref-f-freshing f-f-face wash (Day 306)…

December 31, 2007

cold tap

Sometimes, I’m a little sneaky when it comes to this green challenge. I’ve already pledged to wash my clothes in cold water, turn down the temperature on my water heater and take lukewarm showers. But all this time, I’ve been quite content with the hypocrisy of then using warm or hot water to wash my hands before meals or my face before bed.

Finally, though, I’ve decided to take the cold plunge and start restricting myself to only the most frigid water when it comes to these ablutions — I won’t even go near the left-hand tap, I promise!

Because my hands are permanently cold, even in the summer, they shouldn’t mind too much. But there’s something icky about splashing icy water in my face at night. It’ll probably feel refreshing, but also wake me up, which is not what I want when I’m about to crawl in bed.

Oh, and to make up for my sneakiness, I’ll even throw in another cold water commitment: when it comes to washing dishes — you guessed it — I’ll be using 100% f-f-f-freezing H2O.

Photo courtesy of image monkey on Flickr (because a Google Image search for ‘cold water’ turned up a bunch of lousy clip-art and this bizarre photo)

I feel so used. But I like it! (Day 305)…

December 30, 2007

Pyrex bowls

Well, I’m back from New York, and of course it was fantastic — I walked from Chelsea to Greenwich to SoHo to the Lower East Side to NoHo to Union Square and back again; I laughed until I felt queasy at the Upright Citizens Brigade; I broke my no-corn rule and indulged in not one but four cupcakes from Magnolia and had one of the best meals of my life at Sushi Samba (where I also intercepted my friend’s attempt to order Chilean Sea Bass, thank god!); I fell in love with Brooklyn, but not so much with the Metro ride down there; I had two celebrity spottings — Kevin Spacey and Joshua Jackson — the former looking somewhat pallid, the latter looking mighty fine; and then, just before heading home, I met up with Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, for a late breakfast, which turned out to be only partially eco-friendly (in a flustered state, I ordered a bagel and cream cheese without first asking if the cream cheese was organic… though I felt somewhat less guilty upon noticing the sliced bananas on Colin’s oatmeal, which were obviously not so local).

It was great to meet my fellow green blogger; we chatted about everything from getting the eco blues to the lack of sustainable running shoes to how fridgeless living is remarkably easy. And weirdly, in the span of an hour, two people asked if we were brother and sister (apparently we look alike?).

But I’m getting off topic here — the change for today has nothing to do with New York, it has to do with things like Pyrex mixing bowls, tin coffee canisters and wood-handled ice cream scoopers. I got all of these recently for Christmas, from my mother and a family friend, who had them sitting around unused and thought I might want them.

I certainly did, being someone who likes to cook and loves all things retro, and it led to my new commitment: to only buy used kitchenware. Though part of me does get excited by modern inventions like the Magic Bullet (which my friend just bought), most kitchen tools and appliances have been around for ages and are just as effective.

As well, I feel like cooking with materials like glass and cast iron is much safer than using things like plastic and Teflon. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some yams and pepper squash from last week’s CSA delivery that are getting mighty squishy and need to be turned into soup pronto!

Photo of pink Pyrex bowls courtesy of the Flickr user with the cutest name ever: teensy muffins

Happy belated Boxing Day (Day 304)…

December 29, 2007

storage book

Remember the days when people were so intent on speeding and so desperate to evade the cops that they’d have one of those radar detecting thing-a-ma-bobs in the car, which was usually hid in some sort of nook, cranny or — my personal fave — a book with the centre cut out? (Now everyone just knows to slow down whenever a nondescript blue Ford Taurus is sitting by the side of the highway).

Well, either way, we all have boxes somewhere that contain something we don’t particularly want others to find: Cash, porn, drugs, a diary, that back-issue of O magazine that actually had some really meaningful things to say about relationships, or whatever.

Now, I don’t have that many illicit doodads that need storing, but the more boxes I have to put things in, the less clutter there is in my apartment, which I like. So when my mum gave me what I thought was a vintage collection of Shakespeare’s greatest works but was in fact a secret storage container, it was the perfect solution.

From a local company in B.C. called There Are Not Books, it’s essentially an old book that’s been recycled into an attractive hiding place. So whether it’s something like this or just a used shoe box, I’m going to try to not buy any new boxes, containers, bins or storage receptacles of any kind. Maybe I can even make one of those popsicle-stick pencil holders, too!

Image courtesy of Secret Storage Books

“Um, you’ve got some food on your face, there…” “Yeah, I know. I’m exfoliating” (Day 303)…

December 28, 2007

oatmeal mask

I’m trying really, really hard not to buy any beauty products or cosmetics that I can’t get in bulk and pour into a bottle or jar I already have. Unfortunately, despite all my efforts, stores like the Big Carrot, the Body Shop and even Grassroots just aren’t coming through on certain items — specifically, thick hand creams, body butters and exfoliating scrubs.

So I’ve decided to take the plunge and try making some of my own. I’m more than a little nervous, as the thought of slathering oatmeal, honey and other breakfast items on my face isn’t exactly thrilling, and while I love a little coconut oil in my smoothies every now and then, I’m not sure rubbing it into my hands every few hours is wise.

This is where you wonderful, hippie-tastic readers come in — if any of you have any recipes you’d like to share for keeping skin smooth, hydrated and, perhaps most importantly, zit-free, PLEASE do share in the comments below! I promise to try as many of them as I can and report back.

P.S. For those of you who get Alive magazine, check out page 66 for a two-page spread on Green as a Thistle! (I can’t find the article online, but it’s a pretty cool mag, so check it out anyway).

Image courtesy of the Body Shop (which, by the way, doesn’t refill it’s shampoo bottles anymore — lame!)

Highlighting a problem (Day 302)…

December 27, 2007


I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to reading. I like to own all the books I read instead of borrowing them (I know, I know, SO not green, but it’s an irrepressible OCD thing), preferably in hardcover. I also like to use proper bookmarks, highlight all the interesting things, then underline the most interesting parts of the highlighted things.

Admittedly, this is a procedure I did more often in university, when I’d have to read 1,800-page tomes like Clarissa and write essays, tests and so on, and now there’s far less motivation to be so organized.

But I do still like to keep track of the cool facts I stumble across in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and all the fabulously erudite exposition in my Nabokov collection. So I’ve decided that, in the name of being eco-friendly, I’m going to fold the corners and possibly underline stuff, but not use anymore highlighters (or rather Hi-Liters). This will save plastic and ink, not to mention all the stress of deciding which colour to get.

Photo courtesy of I’m godmother’s photostream on Flickr

Cranking my radio up a notch (Day 301)…

December 26, 2007

crank radio

This year for Christmas, the theme was all things green: My paren— er, sorry, Santa was kind enough to give me lots of second-hand kitchenware, bamboo socks, eco-friendly jewellery and fair-trade coffee, all of which was wrapped in newspaper or a reusable tote bag.

He also got me a crank-up radio from Etón, which rocks. After a couple fast-paced wind-ups, the rechargeable battery lasted for a good half hour, but I actually had more fun taking the battery right out so that it only played music when I turned the handle — it was a bit like musical chairs, just without the chairs. A little cacophonous, yes (my mother said, “It’s like when you buy a kid a toy, without thinking about the noise it’ll make all Christmas day”). But it makes doing the Robot Dance extra fun.

As well, it doesn’t require any electricity and it comes with adapters that charge cell phones and cameras, too. So as of today, I’m only going to listen to radio that’s powered by my forearms.

Oh, and P.S. I’m currently on my way to NYC, and will be away until the New Year, so please forgive the shorter posts!