Going before I go (Day 300)…

December 25, 2007

airplane toilet

First off, Merry Christmas! Now, while some of you must have assumed I’d be writing an appropriately seasonal post today, if you really know me, you know that I actually prefer to be inappropriate as often as possible.

So thanks to reader Molly who pointed me in the direction of this Treehugger post, which explains the environmental advantages of peeing before you get on a plane:

The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10 kilometers. The motivation behind the airline’s restroom request is economic — China’s airlines flushed 3 billion yuan away in the first half of the year due to rising fuel costs — but the environmental cost of mile-high poop is also more than just a drop in the toilet … While the vacuum toilets used on airplanes are already pretty water-efficient, based on China Southern’s figures (1 L fuel/flush) and the altitude effect, the CO2 released by these toilets per flush is about 14.27 pounds. We knew in-flight bathrooms were dirty, but not this dirty.

Um, yeah, and that dirty factor is major — as a child, I had a serious phobia of airplane toilets. The loud noise of the flush, the freaky metallic bowl and blue liquid with that weird flappy thing at the bottom, and the big box of a seat all combined to give me the jitters, to the point where I almost peed my pants trying to hold it in until landing. Now I’m OK with using them, but when I go to New York in a few days, I’ll definitely be relieving myself beforehand so as to minimize the in-flight flushing.

Photo courtesy of Xian Ge on Flickr

Organic organization (Day 299)…

December 24, 2007


The other week, reader Sara delivered an urgent singing telegram to Thistle Headquarters. Actually it was just an email, but haven’t you always wanted to get an urgent telegram, or a singing telegram, or even better, an urgent singing telegram? ANYWAY, she mentioned how she’d recently done a little clean-up and came across all these binder clips she thought were lost. Sara was relieved she wouldn’t have to buy more of them, which in turn led her to realize how important cleanliness and organization is with regards to the green movement — knowing where stuff is means you’re less likely to forget about it; this in turn means you’re less likely to buy more of it, then find out some years down the road that, funnily enough, you’ve somehow accumulated seven staplers.

Besides this, a good clean-up session lets you discover clothes, kitchen gadgets, photos, tools and more that might otherwise have gone unused, which is just a waste of space. And if there’s something you realize has been collecting dust for a reason (like, say, that stupid Magic 8-Ball that always gives the wrong answer), it’s the perfect opportunity to Freecycle it.

Change #299, then, will be to start getting myself organized, room by room, cupboard by cupboard. I’ve already tackled the “random paperwork, extra sets of keys and knick-knack” drawer and most of my closet, but the goal will be to get every nook and cranny organized before I move out by the end of January. And it all starts today!

Or maybe tomorrow.

Photo of an obsessive-compulsive anal-retentive well-organized closet courtesy of these guys

Lipsticking it to a good cause (Day 298)…

December 23, 2007

lipstickMost of the times I just wear lip balm, but ’tis the season to dress up and look fancy, which means a bit of lipstick is in order. Although there are tons of brands to choose from, I want to make sure that whatever goes on my lips is as natural as possible — the last thing I need right now is lead poisoning, thank-you very much.

I’ve had my eyes on this PlantLove lipstick from Cargo for ages, mostly because it comes in a biodegradable tube, but due to my ban on corn, I held off.

Then, when I was in the Big Carrot yesterday, I found this amazing brand called PeaceKeeper Cause-metics — not only are their products safe and mineral-based, but they give ALL their profits after tax to women’s health advocacy and human rights issues (check out their Kiss Museum, too). I got the “Paint Me Loving” lipstick, and it looks fab.

Image courtesy of PeaceKeeper

Screw this! (Day 297)…

December 22, 2007


As many of you know, I’m about to move. This will surely entail some minor repairs, picture hanging and so on, for which I’ll need to borrow my dad’s toolkit (and most likely my dad, too).

But the house I’ll be living in has already been renovated up the wazoo (granite countertops! Stainless steel appliances! Fancy mouldings!), so there shouldn’t be much that needs fixing. And my own place, likewise, shouldn’t take much time to dismantle because I’m pretty minimalistic. So my plan is to only use electric tools when absolutely necessary.

In place of a battery-powered drill, I’m going to try and use my wrist power and a screwdriver. Instead of a mechanical saw, I’ll try a regular hand-held saw first. Same goes for sanding stuff, polishing things and so on.

I might end up working up more of a sweat, but in the end I bet it’ll feel more rewarding.

Photo courtesy of this website

Bookmark this post (Day 296)…

December 21, 2007


I’m sorry, that photo is way too profane, especially during this season of love, tenderness and all that is G-rated. But man, did it ever make me chuckle. And it’s relevant, see, because today’s post is about bookmarks.

I’m currently halfway through The Know-It-All, one of the most hysterical and educational books I’ve ever read (yes, those two adjectives can sometimes appear together in the same sentence). It’s got so many fun facts I want to remember (like for example, did you know René Descartes had a fetish for women with crossed eyes?), so I’ve been folding down the corners of pages I intend to go back to once I’m finished.

The only problem is, it gets confusing when I’m also folding down the page I’m currently on, which may — or may not — have something in it that I want to remember later.

OK, admittedly, I just made it sound way more confusing than it actually is, but I do prefer having a real bookmark. There are so many nice varieties out there, too: demure paperclip-style ones, old-school leather ones, dorky Garfield ones and, my personal favourite, these knitted strawberry ones!

But in my quest to stop buying so much crap, I’m going to only use found bookmarks from now on, that is, pieces of scrap paper like subway transfers, concert ticket stubs and postcards. Still, I’d like to get as creative as possible, so if anyone has any crazy origami patterns they want to pass on or some ideas for crocheting leftover scarf yarn, please do share below!

Photo courtesy of two rabbits on Flickr

Out with the TP, and the PT (Day 295)…

December 20, 2007

tea towel

For my very first change on Green as a Thistle, I switched to recycled paper towels (sniff, it was so long ago, yet it feels like yesterday!). But the more I use my E-cloths for household cleaning, my hankettes for nose-blowing and my sleeve for mouth-wiping, the less I need them.

At the time, I thought my decision to go with Cascades as opposed to, say, Bounty was very representative of my goals with this project: Making baby steps, adjusting the way I live instead of scrapping it entirely, giving up a mainstream brand but supporting a smaller brand (of course all that went out the window as soon as I unplugged my fridge).

Now, however, I’m now realizing that paper towels aren’t even remotely necessary, unless you’re wiping up something that’s so covered in bacteria it needs to be thrown out — but even then, a good squirt of soap should fix that. It might take a second or two more to rinse out a cloth rag or dish towel, but it’s really not that much of a time commitment.

So as of today, Change #1 is officially null and void — I will not only be giving up TP, but PT too. Now if only I could get a nice dish towel like the one above…

Picture courtesy of Emma Bridgewater

Lighter luggage, lighter footprint (Day 294)…

December 19, 2007


So I’m going to New York for a few days after Christmas — suggestions for things to do, places to see, food to eat and so on are more than welcome in the Comments section below. While a part of me wants to bring every pair of shoes I own, every cocktail dress and every shade of lipstick, I’ve resolved to pack it all into one piece of carry-on luggage.

Packing lightly, you see, is a very green thing to do: Every additional 10 pounds per traveler apparently requires an additional 350 million gallons of jet fuel per year (that’s enough to keep a 747 flying continuously for 10 years, just to give some perspective).

Going carry-on does have its problems — there are the liquid restrictions, of course, space restrictions and the annoyance of having to haul the case all around the airport. But it also means not having to wait for the bag at the other end, and there’s some peace of mind in knowing it won’t get lost (unless you happen to be the type who loses everything).

But most importantly, the less I bring with me, the less I’ll end up using and wearing, the less chance something will leak and spill all over my clothes, and the less laundry I’ll have to do when I get home.

Photo courtesy of Miha Miha on Flickr