Can I offset getting lost? (Day 337)…

January 31, 2008

road signs

Today, I move. It’s happening right now, folks, as you read. I’ve got a man who recycles bikes, a writer from, a random greenie, my Dad and a few other people helping me out — should be interesting. But in just a couple days, I’m leaving my pretty house in the hands of my friend and sister, and heading up to a cottage for about a month to write a book.

The owners have given me directions, which is nice of them, but when directions are more than three sentences long, I’m already lost. If the piece of paper says, “Turn right after the lights,” I’ll think of a million different ways to interpret that: Does that mean right after? Like that little alleyway right after the intersection? Or turn right, comma, after the lights? Or maybe the lights refer to the lights of this crosswalk here, not the traffic lights way up ahead? Or…” well, you get what I mean.

Often, I’ll try to be good and look up the route on MapQuest or Google Maps in advance, but because I don’t have a printer, I end up sketching it on a piece of scrap paper. Then usually I look at it later and see I’ve just drawn the railroad tracks and a parkette instead of the north and south highways — or even just North and South.

Point being: I get lost. But getting lost not only sucks for me (or the poor soul in the passenger seat), but for the environment.

All that driving around in circles means a lot of carbon being emitted, and for no reason. So to make sure I keep my polluting ways to a minimum for this trip, I’m going to make sure I have a good map in front of me and extra-super-detailed directions (and no, I’m not going to buy a new map — I’ll just steal one from my parents).

Photo courtesy of Johnny Blood on Flickr


Calling all Torontonians (with strong forearms)!

January 30, 2008

cargo bike

See this cargo bike? Wanna stick a houseplant, a muffin tin and my book collection from Atwood to Dostoevsky in the front basket, then ride it across some streetcar tracks and halfway up the next block? You do?

In that case, come on over for what might just be Toronto’s first green moving party — starting tomorrow at 10 a.m., and continuing through the afternoon, I’ll be gathering a bunch of people to help me go from a condo on Queen St. West to a house less than a block away.

We’ll be using cargo bikes, trolleys and sheer muscle power, no tape or styrofoam, and there’ll be fair-trade hot chocolate served in reusable mugs, green prizes and music!

If you wanna join in the fun, either comment below with your email and I’ll write back with all the details; or just show up on Queen St. W, between Niagara and Strachan, anytime between 10 a.m. and noon and you’ll most likely find us.

Enough stuff for fluff (Day 336)…

January 30, 2008

sweater stone

It’s so persistently cold these days that I’m basically just wearing the same three sweaters over and over again. Unfortunately, some of them are starting to look pretty sad. Aside from being all misshapen and lumpy, they’re accumulating lots of those annoying little pilly bits.

Well, devoted reader Anna-Maria was kind enough to forward me the link to this thing called a Sweater Stone, which removes fluff from your wool, cashmere, angora or whatever type sweater. (Actually, she said “jumper”, so I’m guessing she’s British — those folks across the pond always have way better names for things, like pudding, regardless of whether or not dessert is actually pudding, and Spotted Dick, a kind of pudding made from cake, custard and raisins. Whenever I go up to Whitburn to visit my dad’s parents, I always order “Spotted Dick, hold the spots.” But I digress.)

Anyway, it’s made from all-natural pumice stone and means there’s no need to take it to the drycleaners or bother with rolls of tape.

However, in my case, ordering one of these means a fair amount of carbon in terms of shipping, so I’m going to be extra eco-friendly here and simply pick off those pesky bits of fluff by hand or with my tweezers.

Croak if you love alternative energy (Day 335)…

January 29, 2008


Ever since Bullfrog Power landed in Toronto, I’ve been DYING to sign up. Living in a condo with standard monthly fees and shared energy bills meant it wasn’t an option, but as soon as I signed the deal on the house, I was like a kid sitting in front of my Christmas presents, waiting for mom and dad to wake up already so I could start tearing into them. All I could think about for weeks was the day I’d finally be able to pick up the phone, call Hydro to set up my account and then log onto so they could start putting some more wind turbines to good use.

That day, my friends, was today.

What I love about Bullfrog is that it’s not just about offsetting. As they explain here, users continue to draw power from the Ontario grid, but Bullfrog then injects that same amount of energy — in the form of wind power and low-impact water power — back into the system to compensate.

All of their generation facilities have met the environmental criteria of Environment Canada’s EcoLogo certification process, and they publish their green power audit on an annual basis so you can check up on them.

From what I’ve heard, most Bullfrog users don’t end up paying more than $5 or $10 extra per month for this service — but maybe my parents could chip in here, seeing as I made them switch over months ago!

From blogger to blogger…

January 29, 2008

Hey, just a quick question for all my fellow bloggers out there: Are you as obsessed as I am with that stats feature that lets you check out all the things people have searched for, which in turn has led them to your site? It’s hysterical! Sometimes there’s stuff that makes sense — search terms like “Green as a Thistle”, “organic shampoo” or “indoor composting” come up frequently — but the best are the ones that are totally random, the ones where Green as a Thistle must have been the 438th hit returned.

Take yesterday for instance, when a few lost souls apparently wound up here after searching for terms “apple eat hand”, “monkey clip art”, “redonkulous” (yes!) and finally, “Degrassi”. Hahaha.

A mean, green landlady (Day 334)…

January 28, 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m about to become a landlady — my new house is far too big for one measly little person, so I’ll be renting out the basement and sharing my kitchen with a new tenant.

But it can’t just be any tenant — I want to make sure to get an attractive, six-foot-tall, single, male, well-adjusted, funny and intelligent tenant with a kick-ass wine collection, solid but critical familiarity with pop culture and ironic yet kind-hearted sensibilities.

Kidding! Well, sort of. Actually, what’s most important is that I find someone who’s going to abide by all my green rules and appreciate all I’ve done to make this house eco-friendly. I don’t particularly want to shack up with a dread-locked hippie, because while I enjoy the occasional morsel of tofu I really don’t enjoy the smell of patchouli and B.O.

But I do want to live with a person who turns the tap off while brushing their teeth, who recycles anything and everything, who will agree to a couple CFL light bulbs and who will then make sure all those light bulbs are turned off whenever they leave the house.

I’m not really going to be a mean landlady, but I am going to be a green one — maybe I’ll even print up the contract on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy-based ink — and whoever lives under my (eventually solar panelled) roof is going to have to live by my rules.

A ridiculous story about a mattress (Day 333)…

January 27, 2008


The packing insanity, as you can see from the above photo of my so-called living room, has officially begun. In my quest to make this move as green as possible, I’ve been buying all my furniture used or antique. But recently, I decided to take another leap in this direction:

As I plan on renting out the basement of this house furnished, I need another mattress. Although most people balk at the thought of a used one, a looksee on Craigslist turned up lots of mattresses that had only been used a few times for guests and were purchased as recently as a month ago. Plus, while sleeping on something previously slept on may sound creepy, what’s also creepy is the off-gas that usually accompanies a new mattress. Yes, there are eco-friendly options, but I happen to be broke.

Anyway, I found something I liked on Craiglist and after a few phone calls had agreed to buy a mattress, boxspring and frame for $400. It couldn’t be delivered, so it wasn’t long before I found myself at a U-Haul office in the west end, booking a cargo van with a man named Fred. Making conversation, he asked what I needed the truck for, so I explained the situation and grumbled about having to go all the way to Richmond Hill.

Then he said, “You know, I actually have a queen-sized mattress and boxspring out back that I’m trying to sell — did you want to look at it?” Next thing I know, I’m lying on this mattress in a dark storage room with Fred, thinking it was not the most comfortable thing in the world but would save me having to U-Haul my ass out to the ‘burbs. Then I see he’s got this wicked 50s-era love seat (that’s it, in the pic above), so I ask him if that’s also for sale. He then tells me he’ll give me the mattress, boxspring, frame, love seat AND the whole truck rental for $120.

Best deal ever! Unless of course it has bed bugs or something, but I did as careful an inspection as I could and will be airing it out as much as possible.