I’m a fan of fans (Day 155)…

August 2, 2007


Today, in Toronto, it was 38 degrees, one of those days when it feels like you’re working up a sweat just by breathing. Without air-conditioning, it was pretty stifling in my apartment, and Sophie was none too pleased either — this was demonstrated by her shedding everywhere, then eating the clumps of fur later as though they’d turned into food, which meant she’d be coughing up hairballs everywhere. Then she decided to pee on the living room rug, poop on the bed and save a little extra where that came from for the doormat. Ah, the companionship of pets.

The thing is, Canadians are very reluctant to complain about hot weather because we spend so much of the year whining about the cold and snow. Indeed, if it were sunny and hot like this all year round, I really wouldn’t kick up much of a fuss. In the mean time, however, I need to find a way to beat the heat, and when I was in Madrid, I noticed most women carried around these beautiful paper fans. You could buy them on practically every street corner for just €2 (is that a Euro sign? Did I press the right key?), so I got one and brought it back home with me.

Now, I know it’s not made from recycled paper and it may or may not come from China, but there weren’t really many other options other than making my own, and I’m just not that crafty.

And while using a hand-held fan in itself isn’t much of a green change, the fact that I’m no longer going to use my electric fan is.

Photo courtesy of this artsy fartsy site

A new ritual for my cat’s victuals (Day 107)…

June 15, 2007


After the Menu Foods recall and various other pet-food scares, I started to worry about what my little Sophie was eating. Her pooping schedule has also been somewhat irregular (whose isn’t these days, really?), which means more “accidents” on the bathmat, bed and living room rug… never on the hard surfaces, of course. And her dander is getting worse, too.

I tried a couple different vet-recommended brands, some with more fibre than others, then tried an organic one that she refused to touch. I kept scanning the shelves at my local pet store, reading through ingredients lists for any sketchy animal by-products. Finally, I found one, Nutra MAX Cat in roasted chicken flavour (the free-range rule doesn’t apply here, I’m afraid), which is formulated for older, indoor cats and promises to improve digestion and curb dander. The package — which was paper, not plastic — boasted of all-natural ingredients, so I went ahead and got it.

Success! She wolfed it down. But then I went to the company’s website and started panicking when I saw they’d had to recall a couple of their wet cat foods because of the Menu Foods thing. They insist none of their dry foods contain anything to worry about (like, say, melamine), but still, it bothers me that ingredients get sourced to begin with from dodgy places like the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., when they could be obtained locally.

I’ll commit to feeding my kitty the most natural, safe and if possible organic food from now on, but if anyone has any suggestions for brands that don’t taste like crap — seriously, I think Sophie is part French because she’d sooner sit by her bowl and starve to death than eat an uninteresting meal — feel free to comment below. It’s hard, though. I mean, just look at all these brands the FDA lists that may be contaminated. Perhaps the only truly safe thing to do is make it myself.

Lobbying, petitioning, letter-writing (Day 79)…

May 18, 2007


If you go way back to the beginning of this blog and read my second post, you’ll see that one of my friends, upon hearing about this challenge, commented, “You know how you can REALLY help the environment? Start writing letters to China.” So, Craig, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

All right, maybe instead of China, I’ll start with Environment Minister John Baird. Or even easier: sign this online petition by the Save Our Climate blog, or this one asking Kraft to stop using genetically modified ingredients in their food, or this one to protect the Arctic Refuge.

Or I could even draft my own petition using the Auditor General’s handy guide (complete with flow charts, government jargon and, in case you’re really confused, this example of a typical petitioner: “A northerner who would like to be involved in consultations over harvesting of the forest resource north of 60°” — that is totally me).

Now I have to admit, I’m not much of an activist, at least physically speaking. The thought of draping a heavy, unflattering sandwich board over my shoulders, yelling the same sentence over and over, waving a big sign on which at least one word is spelled incorrectly and marching around Parliament Hill really doesn’t appeal to me. But then I can’t just do nothing and be cynical about it, either.

So my change today is to use the power of the pen — or more accurately keyboard — to voice my concerns. I’m going to make sure that at least once every week I write a letter to someone, sign a petition or join a campaign for a cause I believe in and make my voice heard, no matter how feeble it may be.