Getting my fruit flies drunk (Day 192)…

September 8, 2007

fruit flies

The compost bin on my balcony has, so far, been a success. My worms are still alive, so that’s a good start, and I’ve been pretty careful about balancing the pH of the soil, making sure there’s a good variety of greens, starches, coffee grounds, egg shells, wet newspaper and so on. I stir it around every now and then, too, just to make sure it’s getting enough air.

But the downside is that if any fruit goes in there whatsoever, I’m guaranteed a whole swarm of those itty-bitty flies will invade and eventually sneak into my apartment, too.

However, I can’t exactly whip out the bug spray, especially not if I want to keep my precious wormies alive and pooping. So instead, I’ve decided to kill off the fruit flies in a more natural way: alcohol poisoning.

I poured a little (seriously, just a little — no way am I about to waste more than a drop of wine, even if it is cheap Ontario plonk) into a cup, then stuck a bit of cling wrap on top, poked some holes in it and perched it above my compost bin. It’s only been a few hours so I can’t report yet on the effectiveness of this strategy, but either way, I hereby pledge to continue using the greenest way possible to kill the crap out of stupid bugs.

Photo courtesy of Suertudo on Flickr

Greenhouse-sitting (Day 157)…

August 4, 2007


When I decided to take a vacation, I knew I’d need a housesitter. But I didn’t want someone coming in, cranking the air-conditioning and running the dishwasher half empty — whoever took care of my place would also have to take care of the earth.

In the end, one of my green-hearted friends came to the rescue. I let him turn on the fridge, but he kept the thermostat off, made sure my worms had something to munch on and kept my balcony herbs watered — he even wrote to tell me that one of my organic cherry tomatoes had turned red! Everything was recycled properly and he made sure to use my natural cleaning products; I couldn’t have asked for a better sitter.

Now that I’m on the second half of my vacation, I’ve got a different guy looking after things, but he’s just as willing to step into my hippie shoes and keep things eco-friendly.

It might take a bit more searching and some extra-convincing rhetoric, but from now on I’m making sure all my housesitters pass the green test.

Photo of my building courtesy of this website

The pick of the litter liners (Day 150)…

July 28, 2007

I spent forever trying to find eco-friendly cat litter tray liners, perhaps ones made from corn that would eventually break down in my new compost bin (seeing as I’m already using a corn-based product in there), and came up totally empty-handed.

But because I’m desperate, I’m still going to lay claim to at least choosing what I think is the greenest option when it comes to this product.

Of all the brands on the shelf, I looked at the packaging involved, the quantity of liners per box and where they were manufactured, and eventually decided on Van Ness (OK, I may have also chosen it based on the similarity to my name).

They are made of plastic, but they’re simple (I didn’t choose the draw-string one) and come in a recyclable cardboard box, and that’s good enough for now. Next time, however, I may just choose to go without a liner altogether, because I truly don’t think anything could possibly be a bigger waste of time than shopping for cat litter tray liners.

BioBag, you’re it (Day 148)…

July 26, 2007


Ever since I got that little nylon tote bag that fits in my purse, I haven’t needed a single plastic bag. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t using them — I had a bunch stored up from previous shopping trips, which I was keeping under my sink and gradually using up for various things, such as a liner for my bathroom garbage bin.

Well, I finally ran out of them (which goes to show how many I’d amassed). I wanted to get some sort of small waste bag of a similar size that wasn’t made from plastic, so I went for the BioBags. Made mostly out of corn starch, it can be recycled but also biodegrades in 10 to 45 days.

Hopefully, this will be the official end of any and all plastic bags in my life.

A toast to compost (Day 124)…

July 2, 2007

Here in the 416, people who live in houses get green bins. It’s a great program — you put all your food waste, paper towels and other biodegradable stuff into a small container in your kitchen; then when it gets full, you empty that out into the bigger, stinkier green bin outside; then the city picks it up each week and takes it to a composting facility.

Hoorah! Except for one problem: if you live in an apartment, you don’t get a green bin, because city councilors haven’t quite figured out what to do with an entire Trump tower‘s worth of rotting bananas.

Yet. Apparently, they’re on it, and according to my inside source a plan has been drafted along with a pilot project. But even still, the green bins won’t be rolled out to apartments for at least another year. So in the mean time, I thought I’d just go ahead and build my own.

Originally, I was just going to buy a standard composting unit, but after scouring the entire city and finding only industrial-sized plastic monstrosities, usually costing around $100, I accepted the fact that I’d have to do it myself. However, as endless hours of television have taught me, while I may be able to do it, Home Depot sure can help.

And so it was that I found myself dazed and confused, wandering the aisles of the lumber department in a skirt and kitten heels until I was finally approached by a man in an orange apron. His name was Bruce. I explained what I was looking for — and indeed, felt right out of the ads with my hand gestures and a wonky drawing of a box-like shape on my hand — until he squinted, twisted his mouth a bit and suggested I come back at a less busy time so he could really help me.

I did, and eventually he cut all the plywood (from scraps so I wasn’t chopping down more trees) and put everything I needed in a cart. The bin would have to fit on my balcony, and while I knew nothing about composting, I was pretty sure there needed to be ventilation. So we designed a structure with a mesh chicken-wire basket on the inside and a pull-out drawer on the bottom (I know, fancy stuff, eh?). He threw in some hinges and handles, some wheels to roll it outside, and I crammed it all into the trunk of my Zipcar before driving back home.

Staring at the pile of wood, varnish, tools and mesh splayed out across my living room floor made me think one thing, and one thing only:

“What have I done?”

I immediately made myself a room-temperature gin and tonic, called a friend who called himself a closet handyman, and begged him to come over. We had nothing to go from other than Bruce’s little sketch on the back of an order form and liquid confidence, but somehow, with the Do-It-Yourself gods looking down on us, we assembled what at first looked like a box, then like a more functional sort of box, and eventually like a box that might just be used for composting (see the photo montage below).

I’d saved some food waste and newspaper scrap from the past couple days, so I poured it in along with some special compost soil. Now I just have to get some worms and see what happens!