Power plants (Day 174)…

August 21, 2007

potted plant

Part of being green means being in touch with nature, which isn’t always easy to do in the city. Living across from a huge park helps, as does being involved with community garden projects or tree planting initiatives. But there’s also something to be said for bringing the outside world in, which is why I’m going to get some plants.

Having indoor plants should also help clean the air a bit, and supposedly they help keep things cool in the summer months. Plus, I’m hoping they’ll serve as little reminders of why I’m making all these changes.

But here’s my sitch: I have absolutely no botanical knowledge whatsoever and could do with some advice as to which sort of plants I should get (and no, a marijuana plant is not an option). Also, I can’t stand spider plants or anything that needs to be hung from the ceiling. Bamboo is pretty trendy, but it’s too House & Home for me. It has to be a type that does well with minimal sunlight, and that my cat won’t eat.

Any suggestions?

Photo courtesy of JanneM on Flickr

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If the eco-friendly shoe fits (Day 167)…

August 14, 2007

ecosneaks

As the shoe company Simple puts it, “Just because a shoe is planet-friendly, doesn’t mean it has to look like a hippie clod-hopper.” They’ve got that right. Just look at these organic, vegan-approved, hemp-whatever fashion tragedies — the “sport style” looks like something you’d need to show proof of senior citizen status to wear (no offense to senior citizens, I know you need plenty of arch support).

Now, I know Birkenstocks made a big comeback and all when they started getting into silver and gold colour schemes and different patterns. And they do have this little press release about their environmental efforts and all, but they’re still kinda ugly, and besides, I’m committed as of last week to not buying anymore leather.

So when it comes to a new set of kicks, I’ll be looking to brands like Simple to help me out. As they say on their website, their new EcoSneaks line is manufactured using sustainable materials like recycled car tires, used plastic bottled, bamboo, jute and organic cotton. As well, they’ve cut down on the packaging, so you can feel less guilty about ordering online and having them shipped.


A card for the yard (Day 162)…

August 9, 2007

seed card

I was going to make today’s post about e-cards and how they’re a more environmentally sound alternative to regular greeting cards because no paper is involved. But to be honest, I just can’t do it. I can’t give someone a birthday or Christmas present without a card physically attached.

So instead, I’m just going to make them myself from scrap paper around the house or get one of these nifty cards that have wildflower seeds embedded into them, which you can plant in the garden. Although the one in the photo comes in a plastic sleeve, I’ve seen others that come without any packaging, and I think it’s a nice alternative — instead of sending the message that you’re too lazy and cheap to get a real card, it says that you put some extra thought into it and decided to do something that would give back to the earth rather than take from it.

The only downside to this is that most of these eco-cards don’t come with funny messages written on them, which means I’ll have to give my sense of humour a little pep talk. I think I might have to just steal some lines from the Selfish Kitty guys (my favourite is the “Bool Banch” one).

Photo of a plantable greeting card from this site


Greenhouse-sitting (Day 157)…

August 4, 2007

trinity

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


Revoking the smoking (Day 152)…

July 30, 2007

lucky strikes

Before you freak out, let me just clarify this: I’m not a smoker. I haven’t made over 150 environmentally friendly changes to my lifestyle while sucking back dozens of cancer sticks every day. There used to be an emergency pack in my freezer, but even that became unnecessary (and besides, I don’t even have a freezer now).

However, on occasion — and by that I mean a drunken, late-night, hedonistic, I-wish-I-was-Audrey-Hepburn sort of occasion — if someone offered me a smoke, I’d take it. Call it an oral fixation, a succumbing to peer pressure or what have you (personally, I think it just satisfies my need to fidget, with the bonus of a head rush); either way, it’s a nasty habit that doesn’t just pollute my lungs but pollutes the air, not to mention all the non-biodegradable butts that more often end up on the streets than in the garbage.

So as of today, no more smoking. This includes all forms of tobacco and, er, other substances too. And while I could get into recycled rolling papers and filter-less options, perhaps even look into carbon-offsetting it, I think it’s best to just swear off smoking anything for the next little while.

Photo inhaled from Shannon C. on Flickr


Some new goo for the loo (Day 151)…

July 29, 2007

toilet bowl cleaner

Not to get too graphic, but this whole let-it-mellow thing doesn’t exactly make for a pristine toilet bowl. So it wasn’t long before I finished up the last of my toxic, abrasive cleaner and had to go find a less cancer-causing alternative. I immediately turned to my new favourite eco-brand, Ecover, which makes a natural product that comes in one of those strategically angled bottles — and I’ll of course refill it if I can find toilet bowl cleaner in bulk. It smells of pine, which I’m not so into, and required slightly more scrubbing, but overall, I’m satisfied.


Getting my hands dirty (Day 149)…

July 27, 2007

treehands

I can sign all the petitions in the world, write letters to China every day and cover my bicycle in activist stickers, but I can’t really call myself a tree-hugger until I’ve literally hugged a tree — or at least planted one.

So I’m going to get my hands dirty and start volunteering with an organization like Evergreen, which specializes in community gardening initiatives and urban tree-planting. I’ve fired off an email to my local representative and hopefully will be digging up holes in the Don Valley and filling them with baby seedlings as soon as possible.

There are also groups like LEAF and Plant a Row/Grow a Row — I found out about this through a woman I Freecycled with — as well as the Toronto Environmental Volunteers, which I’ve applied to join too, so we’ll see what happens. Maybe by the end of this challenge my thumbs will finally have started to turn a little green.