Pleather before leather (Day 156)…

August 3, 2007


Alina raised an interesting question on her blog the other day: Where is the organic leather? There’s so much talk of beef that’s organic, grass-fed and hormone-free, but where do our belts, shoes and handbags come from? I remember, not so long ago, Roots began selling these Stop Global Warming bracelets (above) that were made from leather scraps swept off their cutting room floor, and as Alina mentioned there’s this online store, too, but there really aren’t many companies out there making any sort of eco claim to their leather goods.

So because, in this challenge, I’m trying to create a demand only for ethically raised cows, I’m going to stop buying leather from now on unless I know it came from a happy animal on a good farm — and I’m guessing this will never happen. I’ll buy leather products if they’re used, however, and will continue to wear the purses and shoes I already have — mostly, in the latter case, because like my fellow closet environmentalist, my feet don’t smell so pretty after a long summer day in synthetic material.

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

Jet-skis and joy rides (Day 143)…

July 21, 2007

emma bike

When I was in university, I seldom had access to a car. So one day, when my boyfriend at the time had rented one and still had another few hours to return it, we decided to make like the ’50s and go for a drive.

It wasn’t long, however, before we realized that unless the purpose is to go from Point A to Point B, just driving kind of sucks. After five minutes, the guilt over how much we were polluting the air just to look out the window at some trees and houses whizzing by took over and we turned back.

And rightly so. The whole idea of engaging in a recreational activity that causes damage to the earth is just ridiculous. My dad, who sails, has always loathed jet-skis and motor boats — while he mostly can’t stand the noise they make, I think the carbon cost is just as infuriating.

So from now on, the only time I’ll use a vehicle — plane, train, automobile or watercraft — is for the strict purpose of transportation. Even if my sister Emma, who just got a new BMW motorbike (that’s her above), tries to tempt me with a cruise around Rosedale, I’m going to have to decline. Until Day 366.

No more car! No more car! No more car! (Day 117)…

June 25, 2007


I did it. I sold the car.

It wasn’t an easy decision: A whole lot has happened in the seven years I’ve had my Bugaboo, and saying goodbye made me pretty misty-eyed. But it went to a good home — a nice girl from just outside the city, who found my listing on Facebook‘s marketplace.

We settled on a fair price, shook hands, and as she drove off (not quite into the sunset, but almost), I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’ve pumped up the tires on my bike, and I’m officially ready to move on to a more debt-free, carbon-free lifestyle.

Feeling the burn (Day 114)…

June 22, 2007


So I just bought all that fancy, mineral-based suntan lotion, and what do I do? Promptly go out in the sun, neglect to apply any of it and scald my back. The worst part was, I was just sitting there thinking, “My back is probably burning right now,” and did nothing other than half-heartedly rotate, so I was more asking for skin cancer than begging for it.

The product junkie in me insisted I march straight to Shopper’s Drug Mart and buy some after-sun lotion, plus maybe some of that cooling gel meant for arthritis — that stuff rocks.

But then I stopped and reconsidered. For one thing, those lotions have never really seemed very effective, and for another, if something like aloe vera is supposed to be good for sunburns, it would surely make a lot more sense to get an actual leaf of aloe, which doesn’t come in all that plastic and paper packaging. I also have this homemade beeswax stuff that could be worth a try, although the chances that anything other than time will turn this red blotchiness into an even tan are slim to none.

That’s OK, though. I figure, I’ve contributed to global warming, so if I’m stupid enough not to protect myself from it, I might as well pay the price and feel the burn.

Image courtesy from these guys.

Hot town, summer in the city (Day 92)…

May 31, 2007


I can feel it already — this summer is going to be as hot and sticky as a cinnamon bun, thanks in some part to global warming but also because, as of today, I’m switching off the air conditioning.

As some of you may remember, I previously tampered with my thermostat back in March, when I committed to keeping my apartment no warmer than 20 degrees (68 F) during the winter. But as my body has a much higher tolerance for hyperthermia than hypothermia, I figure, heat wave shmeat wave — I’ll be fine with a few fans and some buckets of water.

Plus, the hallways in my building are air-conditioned, so at least a cool breeze will seep in under the door every now and then, and my windows all face north-west, so there isn’t a lot of direct sunlight pouring in all day.

I’m betting this change will be easy enough until late July and August, when there are always those couple weeks that are so scorching you can barely get out of bed without over-heating. You get that permanent layer of sweat and start to feel like a walking, talking lint roller as everything starts sticking to your skin (clothes, cat hair, food crumbs, the grocery list).

It’s all mental, though — I think if I try and accept the heat, be one with Mother Nature and take pleasure in the fact that I’m probably sweating out a lot of toxins or something, it should be fine. I just hope Sophie doesn’t suffer too much in her fur coat.

Comic courtesy of Toothpaste for Dinner

MP3’s not a crowd (Day 82)…

May 21, 2007

I didn’t exactly grow up in the vinyl era but I was around for the cassette (in fact, somewhere in my closet is a dusty stack of mix tapes made for me circa ’95), and I most definitely have a fair-sized CD collection.

Now, I’m far from being a Luddite: I have one of those cell phones with a camera, I’ve downloaded stuff from an ftp site and, heck, I maintain this here web log. Years ago, I made the switch with everyone else over to mp3s with the help of a not-so-legal (at the time) service called Napster and eventually transfered all my music to my playlist and onto my iPod.

But I still buy CDs. I’m not sure why — the whole thing about better sound quality doesn’t make much sense to me, it’s nothing to do with supporting the artist because I can do that by paying on iTunes, and I can’t say it’s for the liner notes without wanting to punch myself in the face. I think it’s something about the tangible, sensory appeal of cracking open the case, popping the disc out and hearing that first spin before the music starts.

CDs, however, require more production, packaging and shipping than downloading music in its electronic form, plus it means committing to the whole album rather than buying individual songs. So from now on, with apologies to my local music store, I’m opting for mp3s instead. Thanks to Matt S. for the suggestion!