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

No can left behind (Day 93)…

June 1, 2007

soda can

You’re standing at the bus stop, you just swigged the last drop from a bottle of iced tea, your arms are loaded with a day’s worth of shopping, there’s a garbage can right next to you and no recycling bin in sight. Do you hold on to that sucker and wait to recycle it at home? Or just hope no hippies are looking, apologize to Mother Nature and toss it in the garbage?

Before now, I’d probably do the latter. Same goes for all the paper news releases and promotional junk I get at the office — the recycling bin is only steps away, and yet “steps” requires getting my lazy butt off my chair and walking, whereas the garbage can under my desk requires nothing but a flick of the wrist and maybe a swivel, so I’d often just toss it all in the garbage (how many Hail Marys does this add up to? Anyone?).

It’s not that I never recycle. At home, I’ve grown up with blue, grey and green bins, and when I’m out, if I happen to pass by one of those three-holed receptacles with different slots for paper, plastic and garbage, I’ll make sure to put whatever crap I have in its proper place.

But my attitude has always been that of the convenient recycler — if someone puts the appropriate disposal mechanism in front of me, sure, I’ll take part. But don’t expect me to go out of my way or anything.

Until now! (Sorry, that’s my favourite segue)

I’m officially committed to recycling anything and everything than can be recycled, no excuses. If it means carrying around armfuls of newspaper and pop cans with me until I get home, so be it. It’s time to suck it up and deal with some inconvenient recycling.

As I’ve already started toting a reusable coffee thermos and water bottle with me everywhere, don’t buy any take-out food that comes with disposable packaging or plastic cutlery, and don’t chew gum anymore, I’ve already saved myself some trouble. It’s mostly at the office where I start to slack off (note to boss: I mean slack off with regards to recycling, not work! … nervous laughter), so it’s time to buckle down and respect the third R.

Photo courtesy of crassy777 at Flickr

A good match (Day 75)…

May 14, 2007


I could be wrong on this one, but my instincts are telling me it’s more environmentally sound to use matches instead of lighters. On the one hand, to make a match, you need to chop down trees for both the stick and the packaging, and there’s the phosphorus on the tip; but then to make a lighter, you need the plastic and/or metal holding case as well as lighter fluid. Although you can refill most lighters, you still have to buy another canister of butane; at least with matches, you can recycle the box, and there’s no toxic waste.

Now, I’m no phillumenist — I love a good barbecue lighter for reaching the wicks on candles that have melted to the bottom of the glass, and it’s not exactly cool to be at a concert waving a series of lit matches back and forth during some power ballad — but there’s something about that smell you get with real wooden matches, especially my favourite brand, Redbird, that brings along memories of camping and bonfires and s’mores (gotta love the Wikipedia entry here with a photo of “a common s’more” — why not show a picture of an extraordinary s’more?).

So the next step in leaving a lighter footprint: no more lighters.

Photo courtesy of photoplasia at Flickr

Not much left to chew on (Day 65)…

May 4, 2007


Foil, paper and plastic packaging; artificial sweeteners and zero nutritional value; a sticky glob you chew on, spit out and often get stuck on your shoe — all for the sake of fresh breath, and maybe some oral fixation. Really, gum is pretty dumb.

I’ll admit, I often crave a piece after eating garlic bread or French onion soup, but I’m always disappointed. Brands like Excel, Dentyne, Trident and now Mentos and Juicy Fruit all come in ridiculously over-packaged sleeves (even their websites are over-packaged), with each piece encased in its own dispenser, so it feels less like you’re opening gum than popping pills.

Plus, they’re always so sweet that in the end my tongue feels more syrupy than clean, and the ones that are sugar-free all have aspartame or sucralose, which hurts my stomach.

There really is no fun in gum, other than the satisfaction of popping and snapping it, which drives my father nuts — so, I’m sure he’ll be elated to hear that I’m giving the stuff up as my next green change.

Well, let me amend that a bit: I’m giving up packaged gum. I might try and make my own with real mint or cinnamon flavour; otherwise, I’ll just get another recyclable toothbrush and a travel-sized tube of natural toothpaste and keep them in my ever-expanding purse for whenever halitosis strikes.

Photo courtesy of canonsnapper on Flickr

Atwitter, but not bitter, about litter (Day 51)…

April 20, 2007

litter ad

Today, at 2 p.m., I’m pulling on some gloves, grabbing a bag and venturing forth to spent 20 minutes picking up all the crap people toss out their car windows or drop on the ground when they think no one’s looking (or even worse, when they know someone is). It’s part of the City of Toronto’s annual 20-Minute Makeover, but it’s also representing a more long-term green move on my part: From now on, if I see a piece of litter on the street and a garbage bin is within sight, I’ll pick it up and dispose of it properly (unless it’s oozing, festering or moving, in which case someone else is going to have to deal with it).

Coffee: 11 cents cheaper. Saving the environment: Priceless (Day 32)…

April 1, 2007

You knew this post was coming. Well, here it is: I’m over disposable coffee cups like a cheating ex-boyfriend from the ’90s who litters and wears white after Labour Day. Phew, what a diss!

Seriously though, I just got this adorable neon-green “Bow Corridor” Bilt thermos from MEC (like the ones in the photo here but a much cuter colour, and for only $10!).

So I’m ready to not just create less waste, but keep my coffee warmer for longer and get that 11¢ off my tall bold at Starbucks. And Bilt, which happens to be the largest paper company in India, appears to have a green side. As much as I loathe people who casually throw around the word synergy (unless they’re referencing Jem and/or the Misfits), I do like the sound of Bilt’s eco-policy and community development projects, as well as their partnerships with a slew of NGOs. Their website explains it all here.

Because the thermos is too bulky to carry around in my purse, it means I can’t make any spontaneous coffee purchases. But I can always keep it in my car along with my spare tote bags, or I can kick it old school and actually take the time to sit down, in a café, to drink my coffee. I know, it’s a frightening concept — it might even require these scary things called mugs. But I’ll try to be brave.

Photo courtesy of MEC

It’s not like Kleenex grows on trees (Day 20)…

March 20, 2007

hankie tree

Oh wait, it kind of does — the photo above is actually of a handkerchief tree (maybe it’s allergic to itself?)

Either way, I’ve decided that Kleenex, Puffs and other such disposable tissues blow. Granny had it right all along: Hankies are where it’s at (or, in my case, “hankettes” — made out of organic cotton).

So as of today, I’m kickin’ it old school and carrying one of these around in my purse. It’ll even have its own little pocket to prevent any all-night germ parties from spilling out onto my lipgloss and cell phone. I figure, as long as I keep them simple and stylish — instead of those sissy crocheted ones — and don’t attempt to blow other people’s noses with them, I should be able to maintain some vague semblance of a social life.

(Photo courtesy of samsheep on Flickr)