Cutting my glossies (Day 133)…

July 11, 2007

tabloids

When I’m feeling stressed, anxious or down and out, nothing lifts my spirits quite like images of Jessica Simpson‘s cellulite or Avril Lavigne‘s acne. Reading about LiLo‘s failed stints in rehab, Brangelina‘s domestic strife or the extent of Jennifer Aniston‘s jealous rage gives me an instant, head-spinning dose of celebrity scandal and melodrama, just enough to get through my totally-normal-in-comparison day.

Really, though, all these tabloids are nothing but mental pollution, not to mention a waste of paper. So from now on, I’m not buying any more. My dear friend Perez Hilton will always be online to help with my cravings, and if get a case of the sweats and feel like I might collapse unless I get an update on whether or not Nicole Richie is pregnant, I’ll just head straight to the doctor’s office, where there’s sure to be a copy of People magazine.

Image shoplifted while on a break from rehab over here


Search and make joy (Day 112)…

June 20, 2007

goodsearch

I must use Google at least 50 times a day, whether researching for work, looking up random trivia or just doing a vanity search (kidding — I’ve only Googled myself twice, three times tops… OK maybe seven). And in all the years that I’ve been using it, I don’t think it’s ever failed me, even with the most obscure, long-winded, over-punctuated queries.

But a little while ago, Shawn over at Kowai mentioned this thing called GoodSearch, which is powered by Yahoo! but has a philanthropic edge: it makes a donation to the charity of your choice every time you type in a phrase and hit Enter (I chose the World Wildlife Fund).

Founded in 2005 by a guy from Monster.com and his friend, a former MSNBC anchor, GoodSearch donates 50% of its advertising revenue to the charities and schools selected by its users. They estimate that only about one cent from each click goes to the cause, so you really need to search for a whole lot of stuff for it to make a difference.

Still, baby steps are better than no steps, so from now on I’ll make it my primary search engine.


Quiet activism (Day 111)…

June 19, 2007

bike stickers

I’ve mentioned before that sandwich boards are an unflattering look for me and, you know, my biceps just aren’t what they were 10 years ago, so holding up big signs is not an option. Plus, I figure, if I’m going to get off my butt and start marching around, I may as well be marching towards the nearest shoe store.

Protesting, then, is pretty much out of the question. However, I’m all for quiet, small-scale activism, raising awareness about environmental causes with some humour and perspective. Stuff like the PB&J campaign, for instance, is right up my alley.

So are stickers. I love stickers. And while they are made from evil materials like plastic and vinyl, they can also get a worthwhile message across and strike up conversation. Recently, I got some These Come From Trees stickers, which I’ve been sneakily adhering to paper towel dispensers in public restrooms. And I also got a bunch for my bicycle, which pronounce hardly controversial but still pointed statements like “Treehugger”, “I [heart] my bike,” and my favourite, “Mend Your Fuelish Ways”.

A little while back, some readers suggested I make a sticker saying something like “I’ve been reused!”, so people could refill their empty brand-name shampoo bottles with natural product but let everyone else know that, actually, it’s not Pert Plus in there, thank-you very much (note to readers: I’m on it, but making stickers can be expensive).

Then, of course, there are the tote bags, the T-shirts and the wristbands, plus tons of other merchandise, most of which I think is a bit silly, but still, plenty of outlets through which to convey my point of view. And lastly, this here blog gets a message across every day to at least a thousand people — granted, a lot of it is just preaching to the choir, but there are always some newbies who stop by every now and then to pick up a few tips about where to get vegan-friendly floss or how to survive without a fridge.

Today’s change then, is simply to make sure that I step up the green publicity, raise environmental awareness whenever possible and — much like Alina did with her blog — come out of the closet as a organic-eating, handkerchief-carrying treehugger.


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

May 18, 2007

chinafinal

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.


Greening up by shutting down (Day 72)…

May 11, 2007

Greening the office is easier said than done. For example, my colleague and I have been trying to get the air conditioning switched off, or at least turned down, every single summer to no avail. The maintenance guys say that if they turn it down, everyone else will complain that it’s too hot; it’s been the same temperature for years, there’s no reason to change it, blahdy blah blah.

Meanwhile, we end up wearing thick wool socks, sweaters, and on some days even gloves at our desks because we’re so freezing even though it’s 30 degrees outside. It’s not all their fault — if we had windows that actually opened, it would probably be easier to regulate the temperature.

But my theory is that the real reason the air-conditioning will never, ever get switched off here is because the thermostat is controlled by men, who I’m convinced have higher body temperatures than women and sweat more (and in the case of my office these are mostly men who, ironically, are still in denial about global warming).

If I can’t win the war of the thermostat, however, I’m going to try and win smaller battles, beginning with my computer. We’re told to log off — but not shut down — our computers every night before heading home, in case I.T. needs to update our software or install some new program. I guess this might be important for editors and higher-ups but, being a lowly writer, all I need is email, the Internet and something to write on.

The cost of not being updated on something just seems far less significant than the cost of the energy required to power my otherwise untouched computer all night.

I’ve decided, then, to shut down my computer at the end of each day. Hopefully I’ve blabbered on long enough that the tech guys at work have stopped reading by now and won’t notice.


I don’t want my MTV (Day 18)…

March 18, 2007

abandoned tv

Like the microwave post, this could be considered a bit of a cheat, but I’ll leave it up to you, green readers, to decide: I cancelled my cable at the end of February, before I started this blog, but the cable didn’t cancel me until today, so it’s only as of now that I’m officially without my beloved Amazing Race All-Stars, Barefoot Contessa and … well … that’s pretty much all I was watching, hence the decision to not pay $50/month for it anymore.

I have to say, when I turned it on this morning to check the news/weather and was confronted by a blaring white noise and rather aggressive fuzziness, my chest tightened, my heart palpitated and the pop-culture devil on my shoulder whispered, “You better refill that Ativan prescription.”

But then I remembered: the news was in the paper I just read, the weather was right there on my balcony. And when it comes to prime time, I’ll console myself with the fact that Rob and Amber just got kicked off the Amazing Race and that Ina Garten has a website. Also, I’ve heard about these things called books — maybe I’ll dust off the one that’s been sitting on my bedside table for the past few months and try … what do you call it again? … oh yeah, reading!

Photo courtesy of electro_quiche on Flickr


Open letter to John Baird

March 13, 2007

Dear Mr. Baird,

Please be more like this guy. He just published the UK’s first ever climate change bill, then went all hipster with it on You Tube, and he has two blogs! On top of this, he has apparently used three-word alliterative phrases 309 times in his debates — no wonder everyone loves him.

Yours greenly,

Vanessa.