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

August 14, 2007


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.

Wite-out goes right out the door (Day 164)…

August 11, 2007


I remember, back in grade school, I had total pencil case envy. This girl who sat beside me had the coolest zip-up canvas case with cute little ducks on it, and inside she had Hi-Liters in every colour, one of those four-in-one pens, perfectly sharpened pencils and — the coup de grâce — Wite-Out, in pen and tape form. Whenever I screwed up on some French test and had to bring out my generic brand of correction fluid in its crusty jar with white goo caked all over the brush, I felt completely inferior.

But now, it’s a different story. I rarely write anything by hand, and if I’m typing something up, chances are I’ll be emailing it sooner than printing it. And if I do make a mistake on a form or an essay, I simply cross it out, correct and initial it. While the end result may not look as pretty, it saves having to use a plastic container of mildly toxic paint.

Although it’s arguably not much of a change, per se, to say that I’m not going to use Wite-out anymore, it’s a commitment I haven’t made officially until now. Besides, it’s the weekend, and I’m stuck in Portland, Oregon. Cut me some slack, will ya?

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

Green treats mean clean teeth (Day 160)…

August 7, 2007


My cat is excrutiatingly particular about her treats, but after the recent pet food scares I’ve been even more particular about which brands I’ll let her have. She’s always liked her Temptations, preferring the crunchy outside and chewy inside to the more uniform consistency of Pounce treats, and one of her all-time favourites was Pup-Peroni, which is meant for dogs but she goes bonkers for anything bacon-flavoured.

But Soph is getting older now — she’s about middle age in cat years — and I wanted to start giving her something healthier.

I stumbled upon these treats called Feline Greenies, and thought their Nantucket Bay Scallop flavour sounded especially posh — not to mention the fact that the ingredients are all natural and they keep teeth nice and clean — so I grabbed the packet and brought it back for her.

At first, she wasn’t so sure what to make of them. Everyone says cats are colour blind but I swear she could tell they were green, which led to a lot more sniffing and head bobbing then usual. Finally, though, she took the plunge and ate one.

Success! She’s officially hooked, and I can breathe a sigh of relief that she won’t end up keeled over at the vets with traces of rat poison in her intestinal tract anytime soon.

There is one problem with this product, however: the packaging. If anyone knows of any stores that sell cat treats in bulk, or at least ones that come in recyclable material, please point me in the right direction!
Image 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.

Thinking with my headphones (Day 147)…

July 25, 2007

I’ll be flying back from Madrid in a couple days and, shortly thereafter, heading out to Portland for my hippie bike trip. That’s a lot of time in the air, and there are two ways to make it go faster: music and the in-flight movie. Both of these requires headphones, which they always give out on the plane, but I’m going to bring my own set from now on. Air Canada says they recycle them, but they still come in all that plastic packaging with foam coverings, plus it’s always better to reduce than recycle.

Photo courtesy of this guy on Flickr

Flower power (Day 138)…

July 16, 2007

flower power

The other day, I saw a sign advertising fair-trade roses at my local florist, Burst — I suppressed my allergies for a moment while I got all excited; but unfortunately, I soon found out they come all the way from Ecuador. A better option, as I later discovered, is online-based EcoFlora, an organic and socially responsible Toronto florist. As founder Scott Graham says, he created the company as an alternative to the mainstream florists who get most of their stock from Colombia and Ecuador.

“What’s on all those gorgeous flowers to keep them fresh?” he asks on his site. “How are the flower farm workers treated? From the flower farm to arrival at your home there are many chemical treatments that go on the flowers and into the water they drink. Working conditions for the flower farm workers in these countries are dangerous, unhealthy and exploitive.

“[There are] pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are banned in Canada, and there can be 10 to 100 times the pesticide residues on cut flowers than on the food that is imported from these same countries because of the fact that flowers are not eaten. Some of the chemicals used include methyl bromide to ensure no there are no insects on the flowers when they reach North America.”


But not only does EcoFlora offer safe, guilt-free flowers, they also arrange and ship them in eco-friendly packaging, whether it’s biodegradable cellophane or a ceramic vase made by a local potter, and none of their materials comes from China.

So from now on, if anyone I know is sick, depressed or getting married (or, for that matter, all of the above), they’re getting flowers from EcoFlora.

Photo courtesy of this guy on Flickr