That mint on my pillow had better be fair-trade certified! (Day 134)…

July 12, 2007

alt hotel

There’s a bit of Eloise in me — I love hotels. Well, actually, I love really swanky hotels. At the risk of sounding like the most over-privileged snob this side of Paris Hilton (OK, too late), the truth is that when I’m stuck in a drab, cookie-cutter hotel room with fluorescent lights, a colour scheme involving a lot of muted coral and puce and a token piece of crappy art on the otherwise sparse walls, I start to panic. In fact, I’d rather be in a grungy one-star hostel on the wrong side of the tracks because then at least it’s not trying to be anything but a grungy one-star hostel on the wrong side of the tracks. There’s something about the middle-of-the-road aesthetic that just freaks me out.

On the other hand, I’d be more than ready to spend the rest of my days at a boutique hotel like Le Germain or, better yet, any of the Aman resorts.

But not all the posh digs are so green. A lot of them change towels and bedsheets daily whether or not you’re the only one staying in the room, they keep lights on everywhere at all hours, and, well, you just have to read about Lori’s hellish experience to know what I’m talking about.

So from now on, I’m going to make sure that I only stay at eco-friendly hotels. One in Montreal that I’m super-excited about is ALT, which is currently undergoing the final stages of construction. It’s owned by the wonderful people behind the Germain name and was written about on TreeHugger here.

I spoke to one of the owners a little while ago for a potential story, and he explained that it was less about capitalizing on the green trend than it was about good business sense — in the end, by cutting back on water and energy bills, using sustainable, long-lasting materials and maintaining a no-frills attitude, they can not only save money themselves but keep the room rates low, too.

And if any of you Thistle readers come visit me in Toronto, I highly recommend the Fairmont Royal York, a posh hotel that’s been green since the ’80s. A few months ago, I went to a wine-tasting at their restaurant, and the publicist offered to take me into the kitchen so I could see the slop bucket “in action” — basically, all the food waste gets tossed onto this conveyor belt and winds up in a huge pail, which then goes to Turtle Island Recycling. They also have a green roof with an herb garden (you can get a complimentary tour), offer their employees subsidized transit passes and have just installed a new and improved bike rack for guests.

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I’ve reached the Q-tipping point (Day 62)…

May 1, 2007

q-tips

Today happens to be my birthday, so I’d like to stop for a moment and thank my parents — not just for all the stuff they gave me while I was growing up, but for all the stuff they didn’t: junk food, pop and most processed foods (allowed on special occasions but never in the house), rides to school (unless it was a blizzard or we were carpooling with my sister, otherwise I had to find my own way on public transit), and Q-tips.

The people I know who do use Q-tips always think it’s gross if I confess to not using them. In fact, I began to feel so outnumbered and convinced that my ears were harboring mass quantities of waxy, toxic evil that I went out and bought a pack of the cotton swabs, using them whenever I stepped out of the shower.

But there’s nothing worse than that feeling when something foreign goes a little too far into your ear canal — I get the same sense of queasiness if I touch the inside of my belly button (but maybe that’s just me). And despite the fact that I could be using Q-tips for other purposes — like correcting errant globs of nail polish or smudged eyeliner — they really are an unnecessary waste of bleach, cotton, paper and/or plastic (depending on the stick and packaging).

So I’ve tossed the last one and I’m not buying any more.

Photo courtesy of eatingorange on Flickr


Everybody’s walking for the weekend (Day 30)…

March 30, 2007

walk

Well, at least I am — or riding my bike, or taking public transit — because from now on I’m leaving my car parked in the garage on weekends, from when I wake up on Saturday until I go to sleep on Sunday (so if I happen to sleep-drive at 4 a.m. Monday morning, that is totally acceptable!).

Here’s the part where everyone leaves comments like, “You know what you should really do? GET RID OF THE DAMN CAR!”). I’ve considered this, and it might be a possibility in the future, but because it takes me an hour and a half to take transit to work (streetcar, then train, then bus, then walking — it’s not my fault, it’s the office that’s in the boonies) and it takes me almost two hours to bike (I tried last summer and had to shower three times that day), yet just 20 minutes to drive, I need the car for work.

On the weekend, however, especially now that it’s Spring, leaving the car behind shouldn’t be that big of an issue. Even if I’m getting groceries over at the St. Lawrence Market or going out for a drink at night up in the Annex, I think I can manage with two feet and two wheels. Of course, like many of my green changes, I’m sure that come February of next year I’ll be crying into my homemade compost bin about it.

Photo courtesy of pastorbuhro on Flickr