Sustainable ceramics (Day 199)…

September 15, 2007


Aside from my mom and my friend Sarah K., there probably isn’t a more devoted Thistle readership than that of the Telpner family — Meghan, Ron and Patsy (there’s also her brother Michael, but he likes to suggest that we combat global warming by cranking our air conditioners and opening the windows). As a case in point, I was at their house recently for a Rosh Hashanah dinner and they were not only thoughtful enough to provide a healthy organic meal but also made sure that my place card — which said “Thistle” with a cute little drawing — was on recycled paper.

Over dessert, Patsy was telling me about the various aspects of ceramics and how most potters just throw out their excess clay. She, however, always recycles it, despite the fact that this can be a bit of a hassle. It occurred to me that this could make for a perfect green change: from now on, I’ll only buy ceramics if they’re made by as conscientious and eco-friendly (not to mention talented) an artist as Patsy. I already have one of her cups, a bowl and a platter — they’re beautiful, timeless and work perfectly with any décor, so check out her work!

Photo courtesy of Patsy Telpner

A marginal change (Day 196)…

September 12, 2007


Thanks yet again to Kowai (seriously Shawn, I need to send you a complimentary tote bag or something for all the green ideas you’ve given me — oh, and P.S., love the new site design! Um, yeah, on with the sentence), who recently mentioned a site called Change the Margins.

It’s run by this woman who’s trying to convince people to decrease the margins on whatever they’re printing, in order to cram more words on each line and thus save paper. Obviously, the most important folks to convince are those who head up multinational corporations, especially ones with no recycling system in place, let alone a paperless policy.

But there’s no reason why we can’t all do this in our day-to-day printing jobs. And while I don’t exactly have control over the margins of my stories in the National Post, I can certainly fiddle with them when it comes to all the other stuff I write on my computer at home.

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.

Double-sided or nothing (Day 163)…

August 10, 2007

print job

I don’t have a printer. Whenever I order or book anything online, there’s always that email telling me to print the page for my records. Well, I don’t really have records, either, and I’m not about to waste paper on back-up copies of receipts.

But there is the occasional document I need to have in tangible form — like my flight information or boarding pass, for example — and so in this case I’ll use the printer at my parents’ house or at the office. So often, though, when you print something out, there are a couple pages at the end with nothing on them other than the URL of a webpage or a paragraph of legal disclaimers in fine print, and it’s silly to toss these out, even if they are destined to be recycled.

So from now on, whenever I’m printing anything — unless maybe if it’s my résumé — I’m going to check first to see if there’s any scrap paper I can use in place of a new sheet. And if it’s a bigger job, I’ll make sure to change the settings on my computer so that it knows to print double-sided.

Now if only those HP printer cartridges came with soy-based ink…

Greenhouse-sitting (Day 157)…

August 4, 2007


When I decided to take a vacation, I knew I’d need a housesitter. But I didn’t want someone coming in, cranking the air-conditioning and running the dishwasher half empty — whoever took care of my place would also have to take care of the earth.

In the end, one of my green-hearted friends came to the rescue. I let him turn on the fridge, but he kept the thermostat off, made sure my worms had something to munch on and kept my balcony herbs watered — he even wrote to tell me that one of my organic cherry tomatoes had turned red! Everything was recycled properly and he made sure to use my natural cleaning products; I couldn’t have asked for a better sitter.

Now that I’m on the second half of my vacation, I’ve got a different guy looking after things, but he’s just as willing to step into my hippie shoes and keep things eco-friendly.

It might take a bit more searching and some extra-convincing rhetoric, but from now on I’m making sure all my housesitters pass the green test.

Photo of my building 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.

BioBag, you’re it (Day 148)…

July 26, 2007


Ever since I got that little nylon tote bag that fits in my purse, I haven’t needed a single plastic bag. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t using them — I had a bunch stored up from previous shopping trips, which I was keeping under my sink and gradually using up for various things, such as a liner for my bathroom garbage bin.

Well, I finally ran out of them (which goes to show how many I’d amassed). I wanted to get some sort of small waste bag of a similar size that wasn’t made from plastic, so I went for the BioBags. Made mostly out of corn starch, it can be recycled but also biodegrades in 10 to 45 days.

Hopefully, this will be the official end of any and all plastic bags in my life.