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.

Jake Gyllenhaal gets two pages, max (Day 190)…

September 6, 2007

As an arts reporter, most of my year is spent watching movies, interviewing actors and directors, covering press conferences and then writing about all of the above (I know, it’s a hard life). When the Toronto International Film Festival comes around, I do pretty much the same stuff — it’s just 10 times as much work every day (on a side note, if you have any pressing questions for Jake Gyllenhaal, feel free to post them in the comments section below, as I’ll be interviewing him tomorrow).

It’s not unusual for me to go through the entire memory card of my dictaphone twice and fill up four or five notebooks with my scrawled observations about Rachel Weisz‘s unflattering top, Elijah Wood‘s surprisingly cute and un-hobbit-like demeanor or the wilted salad Chloë Sevigny was eating for lunch.

Unfortunately, I’m not a good note-taker: I write things down that, later, serve no purpose whatsoever to the story I’m trying to tell; I write in a VERY LARGE, MESSY STYLE — my letters would probably have a font size of at least 20; and I rarely use both sides of the page because my feeble mind gets confused at where one interview ends and another begins, and the last thing I want to do is misquote someone.

This uses up a ridiculous amount of paper, though, so from now on I’m going to make a concerted effort to write smaller and use both sides of the page (perhaps with some extra-bold, underlined and highlighted headings like, “These are quotes from your interview with Ken Loach — NOT your interview with Cyndi Lauper”).

My lap wins with napkins (Day 181)…

August 28, 2007


… Cloth napkins, that is, because as of today I won’t be using anymore disposable paper napkins whether at home or at a restaurant. I’ve got my own organic cotton one that I’ll be keeping in my purse at all times, ready to catch errant sandwich crumbs during lunch, wipe my bicycle seat dry if it’s been raining or wave goodbye to my true love on a train platform as he presses his hand against the window. Or something like that.

Photo courtesy of Wade From Oklahoma on Flickr

From press kit to less kit (Day 178)…

August 25, 2007

As an arts reporter at the National Post, I usually review a couple films per week — now that the film festival is about to start, I’ll probably be seeing at least three every day. At most press screenings, you walk up to the media sign-in desk first, say hello to the always cheery publicist and pick up a press kit, which can be anywhere from one to 20 pages.

It outlines the synopsis of the film, usually includes a statement from the director and/or comments from the cast, lists all the credits and generally makes the journalist’s job a lot easier when the time comes to write up the review (especially if the journalist accidentally falls asleep during the movie, which of course I’ve never done … OK, just once).

Some of the studios and distributors have begun releasing their press kits in electronic format only, which I think is the way to go. And to be honest, with websites like IMDb and other online sources, there isn’t much need for any more promotional material.

So from now on, I’m going to decline the paper press kits at screenings and make do with what I can get on the Interwebs.

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?

You shoes, you lose (Day 154)…

August 1, 2007

shoes on mat

When my parents first moved from England to Canada back in the mid-70s, they were mildly disturbed by a few things: One, yellow butter; two, blizzards in May (at least in Quebec), and three, the custom of taking shoes off at the door. Correct me if I’m wrong, Mum, but I believe your opinion was, and still is, that shoes are part of the outfit and belong on your feet until the rest of your clothes come off.

Now, being a Taurus, I tend to put comfort waaaay above aesthetics. I don’t own any shoes with more than a kitten heel and my most common choice of footwear is either a pair of dilapidated sneakers or dirty flip-flops (the one trend I refuse to endorse no matter how comfortable is the neon Crocs — seriously, those thing are heinous).

Anyway, because I like to be comfy, or maybe just because I’m a Canadian, I’m more than happy to take my kicks off at the door. Sometimes I forget, or sometimes I’ll put a sparkly pair on if I have company, but today my green move will be to enforce the shoes-off policy.

How is this green, you ask? Well, fewer shoes clomping around means less dirt and mud tracked on the floor, which in turn means I need to vacuum less frequently, which, you guessed it, means I’m using less electricity.

Photo courtesy of amazondotcom on Flickr

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