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…

Getting my hands dirty (Day 149)…

July 27, 2007


I can sign all the petitions in the world, write letters to China every day and cover my bicycle in activist stickers, but I can’t really call myself a tree-hugger until I’ve literally hugged a tree — or at least planted one.

So I’m going to get my hands dirty and start volunteering with an organization like Evergreen, which specializes in community gardening initiatives and urban tree-planting. I’ve fired off an email to my local representative and hopefully will be digging up holes in the Don Valley and filling them with baby seedlings as soon as possible.

There are also groups like LEAF and Plant a Row/Grow a Row — I found out about this through a woman I Freecycled with — as well as the Toronto Environmental Volunteers, which I’ve applied to join too, so we’ll see what happens. Maybe by the end of this challenge my thumbs will finally have started to turn a little green.

The need to weed (Day 105)…

June 13, 2007


Although the closest thing I have to a garden is the little courtyard at the side of my apartment building, my parents have a pretty fair-sized one in their backyard. They don’t have a lawn (it’s a British thing), but there’s a stone pathway that frequently needs weeding.

My mother usually just spritzes the buggers with Roundup, but asked if I wanted to pluck them out by hand once every month as one of my green changes, so as to cut back on the pesticide.

I figure, the woman gave me life, I probably owe her a couple hours of weeding. So I went ahead (and she took this picture, into which Kitty crept — yes, that’s her name, Kitty. Highly unoriginal, but she really did defy every other name we tried to give her).

Most of the weeds were just baby sproutlings (excuse the improvised botanical terminology) and were easy to pick out. It’s really behind the sheds and the pergola where they grow super fast and get stronger, not to mention hard to reach. I tried to convince mom to start a grow-op back there, but she wouldn’t listen.

I choo-choo-choose moo (Day 101)…

June 9, 2007


Whenever people ask for my card these days, it’s usually after I’ve been telling them about this website, so I always end up grabbing my boring National Post card, digging for a pen and then scrawling the URL on the back of it before handing it over.

I desperately needed wanted to get a new set of cards printed, ones that included this blog link, but I didn’t want to deplete the Boreal forest even further to do so (the irony would’ve be a little too painful).

Then a friend pointed me towards Moo, a company that lets you create personalized business cards that are about one-third the standard size. The paper used to manufacture them is sourced from sustainable forests and they come in a recyclable box with next to no packaging.

I suppose the most ecologically responsible thing to do would have been to make my own with soy-based ink and whatever post-consumer scrap I could find around the house. But these are so pretty!

Beat the receipt (Day 88)…

May 27, 2007


I hate when I make a point of gathering together all my tote bags, walking to the grocery store, spending the whole shopping process trying to buy local, organic food with the least amount of packaging, only to finish paying and then get handed a mile-long receipt, sometimes two separate ones if I paid with credit card or debit. I always recycle them when I get home, but still, it provokes a lot of that frustrated, Marge Simpson kind of grumbling.

The worst are the receipts that are twice as wide as the standard cash-register size, printed on glossy white paper and have so much useless information on them they end up running 10 times longer than need be — like this Walgreens one here, which has a personalized thank-you message from the employee who helped the person, an advertisement about the store’s phone-in prescription service, another ad about the survey you can go online and fill out in order to be entered for a cash draw, the entire thing printed over again in Spanish and the date and time printed twice.

I understand that some computers and high-tech registers are programmed to automatically spit out a receipt when a transaction is made, so it’s not always possible to decline one. And there are certainly purchases where it’s a good idea to get one if there’s a chance it’ll get returned or exchanged.

But from now on, whenever I buy something — especially if it’s something I’m going to eat straight away or that know I won’t be bringing back — I’ll at least ask for no receipt right when I step up to the counter.

Receipt courtesy of ineedtostopsoon at Flickr

A needle in a hayfever stack (Day 83)…

May 22, 2007


Ironically, despite my newfound love for green, I also happen to be allergic to most of it: slightly to grass, pollen and a few trees, but especially to the plant seen above, the one with the ugliest name, ragweed.

Those who have allergies will be familiar with that pin prick test doctors do on your arm to determine sensitivities to everything from foods like soy and eggs to environmental things like mould and dust, and even animals like cats and dogs (they’ve somehow bottled cat and dog in liquid form and use an eyedropper to dispense them, which never ceases to creep me out).

The idea is that if more than a few millimetres of redness appears around where they prick your skin, you’re allergic to that substance.

Well, when they tested me for ragweed, my entire arm turned into one big, swollen rash. This means, not surprisingly, that come mid-August I either need to take five over-the-counter anti-histamines, like Reactine or Claritin, each day; or two to three prescription-strength pills; or … drumroll, please … Pollinex shots.

I think the most environmentally friendly option is the latter, as it creates the least amount of packaging and waste. It also is said to be the most effective, which means I shouldn’t need to buy any extra Visine or nasal sprays, and it leaves me all the more time to romp around the great outdoors and hug trees.

A good match (Day 75)…

May 14, 2007


I could be wrong on this one, but my instincts are telling me it’s more environmentally sound to use matches instead of lighters. On the one hand, to make a match, you need to chop down trees for both the stick and the packaging, and there’s the phosphorus on the tip; but then to make a lighter, you need the plastic and/or metal holding case as well as lighter fluid. Although you can refill most lighters, you still have to buy another canister of butane; at least with matches, you can recycle the box, and there’s no toxic waste.

Now, I’m no phillumenist — I love a good barbecue lighter for reaching the wicks on candles that have melted to the bottom of the glass, and it’s not exactly cool to be at a concert waving a series of lit matches back and forth during some power ballad — but there’s something about that smell you get with real wooden matches, especially my favourite brand, Redbird, that brings along memories of camping and bonfires and s’mores (gotta love the Wikipedia entry here with a photo of “a common s’more” — why not show a picture of an extraordinary s’more?).

So the next step in leaving a lighter footprint: no more lighters.

Photo courtesy of photoplasia at Flickr