But ociffer, I’m getting drunked for the environments! (Day 187)…

September 3, 2007

keg costume

Some days call for a drink. Some days call for multiple drinks. True, mass consumption of anything is never very eco-friendly, but there are times when getting drunk is really unavoidable: a new job, for instance, calls for celebration; getting fired calls for, well, an even bigger celebration. And then there are occasions like your 19th birthday, St. Patty’s Day and the ultimate liver-wrecker: weddings with open bars.

But if you’re going to get blitzed, you might as well do it in as green a fashion as possible — drinking a pint of draught beer from a tap rather than out of a bottle is one way, as is buying wine in a two-litre jug rather than two separate one-litre bottles. And if you’re having a party at home, why not order a keg of beer from the local microbrewery instead of lugging home multiple cans held together by those bird-strangling plastic rings or those rattly cases of 24 individual bottles?

As of today, then, I’ll be ordering my local beer and organic cocktails in glasses, not bottles, and the next raging party I host will be offering booze the university student way: out of a keg (possibly with a funnel attached).

Redonkulous beer keg costume courtesy of this site

Voluntary simplicity, beginning with the end of my face wash (Day 100)…

June 8, 2007


In the ninth episode of Greentime, Amy speaks about the idea of voluntary simplicity: The idea that having the freedom to do whatever we want in the end actually makes us less happy, so we have to shift our thought processes from wanting to needing: Do I need multiple SUVs? Do I need to sleep in these pyjamas? Do I need this glass of wine from Australia? (Well, yes, actually I do need that last thing).

Now if there’s anyone who knows from happy, it’s a Buddhist — seriously, have you ever seen a statue of a disgruntled Buddha? I didn’t think so. To these guys, happiness is wearing only a robe and sandals, eating a bowl of rice, sitting on top of a mountain and thinking about nothing.

I’m not going to lie, no matter how aligned my chakras or what stage of enlightenment I’m at, my definition of happiness is going to go way beyond rice and sandals. But the further along I get in this green challenge, the greater appreciation I have for minimalism.

I look at Meghan, who doesn’t have a closet, TV, microwave, dishwasher, bath or air conditioning, and she’s perfectly happy. My friend Craig has been known to throw out cell phones and even couches on a whim — yes, he might also need a check-up from the neck-up, but he seems content.

But enough rambling: all this is just long-winded way of saying that I’m done with face wash; I’m using my bar soap instead.

My sister might think this is ironic, as I’ve always reprimanded her for doing exactly this.

“How can you use the same soap on your body that you use on your face?” I’d ask in disbelief. I think I’d heard this same question being posed just as derisively on a television commercial once, and it always seemed to make sense, until I stopped to think about it. In reality, it’s not as though confining oneself to a single soap is akin to washing your face with your armpit residue. Soap’s soap, and skin’s skin.

So when I bought this Kiss My Face pure olive oil bar soap, I thought I’d do as the label told me and kiss my face with it. After rinsing clean and looking up, part of me was shocked that it hadn’t left my pores in ruins and stripped half my freckles away — but no, it was the same as any other product I’ve been washing my face with until now. And it gets all my makeup off too, so no need for separate makeup remover.

One bar of soap, three purposes, two less products needed.

P.S. I can’t believe I’ve made it to 100 days! Woo-hoo!

Putting a cork in it (Day 64)…

May 3, 2007


I’ve never been the type to collect my used wine corks for the purpose of some hideous arts and crafts project like this, this or, even more ambitious, this. Fortunately, the local Girl Guides have set up the Bag-a-Cork program (because you know those heavyweight drinkers aren’t just washing their cookies down with milk), which sorts and delivers them back to the LEED-certified Jelinek Cork Group to be recycled into everything from duck decoys to gift bags and even something called, intriguingly, an “anti-fatigue mat.”

The website points out that an estimated 100 million corks will be discarded in Ontario this year — so far, the program has diverted over one million of them, or about five tonnes. It also has a handy list of which restaurants, bars and liquor stores have drop-off bins, as well as the requisite fact page featuring “A Short History of Cork.”

What I’m wondering, though, is what to do with the rubber wine corks? Should I be trying to avoid the bottles that have these, or are they more eco-friendly? Perhaps I should avoid buying either and go for the screw-top, seeing as I’ve already made the sacrifices of switching to Ontario plonk and reusing the same glass. Or, maybe I should just give up wine altogether and be a grumpy teetotaler for the rest of the year.

Photo courtesy of LaMadrilenya on Flickr

Canadian whine (Day 55)…

April 24, 2007

rieslingAt some point in my drinking life — between swigging my last bottle of Zinfandel at university and sipping my first Pinot Noir at some overpriced resto-lounge — my parents gave me some invaluable advice: always abide by the ABC rule of wine: Anything But Chardonnay. Sure enough, the one time I broke the rule and tried a glass, it was so revolting I actually thought it was corked; but no, apparently, it’s supposed to taste like you’re licking mouldy wood chips.

I’ve always thought, however, that the letter “C” in the ABC rule could also stand for Canadian, because our vineyards are pretty much useless, other than maybe for ice wine, which frankly I don’t get — I mean, we already have stuff to pour on our pancakes.

As of late, however, I’ve been tentatively sipping a few here and there with some positive results; enough so that I’m officially ready to restrict my wine intake to what’s grown, produced and cellared here in Ontario.

My personal favourites so far include: For white wine, Cave Spring‘s dry Riesling; for red, 20 Bees Baco Noir or Cab-Merlot; for rosé, the Grange in Prince Edward County is where it’s at, although it requires a special order or a road trip to get; and for sparkling, well, I might be in trouble.

See, my dad splurged on Veuve for our annual Christmas lunch back in December and, ever since, I’ve found the taste of cheaper sparkling wines too artificial (Ed. note: clearly this is all in my head, which is clouded with oenophile pretension; I blame the French), so chances are I’ll abandon the bubbly entirely until my challenge is over, then I can blow all my savings on real champagne.

None of the above wines are certified organic, but most of the ones that are come in Tetra Paks, and although they can apparently be recycled, I’ve read that this isn’t always the case — plus, I’ll take the sound of a cork popping any day over the sound of a cap seal being twisted off an over-sized juice box.

The few organic wines that do come in bottles are usually from Australia or New Zealand, and buying these will weigh me down with too much carbon guilt. Besides, I’ve been to the Niagara region, and I know the vineyards there aren’t being run with some Mondavi-esque, Big Wine mentality — if anything, they’re being run by people with way too many lawn ornaments — so with that in mind, I say, organic shmorganic. Bring on the local!

P.S. Friends, neighbours and coworkers: This does not mean I want any of that homemade wine you have sitting in your basement. I’m not that desperate. Yet.