A pine box and a compostable urn (Day 359)…

February 22, 2008

bios urn

In case you couldn’t tell from that subject heading, today’s post is taking a turn for the morbid (I figured it was appropriate seeing as my challenge is nearing its final resting place). So for all those who are easily depressed, have a major phobia of death or just don’t feel like tackling this issue right now, move right along. Maybe check out CuteOverload or something.

Anyway, the other reason I’m bringing up death is because my lawyer recently suggested that, because I own a house now, I might want to start thinking about my will.

And the older I get (I’m almost… *gulp*… 29), the more I realize that the last thing I want to happen when I kick the bucket is for my loved ones to deal with a whole bunch of financial and logistical crap. Furthermore, ever since turning a green leaf, I’ve also realized that I don’t want to burden the planet on my way out the door, either.

I recalled Crunchy’s post on the subject from way back when (what’s with my Crunchy obsession these days?). She concluded, in the end, that the most environmentally sound option is either burial in an eco-cemetery, where you don’t get any special accoutrements, or cremation in a pine, cardboard or biodegradable box, as long as your teeth don’t have fillings (the mercury gets fired up into the air).

Reading through the comments, which suggested various alternatives, from vulture-picking sky burials to Ecopods to reef balls, and of course there’s always the option of donating your corpse to science (or, um, Body Worlds), I was most moved by DC‘s idea for what to do with the ashes — put them in a compostable urn with seeds so that a tree grows wherever you plant it (that’s the Bios Urn in the photo above. I’m not sure what the ‘recycled head’ symbol means… maybe it’s just a quirky Euro design?).

This means no formaldehyde or embalming fluid, no need to manufacture and/or ship a fancy coffin, no cemetery maintenance, etc. On top of this, I think I may also specify no flowers wrapped in cellophane and no hearse — unless it’s a hybrid. Ooh, maybe it could even be a bicycle funeral! A no-impact ceremony! (OK, sorry, getting carried away here)

Either way, I think I’ll definitely refer people to The Natural Burial Co-Op here in Canada if they’re not sure about anything, and in general ask that, when in doubt, always go for the simplest option available — that way, I can truly rest in peace.

Bios Urn image resurrected from this website

Get a green move on (Day 324)…

January 18, 2008


Only 12 more days until I move out of my condo and into my new house! Oh crap, that’s really soon, isn’t it?

Anyway, I don’t have a lot of stuff, but there’s no way in heck I’m moving it myself, so it was time to look around for some professional movers. I’ve heard about a few green-minded companies, but a trusted source strongly recommended Your Friend With a Cube Van (that’s one of their employees, looking hysterically awkward, in the photo above).

The way I see it is, they may not have hybrid trucks or biodegradable packing peanuts, but they’re local, they’re independent, they have a cute name and they’re going to help me move everything in the greenest way possible (I’ll be explaining the rules about tape, Styrofoam, etc. in depth).

On top of this, I think I get some bonus points for moving less than a block away — my new house is literally right around the corner; four digits of my postal code are even the same. So this means I can probably walk a lot of stuff over on foot or use a little trolley (crossing Queen Street might pose a challenge, especially going over the streetcar tracks, but it’s doable).

Photo courtesy of YFWCV

GreenShifting gear (Day 313)…

January 7, 2008


In the little “About” sidebar on this page, I mention an anti-styrofoam party I went to some months ago. It was in support of NaturoPack, an advocacy group which promotes the sale of biodegradable packaging made from corn, an alternative to polystyrene gradually being adopted by some takeout restaurants in Toronto. But just as much credit — or perhaps more, really — should go to GreenShift, the local organization actually facilitating such switch-overs and helping companies green themselves, whether it’s through takeout containers or a full environmental audit.

Restaurants like Ghazale, which has the best falafel in the city (a title that used to be held by Akram’s in Kensington — his secret to the crunch of the balls was that he didn’t actually use any chick peas but rather a blend of less oil-absorbing beans — until he started skimping on the tabbouleh), have signed up to GreenShift, as have upscale establishments like Kalendar and Le Paradis, plus the usual suspects (veggie restos like Urban Herbivore, Fressen and Fresh, which will give you 15% off your bill when you bring your own Tupperware), cafés like Poor John’s and my personal fave Café Taste, which doesn’t actually offer any takeout except in reusable containers (if you don’t have any, the owner will give you some of his to bring back… also, on a completely unrelated note, you’ve gotta love their Free Film Sundays, especially with this lineup: The Tobacco Conspiracy, Global Warming, Our Times and The Last Mogul).

So from now on, whenever I eat out, I’m going to support local restaurants that serve organic food and have GreenShifted their ways.

Photo courtesy of leslita_bee on Flickr

Another lube post (no, not THAT lube!) (Day 307)…

January 1, 2008

chainj bottle

Despite the fact that it’s winter in Canada, that on most days the weather falls below freezing and I get cold just walking the five steps from my apartment to the streetcar stop, I’m still trying to ride Deni as often as possible (my rule is that if the roads are dry and the wind isn’t howling, I’ll do it). This means, however, that extra care must go into ensuring my tires are inflated, my brakes are functioning and my chain is greased.

Back in the fall, I ran out of my wet and dry lube but hesitated buying more because it felt like such a direct supporting-the-oil-industry purchase.

But then my lovely assistant Eva came to the rescue, pointing me in the direction of this Treehugger post that talks about ChainJ, a biodegradable alternative made from 100% renewable resources, ie. rapeseed (canola) oil. Yes, it’s technically a monocrop, but it’s not soy or corn so I don’t feel that bad about it.

P.S. Happy New Year, greenies! May 2008 bring you lots of solar power, compost mulch and energy savings!