Green on the inside

June 4, 2009

greencleaning

I often talk about the myriad ways we can green our lifestyles — drinking tap water from a reusable stainless steel bottle (although, I actually just switched from my aluminum Sigg to a Kleen Kanteen after learning that the company still won’t reveal what they line their bottles with, but that’s a whole other story), changing lightbulbs to CFLs (well, technically we should be moving towards LEDs because there have been some sketchy reports about the mercury and whatnot in CFLs and personally I hate the glare that fluorescent bulbs give off, so the only CFLs in my house are either outside or in a closet), or … wait… I forget what I was trying to say.

Oh yeah! My point is: It’s all very well to make these external changes, but it’s just as important to be green on the inside. We should be thinking about our actions, of course, but we also need to think about what we put into our bodies. If you want to follow this green-on-the-inside advice in the literal sense, I highly recommend Meghan’s green smoothie cleanse, which starts this weekend. This is NOT one of those sketchy juice fasts or lemonade-and-cayenne-pepper detoxes, and it doesn’t involve endless weeks upon endless weeks of cabbage soup. It’s actually pretty simple: You just make a series of smoothies for a few days that are loaded with healthy vegetables — no protein powders. You can download an incredibly thorough tutorial about why these smoothies are so beneficial to your skin, heart, immune system, etc., and Meghan will even be Twittering (or tweeting… whatever) support for everyone along the way.

But what I think is extra great about this particular cleanse — and this comes from someone who is pretty much anti-cleansing; in fact, anti-anything that screws with my routine or prevents me from drinking red wine — is that it’s garbage-free, which makes it green on entirely different level. All of the ingredients are whole foods like kale, spinach and parsley, which can be purchased in the produce aisle of your nearest grocery store or farmer’s market with no packaging whatsoever; and if you want to take the smoothie out with you to work or to a picnic, you can pour it into a reusable cup or bottle. Everything you don’t throw into the blender can go into the compost bin.

Even if you don’t sign up for this, it’s kind of fun to take at least one day a week and try to create no garbage whatsoever, especially when it comes to food. Some items are always difficult to purchase without reams of plastic attached (I’m thinking of berries, in particular, which come in those unrecyclable cases), but this is actually the perfect excuse to go out and get a blueberry bush for the garden. My boy and I got one a few days ago and named it Boris. I’ll keep you updated on its vital stats.

Speaking of packaging, I will say this: Sometimes it’s unavoidable, so don’t beat yourself up over the occasional indulgence — after all, even Meg and I will succumb to certain food or enviro vices at times. For instance, at a friend’s wedding recently, we both got a little peckish before dinner, and in unison reached into our purses and pulled out two food bars. Here’s the photographic documentation:

peckishnerds

Admittedly, they were both raw, unprocessed, preservative-free, [insert a few other hippie-and-nutritionist-friendly terms here] food bars, so it wasn’t as though we were secretly noshing on Cheetos. But still, my aim is to be at least 90% on-target with all my green goals and values, so although I allow the occasional pre-packaged nonsense, I always try to make up for it with something like a garbage-free weekend.

With that, happy cleansing! Or just happy green-eating and garbage-minimizing in general! There’s no such thing as too much loose, organic kale, people… no such thing…

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This one’s for Beth…

April 26, 2009
Sickatating plastic crap on the beach

Sickatating plastic crap on the beach

I just had a beautiful day on Toronto Island, biking around, eating good food, flying my new rainbow kite, playing frisbee, and generally being as wholesome as it gets — but when I took a walk on the beach, there was so much plastic junk everywhere, I couldn’t help but feel a bit depressed (if only Beth at Fake Plastic Fish could see this… actually, if she did, she might have some sort of petroleum-induced seizure, so perhaps it’s better that she didn’t). Anyway, I wanted to start cleaning it up, but there was so much, it really would require an entire afternoon’s worth of labour, not to mention a few garbage bags and a pair of rubber gloves. For a second, I thought maybe I should wait for the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to roll around, so I could at least tackle the job with some other volunteers, but apparently this doesn’t start until September.

Ugh. Do any of you find your beaches horribly cluttered with garbage? Or is it just Toronto? What do you do when you see all of this junk? Start picking it up, or hope someone else does? And what do you find is most often tossed on your shores? Because while the plastic cups weren’t that surprising, I was somewhat taken aback at the giant Listerine bottle. Maybe these things were thrown in the water by careless drunken morons on their powerboats and the lake just barfed them up here.

Either way, I think I need a return visit for the sole purpose of once again fixing other people’s mistakes.


Fixing other people’s green mistakes (Day 365)…

February 28, 2008

bumper

Ugh. Day 365. Today was the day I’d been looking forward to for so long. It was the day when this challenge was to finally be complete, when I could officially say “I did it” and reflect upon a full year of green changes.

Then, someone decided to make it a leap year.

Damn you, Gregorian calendar!!

But that’s fine, tomorrow isn’t so far away, and at least it gives me a bit of extra time to spend with you, my faithful readers.

Anyway, as I was walking home one evening this week, which happened to be the night before collection day for garbage and recycling, I noticed one household had left out a Blue Bin with Styrofoam in it. Not cool! This could very well mean that instead of getting sorted out at the depot, the whole lot just gets tossed out — same goes for pizza boxes, bottle caps and light bulbs. As Alina has mentioned before, there are rules that come with recycling, and if you screw them up it could mean a chain reaction that ends up with everything going straight to the dump.

So I stopped, plucked out the Styrofoam container — which had some gross red substance oozing out of it — and put it in the garbage, where it belonged. While it’s frustrating that, after decades of organized recycling, people still can’t sort things out properly, I can sympathize with the fact that there are so many different materials, and often the City will update their operations to include an item that previously couldn’t be processed.

Therefore, instead of taking the misanthropic route of cursing people’s ignorance and walking by, I’m going to make sure I stop and take the time to right the recycling wrongs in this world.

Image of a car bumper placed most erroneously in a recycling bin courtesy of Mr. T in DC on Flickr