No makeup! (I’m not making this up) (Day 342)…

February 5, 2008


All right, kids, we’ve got just over three weeks left of this challenge, so it’s time to start getting a little crazy. Time to do stuff no sane person could ever be expected to keep up for a year, time to make some changes that are over-the-top impractical and outrageous, because I’ll never have to do this again! I think I’ll call this the “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me” series.

The first installment? No more makeup.

For the boys, and some of the more confident girls out there, this is totally no biggie. But try to understand that I’ve been wearing eyeshadow, eyeliner, concealer and blush almost every single day since I was 15. As you can tell from the occasional photo of me on this site, it’s not as though I wear tons of makeup, but there’s no way I leave the house without it.

Fortunately, I’m working from home this entire month, and by home I mean a friend’s cottage up in Creemore, so basically no one will see me except the guy who comes to plow the driveway and the cleaning lady.

The green reason behind this? Well, to use less product, of course. I realize this negates some previous changes, like buying all-natural eyeshadow, lip stick and bronzer, but at this point in the game, I’m hoping you can forgive the occasional bit of redundancy.

Photo of an eyelash curler courtesy of Taiyo! on Flickr

Dual-flush with joy (Day 339)…

February 2, 2008

dual flush

Although installing a dual-flush toilet may not seem like a very Simple Saturday change, it is for me — because it was already installed! To my surprise, when I moved into the new place and used the bathroom, I noticed the handle had a little symbol on it with instructions to push forward for a wee flush and backwards for a full flush.

Woohoo! Of course, I’ll probably still keep to pledge #166 and throw a filled water bottle in there just to be extra-green, but I love that I can finally make a substantial change without actually doing anything (other than, you know, buying a house).

P.S. For those who haven’t yet heard about my successful green move, Lloyd Alter was kind enough to write about it over here on Treehugger (he says it was only partially successful because a truck was used for some of it and he ended up driving to my place on top of that, but still — I’d say we did a good job, and at least showed a few onlookers that it was possible to cram pillows, a VCR player and half a kitchen onto a cargo bike).

Image from these dudes

Lrng shrthnd 2 b eco-frndly (Day 329)…

January 23, 2008


Today I had to cover this press conference for the Charles Taylor Prize and at the last minute realized my digital tape recorder was out of batteries, which meant I was going to have to take notes — good notes. The problem is, I don’t take good notes. I either scrawl everything so illegibly that I can’t read it afterwards, or I choose to write down the least important words, like “books good lots never make try,” which is hardly helpful.

Now while I’ve already greened my reporting in one way, namely taking smaller notes and using both sides of the page, I’m now determined to take it to the next level: I’m going to learn shorthand.

This will mean I’ll use even less paper, and I might not even need a tape recorder if I get fast enough at it, which means using fewer batteries.

I found this site, The Basics of Pitman Shorthand, which explains a lot. Pitman is basically the original shorthand, from what I can tell, and is purely geometric; but there’s also Gregg, which is American (why must Americans always have their own special versions of things?), and Teeline — these are both script-geometric. Not sure which one’s best.

I’m hoping it won’t take too long to pick up, although those diphthongs could be tricky (OK, really, I was just looking for an excuse to say diphthong…. Haha, diphthong).

An elemental change (Day 321)…

January 15, 2008

stove element

Unngggghh. Today is not a good day, fellow Thistlers. Last night, I ended up cooking a rather late dinner of quinoa and steamed collard greens (local, organic … do I even need to point this out?) with olive oil and toasted pumpkin seeds, followed by some stress for dessert, after which I promptly hit the sack. Now, because I’m susceptible to tummy cramps — specifically, tummy cramps that feel as though some demented clown has made a balloon animal out of my intestines — I thought to myself, “Hmm, I just consumed a lot of roughage, got stressed and am now in a horizontal position; perhaps this is not the wisest decision.” So before falling asleep, I took some time to massage my tum, helping things move along.

Yeah, well, come 3:30 a.m., I get woken up by excruciating pain in my mid-section. It feels like a collard green alien is going to burst out of my stomach and start attacking my face. I have no idea if the massage made it worse or just made it come on sooner, but either way, I was up for the next four hours, pacing back and forth, alternating between a hot water bottle and moans of desperation, between sips of chamomile tea and dry heaving. It was lovely, to say the least.

I’m feeling more or less all right now — the bagel with cheddar cheese I just ate is making a much better impression on my bowels than the quinoa and greens (sorry, Meg, I know how you loathe gluten and dairy, but maybe my British genes are just wired this way).

What the eff does this have to do with today’s change, you ask? Well, nothing really, but here’s a bit of a tie-in: While I was cooking dinner last night on my stove, I had to use two elements. Automatically I put the frying pan and pot on the two front burners — the right one is small, the left one is bigger — but then I realized it would save more energy to use the second small burner at the back of the stove instead. Yes, it would require a bit more reaching, but the pan would surely get just as hot as it would on the larger element, and according to Green is Sexy, this could save up to 40% of the energy required.

I’m also going to make sure I keep the surface of the stove clean (it’s glass-top), so there won’t be any crusty collard remnants getting in between the heat source and the bottom of the pan.

Photo courtesy of this guy on Flickr

Go big or go home (Day 308)…

January 2, 2008


All right, it’s been a while since I’ve made a drastic change at Green as a Thistle, so here’s a big one for ya: I’m giving up plastic! Well, sort of — I won’t be giving it up entirely, but I’m not buying any new plastic until my challenge is over. This may seem totally impossible, but I figure, hey, if EnviroWoman can do it, so can the Thistle.

My prediction: This will be manageable for the next couple months, but it’s not something I’ll stick with in the long run. It’ll be easy in that I already have my own tote bags, bulk containers and other refillable bottles, plus I’m not planning on restocking my medicine cabinet anytime soon, and I’ve already given up things like tape, highlighters and glossy magazines.

However, I also realize that plastic is in EVERYTHING. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about my soy milk, which comes in a TetraPak, and I’ll definitely need to switch coffee brands because the ones I get now either have a resealable Ziploc-style closure or are lined with a plastic coating.

In terms of the rules and exceptions surrounding this, I’ll pretty much be sticking to whatever guidelines EnviroWoman has laid out (you can find them on her site). The one disclaimer I do want to make now, though, is that if I’m purchasing something and I’m given two choices and plastic somehow manages to represent the lesser evil, I’ll go with plastic.

I’m sure many problems and dilemmas will occur with regards to this, but I’ll just have to cross each bridge when I come to it and try to make the most ethical decision.

Image courtesy of this guy

Organic organization (Day 299)…

December 24, 2007


The other week, reader Sara delivered an urgent singing telegram to Thistle Headquarters. Actually it was just an email, but haven’t you always wanted to get an urgent telegram, or a singing telegram, or even better, an urgent singing telegram? ANYWAY, she mentioned how she’d recently done a little clean-up and came across all these binder clips she thought were lost. Sara was relieved she wouldn’t have to buy more of them, which in turn led her to realize how important cleanliness and organization is with regards to the green movement — knowing where stuff is means you’re less likely to forget about it; this in turn means you’re less likely to buy more of it, then find out some years down the road that, funnily enough, you’ve somehow accumulated seven staplers.

Besides this, a good clean-up session lets you discover clothes, kitchen gadgets, photos, tools and more that might otherwise have gone unused, which is just a waste of space. And if there’s something you realize has been collecting dust for a reason (like, say, that stupid Magic 8-Ball that always gives the wrong answer), it’s the perfect opportunity to Freecycle it.

Change #299, then, will be to start getting myself organized, room by room, cupboard by cupboard. I’ve already tackled the “random paperwork, extra sets of keys and knick-knack” drawer and most of my closet, but the goal will be to get every nook and cranny organized before I move out by the end of January. And it all starts today!

Or maybe tomorrow.

Photo of an obsessive-compulsive anal-retentive well-organized closet courtesy of these guys

Tape stucks (Day 276)…

December 1, 2007


This post is dedicated to my dear friend Kelly, who’s currently working across the pond in London. Things Kelly loves include Old Dutch potato chips, The Drowsy Chaperone and wearing fake glasses. Things he hates include peanuts (he’s allergic), conversations about cat pee and/or poo, and the sensation of tape on his skin.

Well, he’ll be happy to know that I’ve decided not to use any more tape, whether masking or Scotch, no matter how handy it would be in wrapping gifts this holiday season. Instead, I figure I’ll just buff up on my origami skills and try some artful folding techniques.

Granted, I’ve already pledged to not use any paper when wrapping presents unless it’s scrap from around the house, but still, I think this makes for a good Simple Saturday change.

Image courtesy of these dudes.