Monday, April 28, 2008

Change # 18 - 'ohmygodohmygodohmygod'

This week my mind is as far away from Green as... crap, I don't know, a big fat Hummer idling away in the drive thru of a McDonald's.

My disconnect from all things green is because in six very short days I'm going back to work full time (after being off for the last 13 months with my cutiepie). I sort of feel bad complaining since, I realize just how lucky I am to have been off for the last year with 93% of my pay. I mean... it's really kind of crazy when you consider that some women around the world in 'civilized' countries like the States only get six to 12 weeks maternity leave. The idea of leaving Ian at 12 months is killing me, leaving him all day at six weeks, well that's just seriously NUTS! In any case, I really shouldn't complain since, in addition to having a year off paid, my sister (EarthMotherExtraordinaire) who lives only two blocks away, and has a home daycare will be taking care of Ian. I know. Seriously. I have NO BUSINESS complaining... and yet. There is this sadness that is gnawing at the corners of my heart. I've been in major denial about it for several weeks now. Trying to live in the moment. Trying to enjoy every single remaining minute of our days together (even the ones where I'm being yelled at 'NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA' for reasons I can't quite figure out). But as I get closer to May 5th there is no denying the sadness. It's not like I'm leaving him forever. I mean, it's only nine hours a day... but he'll do so much growing and learning in those hours that I won't get to see. Yet, despite being sad. I'm still really grateful. I'm SO lucky. This year has been a blessing. One of the most important and life changing. Sad and grateful. Not a bad combination really.

Our green change: I planted organic seeds this week for cherry tomatoes, green onions, a bunch of different herbs and other things. My sister and I are attempting to plant a full on vegetable garden this year. EAT LOCAL! Hopefully that's just what we'll be doing.... you can't get much more local than your own back yard. Planting a garden means: 1) not using pesticides 2) avoiding the packaging that some veggies come in 3) reducing the carbon footprint of our produce 4) using some of the compost we've been making for over a year now 5) developing an appreciation for our farmers and the hard work that they do 6) getting our hands dirty 7) sharing the bounty (?) with our friends!

We'll also be picking up and planting our 'free tree' from the city this week. You really can't get much greener than planting a tree. Which is kind of ironic considering how much I really hated planting trees when I worked for the MNR as a junior forest ranger at the ripe old age of seventeen. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to give a seventeen year old the keys to a 1984 Dodge Ram pick-up truck for an entire summer? If you know of anyone whose turning 17 next year... it's an amazing summer experience! I'm hoping the program will still be around for my kids to experience.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Change #17- No more cases of 'pop'

So far, many of our changes have been about replacing products we normally buy with environmentally friendly ones (diapers, toothbrushes, batteries, clothing etc). This week's change is a little different. It's about not buying something. Because, Derek is right, being green is about not buying stuff, just reducing our consumption of everything in general. So, this week we are comitting to no longer buying cases of soft drinks. We normally buy one case of 'pop' per week.

This may seem like an easy change... but somehow I became a Diet Coke addict. Some people drink coffee, some people drink tea or juice -I drink Diet Coke. I must have at least one can a day (sometimes I even have two -my bones really hate me). Derek recently kicked his Diet Coke/coffee habit. Fifty days ago he gave up drinking booze, coffee and soft drinks. I never, ever thought I would see the day that Derek would give up drinking Diet Coke (he often had 2-3 a day). But he did it and he says he feels better than he has in years. So, now it's my turn. As much as it pains me and my mouth is watering right now at the thought of those delicious bubbles, we are no longer going to be buying soft drinks for the house. This doesn't mean I won't ever have a pop now and then. But since there won't be any in the house... I'll be drastically reducing my consumption that's for sure. This means fewers cans in our recycling bin, which means a little less energy will be used to recycle them and less energy used to produce them in the first place.

I guess that leaves tap water. Good thing I really like water!

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! It feels like things are finally progressing on the eco front. Ontario is banning pesticides for lawn and garden use and BPA has finally been declared a toxic substance by the federal government.

My parents are on the eco bandwagon too! Cleaning their house with green products, using reusable bags for shopping, being conscious of their consumption of electricity and generally just being very eco-conscious which is awesome!

Change#17 coming soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Change # 16 - Paper towels (used in emergencies only)

When Ian was born we received many, many, many beautiful gifts. We really appreciated all of them. We were also very lucky that a friend from work (that I didn't even know that well) very kindly offered to lend us a bunch of baby things. She lent us: a Peg Perego Infant car seat (which fit in our Peg Perego stroller), a baby bathtub, a co-sleeper thingey, a baby swing, two mobiles, a baby monitor and some clothes. We easily could have afforded to buy all of these things brand new but what I really loved about borrowing them instead, is that we were 'reusing' them which meant fewer of all of these things would end up in the landfill. What I also soon learned, is that, babies grow at an astonishing rate and they quickly outgrow everything in their first year (some things we never even used, like the swing... he hated it). So why buy new when you can beg, borrow and reuse? Hopefully we'll be able to do the same with our second baby.

Where am I going with this? Oh yeah. We also received gently used items like several used receiving blankets which had seen better days. Instead of donating them or throwing them out (which I could never do anyway) I cut them all into four pieces. They make amazing rags. They are soft and don't fray at the edges and I've been able to wash and reuse them several times now and they are still very nice. So I'm commiting to only using these rags now when I clean the house. No more paper towels. I will only use them in dire emergencies... like when Bagel 'mistakes' the dining room floor for a fire hydrant (which thankfully rarely happens these days). Whose kidding who?... those aren't 'accidents'. They are carefully plotted reminders that he is the master of his bladder, thank you very much, and how DARE YOU leave the house and go for walks with the hairless puppy (also known as Ian) and leave me here all alone!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

15 week re-cap

It’s been 15 weeks since we started our green’olution (have you ever noticed that the difference between the words resolution and revolution is only one letter?) and so far so good. Probably the hardest change has been to remember to clean our furnace filter every 60 days... the furnace seems so far away sometimes. The Energy audit was fun and we learned a lot (we’re still waiting for our rebate from the government). I love my Druide moisturizer and am planning on replacing more of my beauty products with Druide’s line as I need it. I’ve noticed a reduction of junk mail in our mailbox which makes me happy (though some flyers still get delivered... if I ever catch those flyer guys... I'm considering doing a stake-out... can't you read? NO flyers PLEASE!!!). I’m LOVING E-post (it actually makes paying bills sort of fun!). I’m counting down the days until May 1st so that I can officially switch us over to Bullfrog Power (and also counting down in a sad way because my days at home with my baby are numbered). The G Diapers are pretty cool. I haven’t had a chance to use them very much yet so I’m reserving my final judgement on them until I do. I LOVE my green toothbrush. It’s angled in a nice way that makes it easier to clean the inside of your mouth. I haven’t seen my dentist yet but when I do I’ll be talking to him about them. The toothbrush did spark a little tiff between Derek and I a few weeks ago which started like this:

Me: I got you a surprise.
Derek: Let me guess, a toothbrush.
Me: How’d you know?
Derek: A toothbrush isn’t really a surprise... this’ gift’ is more for you than it is for me. Why are you spending all of our money on all this ‘green crap’? Isn't being green about NOT buying stuff?
Me: For your information I paid for them with my own money, and it’s NOT crap. If you’re going to buy a toothbrush anyway, why not buy a green one?

And on it went from there... this is not to say that Derek doesn’t support this challenge, but he’s more of a sceptic than I am. Which I suppose in some ways is a good thing. It always comes down to the money issue doesn't it? While I agree that there are probably some green products and companies that are only in it for the money, I think that in most cases it is worth paying a little extra money up front which usually ends up saving us money in the end. Besides you pay for what you get and our planet and our human health is worth it. After seeing the story of stuff (it really is worth the 20 minutes of your time) I had an epiphany. All of this green stuff is more pricey for a reason... because they reflect the 'true cost' of making the stuff. Sure other things might be less pricey but what is the 'real cost' of those items to our planet and our health? It's definitely worth your money folks!

By far though, one of the best outcomes of this challenge so far has been hearing from friends and family about the changes they’ve been making in their own lives. It is really inspiring and motivating! Woo hoo! Go GreenFamFriends!

Change #15 - Low Flow Shower Head

This change is something that we've been meaning to do for a LONG time. Why haven't we done it sooner? There are no good excuses really, we just haven't gotten around to it -until now (which is what this challenge is all about, making green changes a priority). This week, we'll be heading down to our local hardware store and buying a low flow shower head and replacing our existing (and probably very wasteful) shower head. That's it. It shouldn't cost us very much but will save gallons and gallons of water over the long term.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Bullfrogger

Just found out another friend made the switch to Bullfrog Power. Go Jenny!! That's two people so far that I know of... anyone else out there making the switch?

Change # 14 - Rechargeable batteries

About two years ago we did something really dumb. We bought a wireless mouse and keyboard for our computer. I didn’t realize at the time that it would mean having to use batteries for each of these devices. First of all, who needs a wireless mouse and keyboard anyway? It’s not like you can use them while you’re walking around the house. You still need to be sitting at your computer which makes the whole wireless thing seem pretty darn pointless. Secondly, the batteries are always dying, at the most inconvenient times too, like when I need to make an RRSP contribution before the tax deadline or respond to an important email from Oprah.

We do own a battery charger, but we only own two AA rechargeable batteries. This week’s change is that we’re going to buy more rechargeable batteries. This means we won’t have to buy any disposable batteries which is 1) better for the environment because it means fewer batteries being disposed of long term 2) it will save us money 3) we will make sure to bring the used disposable batteries we do have lying around the house to someplace like IKEA who promise to dispose of them in a safe way instead of putting them in our garbage 4) we will also start to really limit the number of products we buy that need batteries... it’s amazing how many battery operated things sneak into your life once you have a baby.

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