10.28.2008

0 Greening your Bathroom

The bathroom is an easy place to forget when you are improving your green lifestyle. It is also one of the easiest rooms in your house to make changes in. There are lots of ways to reduce the amount of water and energy you are consuming, some of which are tools you have to purchase, others are require a behaviour change.



Shower
How long do you typically shower for each day? The average shower head uses 5 gallons of water per minute (low flow is under 2.5). If you shower for 10 minutes a day then you would be consuming 50 gallons of water just from the shower.

What can you do to reduce your environmental impact from your shower?
* Keep your shower time to under 5 minutes
* Don't shave with the water running in the shower
* Invest in a low flow shower head
* Lower the water temperature on your hot water heater
* Use baking soda, castile soap and vinegar to clean
* Use old toothbrushes to scrub your tile
* Look for tiles that are made locally or purchase from a reuse store
* Use biodegradable shampoo and soap

Toilet
When Joey and I first started dating I was in shock at his water usage. He would throw a tissue in the toilet and then flush it. Why Joey why??? The average toilet uses 5 gallons of water (low flow is under 2 gallons)

What can you do to reduce your environmental impact from your toilet?
* Don't flush it just to flush it
* You could follow the If it's yellow let it mellow philosophy
* Invest in a low flow toilet
* Don't use those toilet pucks that put chemicals into the toilet and down the drain with each flush

Sinks
What can you do to reduce your environmental impact from your sinks?
* Use biodegradable hand soaps
* Turn the water off when you are not using it
* Look for toothbrushes that can be recycled or return them to TerraCycle


Decor
What can you do to decor to make your bathroom more environmentally friendly?
* Purchase organic cotton towels
* Put window treatments on the windows and use them to keep your energy costs down
* Ensure you have a fan and that you change/clean the filter on a regular basis
* Put the fan on a timer so it goes off 60 minutes after you finish showering
* Use CF light bulbs for all your lighting
* Paint the room with VOC free paint
* Look at antiques for furniture and storage solutions
* Upcycle glass jars for storage solutions

What are your tips for greening your bathroom?

10.25.2008

0 Staying Green On Vacation

There is no need to check your "greenness" at the door when you are on vacation. While the inherent act of taking a vacation is not green there are simple things you can do to reduce its overall impact.   



Transit
* Rent a hybrid car and sign up for a local carshare if you need a vehicle
* If driving with a group, consider carpooling together
* Take the train, subway or the bus
* Buy carbon credits to offset the emissions from your trip

Food
* Pick local foods off the menu
* Take healthy and sustainable snacks with you
* Bring reusable containers for liquids and utensils to avoid producing plastic waste
* Shop at the local market for quick and easy breakfast and lunches
* Look for restaurants that serve organic food

Lodging
* Ask for your linens to not be changed every day
* Look for hotels and recycle and compost
* Find a hotel that is centrally located to minimize the amount of transportation you will need
* Stay at a green hotel that is Eco Rated

Shopping
* Support local businesses instead of the big chain stores
* Look for craft markets

What are your tips for staying green while away?

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10.22.2008

3 Cool Product - Plastic Bag Bag


We use reuseable bags now for groceries but we still have loads of plastic bags leftover from years ago. We slowly use them up for things like kitty litter but I found this really cool craft idea that would get rid of them all. I have not had a chance to make one yet (would have to learn how to crochet first) but I thought I would post the link to the instructions so others could try it out.

10.18.2008

4 Tip of the Day - Green Dry Cleaners

Dry cleaning can have a nasty impact on the environment. The chemicals used in the process can end up in the air and in the water, which means they are impacting not only the environment but our health. There are alternatives to traditional dry cleaning, one of which is GreenEarth which uses liquid silicone to clean your clothes. When silicone breaks down it creates sand, water and traces of carbon dioxide. 

Other ways you can reduce the impact from getting your clothes dry cleaned are:
* Wear clothes more than once before you get them cleaned
* When buying clothes look for those that are not 'Dry Clean Only'
* Take your own reusable garment bags instead of getting the plastic wrap

Click here to find a dry cleaner in your area that is using safer products as part of their process. 

10.17.2008

0 Me to We Day

Today is National Me to We Day. It is a day that challenges our youth to think about their impact on the world and to come up with ideas on how to live their lives in a more sustainable manner. Thousands of students in the Toronto area will particpate in the festivities but you can also tune it at www.ctv.ca/metowe.

It's not just students who can benefit from this day. Take a few moments and think about your own life. How do your actions, whether big or small, impact others around the world? That coffee you had this morning....where did the beans come from? Your shoes....what country were they made in? Everyone's actions have an impact on someone, but it doesn't have to be negative, it can be a positive.

Here are some things different individuals and organizations are doing to celebrate Me to We Day

What can you do today to switch from thinking about 'me' to 'we'?

0 Bisphenol A is Officially Toxic

This weekend the Canadian government will announce that Bisphenol A is toxic and will no longer be in any baby bottles that are manufactured in Canada. We will be the first country to declare this.

For more information on Canada's decision check out the Canadian Gazette this weekend.

10.16.2008

3 Green Washing

I am away on business this week and the hotel I am staying at has one of those signs in the bathroom indicating that the environment is important to them and that if you do xyz with your towels they won't wash them every day. You know..the standard stuff that hotels have now. As I jump into the shower I notice it is a dual headed one. And it is in now way low flow. It made me laugh. I know that every business can not be green but they can at least do simple things like not having dual headed showers. To me that doesn't really reflect the environmental philosophy they mention on their little towel sign.

10.14.2008

3 A Green City - Masdar

We make green decisions every day but what if one of the biggest decisions you will make as an adult could be completely green. I am talking about the city in which you decide to live. There are lots of green options when it comes to building a house but this concept goes beyond that and targets the entire city.

In Abu Dhabi there is a project under to build such a city, a city called Masdar. The plan is to make this city the first zero-carbon footprint and zero waste city in the world. Check out a video of the proposal.


What will make this city green? Here are a few examples.

The city will be 100% car free. Imagine the amount of emissions this would cut out of your city. Even just imagine the difference in noise pollution. Instead of cars the city will use solar powered magnetic transit.

The city will be powered by 100% renewable energy. Air conditioning (which lets face it is a necessity in this climate) will be powered by wind technology. Buildings will be designed to ensure that energy consumption will be minimal.

Waste will be converted to energy. There will be extensive recycling and composting systems.

80% of water will be recycled. It will be reused over and over again, even the water used on crops will be reused.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you lived in a city like this? When you see nations pouring their time, money and research time into projects like this it really makes you stop and look at what our own country is spending its money on. Although I have to say there is a small bit of creepiness to this project. Do you get to be an individual at all or are all homes exactly the same? Will everything be made in the city and thereby limiting your options for things like clothing?

10.10.2008

1 What's all the Buzzzz about?

I am allergic to bees. I remember camping when we were young and I went into the tent to get changed. A bee was in there (dun dun dun). It got caught in my shirt as I was taking it off and it stung me right in my armpit. While this was very amusing to my family, it was not pleasant for me. My armpit swelled right out....almost like a reverse armpit.

A few friends of mine are passionate about bees. A lot has been going on with the bee population lately. You may or may not have heard anything about it. I am not sure I would know anything about it if it wasn't for Sam and Lily. Rather than trying to figure it all out on my own I thought I would ask them a few questions about the current bee problem.

What is the current problem with the bee population?
The honey bees are flying away from their hives and not coming back. This includes the queen which is completely unheard of.

What is causing this problem?
Part of the problem is that there isn't a full understanding of colony collapse disorder and what causes it. Scientists think it's anything from overuse of pesticides, working the bees too hard (transporting them all over the country and not giving them any breaks), cell-phone signals interfering with their communication, possible virus(es) attacking the bees that have either mutated or the bees can no longer fight off due to a weakened immune system (brought on by the pesticides and over-working).

Another cause is invasive species killing off native pollinators. The varroa and trachea mites are both invasive species from Asia. As well as the wax moth which moves into weakened hives and uses it to form their own colonies, thus completely destroying that hive. Hives are even lost to both mites, and then the moth move in to finish off the hives. Once the moth moves in, you have to burn the wooden hive structure. You can't use it again for another hive.

What can people do to help?
There is lots of small things that people can do to help the honey bee population as well as have an overall positive impact on the environment.

* Buy organic. The less pesticides used, the better the air (and flowers) are for the bees.
* Donate, if you can, to a bee research charity (Pollinator, Help the Honey Bees)
* If you have a yard, plant flowers in it. Plant a wide variety, lots of colors, and different bloom times. This way the bees have a constant supply of food for as long as possible.
* Seek out and support local beekeepers. These people are the ones who have the most intimate relationships with the bees and we need their knowledge in finding a cause/cure for colony collapse disorder.
*Education. The most simple thing you can learn is the difference between a wasp/hornet and a honey bee. People are scared of bees, and once you learn that they will not attack unless provoked the better the chances are of a hive surviving from human interference.

Have you ever seen the Bee Movie? If you haven't watch it as it really explains the importance of the bees. Lily had a good point about the importance of bees and I think the general lack of education on what they do for our planet. "[People] wonder why apples suddenly jumped in price. Or why certain vegetables cost an arm and a leg. Bees, it's all about the bees." Without the bees we will lose all of our fruits and vegetables. It will affect cattle as well. These little fuzzy buzzy insects will affect our whole way of life if they aren't doing their "job".

Resources


Photos courtesy of Sam and Lily

10.09.2008

0 What is The Shift?

Yesterday I posted the clip from the movie The Shift. So what is The Shift? I see it as a fundamental change in the way we as the human race are impacting our planet and each other. We are taking responsibility for our past mistakes, our current actions and our future. We are saying 'no' more than ever and re-defining what we as a planet find socially acceptable. One person can make a difference and when the efforts of millions of individuals combine together the 'shift' will continue to occur.

How do I fit in? Tough question. I have asked myself that alot over the last few days. Am I doing enough? Am I a good role model? Am I giving back more than I am taking? At this time I can not answer these questions. My gut is telling me no on all accounts and I do not think that it is just me being hard on myself. I just think I can do more. My impact can be greater, my voice can be stronger. The one thing I do know is my passion. This is my passion. I just need to figure out what to do with it and how to make the most of it.

10.08.2008

1 The Shift

This clip is powerful. We watched it in a team building session last week and I became overwhelmed with emotion. It made me question alot of things about my life and its direction. Over the next few weeks I will be posting about some interesting things I have thought about and that will continue to make me think about the path I am on.

Enjoy the clip.

http://www.theshiftmovie.com/

10.05.2008

0 Election 2008

We watched the debate last week and for me it provided me with a bit more clarity on who I want to vote for. There is just so much information to sift through in order to make an informed decision. Obviously for us one important part of the candidate's platform is the environment. Everyone has a stance on it but when you start to look into it you can really see a difference between the plans.

Vote for the Environment. Take a look at each plan and consider them when you are deciding which candidate to vote for. Look at the federal plans as well as anything at your local level.

Canada
Liberal
Conservatives
NDP
Bloc
Green Party

US
Republican Party
Democratic Party

10.04.2008

0 Eat Local Challenge - Day 4

Today we did our grocery shopping for the next few weeks. We were able to get lots of local fresh produce. So far I have used it to make vegetable soup, salads, fruit salad and vegetable pancakes. One thing I do not understand though is how produce from Ontario is more expensive then produce being brought in from the US or South America.

I love this time of the year. The apples are so big and delicious. That reminds me, I need to get some apple cider. It is my favourite drink when I need to warm up a bit.

10.01.2008

0 Eat Local Challenge - Day 1

Today is the start of the Eat Local Challenge, which runs for the month of October. We plan on participating as often as possible this month. It should be easy since there are such great resources in Ontario that we can pick from. The produce and meat is really fantastic here. I think it also helps that we are in are area that has loads of farms and 2 farmers markets that are opened year round.

Next year we plan on putting in a vegetable and herb garden. Now that is eating locally!

What is our definition of local?
Food from within the province of Ontario. Either purchased at the farmers market or the grocery store.

Exemptions
Green tea at work
Food while I am in CA although I will eat local CA food whenever possible)
Food while in Europe (will eat local food while there)

Goal for this Challenge
To support the local farmers and businesses.