4.29.2010

1 Buying Organic

Let's face it organic food is not cheap. For some the economics of it all plays a massive part in whether they chose to eat organic or not. We have seen a spike in the cost of our groceries since we started buying organic. Do we buy everything organic? Nope. Sometimes we can't find it or sometimes it is just too expensive. I mean really if you have the option of paying $2/Pear or $0.30/Pear which are you going to pick? 

We try to stick to buying organic when it makes sense. So for us that means the Dirty Dozen. These are the top 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide usage. Here is a sneak peak at the new 2010 Guide. (the link to the website still has the 2009 Guide). Items that are on the Clean 15 we tend to not buy organic unless there is a really good sale on. For us this is just a way to make it affordable to buy organic where it counts. 

Keep this list handy! Print this out and put it in your wallet, or put it in your smartphone as a memo.

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4.28.2010

0 Me? An Environmentalist?


Sometimes people ask me how I became the way that I did with regards to the environment. It is a good question because I have been this way for a very long time. I was "into" the environment long before it became the hip thing to do. Long before Al Gore documentaries, Earth Hour and green blogs. Back when cloth diapering was cool (before it became uncool then cool again) and we didn't know the dangers of plastics and GMO's.

What I mean is that I have always been an environmentalist. As a child it was just part of my upbringing. As an adult I chose to make it a bigger part of my life...my career...my passion.

My parents are probably the biggest factor that made me who I am today. As kids we spent a lot of time outdoors. We spent practically the whole summer camping somewhere up north. When we weren't camping we were hiking or learning about nature through Girl Guides. My dad made his own solar panels and put them on our roof over 25 years ago to heat the pool (correct me if my timing is wrong Mom). I don't think he did it for environmental reasons but because it just made sense when you consider the economics of trying to heat a pool vs your 3 children screaming because the water is too cold.  But regardless they had a positive environmental impact!

We were never very wasteful. My mom made a lot of our clothes and if we got a rip in our jeans she would sew the coolest patch over it. We went to the library instead of buying books new, painted yellow fishes beside storm drains all over town, picked up garbage, planted trees.

When I was in highschool I took several environmental classes and fell in love with being in the "field". I always loved classes with a lab component but being out there in nature and running tests was a whole other level of awesome. When I got into an environmental program at University I was thrilled. I spent the next 4 years of my life surrounded by like minded people who wanted to make the world a better place. It was a combination of my junior thesis, senior thesis and a Green Business class that led me down the path towards my career. I could have gone into government, ENGO's, consulting but nope I decided that for me the best way to make change was within industry. And 10 years later here I am still doing what I love and still trying to make change from within industry instead of fighting against it.

What makes you an environmentalist? Have you always been this way or did something cause you to change your lifestyle?

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4.26.2010

2 3 for 3


For 2 years now we have been saying we need to get a rug for our family room. Everytime we go to find one we would get discouraged by the cost. Seriously are there people out there who pay $3000 for an area rug???? If so can we come live with you?

Yesterday we went to a local store and looked at just getting some carpet cut and edged to make an area rug. So much more affordable. We looked at samples and narrowed it down to our top 3 and got quotes for them. Oddly enough it turns out we picked rugs with recycled content in them. All 3 of them! I knew one did because it had big signs with info (and it was Dupont so they were specifically marketing the eco line of carpets) but I had no clue about the other 2. Guess I just have an eye for this sort of thing (or as Joe would say I was just lucky).

I was impressed that the price wasn't jacked up because it was a greener choice either. Well the Dupont was twice the price but that is more for the name than the environment I believe. I went into the process thinking that we couldn't afford to even think about green options and man was I wrong. My advice would be to go into any  purchase with an open mind about the green options. You never know what you may find that fits your budget and your conscious.

In 7-10 business days this girl is going to be super excited to rub her toes in the nice warm carpet that has less of an impact on the environment then a regular carpet.

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4.22.2010

0 Have you met our apple tree?

We have a big backyard and when we moved in there was nothing in it. No trees, no bushes, no flowers, no grass. Well there is "grass" just not good grass. It is more of a patchy/weedy/stab at your feet as you walk on it type of "grass". What does that have to do with an apple tree you ask? Nothing...so anyways I was checking out Craigslist looking for stuff and went into the Free section. The first ad was for an apple tree. I thought for sure I would open the ad to find some sort of joke about an "apple tree" and some blurry picture of a very hairy man that you typically find on Craigslist. Instead there was a real ad for a 7 foot apple tree. I emailed and it was all ours...all we had to do was go and pick it up.



So Joe went with some guys from work and although I was not there to witness this in my head the rest of their day was hilarious. The tree was not 7 feet. It was 14 feet. Joe and the guys stuffed that tree into the pickup truck and proceeded on the hellish drive home. You see that apple tree was not in the same city as us. It was an hour away (near where Joe worked). To get it home they had to drive on the 401 (think major highway) in rush hour.

Let me paint a picture here for you. The pickup is not 14 feet (plus roots) long so the tree is hanging off the back. It actually is dragging on the road. As Joe tells me this story I imagine apples flying all over the 401 but thankfully there were no apples on the tree. They get it home (and are really grumpy for some reason) and start digging the hole for it.  Sadly one side of the tree lost its battle with the 401. As I look at these pictures I can only imagine what Joe thought when he first saw the apple tree. It is huge. Not only is it 14 feet tall but it is so wide. It has been in our backyard for 2 years now and while we have no apples growing yet it is doing wonderfully.



I am not posting about apple trees to ignore the fact that today is Earth Day but rather to celebrate it. We plan on planting another tree (not from Craigslist) this weekend to honour the birth of our son last August. I anticipate a lot less swearing with the transportation and planting of this tree.

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4.20.2010

28 Green Cleaner Giveaway - CLOSED


Gloves Off is a new line of green cleaning solutions that will tackle tough stains, hard water deposits, spills and household germs. I will be receiving some samples to try out as part of my Green Cleaner Reviews but in the meantime I have been given 2 packages to giveaway both of which include:

Natural Action Disinfectant - this all natural product is non toxic, biodegradable and eliminates bacteria, viruses and odor causing germs. It is also a Health Canada registered disinfectant meaning it works against H1N1 and Influenza A.

Calcium, Line & Rust Remover - is non corrosive and biodegradable. *must not make jokes about competitors cheesy commercials*

Tough Stain Remover - just had a party and someone spilled red wine all over your carpet? Or did your husband just get a new tattoo on his shoulder and then lean against the back of the couch leaving a lovely grease black mark? Then this is the product that would work for you as it will remove tough stains and paint from hard surfaces, fabrics and carpets.

Concrobium Mold Control -  this product contains no bleach, ammonia or VOC's. It works on hard surfaces of fabrics. It is also Health Canada registered.

Due to shipping costs and emissions from transportation you must be living in Canada to enter.

To enter do at least one of the following (#1 being mandatory). Leave a  separate comment for each that you do. I will be using random.org to pick the 2 winners. Please also make sure you leave your email address.

1. Go to Gloves Off Clean and tell me who the main retailer of their products is.
2. Tell me what is 1 thing you plan on doing this year that will help the earth go green.
3. Become a friend of my blog or follow it in your reader.
4. Vote for me in the Top Mommy Blogs (button on top right)

The entry deadline is Friday April 30th

If you are interested in buying any of these products there is a $1 off coupon on the website that you can download.

4.19.2010

0 Green Cleaner Review - Green Works All Purpose Cleaner






Green Works Natural All Purpose Cleaner was the first "green" cleaner that wasn't soap that I purchased. Needless to say I am disappointed. Like with the Green Works Dishwashing Liquid the smell was just awful. It says 'IRRITANT' on the bottle and well it lives up to it. I had a hard time using it without having the windows open. Not exactly what I was looking for in a green cleaner. 

Does it clean? Sure it does. Not as well as I had hoped though. To get some things (say jam) up off the counter I had to spray a bunch of the product on and leave it there for a bit. Then I could wipe it away. I used this product mostly in the kitchen but I also used it in the bathrooms a few times. It did a good job at cleaning the faucet and the sink (minus toothpaste gunkies). 

The ingredients say it is made from coconut based cleaning agent, corn based ethanol, essential oil, filtered water and biodegradable preservative. It contains no phosphorus or bleach. Now in big bold letters on the back it also says that it should be kept out of reach of children and if you swallow it you should call the Poison Control Center because it contains alkyl polyglucosides and ethanol. 

You know I just noticed on the back that this product has a stamp for the Design for the Environment. This means it is US EPA recognized for safer chemistry. That sounds about right to me because it is better than your traditional chemical cleaners but I can not imagine it is better than the other green solutions out there.

One good thing about this product is that it is easy to find. So in a pinch you could always pick it up if you can not find anything else that meets your needs. 

As I mentioned in my other review of Green Works products this is a Clorox brand so that may or may not be a deal breaker for some of you.

*** I have not been paid to review this product nor was I given any of this product to review. I bought the product myself and am reviewing it on my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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4.18.2010

2 Food Inc. AKA OMGWTFISONMYBBQ

I am probably the last environmentalist to watch Food Inc. Honestly I have been putting it off because I knew the impact it would have on me. I have a hard enough time eating meat to begin with that if I even think about where it comes from or what is in it I get grossed out. Rightfully so I guess. Last night I finally watched it. It is weird how a 2 hour movie can change the way you think. This morning I was looking at the flyers and making our weekly meal plan and I was seeing things I had never seen before. I always thought I was pretty aware of what we were eating and I think for the most part we are, except when it comes to meat and products that contain GMO's and HFCS. Even Reese Peanut Butter cups have GMO's in them. WHY WHY WHY???


What shocked me the most about the movie was the miles upon miles upon miles of cattle. I have never in my life seen anything like that. Certainly beef isn't raised like that around here...or is it? The answer is I just don't know. Joe says it is like that in Quebec and Alberta and not as much here in Ontario. But perhaps that is because Ontario is more focused on pork?

We plan on making the following changes. Some were planned before yesterday, some are a result of watching the movie.

1.  Purchasing half a cow from a local organic farm. I just need to make sure they are grass fed.
2,  Finding a farm that has organic, antibiotic free poultry.
3.  Finding a farm that has organic pork.
4.  Building a vegetable garden (tried last year but we found a nest of bunnies in its place)
5.  Building a herb garden.
6.  Shopping every week at the local (and amazing) farmers market.
7.  Finding a way to eat locally during the winter.
8.  Cut down drastically on fast food.
9. Do our best to not buy anything from Monstanto.

If you haven't watched Food Inc. yet I highly recommend it. It will open your eyes to what we are eating and how messed up the whole food system is. Sure you could turn a blind eye to it and say it is just a cow or just a pig. Why do they deserve to be treated ethically? I think it is about more than that. It is about what the companies involved are doing to our food. 

How it is making people poor. 
How engineered it has become.
How sick people are getting from it. 
How it is killing people.

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4.17.2010

0 Chopstick it to ya!!

 
When I was a kid I would save popsicle sticks and make stuff out of them. I am sure the kids of today would think that is just ridiculous...well unless it was a Wii game. But what about chopsticks? The best use for them I have seen is when the Friends gang fashion a large poking device to poke ugly naked guy and make sure he is alive. In that case they were using new never used chopsticks. What about the one's that have already been used?

How about making a fruit basket?

Bryan takes used chopsticks, sanitizes them and makes them into useful products.  Pretty cool idea. I wonder if they still smell like delicious sushi?

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4.16.2010

0 Best Buy Recycles


Prior to moving here Joey he had never before in his life lived outside of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). When we relocated here for my job I figured I might as well bribe him because he was not familiar with this area at all. What is the best way to bribe a man? Okay the second best way??? A new TV. 56 (or something like that) inches later and he was happy.

Fast forward 2 years. The TV stops working, turns out it needs a new bulb...a $300 bulb. We replace it and it is fine for a few days. Then this blue circle appears. I was waiting for the TV to start talking to me and to suck me inside. Alas it did not but over several days the blue circle spread faster than chicken pox at a pox party. The result was a blue haze over most of the TV. Spoooooky.

A call to Hitachi resulted in us finding out that this is a known defect for our TV (say what again?) and there is nothing they will do about it. But for $1200 USD plus $400 in labour we can get it fixed.Yah right.

One day while watching CSI a yellow dot appeared. It spread over the entire screen within a few hours. Now we have a yellow dot with a blue haze around the outside. Who wants to come over for movie night?!

Needless to say we need a new TV but it is hard to justify when yours works properly. Turns out that in the month of April Best Buy will take in your old/broken TV's, computers, phones, cameras, microwaves etc. and give you cash monies towards new one's. They will in turn recycle your electronics for you. Much better than having to find a way to recycle them ourselves.



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4.12.2010

1 When friends make you smile


We went to a wedding this past weekend in New Jersey (congrats MB and D!!). We checked into our hotel Friday and were given a goodie bag from the bride and groom. Our bag was unique compared to the other bags lined up for the guests of the other weddings staying at our hotel. Our is reusable! 

The bride picked ChicoBags for her goodie bags. It folds up into a tiny little pouch that can go into your purse or pocket. So cool and it holds a lot of stuff too. I packed that sucker full of stuff for our drive home.

4.09.2010

1 101 in 1001 update

Just under a year to go until I am supposed to be done my 101 in 1001 list. Why do I feel like I have a butt load left to do? Oh yah that's right because I do.

It's funny how things that were important a year and a half ago when I created the list leave me scratching my head now as to why they even made the list. I wonder what I will come up with for my next list. 

^^^^ that is what I do. I will procrastinate finishing the items on this list by creating the next list. www.iamcrazyandbananas.org

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4.08.2010

3 The Disappearing Sun Chips Bag

I have been known to eat a whole bag of chips. In fact once when a boyfriend and I broke up he used this as one of his reasons why he felt it wasn't working ::rolls eyes:: Finally a company that understands my "problem" and can help me get rid of the evidence. Sun Chips to the rescue!


Sun Chips bags are now biodegradable. No one will ever know that I even had the chips in the first place!!! After reading about biodegradable utensils that will not break down on Fake Plastic Fish I decided to give these chip bags a run for their money.  I am going to put one in our composter and bury one in the ground. Let's see if any of these suckers break down in the 14 weeks promised by Sun Chips.  Check back over the next 14 or so weeks as I document our progress.

Disappearing Bag Progress
Day 1
Day 14
The Verdict - The Composter

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4.07.2010

2 One Woman's Trash......Another Woman's Handbag?

A few years ago I was in Lake Tahoe for a conference. We flew in and out of Reno so on our last night we stayed in Reno near the airport. After dinner a colleague and I were walking around our hotel. We came across a gift shop that had the neatest purses and bags. They were made out of old candy bar wrappers. I really really wanted one but a small clutch was $40. I just couldn't justify the cost for what it was. You don't even want to know what the beach bag cost.

My friend Sam introduced me to TerraCycle. Awe.some. These are more reasonable then the "designer" bags I saw in Reno.

Basically you send them your junk (not that kind of junk people!!!) and they make it into cool products like bags, corkboards, pots and kites.

The best part about this. Eating the chocolate and the chips. Get in my belly! Okay but seriously such a cool concept and a great way to eliminate waste from our landfills. And they will donate 0.02 cents to the school or charity of your choice for every item you send them. win-win-win





In the month of April you can get TerraCycle products at Walmart stores (US only).

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