4 No Impact Leap Day

Well here we are at the end of February and on the Eve of Leap Day. This year I am aiming for a No Impact Leap Day. I have been preparing for the last few weeks and I feel completely unprepared. I actually nervous about this! I had a mild freak out on my way home today when I realized that I can not have my morning tea. Look out! Tomorrow I am going to be "fun".

I am about 99% sure Joey thinks I have lost it. This conversation just happened in our house tonight.

Jen - Hey Sweetie, how do I use water to flush a toilet?
Joe - How do you use a toilet??
Jen - No. If I want to turn the water off and then add my own water do I just poop and then add the water in and it flushes?
Joe  ::blank stare::
Jen - You haven't read the blog lately have you? 

10 minutes later Joe is upstairs in our bathroom where he sees my water stockpile.

Jen - Don't touch my poop water okay?
Joe  ::gives Jen the most ridiculous side eye combines with a very loud sigh::

So in addition to my water stock pile I have made the following preparations:
* I'm working from home
* Weather permitting I will be walking B to daycare
* No use of the stove, oven or microwave
* No meat
* No shower or bath
* Brushing my teeth without water
* No personal email or internet. I will however be tweeting about my day from my BlackBerry
* No laundry
* I am aiming to only produce waste that can be composted. No trash or recycling. 
* Heat will be down 2 degrees
* No gym, 30 Day Shred or treadmill. Weights only home bootcamp here I come!
I will however have to use the internet and some hydro to power my laptop while I work.

I will be back on the 1st with a special post about a joint venture for my Help Me Save Langley Fundraiser and then on the 2nd I will outline my No Impact Leap Day and the overall result.

Happy Leap Day everyone! I hope you do what you can to make it a No Impact day too!

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0 This and That

Happy Sunday everyone!!

My blog post about Green Mommy Guilt is part of the Natural Parent Carnival today. Check out the post for links to some fabulous blogs that are all talking about how they are Natural Parents but sometimes do things that are opposite to this way of thinking.

No Impact Leap Day is fast approaching and I *think* I have everything worked out in my head about how I am going to do this. Although I do feel slightly like a crazy person because I am saving shower water to be used for flushing the toilet on the 29th. It is like I am an eco-hoarder or something!

Each day I continue to be in awe of the generosity of friends, family and strangers. Together we have raised over $1350 for Langley! The fundraiser is going to be open until the end of March so there is lots more time to donate and share. It is an opportunity to really change the outcome of this little guys life.  If you want to add the #helpmesavelangley button to your blog just let me know and I can give you the code. 

Are you following us on Twitter and Facebook? If not you are really missing out (on good stuff, not bad stuff).

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2 I sound like a man [Updated]

My nose is plugged (yet won't stop running), I can barely hear and I can't stop coughing. In fact yesterday during a conference call I was leading I had a huge coughing fit. Mute button FTW!  

The problem with being sick is that I don't get to just lay in bed and rest. There is laundry to be done, rooms to be cleaned, trucks to be raced, puzzles to be solved and potty time. I also don't take any drugs so that means I am typically sick longer than the average bear. Frankly I am miserable right now and there seems to be an abnormal amount of cold and flu commercials on the TV...taunting me with their claims of no more mouth breathing and no more piles of kleenex. 

So let's talk about some natural remedy's that I am going to be trying out.

To get rid of my cough
* Hot water with honey, ginger and turmeric - yes it sounds gross but Rishma's Mom swears by it so I am going to give it a try. [UPDATE] Okay so not gross at all. Tastes like an indian tea. It worked well...just need to drink it for a few days to completely get rid of the cough.
* Honey with black pepper - this is supposed to loose mucus and let you cough it up

To clear all this snot out
* Hot shower - bonus I can reuse the water as part of my No Impact Leap Day! [Update] Yep, totally works...lets me go a few hours snot free!
* Putting boiling water in a bowl and putting my head over it with a towel over my head. - I sense this will be boring but hopefully effective. 

Stuff that probably does nothing but will trick me into thinking it does
* Soup - my favourite is tomato but we don't have the ingredients on hand to make it so I will be sticking with vegetable.

What are your favourite natural ways to get rid of a cold/flu?

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3 Styrofoam is our Recycling Mortal Enemy

If there is a recycling pet peeve of Joe's it is probably the fact that I insist that we keep all styrofoam so we can take it to the recycling center. It isn't picked up curbside and there is no way in hell I am putting it in the trash. So it sits in our garage. At first it was in a box but it outgrew that box so I started a new box and then it outgrew that box. So I started a bag. It has since outgrown that bag too. Now I just pile the styrofoam on top of the boxes or bag, leaving them just teetering there. I haven't seen it but I am about 97.4% sure Joe let's out a sigh and rolls his eyes every time he walks through the garage. 

We need to take it to the recycling center but with it being all the way on the other side of town I need to make sure it is worth the trip. Never mind that we went on a landfill tour last fall and I forgot to bring our stockpile with us. Or that we went to the market beside the recycling center nearly every weekend this summer and each time I walked right by the styrofoam mountain without putting it in the trunk. It is like I forget that it is there! OMG I wonder if the garage spiders are using it as a kickass fort??? I know I would if I was a spider.

I bet you are waiting for a picture of the styrofoam castle. Not going to happen because #1 that would mean I would have to move stuff around to get to it #2 Hello I mentioned spider forts #3 I don't want you to laugh at me.

How do I solve this problem? I really think it is easy.
* Convince Joey it is super cool to take our own containers for takeout
* Buy meat from a farmer so we don't have to buy organic meat that is on a styrofoam tray
* Look for products that don't use styrofoam in packaging but rather the pressed paper packaging material (not clue how to figure this out without opening a box)
* Get a bin specifically for styrofoam and when it is full take it the next time we are near the recycling center. In the winter maybe get 2 bins since we aren't in the area as often
* Clear out the area below our blue box area so the styrofoam bins can go there

How do you deal with items you can't recycle curbside?  My other issue was batteries but I have that one solved and will talk about it in another post.

Check out the Change the World Wednesday post for more great ideas.

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20 Green Mommy Guilt

Welcome to the "I'm a Natural Parent - BUT..." Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

No one said being a Mom would be easy. I remember before we had B I would confide in Joe that I was terrified of being a Mom. I had no clue what I was doing. I wasn't lucky like Joe in having a big age gap with siblings. He had years of experience raising his younger siblings. I had no years of experience doing that. Yes I had friends and siblings who had kids before me. I loved nights and weekends alone with my niece and nephew and it was easy but I knew it just wasn't the same as being on Mommy duty 24/7.

I surprised myself at how easy it was for me once B was born. No, I didn't know what to do all the time and yes I had many a OMG IS HE BREATHING moments but we got into our groove after a few weeks and from that point on it was like I was born to be a Mom. 

What I was not prepared for was Mommy Guilt. It starts early doesn't it? It can be self imposed or felt from another Mom's judging eyes. I feel this is especially so because I am a Green Mom. I feel like every decision I make I am being judged by a million eyes. I am by no means perfect as a Mom or as a Green Mom but then again neither are you. We are all doing what we can to make this world a better place for the children in our lives. I try not to sensor myself here because I like being honest with you about just how green we are. But there is still that moment right before I hit Publish that I think 'shit xyz person is going to think I am the worst Green Mom ever'. 

B wears disposable diapers. I have talked about that before and our experience with cloth. It doesn't stop me from advocating for people trying cloth but I sure as hell feel the Mommy Guilt when someone sees or hears we use disposable. It doesn't even matter that we have picked the greenest disposable on the market either. We are still part of the problem.

I own a stroller and I love it. I also own a Baby Hawk and I love it. It is all about moderation baby. We have taken our stroller around the world with us and use it when the situation is right. But our carrier is always with us too and we bust that bad boy out when we are off the beaten path or when we just want B extra close to us.

B has had fast food. In fact he is a french fry junkie. We make an effort to steer clear from McDonald's type places but doesn't mean he hasn't had a Happy Meal. I am really cautious that we are not teaching him that fast food is a treat....because it isn't. A treat is a handful of Annie's little bunny cookies or veggie chips.  But I also want him to just be a kid and eat what other kids eat....so fries it is every once in awhile. 

Part of Mommy Guilt for me is comparing myself to other Green Mom's. Some that I follow or interact with are at a level that I'm not sure I will ever be okay with. It gets to me sometimes but I am getting to a place now where I am learning to take comfort in the fact that there are lots more of us in the same place in life. Stand proud fellow Green Mom's!!! You are doing what you can do and there should be no shame or guilt in that.

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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


4 Old Habits Die Hard

Joe is really good at cleaning bathrooms. It is completely worth the 11 billion hours it takes him to get it done because you could seriously eat off the floors. A few weeks ago I chased B upstairs while Joe was up there cleaning. My nostrils were assaulted with the smell of the products he was using. Yes he was using the green cleaners for the counter, tub and toilet but he also added the traditional chemical cleaners he is used to (don't worry we both know chemicals and know what not to mix together - the plus side of having worked in the chemical industry). 

I have been thinking about this since that day. Why was he using both the green and traditional cleaners? It is almost like he wants to believe that the green cleaners will work and actually do the job but that he doesn't fully trust them so he has to use what he knows works....the chemicals. I am sure I am not the first wife to face this. It isn't resistance to being green, it isn't stubbornness, it is reluctance to believe that something as simple as vinegar can do what Windex can do...or that it can do it even better. 

Joe is trying and putting in some effort to make the change to green chemicals on his own terms. No it is not happening as fast as it happened for me but that is okay because we all have to come to conclusions on our own time. Joe thought I was crazy when I was using cornmeal to get rid of ants and vinegar to kill a vine but through trial and error very scientific methods I was able to show him that they work. My hope is that I can show him that the green cleaners can have the same if not better results in the bathroom that his traditional green cleaners can.

I'm learning to let Joey Go Green on his own terms.

I have had readers email or tweet to me asking how to get their husband to buy in to a green lifestyle. Small steps my friends! Pick your battles and use methods that you think will work best with your husband. If they are big into research them give them articles or websites to read, if they are visual then show them the results, if they are all about the dolla bills then track savings from living the green life. But whatever you do do not push them. Let them use that sprinkle of Old Dutch in the toilet until they themselves become comfortable with the transition that you have already made.

But please do feel free to shut off the running water as you walk out of the bathroom they are cleaning ;)

And if you are wondering why we have cleaning chemicals in our house to begin with it is because they are left over from before we made the switch to green cleaners.

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3 Weekly Eco-Challenge: No Impact Leap Day

I am eternally grateful to everyone who has donated to Help Me Save Langley or who has shared the information on their blogs, Facebook and Twitter. In 3 days you have donated over $400 and pushed Langley into the Sizeable Grants category on Reece's Rainbow. This only increases his chances of finding a family and you helped with that. Let's keep the momentum going and get the word out there and increase his grant fund even more. Let's get it to $1000! 

When I first posted Langley's fundraiser I asked people to give up their coffee or cost of their lunch and make a donation. Today that got me thinking about giving things up, putting things aside for others and having a lower impact one day at a time. This year we get an extra day, a day that we could make the greenest of the year. A no impact leap day. What would that take exactly? I plan to figure that out but I am pretty sure it will involve working from home, no meat, local food, no TV and no trash. I really have no idea how to use no water or hydro though.

For this Eco-Challenge I will be mapping out my plan of attack and items I am concerned about. Hopefully I will be able to find solutions for all of them before the 29th. I will posting the area's of concern on Facebook and Twitter asking for your advice.

How will you use your extra day?  Check out The LeapYear Project for ideas.

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28 Help Me Save Langley - Giveaway

Update - want to help with the next phase of Help Me Save Langley? Go here

I am in love with someone who I will most likely never meet. Someone who has no idea who I am or even that he is loved. It consumes me that I can not go and get him, that I can not be his Mom (Canadians are unable to adopt from his region).

This is Langley.

Langley is 4.5 and lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. He was given up as a baby by his parents because he has Down Syndrome. Unfortunately this is common in that part of the world. Children left, thrown away because there are not deemed as "perfect".  What a warped definition of the word. Every single one of the children on Reece's Rainbow are perfect. They all need a home, a family and to know that they are loved. Because I can not go and get Langley myself I am attempting to do the next best thing. I am trying to raise his grant account as much as possible to make it financially easier for someone else to adopt him. Adoptions in his region typically cost $35,000 USD and all money raised will go into his grant account which goes directly towards the cost of his adoption.

Langley is due to be transferred to an adult mental institution soon. He may be there already actually (he can still be adopted after he is transferred). In these institutions children with disabilities are locked away from society like they do not even exist. Many end up dying within the first few years of arriving due to lack of food and being contained within rooms. Their heads are shaved, they are sedated 24/7, they have no toys or books. They are often tied to their cribs or left alone in their crib all day long. They just give up on life. I don't want this for Langley. I need for him to know what the warmth of a hug and belly ache from laughter feels like. Langley deserves to be playing with trucks and baseballs, not confined to a crib in an institution.

What I am asking is simple. Help me save Langley. Give what you would spend on a coffee or on lunch. As a thank you I will enter your name into a giveaway for some amazing prizes (see list below). Joey and I will personally match every donation up to $2,000 (we have been so inspired by your giving we are now matching every donation up to $2500).

Thanks everyone who donated and shared! We raised over $4800!!! The fundraiser has ended and the prizes have been given away. You can see the winners hereIf you want to donate to Langley you still can by going to Reece's Rainbow. Also, in June I will be holding a really cool event for him. To help kick it off go here.

Premium Sponsors
RIM - BlackBerry Torch 9800 (Telus)  (MRSP $599) Facebook Twitter
LVE Life - Solar Powered Backpack (MRSP $199 - Buy on Amazon) Facebook Twitter
Rapanui Clothing - Gift Package Facebook Twitter

Additional Fantastic Sponsors
Ethical Ocean - $25 Gift Card (there are 2 of them) Facebook Twitter
Darly Bird - $30 Gift Card
Clean and Green - Package of cleaning essentials Facebook  Twitter
Blushing Pixie Jewelery - $40 Gift Card Facebook Twitter
Perseus Books - Copy of Skinny Bitch: Home Beauty and Style Twitter
William George - Baby Gift Package Facebook
Brant Heritage Travel (Marlin Travel) - 400 additional Air Miles upon booking
Samantha's Art Studio - 2 8x10 Prints Facebook Twitter *NEW*

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me do this.

If you are interested in adopting Langley or know someone who is please email me and I will put you in touch with the right people. You have my personal promise that I will do whatever it takes to help you fundraise his adoption costs. If you are unable to adopt in Langley's region but your heart is open to adoption please check out Reece's Rainbow for hundreds of other children waiting.

Also check out our Norwex fundraiser with all proceeds going to Langley! You can guy some great eco products and help save his life. 


2 Wordless Wednesday - Green M&M's

In London (UK) there is a massive M&M store. In one part there were theme rooms. One room was dedicated to a location project where women and girls have small businesses where they take recycled materials and make goods like purses, wallets and bags. You could find out more about the Mitz organization and also buy some of goods they have made with old M&M wrappers.


4 Polar bears, igloos and hairy backs

When it is cold outside it is easy to be tempted to turn up the heat as your first reaction rather than getting a quilt, being active or putting on a sweater (and socks because my feet are always cold).  We have a programmable thermostat which helps to regulate the temperature based on the day and time. You have to be smart about how low you keep it because you don't want to get sick or have your pipes freeze. We keep ours at 65F at night, 70F during the day and 73F in the evening. I am always cold (we could be in South America where it is 35C and if there is a little breeze I will shiver) so I am always wearing layers in the house. This way if am cleaning I can take off my hoodie but when I am just chilling on the couch watching Revenge Very Serious Environmental Documentaries I can still be warm without cranking the heat. 

February 9th is National Sweater Day in Canada (doesn't mean you can't follow along my dear American and Overseas friends). The WWF is asking everyone to turn your heat down 2 degrees and put on a sweater. I say the uglier the better because lets face it, no one is going to notice if you are wearing a normal sweater. But everyone will notice if you are wearing this. And hello it's an opportunity to spread the word about National Sweater Day!

PSA - Do not google 'nice sweater'. I just saw more back hair and penis' than I care to see.

This years campaigns lets you get a reminder call (last day tomorrow - Feb 8th!!) from a granny to wear your sweater on the 9th! There are lots of grannies to pick from so you are bound to find one that suits your needs. ::insert evil laughter here::

So if you live in the south or west or anywhere that doesn't really get winter this post is probably not even remotely relevant. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun and send your polar bear friends a reminder phone call from a granny of your choice!

Who is in? Will you turn down your heat by 2 degrees on the 9th? (If you live somewhere where you are lucky enough to have the AC on this time of year will you turn yours up 2 degrees?). Will you wear a sweater? 

Can I take my Snuggie to work? Or maybe I should just knit one of these.

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9 Cutting Grass and Blowing Snow

This fall we noticed lots of our neighbours with large boxes in their driveways. We knew exactly what was inside of them...snow blowers. I have to admit I just don't get the need for one unless you have a massive driveway (so not in a sub division) or if you have back problems or if age is an issue. Hello, we are Canadian...shoveling snow is what we do. If it was an Olympic event Canada would be getting a gold medal.

There is an environmental impact to using a snow blower. They use gas and there are emissions from them. Studies from the EPA suggest that snow blowers emit 1 pound of carbon monoxide per hour which is similar to driving the average car 70 miles. There is also the noise pollution (why oh why do people snow blow at 1AM???). It is part of the reason we will never own one as long as we live in this house. Even though we have the longest stretch of sidewalk in our neighbourhood and a large driveway.  

So then why do we have a gas lawn mower? Shouldn't the same principles apply to cutting grass and snow removal?  They should but it is really rare to see someone with a manual lawn mower. For us it is because we have significantly more grass to mow than we have area that requires shoveling. If we had a smaller yard a manual mower would have been an option.

If you do have a snow blower here are some ways to reduce their impact
* Keep them properly maintained.
* Inspect prior to each use to ensure the auger is clear of debris (do this with the unit OFF).
* Refuel in an area where you can contain any spills. Always use a funnel.
* Think about when you need to use it. Is it really required when there is only 1cm of snow on the ground?

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9 Eco-Challenge: Unplugging to Save

For the past 3 months I have been unplugging our cable box every night because I read that cable boxes can use as much power as a fridge. I have to admit that I was skeptical that ours uses that much since we don't have a PVR or HD box or anything like that. But I wanted to give it a try just in case our cable box was a energy sucking beast.

Turns out it isn't. 

I looked at our hydro bills for the past 3 years and here are the results.

Nov 1 - Dec 17 2009: 653.34 kWh (hello mat leave)
Nov 1 - Dec 16 2010: 598.04 kWh
Nov 1 - Dec 16 2011: 561.48 kWh

The difference between 2010 and 2011 (similar years vs 2009 when I was home on mat leave) is 36.56 kWh. We have billing that is based on Off Peak, Mid Peak and On Peak hours so having the cable box unplugged from say 10PM - 5PM would mean we were hitting the Off Peak and On Peak hours. Because of this I used the Mid Peak cost to calculate how much we saved by unplugging the cable box for 2 months. 


That doesn't include the delivery charge, regulatory charges, debt retirement charges or tax so when you add that on it is a whopping $6.64. Which is 5.5% of our total bill. I'll be honest...it isn't worth it. It was easy unplugging it but plugging it back in and having to wait for it to start back up and get its signal was a huge pain. It would take a good 15 minutes to be back to normal. And when you have a toddler those 15 minutes are like 15 years.

If anyone has a PVR I would love to see you do a challenge similar to this and see what results you get. 

Tonight our cable box will remain plugged in and Joe is about a kajillion times happier because of it. With these results would you keep unplugging your box each night?

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2 Sometimes I feel like a Used Car Salesman

The downside of doing something like the 2011 in 2011 is that you end up with 2011 things that you have to do something with. Separating recycling, composting and trash was easy, it is the donate vs sell that is hard because seriously selling shit is a lot of work for so little money sometimes. At some consignment shops you get like 25 cents for a piece of clothing that they turn around and sell for $5. If you have more time and patience then there is always the option of selling directly to someone else. I have found that I get more money this way but I really have to wonder if it is worth it. Not just from time and energy perspective either but from the environmental perspective.

No one will debate that re-selling items so that they can be used by someone is the a great green solution. But what about the resources involved? I am on two Mom 2 Mom Facebook groups where I have sold a few things. One sale was local so I was able to drop it off on my way home from work. The other sales were in the town I grew up in and I was able to arrange the drop offs for when I was in town visiting my parents. In those situations I didn't feel like I was wasting gas or creating more emissions by selling my items.  

This week I decided it was time to start selling the rest of the stuff that is currently littering the spare bedroom. As people inquire I love that I am able to sell things that B loved and has now outgrown but I am starting to question the environmental impact of it. Is it better to just take it all to a consignment shop get my nickel and walk away knowing I sold it all in one trip or is it better to sell the items myself and get more money but have to do several drop offs at various locations?

So I have thought about it and come up with what I think is the best solution.  We have a fantastic classifieds website at work so I am going to list my items there. Anything that doesn't sell through this avenue I will try my local Mom 2 Mom Facebook site and try to arrange all drop offs to occur at the same public location around the same time so it is only one trip for me. Option 3 will be to take it to the consignment shop or donate whatever hasn't sold. 

I think that there are lots of great ways for you to re-sell your stuff without having to increase your carbon footprint. You can:

* Buy a table at a Mom 2 Mom sale. Even do it with a friend to split the cost!
* Sell to people that live or work close to you
* Group clothing together and sell as a packaged deal
* Be realistic about your pricing You will have a better chance of selling if you give discounts for someone buying more items. Plus it means less trips to get rid of all your stuff.
* Sell items that you know you can get money for. It isn't worth it to drive around dropping something off that you are selling for $1. Donate anything that you feel isn't worth it. 
* Mention that you have cleaned items with non toxic cleaners or soaps

I was going to suggest having a garage sale and this would decrease your own personal impact but think of all the people that drive around from garage sale to garage sale. I think it is still a green option but I think that there are others that have less of an overall impact.

I think this is also a great lesson to teach kids. Get them involved by allowing them to pick out what toys they want to sell or donate. If you are selling the items give a portion of it back to them to add to their piggy bank. I think it really goes a long way to showing them the value in selling and buying used goods.

How do you sell things in a way that keeps your environmental impact as low as possible?

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