Total Pageviews

Sunday, 27 January 2013

You light up my life

Does this image look familiar?

One of my first acts in owning a home was to replace all the bulbs with CFLs. (compact fluroescent bulbs) This is one of the easiest, most effecient, and cheapest environmental changes one can do. Not only do CFLs use less energy (around 75% less), but they also last longer (good ones average 5-6 years) and generate less heat.

Now I did the initial replacing 2 years ago - but there was this one light fixture I could not switch over. This was my six bulb fixture over my dining room table. It was/is attached to a dimmer. I was informed that there was no way to use CFLs to light my meals

BS! I found some! Blue Planet makes a dimmable CFL in soft white!

Now our fixture gives off a better light and instead of consuming 600 watts we now light our family using a paltry 138! The product is third party verified by energy star and the packaging is made out of a min. 35% post-consumer content and is recyclable. This small change has me singing 'cause
"You, you light up my life
You give me hope to carry on
You light up my days
And fill my nights with song."

Monday, 21 January 2013

I do so love green eggs and ham

Thank you! Thank you Sam I am!

One of the best and easily independent ways a person can become more green is to eat less meat. My family and I are trying to do this and, although we are not ready to turn to vegetarianism, we are now consuming at least two meatless meals per week. By eating less meat and meat products we are reducing our ecological footprint by lessening our contribution to deforestation, manure creation, global warming (carbon creation), and water pollution.

This being said - this post is about our consumption of eggs and pork products. We LOVE eggs! They are a quick staple for a quick family dinner and they always go over well for the kids. However, we have 'greened' our consumption of eggs by buying local, free-range ovals of goodness. We are lucky to live in a small hamlet surrounded by family farms that are surviving despite the corporatization of the food system. By buying locally we cut down on our 'food miles' (the distance food travels from production to consumption), we keep money in our local economy, and we ensure that the animals providing us with eggs are treated humanely. They are not certified organic - but I've visited the farm and the chickens lead fairly happy lives.

We also consume bacon on occasion (more than ham - but the title wouldn't have been as catchy) and can get some from Lunar Rhythm Farms where we got our farm share. It's a little more expensive but worth it for the taste and ensuring our meat has been ethically treated and not pumped up with hormones or antibiotics.

Finally - one last note. We DO have green eggs and ham at our house every once and a while. It's another way for me to sneak veggies onto my kids plates and Dr. Seuss has made it cool. Just mix a couple of tablespoons of spinach or other dark greens puree into the eggs. Fun, functional, and fabulous! Enjoy!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Fuss about Phosphates

Sometimes I feel like there's something new I'm supposed to be afraid of and limit my exposure to every time I listen to the radio or read 'green labeling.' Once I decided to commit to becoming greener in a year I started reading every label of every green product I was introducing into my home. Sometimes a product advertises how it's 'organic' or 'plant-based' or 'natural' and I wonder 1. What does that mean? (if anything) and 2. To what extent are their claims true? When looking at 'green' cleaners and detergents I kept seeing the statement phosphate free and wasn't sure if this was a good thing to look for or a bogus ploy to get my dollars. What are phosphates and why should I care if they are in my home?
My research is now being passed onto you :)
There are three types of phosphates that you find in nature: orthophosphate, metaphosphate (or polyphosphate) and organically bound phosphates. Some phosphates are o.k. to have in water systems (the naturally occurring ones that come from rocks and normal organic decay) however, when humans add too many phosphates to water systems it throws the lake, river, or pond's ecosystem out of balance.

Phosphates in waterways encourages growth of plankton which is a food for other organisms. By adding too much phosphates (through water run-off from household sewage and agriculture) the water becomes 'nutrient rich' and eutrophication occurs (when the basic food production is so high that everything becomes unstable because the production and consumption cycle is sped up). When this happens - clear water becomes overrun with algae etc. and the lake starts to turn into a swamp. The algae and other organisms suffocate the already present marine life by blocking out sunlight and consuming space and nutrient. This effectively 'ages' the lake and brings it closer to the end of its life-cycle.

So when a product claims to be phosphate free - that's a good thing! Laundry detergents, dish soap, household cleansers can all contain unnecessary phosphate (as well as a host of other terrible things - but one thing at a time eh?) that the consumer unwittingly passes on whenever they pour it into the water system. And water treatment plants do not remove phosphates before they introduce water back into the environment! I am going to eliminate phosphates from my consumption. This is an easy and inexpensive change because I can 1. create some of my own cleaners and 2. purchase phosphate free products that are the same or only slightly more than their counterparts.

My first purchase is Nature clean eco refill unscented laundry liquid. This is a phosphate free detergent but it is also free of sulphates (another post, another time), optical brighteners, and perfumes and dyes. It is safe for my children and the packaging is cool! 85% less plastic! (bag in box and concentrated formula) Unbleached outer box made mostly (70%) post consumer content! Leaping Bunny certified! (see earlier post) And finally - made in my own country! I am so happy I could use exclamation marks in excess!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

What ya gonna bust? Ghost Power!

Nostalgic for the movie? Yearning to cut your power bill without renovating? The best way to do that is to stop 'ghost' power drainage (or phantom power). Every appliance in your house can drain power when pluged in EVEN when turned off! If an electronic has a clock or, my favourite, a light that demonstrates that it is turned 'off' - that electronic is draining energy. Up to "40% of the energy used to power consumer electronics is devoured when the devices are switched off." (MacEachern, 321)

I've even read that, depending on the appliance, it could be more like a 75% of the energy used. This is like a leaking faucet that you can't see! I hate feeling like I'm being duped. So I'm going to start 'busting' the slimer I call 'ghost drainer'. When I looked around just my kitchen I saw 5 digital clocks on five different appliances! No one needs to know the time that badly! Next time I replace one of these appliances I will look for a model that does not display the time. As for now - I'm just going to unplug these items when not in use.

Other than the kitchen - the next room that had the worst ghost drainage was the entertainment area. Here we have the TV, cable, internet, printer and computer pluged into 24/7. Each of these items have lights to let me know if they're on, off, or on 'power saving mode'. Now we have to keep the router up and running so our wireless can work - but the rest do not need to be lit up.

Here I am going to use power bars, or power strips, and simply switch off the bar when not in use. A power bar uses a flip switch to simply cut the power to whatever is plugged into it so you don't have to get on your hands-and-knees to unplug everthing from the wall. These are small changes - but they make me feel good.

* MacEachern, Diane. Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World. New York: Penguin, 2008.