Total Pageviews

Friday, 26 April 2013

Magazines and Nature

This is a two-parter as I wanted to blog about both of these items while they're still fresh on my mind and in the air (ahhh spring!)
1. I've signed up for Canada's 30x30 nature challenge. I read about this last year when it was over already and I thought it was a great idea. It's organized through the David Suzuki Foundation - but I suppose anyone could start it on their own at any time. The challenge is to spend 30 min. for 30 days straight in nature. It starts on May 1st and the idea is to re-connect with nature while improving your mental and physical health. I'm going to try my best to do this - no matter what mother nature throws at me - and I'm going to drag my family along with me. There are so many benefits to spending more time in nature such as decreasing stress and anxiety as well as improving your vitamin D production and energy levels. Finally - I want my children to connect with nature so they wish to invest in nature and continue to be enthusiastic and curious about their natural surroundings. I will occasionally blog about our activities in May and participate in the photo contest the challenge is organizing.

2. I have become frustrated with something I used to enjoy. I liked magazines. I liked flipping through them at my parents to find recipes and fashion ideas, I liked perusing them at doctor and dentist offices to distract my mind while waiting my turn, I liked scanning glossy pages - folding down corners to keep track of my wish lists of consumption. However, now not only am I not interested in the type of consumption promoted in these catalogues of advertising, but I am also dismayed by the physical environmental impact these subscriptions create. The past THREE issues of each of my subscriptions were - not only printed on virgin paper - but also encased in PLASTIC! UGH! This plastic's only purpose was to contain extra bits of advertising that might fall out in the mail. I read an excellent paper by The Paper Project titled Turning the Page, Environmental Impacts of the Magazine Industry and Recommendations for Improvement which clearly outlines many issues an ecoconsumer is concerned about. It was written in 2001 - so some of the stats regarding amounts of energy, trees, water etc. used to produce magazines in the US have probably increased. UNLESS.....
Individuals (such as my 'late-to-the-party' self) have decided to go digital! I still was interested in one of my subscriptions so I just called to see if I could go completely online and - no problem! Thanks 'Today's Parent.' However, some of my other subscription providers were not so accommodating. So - goodbye subscription. I hope my cancellation (and explanation to the sales rep.) prompts these companies to think about their green options and start offering some to their customers.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Let's Dish the Dirt

O.k., I admit it, when I started this green initiative I had a very cynical and skeptical perception about my local waste management department. Instead of seeing them as supporters of green initiatives and programs, I viewed them as part of the problem. I am embarrassed by this as the more I research the more I realize that they are environmentalists as PART OF THIER JOB! They don't create the waste, they are trying to deal with the waste as responsibly as possible. There are so many initiatives underway in my area - such as a battery recycling pilot project, reuse days and e-waste pick up days, and most recently (today) free compost pick up!

Now I have a compost bin of my own which I use for my veggie scraps and yard waste - so I don't participate in the Green Bin program in my community. But I used to wonder where all that collection went and how it was used. Well - it is used to create wonderful black soil for the municipality AND its residents. Today I had the pleasure of dropping off some food for the food bank in exchange for some awesome dirt for my gardens! The friendly staff (David Metcalfe is on the right - gave me his card in case I had any more questions) seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite some snow flurries, and the pick-up location was hopping with excited gardeners. This give-away happens every year in the spring. My only regret is that I didn't bring more containers - I could have filled up to FOUR blue boxes worth! Oh well, there's always next year.

Amendment - I found out that the Green Bin program takes meat and dairy scraps! These are items that I couldn't put in my own compost and were going in the garbage. Thank you neighbour for letting me know about this. Now, off to get a bin :)

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Eco Room Reno - Part 1

It's been a while since my last post (sorry - lots of cold and flu time) but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything green! Right now we are in the middle of renovating our spare bedroom/my creation space and I am trying to do it as green as possible. This blog entry will cover insulation and paint.
1. The first thing we did was actually drywall that hole I blogged about earlier - the one I had temporarily plugged with cardboard and duct tape. I got some great advice from my local Home Hardware guys and followed some instructional videos I found on Youtube and it wasn't so hard! So there was one draft taken care of - but there were many more! This room is in the basement and shares a wall with the garage, one with the outside, and one with the space under a staircase. ALSO it has a drop ceiling with beams that leave airy gaps to the outside walls. So we bought some of that pink panther insulation (PINK FIBERGLASS - Min. 70% recycled glass content, made in Canada, Ecotouch certified) and stuffed any gaps above the ceiling tiles. The last area of air seepage (for now) was the electrical outlets and switches. I was going to use some of that expanding insulation to fill in those spaces but was worried about electrical conductivity as well as mess. Instead I was able to place foam panels between the hole and the cover plate before I screwed it back on. Easy!
2. Another green area of improvement is the paint we used to lighten the room. My brother had extra paint left over from his home renovations so I was able to use product that was already in existence. BONUS - it was a zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint so I was being kind to the environment AND my respiratory system. VOC's are solvents that get released into the air as paint dries. Not only can they cause health reactions (dizziness, headaches etc.) but they are also carcinogens. VOC's also contribute to the formation of ground level ozone and particulate mater, which form smog. They are ONE of the things in paint that makes it hazardous waste. Currently a lot of paints out there advertise that they are low VOC or VOC free - but read the fine print. Many state that only the BASE is VOC free - but once the pigments are added - all bets are off.