Sunday, April 20, 2008

Try Explaining It!!

OK, At church I am responsible for holding a monthly activity for the women. I have been wanting to have a Story of Stuff night all year and finally presented it to the person who is responsible for approving these things. Of course the way she was staring at me made me feel like a blubbering idiot. She had a blank look in her eye and basically said that no one would want to come. That the whole idea made her feel blah. I also wanted to talk about simple things we can do to help the environment and maybe make or hand out reusable bags. Pah! Well apparantly that wouldn't be very interesting either.

So many things I've wanted to do have been shot down. Now I finally have something I am passionate about and no one would care. Oh well. Lets make silly cards and write love notes instead.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Thinking about stuff

I was thinking today how much better it is to just not buy stuff we don't need. Then I started wondering how we determine that. I know that we have too much stuff. However I pass it all along when we're done with it so it gets another life with at least one more family (possibly more since a lot of our stuff has been passed on to us). Then there are things we want. I will be going in a few hours to hopefully score a Wii system as a combo Christmas (leftover money) and birthday present for DS and I. We have been doing pretty well with not buying stuff we don't need, although there are borderline items (did we need those solar garden lights and glass blender we bought this week at 50% and more off? If we use them a lot will it make a difference?). The Wii just seems so frivolous but if it were not that, what else would we be wasting the money on? We literally have no entertainment budget so we don't waste money in that regard. The internet is basically our only form of entertainment and it only brings me and the kids close together. It would be nice to have something we can physically do together and have fun.

Am I rationalizing? Probably. I often feel our need for a car is an exercise in rationalization, mainly because I'm too lazy to walk anywhere :0

Something else I have been thinking about a lot lately is camping. I am really, really looking forward to it this year. I love Keji. It's my favorite place to be on earth. If I ever get cremated, I would want my ashes scattered there. Tonight I was fantasizing about camping and could practically smell it and feel it.

Then it hit me. By the time we get to go, gas will probably be about $1.50 a liter. It is now about $1.30. A nice relaxing camping trip over 2 hours away will probably cost about nearly $100 for gas. If we get an early bird pass so we can go more than once and that is $58.80 or $73.60 if we can't get it before Victoria Day. Plus it's $25.50 a night to camp, plus last year they charged $6 for an arm load of wood (we'll probably try to get it elsewhere this year) plus all the other stuff one needs to buy.

Jeepers! It costs an arm and a leg to go camping! As badly as I want to go, I think we may try to find other places, like Ellenwood Park and other places. Keji is just one of those places that is so fondly ingrained in my good childhood memories that I want my kids to have a piece of that too. Meh, we probably will go at least once. This time it will be when it's warmer as last time DH and I were sick most of the trip and it was so frigging cold!! (it was a homeschooling camping trip in September)

National Hanging Out Day

Title: National Hanging Out Day

Date: Saturday April 19, 2008
Time: All Day
Repeats: This event repeats every year.
Notes: Every year, on April 19th, Project Laundry List joins together with hundreds of organizations from around the country to educate communities about energy consumption. National Hanging Out Day was created to demonstrate how it is possible to save money and energy by using a clothesline.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Battle Of The Bag

I am starting to watch this but since DS wants the computer, I will preserve it so I won't lose it ;). It's a documentary from the CBC and I must of missed it or just didn't hear about it. It's about the battle against the plastic bag from history to modern problems it is causing. It should prove to be interesting.

so here goes: Battle Of The Bag

How much do you know about plastic bags?

Take The Test

I only got half right. I vastly overestimated the amount that Canadians recycle and the amount in landfills, where plastic bags were first banned in Canada (just assumed it was BC. oops, that's a hint!), the type of plastic used and the year Ireland placed a levy on plastic bags.

Pretty interesting!

NSLC To Do Away With Plastic Bags

I saw this on the news last night. Jim Nunn was complaining that he would actually have to buy garbage bags if stores did away with plastic bags, lol! Boo Hoo!! Apparantly this move will prevent 290 tons of plastic from going into landfills and that is just the liquor store in my l'il province! Imagine what will happen when all stores do away with plastic. It would be doubly awesome if garbage pick-up did not have to involve bags at all, just a dump system. That way we would no longer be embalming our trash for all eternity.

NSLC ditching plastic bags
Last Updated: Monday, April 7, 2008 | 4:15 PM AT
CBC News

Plastic bags are disappearing from liquor stores around Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. announced Monday it plans to stop using plastic bags this fall as a way to keep waste out of landfills.

"It will make it difficult for some folks who are very dedicated to using plastic bags for other purposes in their daily lives, and I'm sure they can find alternatives for cleaning up after their dogs or doing other things that will be easier on the environment than using plastic bags," said NSLC spokesman Rick Perkins.

The Crown corporation is giving away a reusable bag to anyone who buys three or more bottles of wine this month. Starting May 1, the bags will cost $1.49 each.

The liquor stores will still use brown paper bags, Perkins said, and people are free to bring in their own reusable or plastic bags.

Perkins said more than 10 million plastic bags are used at liquor stores every year.

The NSLC is the latest retailer to phase out plastic bags. The Atlantic Superstore on Quinpool Road in Halifax got rid of them in February, while Pete's Frootique charges for them.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Reflections and Progress

I wanted to reflect back on my first post and post progress of what we've done over the past year.
  • We've done very well with no longer using store bags and using cloth or totes (lol, I had to edit this statement as I accidentally put we only use store bags). We occasionally forget but I now have some bags that fold up really small to keep in my purse so it's easier to have some for unexpected trips. We still have a ton of plastic bags in the basement. I don't know what we're hanging onto them for. Now that we don't need them when we go out to put our dirty diapers in we certainly don't need as many as we have.
  • We generally don't buy chemical cleaners. I buy exclusively from the Bio-Life line from Shopper's Drug Mart. I still have lots of things that need using up, like dish soap. We have bought a few bottles of laundry detergent, but we use about 1/4 or less the required amount. I make most of our laundry detergent but DH still likes store stuff.
  • Natural body care is harder for me than it sounds. My body rebels to it quickly so I alternate with regular and natural.
  • Cloth in the bathroom is half and half. We use some disposable but try to make better choices. We buy Bio-life 100% post-consumer blue box recycled TP, but use some cloth too. We use disposable diapers for DS at night since we could not find a way around the rash and super soaker problems, but use cloth for DD. I use 100% cloth menstrual products (as if you wanted to hear that, lol!) as it is so much better than paper.
  • We generally don't use paper products any more. I cannot remember the last time I used a paper towel. We have a case of them; I should probably give them away :)
  • Walk happening as it should. Hopefully with improved weather (and if my knee gets better) this will happen. Drive less is where it's at for us.
  • Buy less is something I struggle with as I love to shop. It doesn't matter what, I just love to shop! I seldom go to Dollarama anymore, unless there is a specific item I want. I try hard not to buy Made In China and try to find things made in Canada (I have DS well indoctrinated in this, lol!)
  • All our light bulbs are CFL except maybe one we can't get into the fixture but we hardly use so it's no problem.
  • We've been doing very well with energy efficiency.
  • we are 100% hanging clothes to dry. We are thinking about selling our dryer as we have not used it in ages, possibly years.
  • REcycling goes well, but then again we have to ;)
  • We are going to try to garden this year but I have better plans this year.
  • I almost never buy books any more and we extensively use the library. Thank goodness for Inter Library Loan!!
  • We have gotten rid of TONS of stuff, probably literally, lol! We are constantly dropping stuff off for donations. It is an ongoing process, daily.
So as you can see, we've been doing pretty good. We have lots of room for improvement, but that's ok. I am good with where we are. Some of stuff is a little embarassing to talk about, but I think if we don't talk about the things we do, we won't open doors for people to explore new ways of doing things.

Props to FlyLady

She just sent out an email that I wish to share. I am a fluttering flybaby. I really try but it can be hard some days.

Here goes:

Dear FLY Folks,

My job is in environmental education and outreach. I have realized
for some time that one of the unexpected outcomes of FLYING in my life
is that being environmentally responsible is so easy it's practically

With Environmental Education Week (April 13 - 19, the same week as
National Library Week) and Earth Day (April 22) coming up, I thought
your members should see the reasons to celebrate how they are GREEN
instead of feel guilty as too often people do about environmental
things. I know that none of us are p*rfect (there's that word again)
in this area. However, it's the progress that counts in GREENING. I
can make this statement with all confidence: if you are FLYING you are
more GREEN than when you weren't FLYING

This is how:

1. FLYING eliminates extra driving. Planning ahead using all the great
tools (calendar, menu mailer to plan shopping, etc.) means less
driving. Not only are you saving money - and don't we all want to do
that - but you are reducing carbon emissions. When you FLY, you can
leave a little early to drive more slowly and STILL arrive on time.
You can carpool at least once or twice a week (or more!) since you
will be organized to coordinate rides or you won't need your car for
after work errands.

Further more, on a community wide scale, if more people drove less,
there would be less need for roads. Roads have a huge impact on
habitat and water quality. Imagine if everyone in your town drove
less or carpooled.

2. FLYING means less trash. Recycling is the third best thing you can
do for the environment. Reducing is the first. Reducing our
consumption to only things that we love is not only better for our
little home it helps keep our big home, the earth, uncluttered too.

3. FLYING means better agriculture practices. When we buy good food
and eat the right amounts, we send a message with our money that we
want real food grown in a responsible way. Agriculture has a huge
impact on the environment. This is not a slam against farmers. I know
many producers that would like to change their practices but they need
to be able to make a living. Real, good food costs more and this
leads me to the next point...

4. FLYING means more money to spend on environmentally responsible
products. By FACING our finances, by eliminating "retail therapy", by
planning and being prepared instead of panic spending, we will find
extra dollars in our pocket to put towards the slightly more
expensive, but environmentally better version.

For example, compact fluorescent light bulbs cost a bit more but use
less energy. Using natural fertilizers and pesticides on our lawn
costs more but is better for the soil and its microrganisms. Adding a
few organic/grass fed/sustainably produced items to the grocery cart
costs more but that supports good agriculture practices. Buying
veggies in-season from a farmer's market might cost more but you are
reducing carbon emissions of transporting produce. Installing low
flow showerheads or toilets or tankless water heater costs more but...
well, you get the idea.

5. FLYING means time to spend outside. Whether it's loving movement
by yourself or family fun day or participating in a community clean up
or tree planting or whatever, you have time to go outside and enjoy
it. When you FLY, you no longer have to spend the first nice weekend
of spring inside cleaning.

And our children ARE watching. This generation of children has more
electronic entertainment options and it can seem impossible to get
them unplugged. Even if your children are slightly older and won't
follow you outside (like mine) you can still set the example just as
you do with your sink.

I hope this encourages your members to keep on FLYING the good flight.
They don't have to go to extra impossible efforts to GREEN. Just
FLY. It's good for you. It's good for your family. It's good for Earth.

Happy Earth Day,
Anne Lewis
President, Environment Education Connections of South Dakota
Long time FLYer

Another Video to Add

I wanted to post another online video, The Two Income Trap: Why Middle Class Families Are Going Broke.

I haven't seen it yet, but I plan to. I think it's important to educate ourselves on how people get to the point of no return financially. I sometimes jokingly think that we are too poor to go broke. We have never had high expectations or need for expensive things so we have never had any debt (although I know there are many other reasons for debt, mainly student loan debt, which is something we were both able to avoid). We live within our means and save the rest.

100 Mile Diet Revisited

I thought I would repost my thoughts on this since I still love the idea. I have been doing some research about this and I think it could be possible for us to do, especially if I expand it to 200 miles. One article I read said that 800 miles would be the ideal since it would include food from many different growing areas and would not restrict a person so much.

Atlantic Canada has tons of great products and there are so many rich growing areas in the Valley and in PEI. In some flyers they marks items that are produced in the Atlantic provinces and I think that is a great way to make people aware of where what they are eating is coming from. It is so easy to just mindlessly buy whatever and not even think about where it has come from or how much gas it took to get from the field to their plate.

So I still give this lots of consideration but not ready to make the full commitment yet. There are some things which just don't grow here, like bananas and other tropical fruit. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are also things I like to use that they don't produce here. I am sure there are many more items I could list that we like which aren't made here.

I am trying to eat more local and will pick something local over something from far away. I do strive hard to buy Canada made/grown food at the very least. I think seeing where food comes from or where it is made can be an eye opening experience. I didn't realize the pickles I used to buy were from India. I think they now are made in Canada. I'm hoping that more companies will heed the call to have more variety available to it's local people :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I am so pumped about the find I just snagged. We went to Zellers to get some Cheerios and I found packages of 4 cloth napkins for only $1.29! Whoo! But that is not the best thing I found. The best is I found a ton of Raw Organic Food Bars for only 25 cents each!! Oh my goodness! They are sooo yummy! They are delicious, nutritious and very satisfying. The kids even liked them! I had one of the high fiber ones and the kids had the chocolately chocolate chip. I bought 22 and I'm even thinking of getting DH to pick up some more on Monday if there are any left.

I don't know if I talked about it before but cloth napkins here are a big deal. We use them like crazy. We have at least 50 in all kinds of different colours and some with prints. One new set is pink and the other is blue. I like having some on hand for company which are in good condition since we can be pretty hard on ours. I am thinking about taking a cue from No Impact Man and keeping some in my purse to have at all times. They sure would come in handy!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Interesting Things To Watch

If you are bored and would like something to watch, here are some online videos I have watched lately that I would like to share.

The Story Of Stuff. Loved it! Highly recommend it! It is a 20 minute online video that really opens your eyes to the danger of over-consumerism in a fun, simplistic way. Share it with everyone! Lots of great stuff on the site as well.

"Affluenza". It is a PBS documentary from about 10 years ago so it's kind of out of date but still very interesting to watch. It is about American spending habits and how their need to consume is bringing them down. Of course the problem has become worse over the past decade but it is interesting to see where things were 10 years ago.

Maxed Out is one I haven't actually watched yet but it is open in a tab for when I have a little more free time. It is a documentary about credit cards and how modern people are enslaved to them. I can't wait to see it :)

Life After People; oh my gosh! I watched this the other day as it sounded interesting. I planned on watching I Am Legend and thought this would be cool to watch first. It is soooo interesting how quickly the earth would return to it's natural state (even though all our junk is still underneath it). Not necessarily having to do with green or simple living but still very interesting!! Oh yeah, and I LOVED I Am Legend. It's one of the few recent movies I would actually want to watch again (but then I don't watch too many, lol!). I really want to read the book as I hear it is way better.

I thought there was one more but I can't think of what it is. Hmmm...I will post if I can think of it.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finances and budgets and food, oh my!

I guess you can group finances with simple living. Everyone needs money to live in the western world, no matter how simply. I won't go into dollar amounts since cost of living varies so much from place to place and it isn't really here or there what we have and where it goes (except food, which everyone loves to talk about, lol!).

After going through all our bills I know for a fact if it were not for the tithing we pay we would not be able to do as well as we are able. I hate doing budgets because on paper, it does not seem to add up. BUT!! with the Lord's hand in our lives, we have all we need and more. It seems like faith pays the bills and lets us tuck some aside for a rainy day, lol!!

However we still need to make simple changes and try to tighten our belts a little more. I am trying to get more on board to simpler, healthier eating which isn't so meat intensive. It will take me a while to get used to it since I have, err, bowel/intestinal problems (dx'd as IBS but could possibly celiac). I really hope I can get the kids eating a wider variety of foods. It may be strange to say but I miss beans and have been craving things like lentils and rice. One of my favorite foods is falafel and there is a box of mix taunting me in the cupboard.

I have our grocery budget at $300 a month since the price of food has shot up. I used to have it at $200 and I could probably get it down again, especially if I'm ever successful in getting the family weaned off junk food. I have to remind DH all the time not to buy stuff. Besides, we have so much in our food storage that we would only eat if I make more of an effort (and kind cool, sneaky ways to incorporate it into what we do eat. Jessica Seinfeld has nothing on the mother who doesn't want to waste food, lol!!). I am also planning on gardening this year, which should be quite an adventure since we live in an apartment :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Haunting Me...

Ok the sentiment in this picture has been haunting me (click on it to read; the fine print says "Think you can be a meat eating environmentalist? Think again). I have been calculating my carbon footprint and since I am a heavy meat eater (on a low carb diet), about 75% of my carbon footprint is from diet. YIKES!!! My footprint is almost 5 tons and 3.6 of it is from diet.

I have been low carbing for a while and I always find it becomes less effective over time. I've basically stalled for now so I have been considering moving to a more plant based diet to reduce my carbon footprint. It will be gradually since we have a lot stocked up.

I've never really seen how fish stacks up in regards to our footprint. I know with raised meat they take a lot of water, food that could be used more effectively and they create a lot of waste (methane anyone?) as well as take up valuable land. Of course with inhumanely raised meat which is caged and not allowed to have any semblance of a natural life, I sadly know that's where most of what I consume probably comes from. This is something I also feel guilty about.

Also, does humanely raised local meat have less of a footprint than conventionally raised meat? So many questions, so few answers. Guess I need to do a little hunting....for information ;)

PS: Here is a link to roughly calculate what goes into the meat we eat: Eating Green Calculator