Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 47 Adopting the 5 Minute Shower and other revelations

Truthfully, I'll have to start timing my shower tomorrow, as I just thought of this change, and have already had my shower for the day. Does it help that I don't shower every day? According to, a typical shower takes as much as 230 L (60 US gallons) of water. Ok, so if I shower every other day for a year, and take a typical shower, that's 41,860 L a year just for showering! The 5 minute shower is in. Taken in darkness, of course.

And now for the other revelations. When I lived in Ottawa, I was struggling to stick to a very restrictive diet. I asked my meditation coach how to go about sticking with it, when it seemed the challenge was so big and long. She suggested that I adopt the mentality of 'just for today'. So, instead of thinking of "I've got to stick with this thing until I reach my goal", how about "Just for today, I'm going to eat this way. And tomorrow I might do something different, but for today, this is it."

When I started this green challenge, I didn't set any limits. No year, or two years. No I-want-to-make-no-impact. I'm just going on this journey for as long as I can, and seeing where it takes me. Is there an end? Maybe. Where is it? I don't know. But I do know this: the actions I am currently taking are making a difference, and because I'm doing one thing every day, this challenge has been easy to stick with. Which leads me to believe that if I can incorporate other healthy changes into this one-a-day plan, I can stick with them as well.

From now on, this blog is no longer just about "going green". It's about eating better, getting active, and generally living better, all while paying heed to the planet.

I just finished reading Meghan Telpner's book The Healthy Cookie: Unbaked and I am feeling totally inspired. Here is yet another girl my age who, instead of curling up in a ball and crying, took charge of her medical condition, changed her life, and spread sunshine and rainbows to everyone along her journey. It made me realize that I can get myself out of the rut I'm in and start doing something with my life, my talents and my gifts.

Another inspirational person who has recently come into my on-line life is Ashley. Her blog, Dancing Through Life, is the story of how she got off her now-smaller butt and found health through smart eating and a passion for staying active.

So I ask ya. If they can do it, why can't I? Why can't I follow my bliss, do what I love, perhaps go back to school and take charge of the life I've been given?

I'm scared. Scared of failing, scared of wasting even more of my life than I already have, scared of not being able to support myself (I can't right now). My boyfriend and I broke up last night. Right now, I am lost in a sea of depression and confusion, with so much running through my head I don't know what to do first. But instead of listing all the reasons why I can't follow my dreams (which would be really easy to do at a time like this), I'm going to keep looking for work, thinking about school, and scouting for a new place to call home. And tomorrow, I'm starting a slim-down plan, because seriously, the state of my body brings me down, and with everything else I have going on, that's one thing I can start working on right away.

Sure, this wasn't the quippy little post I usually put out there, but I needed to get these things off my chest. I need to validate in writing that I am worthy of love, capable of greatness and that I can keep moving forward.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 44. 45, and 46 - Showering in the dark, using up every last bit of a product, and natural toilet cleaning

So I got back from my little jaunt on Thursday afternoon, and have ever since been catching up on all the things that I didn't do while I was away. I was continuing to make green changes, but sitting down and actually writing about them just didn't happen.

Showering in the dark is a piece of cake. I'm a person who, I think, would do quite well as a blind person. As long as no one touches my stuff, I am THAT organized that I can find things with my eyes closed, or in total darkness. I'm also good at identifying objects using my other senses. Which is why showering in the dark is easy. All of my shower products feel and smell different, and keeping the lights off allows me to ignore my less than perfect body that much more. And truth be told, if I keep the bathroom doors open, enough light comes in from the rest of the condo that I can still see a little.

I love new things. New bars of soap, new lipstick, new perfume. Which is why this little challenge is hard for me. For about a week now, I've been fighting the temptation to toss out the remaining bits of the aforementioned products so that I could dig into some new stuff. Not that I was going out and buying this new stuff, you see. I tend to collect things like soap, perfumes and make-up. I have made a commitment to use up all of my existing supplies before purchasing more, but now that I'm in the throes of working through the stash, I have come to realize just how much stuff I have, and just how long it takes to use something up, even if you are using it every day. After each squirt of perfume, I'd look anxiously at the bottle to see how much it had decreased. Washing my hands is a compulsive joy - each time I wonder if this is the time that the soap will no longer be large enough for a human to use and I'll get to unwrap a fresh bar. So far, nope.

And the make-up! I've been trying to use up this one colour of lip gloss for over a month now, using it every day, sometimes re-applying as the day goes on. I don't think I'll ever complain about the cost of make-up anymore, because if you really use a product until it is GONE gone, that's a long time! I've certainly gotten my money's worth out of that lip gloss. But not quite. Have you noticed how some product packages are designed so that you just CAN'T get all of the product out, thus resulting in waste?

My lip gloss looked like this. Now I ask ya, how the heck are you supposed to get all of the gloss out of the tube with that little wand? The tube doesn't open in any way, and there is a narrowing in the mouth to prevent too much product being dispensed onto the wand. I seriously did the best I can, applying far more gloss than is tasteful, just because I was so perturbed.

How many other times have you had to throw out a product and buy more, simply because the product packaging prevented you from accessing all of the product? The French's mustard bottle is a classic example of iconic, but poor, packaging design.

Moving on to toilet cleaning, I was now out of conventional toilet cleaner, and opted to go for the baking soda and vinegar method. I suppose this would have worked well had I not a) used so much baking soda and vinegar, and b) used apple cider vinegar, due to my lack of white vinegar. Happily, the cider-scented mini-volcano went unnoticed by my boyfriend. I'll have to think more about this toilet cleaning before I attempt it again next week.

In other news, I'm switching back and forth between Dr. Mist and Tom's of Maine deodorant, because my body seems to like playing games. I refuse, refuse, refuse to throw out these products before they are gone, even if it means applying several times a day just to keep my stench in check. I gotta tell ya, I'm not a stinky person. I don't exercise, and there are many days when I don't even break a sweat (all bad, I know). But c'mon - ever since switching deodorants, I'm stinky and moist all the time. Lucky for me, autumn seems to have arrived in Toronto.

Also, the micro-fibre rags I re-commissioned into Swiffer pads seem to be doing a MUCH better job than the actual Swiffer pads ever did. Hallelujah.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 41, 42 and 43 Natural Toothpaste, Recycling Corks, and Eco-Friendly Drycleaning

I'm going away tomorrow, and won't be posting again until Friday, so I've racked up the changes ahead of time so that I am not behind later.

Sometime over the next few days, I'll begin using eco-friendly toothpaste. Not only that, but my new toothpaste is made in Ontario! Green Beaver Company is located in Hawkesbury, ON, which is a small town on the border of Ontario and Quebec. I know this, because I've been there. They have a Harley-Davidson dealership that I have visited, and I was almost hit by a train in that town (in the process of getting to the dealership). I bought the Frosty Mint flavoured paste, and I'm quite excited to be supporting a Canadian company while keeping my teeth clean.

In hygiene related news, Tom's of Maine deodorant is not cutting it, and I'm not impressed. Am I really so foul that none of these natural products will cut it? A few more days of stinking, and I'll give the baking soda idea a try. Actually, it's not even so much the smell that's getting to me - it's the wetness. And now that you know far too much about my pits, I'll move on.

I love wine. I love drinking it, studying it, tasting it and buying it. My wine rack holds 28 bottles, and it is full. I restock it every month. Sadly, unless I have a party, I just don't consume that much wine. An average bottle holds four glasses. I get tipsy on one glass. My boyfriend doesn't drink, and I don't drink every day. Maybe twice a week at best. Still though, I'm going to start recycling my corks, rather than tossing them. This was the program I was going to use to recycle my corks. Cripe. Ok, I'm going to call the City of Toronto tomorrow to see what can be done about my corks, both natural and synthetic. I will not make a cork wreath.

Last week, after my cat committed yet another unspeakable act, I found myself in need of drycleaning services. Imagine my delight that the drycleaner, which is within walking distance of my condo, is an eco-friendly facility and uses solvents that are good for the planet. Yay! My boyfriend was nervous, as this is the same drycleaner that once shrank his tuxedo pants (and he didn't discover it until dressing for formal night on the cruise ship in Alaska). But everybody makes mistakes, right? It has been a week, however, and I am curious as to the state of my items.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 39 and 40 - My own containers to the bulk store, and natural dish soap

I'm posting this one in advance of Sunday and Monday, and then tomorrow, I'll post changes that will take effect on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, as I'll be traveling a bit this week.

Yesterday, I took one of my homemade drawstring bags to Bulk Barn for some black beans. I was a little nervous as to how the staff of Bulk Barn would react to someone using their own containers instead of the provided thin plastic bags, because in the years I've been shopping there, I've never seen anyone do what I was about to do. I shop Bulk Barn whenever I can, and it's a great way to save money on things like flour and nuts. Yesterday, I needed beans for the soup that is currently simmering on the stove. So I filled my little sack and approached the cash. The cashier looked in my bag to see what I wished to purchase, and then happily rang me in. She even liked my bag. And that was that. No drama or trauma. Just me and my beans and no plastic bag. Thrilling! Ok, so maybe I paid a smidgen more than I would have, due to fabric weighing more than plastic, but oh well. Normally I only buy dry goods at Bulk Barn, where my little sacks work great. If I ever buy something like peanut butter, I'll just have to remember to bring my own containers from home.

I switched to eco-friendly dishwasher detergent a while ago, and I'm very happy with the results it is giving me. Now I need eco-friendly dish soap that I can use when I hand wash dishes, which, frankly, almost never happens. I don't buy things that can't go in the dishwasher. But my stock pot just won't fit. So this is the one thing I must wash by hand. And yesterday I used up the last little bit of apple-scented, micro-bubble cleanser green goo that took me over a year to go through, and now I'm heading out to find some soap that better for the planet.

Day 37 and 38 - Switching to Natural Face Cleanser and No More Swiffer Products

I apologize for not posting yesterday. I was feeling overwhelmed by life, and I suffer from depression. Writing my blog was just one more thing that, by not doing, made me feel bad.

Switching to natural face cleaner was really no biggie. I was out of my usual stuff, and I replaced it with something natural. And this stuff is nice - smooth, gentle, and has a faint smell to it that reminds me of the stuff they use on my face at the salon when I have a facial. Speaking of that facial, I had it on Tuesday, and I was due. I have one every 12 weeks, so 4 times a year. I think the salon would like to see me more often, but frankly, I can't afford the cost or the time. Every time I have one, I am told that my pores are clogged and my skin is dry and if I would just start using their overpriced salon products, my skin would be so much happier. But this time, when I told them that I was only interested in natural products for my skin, they had nothing to sell me. Refreshing, and disturbing.

I care about my skin, really I do. I'm a redhead, so I stay out of the sun, use sunblock often and I try to muster the motivation to moisturize. But I ride a motorcycle, out in the wind. I fret over freckles. I drink copious amounts of water. Skin cancer runs in my family. It seems like taking care of my skin/hair body, is a full time job. Why is it that to do anything well, it is like a full time job? Does anyone else ever feel as overwhelmed as I do? Why is good enough never good enough?

Enough with the rant. Today, no more Swiffer products. It doesn't take any kind of smarts to see that all these disposable (not recyclable) cleaning pads and dusters are not eco-friendly. And really, you mop with that pad, wiping the dirt all over your floor, and your floor isn't much cleaner at the end. Dusting isn't a problem. I'll just use some cloths. My mother uses soft cotton cloths that were once burp cloths for babies. But mopping the floor is going to be a challenge. I have a combination of ceramic tile, marble tile and laminate flooring. I also have three cats and a boyfriend. And I'm a neat freak.

So, I'm in need of some how to clean my floors suggestions. And just as soon as I get done with this very last Swiffer pad, I'm putting the mop and the remaining cleaning solution up on Freecycle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 36 Canning and Preserving

For the past week or so, I've been eating vegetables that were grown locally, and using those vegetables to make soup, which I am canning/jarring for winter. All of this stems from my good friends Ellen and Justin, who took up the 100 mile diet challenge roughly a month ago. You should know that Ellen is the best friend of my boyfriend, so this poor man has no end of eco-chatter and healthy cooking going on around him. He takes it in stride, and who knows? It might inspire him to eat healthier.

But I digress. Canning and preserving is SO EASY! Seriously, I went to Canadian Tire, bought my jars and labels, got out my canning books, and got to work. I now have over 5 litres of soup, 1 litre of raspberry jam and an equal amount of marinara sauce, and it's TASTY! I'm going to be eating so well this winter. What is better on a snowy night than some homemade soup, made with fresh, locally grown vegetables?

I'm psyched. But now comes the problem of where to put all these jars. You should know that I live in a 650 sq ft condo, 12 stories up, on the shore of Lake Ontario. I have no basement, no root cellar, limited space and a boyfriend with more patience than most men. Ellen got me thinking about how I could utilize the smidgen of extra space in the tiny laundry room to fit in a small freezer chest surrounded by shelves for my canned goods. Cripe. I love this condo, but it's TINY.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 35 Switch to electronic billing

This one makes perfect sense to me. Less paper, overall mail weighs less thus using less gas to transport, and it's one less thing that I have to file. Now, I only get two bills in the mail. One is my credit card bill, and the other is a paper statement of my motorcycle payment, which gets paid directly from my checking account. I really don't need either of these things in my life, and electronic statements would be just fine.

Not going to happen. My bank (CIBC) and Harley-Davidson Financial Services do not have paperless options. I called. I cajoled. I explained that they would save money (companies love saving money, right?) and to no avail.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 33 and 34 Composting and taking public transit when practical

Ah compost. My family members with yards and gardens have been doing it for years, spreading the lovely earth they make on their land to enrich and fertilize the soil. As my parents did not garden, and as I have spent the past 10 years living in dorms or apartment/condo style living, I never thought I would have the opportunity to do this oh-so-basic form of recycling. But no! It has been proven that those of us living in boxes in the sky can indeed break down our organic waste into something useful.

To be fair, this composting couldn't come at a better time. And to be honest, before now, I never produced much organic waste in the form of vegetable and fruit trimmings. But since adopting canning and preserving as a hobby/way of life last week, I've been producing an awful lot of vegetable and fruit bits. So much so, the bowl on my counter where I toss such things as I cook was overflowing.

"Tomorrow, we compost." I said to my boyfriend.
"Ok" he said, knowing that this wouldn't involve or effect him and his life could continue as it does.

Unlike Vanessa, I did not research compost bins beforehand. I just showed up at Home Depot at 8am yesterday morning and expected that all my wishes would be met by the cheerful folks in orange aprons. Turns out, Home Depot no longer sells composting units (back when Vanessa wrote her entry on composting, they did). My helpful, chatty and flirty sales guy had no idea why, since he believed that composting was a good idea. (I liked this guy right off the bat - he had a penguin embroidered on the pocket of his polo shit - score! When I mentioned it to him, he confessed to not liking penguins, for a variety of silly reasons - boo.)

I then suggested that he sell me the materials to build my own. Being that it was early in the morning and he wasn't busy, we sauntered over to the computer station and started googling compost bins. We hit upon this website right away, and things looked promising. After some deliberation and friendly banter, it was decided that I would make this model, and the supplies were cheap and easily attainable.

We had a lovely stroll to the paint department to obtain the buckets and lids, and he even escorted me to the self-checkout. I made the fatal mistake of asking how old he was.

"21, and how old are you?"

"Oh damn," he said, "That invalidates you."
"What!" I exclaimed, "Invalidates me for what?"
"I can't date you" he said. "You're too old."

This is the first time I've ever heard that one, and I can say it was none too pleasant. It still stings, when I think about it. *sigh*

Back home with my buckets, the website suggests you use a screwdriver and hammer to punch holes in the bucket. This was ok for the top and bottom, but when it came to the slippery curved sides, this method just wasn't cuting it.

"Why am I struggling here?" I said out loud. "I have a drill!"

The power drill made short work of that bucket, and in no time I was filling it with some soggy paper, my kitchen scraps, and some soil for good measure. I figure I'll turn it once a week, and really, I can't wait for some great compost. Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do with it.

I can also see that I am going to outgrow this bucket fairly quickly, so I'll have to get another one to handle the overflow. I'm not going to do the vericulture thing, as it creeps my boyfriend out. I'm learning to be green and compromising.

Before we leave the subject of composting, the website has a great table of things that are compostable. This will really help.

Today, I'm going for a haircut. I only get one once ever 3 months, as I WILL realize my dream of having long hair someday. My salon is in this trendy part of town known as Yorkville, where the parking is expensive. I could take the car and pay $18 to park it, I could take the motorcycle and pay $18 and wreck my hair with a helmet, or I could pay $5.50 to get there and back by transit. Saving money and the environment, one day at a time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 31 and 32 - Planting an herb garden and adopting the Diva Cup

One was certainly easier than the other, both were incredibly messy, both will save me money, but only one produces tasty results.

The herb garden has been something I've dreamed of for years, and it is only this year that I have really had the time to tend a garden of any sort. Problem was, it is mid-August and no garden centres are stocking herb plants, or even seeds. I didn't know what to do, until I casually mentioned my dilemma to a kindly old lady over flats of organic raspberries (4 half pints for $5!) and she mentioned a garden centre that would be sure to have some plants, as well as seeds, and it was nearby to boot. Score!

Sure enough, I was soon the proud owner of a large window box, a heavy (and wet) sack of beautiful black soil, and 8 kind of herbs - peppermint, lavender, oregano, chives, basil, parsley, mint and rosemary, which came in it's own pot and looks like quite the hearty shrub. Digging in the dirt gives me such pleasure, and I am happy when I'm surrounded by green and growing things. This herb garden makes me smile every time I look at it.

My beef with buying grocery store herbs is that they are too expensive, and I often end up throwing most of them out, after using what my recipe called for. Sure, $2 for a giant bunch of cilantro is a good deal, but what am I going to do with it all? This way, I can just trot on over to my window box and snip what I need. Brilliant, I tell you.

The Diva Cup. *Sigh* I knew this day was coming. I was hoping for my usual early warning system of cramps to let me know when I should be making this purchase. Not so. Ever since I got off the pill in June, my body has had a mind of it's own (not to mention the less than flattering skin quality that I'm now living with). Last night, my monthly gift showed up with no warning and at full force. Lovely. I had one tampon left, and that was supposed to tide me until I could make it to the store. Nope. It was in quiet desperation I snatched the device from the check-out belt, even before my boyfriend had paid for it, and made a bee-line for the grocery store bathroom. Once inside, I hurriedly read the instructions once more (I was quite familiar already, having studied and agonized over this product online) and went to make the first attempt. Suddenly, a little boy knocked on the bathroom door and and "hello?" I froze and said nothing. The I hear "Mom, the bathroom door is locked and I really gotta go!" Oh shit. Meanwhile, this cup is NOT going in. I cram myself full of toilet paper, wash up and rush out of the bathroom, apologizing to the little boy and his mother and hoping he makes it in time.

Crisis averted, we went to visit my friend, who works as a dog trainer at a local pet store. She was in the middle of a puppy class, so we strolled the store, cooed over the kittens, and finally got a chance to talk to her.

"I bought the Diva Cup today," I said.
"And how do you feel about that?" This is her favorite question in the world. I hear it at least once a day when I'm with her. She should have been a shrink.
"Well, I didn't get it in on the first try, but I'm going to try again when I get home." I said.
"I hope it works better for you than that natural deodorant you've been using."


Once home, the struggle continued. You'd think I was trying to kill something in the bathroom, for the mess it made, but I have to say, I was victorious, and aside from feeling slightly bloated, I'm ok. We'll see what happpens tonight when it comes time to take it out.

Mother Earth, I love you. Oh yes, I do.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 30 - Switching to Handkerchiefs

It's been one hell of a day, bookended by tears, and I've gone through A LOT of kleenex. I awoke to my cat committing an unspeakably horrific act from which I may be scarred for life, and just now got home from one of those chick-flick movies I swear never to watch because I cry at the slightest hint of storyline tragedy.

Only trouble is, I don't own any handkerchiefs. Oh sure, I have plenty of fabric, and I'm not at all opposed to making my own, but the thing is, I haven't made them yet.

One more thing on the ever-lovin' to do list. I just hope to keep the waterworks at bay until I get a few done. Hmm...I could make some with a nice rolled hem, or perhaps with lace....

In other news, two reliable sources have reported that my Dr. Mist natural deodorant is, indeed, failing me. I started using it on Wednesday, which, coincidentally, was the first real day of summer here in Toronto. I even shaved my armpits to give the proverbial new kid a sporting chance. I don't think Dr. Mist is pulling is roll-on weight, and worse, I may have a slight rash. Today, I am deodorant free, in attempt to heal my skin. Lucky for my fellow humans I have a good supply of perfume, but nothing beats that sticky, somewhat foul feeling emanating from my pits. I'll see what the pits look like tomorrow. I want to give Dr. Mist a generous opportunity before I have to start scouting for a replacement. I hate throwing out a product before it is gone, but I have doubts that the Freecycle folks will want something that's been rolling around in my armpits.

To wrap it up - I made it through a month! Wow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 29 - No more plastic wrap

That's right - when the current roll is gone, bye bye to the plastic wrap. But then I get to thinking...what am I going to cover my food with when I microwave?

I've been using recycled aluminum foil now for a few weeks, and yes, it is thinner than the regular stuff. I recycle it after I am done with it, and I do try to wash it and reuse it, but, being thinner, it often doesn't hold up. It fails pretty badly when you unwrap something (like a loaf of bread), and then re-wrap it. Once or twice of this and the foil is tearing and soon you have mouldy bread.

I made some sturdy drawstring bags last night to take to the bulk food store, and to use as produce bags (as opposed to those thin plastic bags often provided in the produce section.) When I get my bulk items home, I can put them into plastic containers (which I already own), and wash/reuse the bags.

But seriously, the foil isn't what I'm used to, and what am I going to use in the microwave? Honestly, the microwave is the only place I use plastic wrap. One website suggests wax paper. Ok. That could work. I suppose parchment paper would also work.

Man, I'm doing a lot of whining today. Here is an excellent article regarding alternatives to conventional food wraps. It appears that cellophane is the only smart alternative.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 27 and 28 - No more pedicures and reprimand smokers who litter butts/ashes

Yesterday was going well. Quiet, sunny, sort of warmish. I woke up, promptly put on my glasses, grabbed the book on my nightstand and started to read. I lay in bed until approximately 12:30, until I had finished the book. What, you ask? The 100 Mile Diet, by Vancouver authors Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon. Yes, it was that riveting, and it convinced me even further that eating locally, supporting your local farmers and relishing in the bounty of each season is truly the way to go. Plans are underway for me to start the diet in the coming weeks.

After I finished reading, I showered, did my hair and makeup, and then my best friend called. It was her birthday (I knew that) and did I want to meet her just up the street for a pedicure? Sure, why not. I put on a white eyelet sundress, my flip flops and headed out. As soon as I got outside the sky opened. By the time I got to the salon, I wasn't more wet than if I had just taken a shower fully clothed. My dress was plastered to my legs, my hair was plastered and dripping, and the poor Vietnamese salon workers did not know what to do with me.

The pedicure was nice - I had never had a pedicure with a girlfriend before, and I have to say it was a lot of fun. But as I sat there, I realized not only how bad this, and most all salon services, are for the environment. I didn't need a pedicure - my feet are in great shape and I had just cut my toenails last week. I have to admit that feet in general are not attractive, but they are much improved with nail polish. But couldn't I do that at home? Without all the scented soaking, the hot towel massage and the gritty goo? (In case you can't tell, I'm not a girly-girl, and I get nervous when fussed over.) And couldn't I find a natural nail polish and polish remover? A quick scan on revealed that yes, these products do exist, and are available online and in some local natural stores.

So if the beautification of my toenails becomes a priority, I can do it without hurting the planet. But really, until then, I can live without pedicures. Because I have more important things to do like griping at smokers who litter.

This is a huge peeve of mine, and honestly, it never bothered me until I started riding a motorcycle. It irks me to no end when I pull up next to a car and the driver oh-so casually drops their still smoldering butt out the car window, inches from where I am, with no consideration for me or the planet. Thus, I am declaring war on smokers who litter.

I have never smoked, never tried, and have no desire to. I have no idea what it is like to have a chemical dependence on a substance, but I do know that dependence or no, that doesn't mean you have to litter your ashes and butts. People standing outside of buildings are one thing - most buildings provide some sort of receptacle, and people generally use it for their butts. But cars are built with ash trays! Use them! Littering your ashes and butts tells me that not only do you not care about the planet, but you are too damn lazy to use/empty your own ashtray and you expect others to clean up after you. Or maybe you aren't even thinking about all that stuff, because you are too concerned with looking cool, talking on the phone, eating or any number of other things.

Some appalling data on cigarette litter. Yes, this website is old, but you get the idea.

So. The next time I see someone littering a cigarette product of any kind, they will know the gentle chiding cum vengeful wrath of penguin.

I really hope I don't get beat up.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 26 - recycle dead batteries

Last week, I was stranded at a Starbucks for 5 hours because the battery in my Harley decided that would be a good time to die. Couple with that a few days before, the battery in the key fob that activates the security system also dies. Suddenly, an 800 lb machine becomes a hunk of immovable metal.

A few days, and a couple hundred dollars later, Suenos (that's the bike's name) is back on the road, but now I'm left with a dead 12v battery and a dead button battery. I smell the opportunity for a green change! The button battery will be saved until one of Toronto's environment days (the next one is September 12), where I can take it and give it to folks who know what to do with it. The dead 12v went back to the Harley dealership (which is where I also recycle my used oil) for them to recycle. Easy! I tried to find out exactly how batteries get recycled, but haven't come up with any info yet (I find processes like that to be fascinating.)

In my inbox today, I received a message from Douglas Farquhar who is in charge of business development for a e-company called out of Irvine, CA. Their site offers green products for personal and commercial use, as well as offering green tips and links. Do any of you have any experience with this company?

While brushing my teeth this morning, I noticed that eco-friendly toothpaste will be making it's way into my life soon, and I'd appreciate any suggestions as to what you folks are using. This little penguin needs all the help she can get.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 25 - No more margerine

There are so many reasons not to eat margarine. Sure, it's soft and tastes "buttery", and it's cheaper than butter, but c'mon folks, it's nothing but chemicals. I'm starting to employ the logic that if I don't know what the ingredients are, then I shouldn't eat it. Here is the wikipedia article on margerine, which is very factual, based on the food research that I've been conducting the past few years.

Not only is my challenge an effort to go green, but also one to eat healthier, more in line with what is good for the planet is good for the body.

Growing up, my mother only bought margerine. It came in a tub, which we used on our toast, and in stick form, which she would use for baking. Only when company came for holidays would she buy a stick of butter to place in the butter dish on the table, to be used on the mashed potates and rolls. I remember eating this butter and feeling that it was a very special thing, as it was only served at holidays, much like the good china was used at these meals.

5 years ago when I started cooking for others and really getting into the art and science of food, I became a purist, and while I would still have margerine in the house for bread, butter was the only acceptable thing for cooking and baking. Now, I'm giving up margerine altogether. I just purchased a butter bell on ebay (until then my butter is sitting on a plate on the kitchen counter), and I'm quite pleased to have eliminted another source of chemicals from my life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 24 Pick up any and all litter I come across

This challenge is deceptive. You think that picking up litter and disposing of it properly would be a piece of cake. Not so. Some garbage really shouldn't be handled with bare hands, sometimes the garbage you find is far, far away from a proper waste receptacle and so you end up carrying it around, and people tend to look at you funny. Like "what kind of hippy do-gooder are you?" and "maybe this chick has mental problems". This attitude is particularly prevalent in areas of affluence (Bay and King - the Toronto financial district) and areas of rash consumerism (malls).

You know that look of disdain that skinny 15 year old girls can pull off? The "ewww, that is so gross, I'm going to text my friends right away and tell them about this creepy lady picking up mall garbage." Well even though I am twice their age, that look still gets me. Perhaps because I've never been popular and suffer from low self esteem.

I can't believe I've been at this challenge for 24 days already. This might just be the longest I've ever stuck with anything. I'm better at being green than sticking to a diet. Humph.

In other exciting news, my condo has started a blocking of junk mail program. Now I have a pick paper taped to the inside of my mailbox, telling Canada Post that this box wants no more junk mail. Hopefully the junk mail I would receive is going back to the sorting plant to be recycled.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 22 and 23 - It's all about the hair

Ever since I got back from vacation late Tuesday night, I've been crazy busy, and while I haven't kept up on the blogging, I have kept up with making a new change every day. So here is my update.

Yesterday I switched to organic shampoo and conditioner, and today I'm switching to natural deodorant. Using a new product usually gets me excited - perhaps there is something better out there that I have yet to discover, and perhaps this product will change my life in some way. These past two changes, however, were approached with trepidation. Allow me to explain.

I have had a long and troubled history with the hair on my head. My hair, presently, is roughly longer than my shoulders, a fairly bright red, and naturally curly and prone to frizz and odd kinks. I have never dyed my hair, or permed it. Over the course of my life, it has gone through some awful hairstyles, has fallen out twice due to extreme dieting, and while it and my scalp are very healthy, I have bad hair days more often than not. Couple all of this with the fact that I wear a motorcycle helmet, sometimes for long hours, and if not secured properly, my hair flaps in the wind and gets mighty tangled. All I've ever wanted from my hair was to be somewhat curly, not frizzy and about mid-back in length. So I approached this change with mixed feelings - would I miss my old products (Infusium 23)? Would these new products be better for my hair as well as the environment?

The gal at Big Carrot assured me that these new hair cleansers were good for the environment (I bought the apricot scented products from the JASON line), but they were also good "transition" products. Transition? As in, I need to adjust? Like learning to live with bad hair all the time type of adjustment? I'll let you know how these new products work out. They do smell nice... The girl also mentioned that some people have luck with their hair growing faster if they ingest liquid silica, which they also sell. "Silica? As in the granular stuff they put in your new shoes?" She didn't know. I know that I tried to use those granules to dry flowers in the microwave and it didnt' work out. But I digress.

While I was there, I also picked up some natural deoderant, which the helpful girl led me too, saying that it was a best seller and everyone at the store used it. Dr. Mist, of the roll-on variety, in case you are wondering. The girl looked at me pointedly and asked if I had ever used natural deoderant before. "Um, no." I said. What was different? She then went on the explain that conventional deoderants clog your pores, which keep sweat from coming out. Apparently, natural deoderants work with my body chemistry to prevent odor, and that there would be a transition (there's that word again) period until my body got used to having open pores, and that I might find that my natural "smell" changes over the course of usage, so much so that conventional deoderants will no longer work, should I go back.

Smelly hippy land, here I come. You'll know me by my aroma, the bad hair and lack of nail polish. Mother Earth, I hope you like this.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 21 - I'm back, and I'm squeaking this one in

With only 24 minutes left in what has been a crazy day, I'm sneaking in this eco-change. I'll admit, it's an easy one, but after the day I've had, I need a break. From now on, I'm using GoodSearch as opposed to Google, and donating the proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund. GoodSearch donates to charitable causes when you use their search engine. I love animals, and I couldn't find any charities that deal with penguins specifically, so WWF was a good choice.

Speaking of animals, I had a few encounters with animals this past weekend on my travels. Most of them were pleasant (watching a family of wild turkeys cross the road in the Allegheny forest in western PA, visiting the Pittsburgh zoo and going gaga over the adorable penguins) and one of them was not so pleasant (getting stung in the boob by a hornet as I rode my motorcycle - the air draft over my windshield blew the hornet right down my shirt where the poor startled beastie stung me). I'm fine - no lasting damage.

I'm actually pretty proud of myself - looking over my list of changes, I was able to stay true to all of them while on the road. Before I pat myself on the back too much, the only one on the list that actually applied was the no using of hand dryers or paper towels to dry my hands in public bathrooms.

So here we are, 21 days into the challenge and doing well. I'm seeing some natural deoderant in my future, as well as the dreaded Diva cup. Stay tuned for what new adventures those will bring. :-)