Archive for November, 2008

I don’t always…

practice what I preach.

I’ll be honest with you: I’m broke. The school, she takes all my money!

So when I realized that Linens ‘N’ Things was liquidizing and everything was really cheap I happily carted my broke butt over there. Several times. On the bright side, I now have kitchen knives (I never did check the box so these could be from anywhere) and a shiney toaster oven.

I also stocked up on bath/hand towels, paper napkins, a comfortor/throw blanket and a wicker hamper we’ve turned into a garbage bin (the lining will be used to store my excess linens in). Because, darnit, when things get bad, we have a couch and a fouton and the extra room to move people into. These things will come in handy when peak oil “arrives”.

‘Cept they’re all from India, China, and Pakistan. D’oh.

Buying local is definitely something I need to do more than once in a blue moon when it jumps up at me and pokes me until I realize it wants my attention. Organic would be a good thing to buy more often too. So would fair trade (okay, out of all three ‘fair trade’ the one I’m the best at doing).

The above purchases were non of those “green” criteria.

This confession is now over and I will return with part three of new perspectives soon.


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Quick rant

Please, please PLEASE people…

The purpose of a reusable shopping bag is NOT to double bag your plastic-shopping-bagged* items.

Each time you do so a chubby, purple “dagwon” cries.

Hint: The cool people (the ones in the clique/the smart ones/etc.) only use the reusable bag and forgo the plastic one completely.

*I’m not talking about produce bags, either, though that does seem weird to me, it doesn’t make me cry.

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2. Water usage

Showers: I had two real showers while I was out in B.C. I did also have two bag-showers (where you fill up a bag and then warm it in the sun) and bathed in the creek twice. That works out to just more than one cleaning per week (counting everything) or one every two weeks (counting just “real showers”). Both are rather traveler-esque and I wouldn’t expect people in my society to do so on a regular basis.

Obviously some changes need to be made. Showers need to be shorter, less frequent, with the low-flow heads and everything else that’s been discussed to death. And what about bag-showers? Seriously, the water pressure in the one I had was amazing and when you’re already taking short showers there’s more than enough water in the bag (my two biggest concerns). The water, if left long enough, also gets quite warm on a sunny day. Too hot, even. Obviously one won’t want to be outside in a Canadian winter, trying to shower off (or even warm the water in the sun!)… fortunately the summer is a different matter entirely! There has to be some way to make it work! Get creative and determine a way to move it indoors, if not the warming part, at least the showering itself. My best idea is to install a hook for it on the roof of your regular shower. Totally wouldn’t work for mine (the roofs really low + I’m renting) but it’d work for some people.

Toilets: The commune had composting toilets. And they’re really, really are not just a nice way of saying “outhouses.” Composting toilets aren’t stinky (I was amazed too)! I did my business and then covered it with a little bit of saw dust. No stink, no mess, no water waste. Now, I’ve heard books-to-read recommendations on the subject, but I can assure you that I did not get food poisoning, or even sick while I was there and most of the food I ate was out of their garden which I’m assuming uses the compost from the potties. More research may be needed for me to really talk about them. I still found them better than the port-a-potties at Shambhala and on the orchards, in terms of smell and comfort using. And the ones I was using were just tarps strung around trees, toilet paper, a bucket of sawdust, and a bucket with a toilet seat balanced on top of it. There are much fancier/civilized versions.

Hand Washing: I still view this as supper important, though I’m pretty sure I use less water when doing so now. And I’m not so obsessive about it anymore either (which is good for me, not something I’m telling readers to do).

3. Waste

There’s really something that needs to be done about how much waste goes into the food cycle. I mean, not everyone eats the greens of their veggies;  there is stuff that goes bad on the shelves, is dropped, squished, or otherwise damaged; and then there’s the waste after it goes home in the form of unsightly parts being cut off, spoilage, forgetting it in the back of the fridge, etc.

Never did I realize how prevalent food wastage was until I worked on an orchard. There were, literally, pear trees which I had to throw out half the fruit. Some of it was reasonable (the pear was goopy, or had been infected by earwigs) and some of it was ridiculous. For example we had to pick every pear and throw out all that were too small. Now, I could be wrong but I don’t think the SIZE of a pear affects its flavour/value. Or, y’know, you could just wait until the pear grew a little bit. Pears don’t ripen on the tree anyway.

I also had to chuck all of the pears that had marks (usually just from resting on a branch) larger than a dime. I can only imagine how many of the pears I kept got thrown out in the processing plant. And then we lose more in transit and at the supermarket. And then a pear is thrown out because it went bad on the kitchen counter. That’s a whole lot of waste in a world that is precariously close to (and in some places over the edge) wide spread famines.

I’m not saying eat the rotting fruit; I’m saying eat it before it starts to rot.

I’m not saying sell the squished fruit; I’m saying transport the fruit shorter distances so less are damaged.

I’m not saying eat the fruit that had pests inside of it; I’m saying create a market for second grade fruits where it’s not unhealthy, just cosmetic.

I’m saying grow your own, so it can grow until it’s the proper size.

4. Just a short rant: Calgary’s green practices…

are non-existent. Seriously, I know that Alberta is a conservative province and B.C. is quite a bit more hippie-ish, but we need to get with the program! (I also realize that Calgary is big and Keremeos/Grand Forks are small.)

I’m tired of giving out free plastic bags, I’m sick of living in a city with a terrible transit system (maybe that one wasn’t really comparative, just a general rant), I want to be able to walk to everything I need on a regular basis, I think the hours businesses are open in big cities are ridiculous, I loved not seeing any big names/how everything was local, I hate waiting forever for medical attention, and we need more windmills!

Calgary is far enough behind in the “be sustainable” (btw, my marketing textbook defines, paraphrased, sustainable as something that does not compromise future generations’ ability to meet their basic needs — which merits its own post) race that I don’t know if we’ll ever catch up and I’m embarrassed to live here.


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