Archive for January, 2009

Next up, showers. The amount and length of showers I have.

I do, however, need to smell acceptable for work. So I always, always shower before work. Once I’m working five days a week (summertime – I hope, anyway) I won’t have much say on how often I shower (um, 5 times a week). However, for any work weeks less than 3 days, I do have a choice.

Right now I’m showering 4 days a week, which I might leave it at… or maybe I’ll go down to just showering the days I work. Hmmm.

Currently, my showers average 3 showers at 5 minutes and one at 15 (when I was my hair) per week.

~3 short showers one week, 3 short and a long the next
~Bring short showers to 4 minutes
~Bring longer showers to 10 minutes, reduce to once a fortnight (on a side note, whoever killed the word fortnight? Is it not so much prettier than biweekly?) My hair is in dreads (“dreamlocks”), by the way, it’ll be fine. Actually, even when I was slathering conditioner on everyday I could only wash my hair once every week or so, without turning it into straw. So this will be good for my poor hair.

This would bring my “minutes in the shower” total from an average of 60 minutes a fortnight (I’m bringing it back!) to 34, almost a 50% reduction.

Update from  Part one (here).

~I’ve put together a fourth work uniform (bonus: I didn’t buy anything to do so). With my cut hours, I now have two weeks worth of work uniforms (assuming I don’t need it for the new job I’m currently searching for).

~I’m still struggling to do one load the week I do my bed (fortnightly!) but the other week has become easy to do one load. Yay me! The reduction in work clothes should help.

Not much else to report. Still trying.

PS – My SO got a job yesterday. I’m still looking.


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Okay, so by this time everyone and their dog knows about the economic crisis. There’s still some debate as to whether or not it’s just a short slump or a long term depression to rival the Great one in the thirties (can I call it the great one?).

And yes, I am writing about this because, yesterday, my SO got laid off AND I was informed that, after February, the best I can hope for is 13 hours a week (plus a shift or two around the various chocolate laden holidays). I may be just a little bit on the bitter and cynical side.

I can sum this post up in one sentence. With your dwindling dollars, who are you voting for?

Apparently Wal*Mart’s sales are through the roof. So, I guess everyone’s voting for Wal*Mart.

Now, I really do believe that this whole mess is tied in with peak oil. And the choices are really clear to me.

Choice 1: Do not, unless under absolute diress, make any sacrifices whatsoever. Keep consuming and keeping up with the Joneses and whatever else you’re doing right now. Fund it through a credit card, mortgage, the rights to your first born child, or whatever else necessary, but heaven forbid you have to make your coffee at home. I think the people who choose this category are dwindling because the credit card is maxed, the house got foreclosed and the first born child has already been sold. They’re out of options and have to deal with the harsh, sudden reality that their needs need to take precedence over their wants.

Choice 2: Same as above, but fund it through cheaper alternatives rather than credit cards. Wal*Mart, and what have you. Big name bargain places. Let’s give Wal*Mart our souls. The only problem with this option is that it leaves nothing for that first born of yours to use to … well… live at all. Wants shipped in from wherever they can be made cheapest, unfortunately, does not bode well for the future. Watch the story of stuff. Cheaper options that don’t rape the planet, like second hand stores and libraries, do not fall into this category. I know there are some people who feel they have no choice, but look around. Dig deeper. There are choices. Don’t buy anything you can borrow, don’t buy anything new that you can get second hand and don’t buy anything you don’t need.  Start with that and see how hopeless it seems afterwards. If it still seems hopeless, reach out for help. There’s a myriad of support systems out there. Remember, most of Wal*Mart’s (and Zeller’s) employees are already on that support.

Choice 3: Make sacrifices. Give up everything that can be given up. Do it slowly if you still have some time. Make a change, let it sit until it becomes just what you do. Make another. Give up the dryer, give up the second car, give up chocolate, whatever it takes. At whichever step you’re at. Simplify your life. Also, remember not to give up everything fun. Just find cheaper alternatives that give you just as much joy.

And with the dollars left over, vote for the future you want to see. And yes, I was promised flying cars and shopping trips on Mars too. Deal with it. Put the sci fi away (temporarily) and live with the reality that our future is going back to a simpler time. Think of someone younger than yourself, who you care about. Yes, they might need to give up the personal computer, but wouldn’t it be nice if they could still have access to health care and a public school system? Clean water? Food?

So, how, exactly, is buying a Big Mac contributing to the futures ability to eat? It’s not. However, giving up the dryer and using the money you save to first pay for the drying rack/clothes line/extra hangers in your closet (or, hey, get the hangers for free by selling all those clothes you haven’t worn in a year!) and then to buy one meal a week from a local source. Borrow a book from the library and put the money saved into a vegetable garden. Give up the car and put the insurance money into a heavy duty water filter. Use the money you save on gas for transit fare.

It’s time for anyone who can make some wiggle room to remember that every dollar you put into the conventional economy harms someone, somewhere.

My favourite definition of sustainable is “actions which do not inhibit future generation’s ability to meet their basic needs.” Isn’t it time we all did something towards enabling today’s children’s ability to live?

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Water Conservation Part 1

Okay, so maybe I’m just really lazy, but this whole “figure out exactly how much water you’re causing to come out of the taps” thing is just too hard. Or, at least, too hard to remember. I have kept a half-hearted track of how much I’ve been drinking and filling the kettle with… and nothing else so far.

So. Instead of bothering tracking how much I use (water meters are mandatory in a couple years anyway! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) I’m just gonna focus on reducing the amount.

So, the first thing I’m going to try to do? Wash less laundry. Our place came with a decently new top loader, and I don’t have any say on it unless I want to wash my laundry at my parents house, the laundromat or by hand.

Since my parents also have a newish top loader and the laundromat is way outta my way and price range that leaves washing less loads and washing some stuff by hand.

Right now I wash about two loads a week on average. More if I run out of work uniforms midway through the week.

Goals from this post:

~Dig through closet and try to put together more work uniforms

~Failing that, stop at Goodwill and get some more shirts (I know I have bottoms!)

~Use towels more before washing

~Wear casual clothing more times before washing. Be more careful when you eat!

~Obtain some sort of hand-washing method and use it

~Ultimately, lower washing rate to one load per week, at the maximum

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Gentlemen, you are excused from today’s post. Instead I want a three page essay on why you love the women in your life. I expect it on my desk by 3pm on Thursday.

Now, I’m not going to bother beating a dead horse. Everyone knows that cloth pads are economically and environmentally sound. Not to mention they can be really, really pretty.

Did you know they can also reduce PMS, cramps and the general “I feel like crap, someone please put me out of my misery by removing my uterus with a dull, rusty knife. Right NOW!!” feeling?

A little background about me, first off. I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). There is also a possibility I suffer from endometriosis.

In layman’s terms? It means I have irregular periods. With terrible PMS. And terrible, terrible cramps. How terrible? Throw-up-then-pass-out-from-the-pain terrible. For three days starting the day before I start bleeding.

At least, I did.

Then I started using cloth pads. Actually, to start I was too embarrassed and poor to get cloth pads… So I got a couple of 100% organic cotton washcloths and folded them up in tight underwear to wear at home.

What a HUGE difference. Like, astounding. First my cramps tapered off; The more I wore a cloth pad, the less I hurt.  I still have cramps, and sometimes they still double me over.  And if I wear disposables for a period, they come back full force. It’s just not a constant for 72-odd hours as long as I wear cloth.

Then I started to look at my period differently. I didn’t have to change pads every 15-20 minutes the first day, the cramps didn’t hurt as much, the chaffing went away and wearing the pads was actually comfortable. And, because of all of this, I started to accept that I’m a woman. Oh, and there is no guilt, whatsoever, when I think I might be getting my period, but I’m not really sure, and I put a pad on anyway (those of you with irregular periods know what I mean. Those of you who, like my grandmother, could set a clock to your cycle, don’t worry about it).

And, sure, I still fantasize about getting the whole thing out… only now I daydream about a hyserectomy in a doctors office.

So, ladies, add a third reason to use cloth pads: It may help with menstrating discomfort! (Especially if you’re allergic/sensitive to any of the chemicals used to make your products a nice, “clean” white.)

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Riot for Austerity

My numbers (to start)

1. Gasoline: 1 gallon; or about 2.4% of the average American.

Calculations: Using google maps and a business card to compare the legend to the distance I travel, to work by train… about 7-8km/day (5 miles) round trip. I worked a lot in December, let’s say an average of 4 days a week. So (4 days x4 weeks x 5 miles) 80  miles travelled, at 100mpg = 4/5 of a gallon! I’ll add another 1/5 of a gallon for the rides I took (It’s a five minute trip: once to my parents and back, to their house would be divided by 5 since I met them at their church Christmas eve. From would be divided by 2 since I brought my SO home too. It’s the best guesstimate. I’ll keep a better record in January).

2. Electricity: 304.5 kWh or 33.8% of the American average.

Calculations: 609 kWh for two households = 304.5 kWh for ours. The bill says something about green electricity, so I’m going to assume I get 180kWh/month as per riot rules… (Iono. Will look into what Enmax considers “green electricity”). Needs more reduction!

3. Heating (Natural Gas): 64.1 therms or 64.1% of the American average. (This is one category I should probably get off my butt and figure out in Canadian average. heh)

Calculations: 128.1 therms for two households. 64.1 therms for our household. 100/year … it’ll be easier to hit in the summer than in the winter (-40 cold snap, anyone?). I’m gonna do some crazy math: According to the graph on our bill, last year next to no gas was used in July, August and September, so I’ll put 5 therms into those months (15 therms) and take the remaining 85 for the other 9 months (9.4/month). Needs reduction!

4. Garbage: ??

Calculations: Need a scale to weigh a couple bags. Also need to figure out exactly how long it takes us to fill a bag (I’m guessing about 10 days). Need to compost more, I know that.

5. Water: ??

Calculations: Crap, we have a flat rate. Water meter reads X today. Okay, after wandering around the house, I’ve determined that we don’t /have/ a water meter. Will need to figure out how much water the washing machine uses, and how much my showers, various tap running and toilet flushing uses and do it the old fashioned way. Crap.

6. Consumer goods: $151.31 or 18.2% of the average American.

Calculations: In December I spent 39.67 on gifts (and I know some of that was second hand, but I can’t remember how much!), 108.14 on entertainment (plus a ticket to a religious gathering that I’m not counting and a library card – also not counted?), and 3.50 on various toiletries/household cleaners/etc. for a total of 151.31 consumer spending.

7. Food: Should be 70/25/5. Is more like 15/25/60.

Calculations: Um, guesstimate based on what I have in my pantry. Need to buy local and organic produce, more than anything else, to swing the numbers. Might not see much (or any) improvement until June (when the Farmer’s Markets open up).

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Ban Plastic Bags?!


It’s about TIME Calgary!! Hop on the damn bandwagon already!

Some quick facts from the article for those of you who don’t read it:

~Less than 4.2% of Calgarian plastic bags are recycled annually. Albertans, on the other hand, recycle a third (33.3%). Way to go, Calgary. I bet Edmonton has one thing they do better than us! (Can’t let that happen, can we?)

~Canadians use 55 million plastic bags every week

“”People are already willing and I think trying to use less plastic bags,”Semmens said. “On this issue, Calgary could take a lead.””

What I’d like to know is, who are we leading? The people in Africa who have never seen a plastic bag so they haven’t banned them yet? Leading? We’re going to be lucky if we get a “Thank You For Participating” ribbon that they give the fat, asthmatic kids* to make them feel less loser-ish. Case and point: many Calgarian grocery stores already charge for one-use bag… without help from the gouvernment!

~Calgary Co-op donate 633 333 bags worth to charity last year ($19 000 at 3 cents given/bag; and they have the option for the three cents to be taken off your bill)

*No offense intended to any fat, asthmatic child who stumbles upon this blog.

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Food Storage

So Sharon Astyk over at Casaubon’s Book has been posting a lot about food storage lately.

I wanted to have a summary of what I have stored at this time (and maybe, another at the end of the month to see how much I ate out of storage this month…)

Couple of things to remember:

~I’m a “starving” student, and while I have more money than most students, I’m still kinda broke. (I suppose I could say I’m a “hungry” student instead.)

~This month shall be rather tight. My SO isn’t making too much, and my hours at work got cut (oh the joys of post Consumermas retail). Fortunately he’s got a new job lined up, and we have Valentine’s day to boost sales come February – belt tightening is temporary.

~I experience anaphylaxia when I eat rice (any kind)

~Everything (‘cept the soup) is estimated to the best of my abilities

In our pantry:

~6kg of flour (13.2lbs)

~4kg of quick oats (8.8lbs)

~1.9kg of pasta (4.2lbs)

~2L of canola oil (0.5 gallons)

~1.5kg Margarine (3.3lbs)

~1lb dried Kidney beans

~1lb dried Mung beans

~1lb green Lentils

~0.5lbs Red Quinoa

~1kg Honey (2.2lbs)

~5kg White Sugar (11lbs)

~1.5kg Brown Sugar (3.3lbs)

~0.2L Vanilla Extract (0.05 gallons)

~0.5kg Baking Soda (1.1lbs)

~0.2kg Baking Powder (0.4lbs)

~11x284ml cans of creamy soup

~Some Pancake mix

~100 bags of tea (mostly white, some green, some black, few decaf/herbal)

~Various spices

I have a long way to go for a years worth according to about.com’s calculator. But as long as I go the right way (more added than eaten) I guess that counts for something.

Have you made an inventory of your storage?

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