Monthly Archives: November 2008

Day 141: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

paperIf, in fact, what I read online is true, and “each week thousands of Globe and Mail readers make Margaret Wente’s column their first read”, then I feel that I have to speak out.

Allow me to paraphrase her Saturday article subtitled “Recycling targets seem to be based on the belief that the more we recycle, the faster we will go to Heaven” in which she snidely downplays the impact of disposable plastic in our society and infers that environmental municipal laws are based more on warm fuzzy feelings than economics or rational decision making.

First off, she introduces the fact that “it takes a great deal more energy to manufacture a reusable ceramic cup than . . . any kind of disposable cup” but goes on to justify using disposables because one would have to use their mug “a whopping 1,006 times to break even” compared to using polystyrene cups.

I agree with the facts, but not the justification. Continue reading


Filed under interactions, recycling, soft plastics

Day 136: Dustalicious

vacuumWell, it finally happened.  Our vacuum bag filled up.  This doesn’t happen often because we mainly have laminate floors and prefer an old fashioned broom to the overpowering, cat-traumatizing power of our upright vacuum. But nothing beats the clean corners obtained by electrically induced suction, and now our bag is full.

In a perfect world, we would have a bagless version, but in reality we bought it years ago when we were on a pretty thin budget.  I specifically remember that we went for the second from the cheapest model, congratulating ourselves on not being the complete lowest of the low.  (This was long before the concept of craigslist or freecycle had drifted into my life.)

So the question is, what to do with the dust bag?  Continue reading

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Day 133: Backyard Compost Etiquette

compost-veggiesI’ve been receiving some composting questions as of late, and, not being a compost expert myself, I did a little online research and eventually decided to go to the source of all things compostable: the compost hot line.

Yes, here in Vancouver, we have a compost hot line where you can ask your burning compost questions and gardening experts will give you the dirt on how to turn your fruit and  vegetable kitchen scraps into black gold.

Continue reading


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Day 132: Our Car is Not On the Clean Bin Program

subaruOur car doesn’t seem to understand the Clean Bin Project.  It is trying to thwart our clean bins with broken auto parts and old engine oil.  Well, at least the latter can be recycled.  But buying new parts in almost unavoidable.

Now, before you all go into shock, yes it’s true.  We have a car.  Continue reading


Filed under recycling

Day 129: Money We Can’t Spend

sweetspotsI’m tooting my own horn a bit here, but Grant and I have recently become winners.

Contest winners.  We placed second in a national, outdoor video contest through Mountain Equipment Co-op.  For you American readers, MEC is like REI for Canada.  For the rest of the world, MEC is a huge outdoor gear co-op store.  For us, MEC is like paradise -one that we used to shop in probably every other week or so.  That is until we started the Clean Bin Project and became non-consumers.

So the irony of this is that we now have a $1000 gift card to one of our favorite stores, and we can’t spend it!  The further irony is that the ridiculous amount of outdoor gear that we both have was one of the reasons we started this project in the first place.  Seriously, we have 4 tents between 2 people.

In any case, we have another 8 months before we can officially buy “stuff”, so that should give us time to mull over what we think we “need” and what we are merely temporarily drooling over.  One of the items on our radar is a portable solar panel – that’s green right?  They also have a lovely selection of fair trade chocolate.

Anyway, enough horn tooting.  If you want to see the video click here.  It’s a 10 min movie about a ski traverse we did a few years ago.  And in my defence, I am much better on the split board now than I was then.  And also, to give credit where credit is due, Grant is the actual winner because he did most of the filming and all of the editing, but heck, I’m in it. (And yes that’s him up above, back in the shaggy-hair days, actually doing the filming on that very trip)


Filed under gifts

Day 127: Birthday Bounty Without the Wrapping

gift2Think of all the gifts you have received on your birthday over the years.  How many of them are things you actually need?  Over a lifetime, that’s a lot of stuff!

Grant and I both had birthday’s in October.  We started dropping hints to family and friends about lingonberrywaste-free, commercial-free gifts a few weeks in advance, and they came through with flying colours.  We were given homemade cards and preserves and cupcakes, personal drawings, music, lovely soap, and garden plants (including a lingonberry bush that will hopefully supply us with jam next year).  All thoughtfully wrapped in re-used paper or fabric including a card made out of the end of a cracker box.  We got tickets to an event, friendly long-distance phone calls, a day spent zip-lining, and a night at a hotel on our next vacation.  Not to mention the promise by Grant’s dad never to use plastic shopping bags again.  They’re all things that we really value and that will never end up in the landfill. Continue reading


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Day 125: Halloween Hoopla

In this household, we love halloween.  It also happens to be my birthday.  You know what this means: I’ve had a dress-up party every birthday of my life.

Since we started trying to live a consumer-free, waste-free lifestyle, halloween has been looming like a dark cloud.  What could we possibly wear?  What kind of candy could we give out?

The past few years, Grant and I have put together some serious costumes- some more elaborate than others, but most involving glue guns, material, cardboard, duct tape, and numerous cans of spray paint.  But this year was different.  We weren’t allowed to buy anything, plus we didn’t want to generate any new garbage from supplies we might have had in the house.  Add to that the fact that we had been strapped for time the past couple weeks (ie no time for paper mache), and halloween was starting to look pretty sad. Continue reading


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