Category Archives: Around the house

Making a Move – The Dirty Truth

So we moved. And moving tends, well, to generate garbage.

It’s not just the boxes and packing tape, it’s the years worth of “stuff” you’ve been storing in the basement, thinking you’ll get to later. Stuff that you don’t really want at your shiny new place.  . . . I figured I owed it to myself (and you) to be open about the garbage that came from our move, so here’s the good and the bad on the waste front.

The Bad We had to wade through 7 years of “stuff” in the basement, and came out with: a grocery bag of odds and ends destined for he landfill (scraps of cloth, broken things, dried up paint and epoxy from art projects, 2 broken ski poles -someone help me with these), a few bags of recyclables (paper, soft plastics, scrap metal), and a woven rope rug which looks moderate on top and is disintegrating underneath (I’m considering using it to line a raised garden bed). I also (guiltily) used way too much of a roll of plastic packing tape that we had laying around.

The Good I borrowed a bunch of Rubbermaid containers from a friend which dramatically cut down on the number of cardboard boxes we used (if you don’t have a friend who moves so often that they actually bought a set of containers, try a service like frogbox). The cardboard boxes we did use were salvaged from the local beer store (saving both resources and our pocketbook). I used sheets, towels, and reused cardboard to protect dishes and such, eliminating the need for packing paper or bubble wrap. We also avoided the dreaded transfer station by getting rid of lots of stuff on craigslist and the local thrift stores.

I calculated we saved about 7 pounds of carbon by forgoing a huge moving truck and relying on people power, but we probably more than made up for it running “extra items” to a temporary storage locker.

In the end, our single bag of moving waste contributed to our 2010 garbage total being well above our Clean Bin Project year. I didn’t measure it, but I’m thinking it was at least 4 or 5 grocery bags for the year. Kind of sad, but also much better than we ever were before the project started.

Any green moving thoughts?

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Making A Move – Eco Style

Grant and I have lived in the same awesome 100 year old duplex in Vancouver for 7 years. We’ve been lucky to have  a variety of great roommates at various times as well as a landlord who lets us have free reign in the garden, but at the beginning of the month, we decided to make a move into a place of our own.

Because it was just a couple blocks away and because we seem to talk a lot about living sustainably these days, we figured we’d forgo the traditional moving van and make it a DIY people powered deal.

I borrowed a huge cargo bicycle trailer from the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (you guys are awesome!), brought out my own little trailer, and invited friends to come over with dollies, wagons, and bicycles.

Moving this way was basically free. I borrowed a bunch of rubbermaid containers from a friend (thanks Becky) and found boxes at the wine store. Grant bought some beer, my Dad made some chili, my sister baked bread, and my mom made muffins to thank the 15 superheros that came out.

I think we all had a pretty good time. Thanks to everyone who helped out!!!

Waste related details to follow. For now, here are some pics.

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The One in One Out Wardrobe

The rumors are true. I went clothes shopping.

Since the project, shopping from clothes is something I rarely do. I’m not sure if it’s because not buying stuff makes me feel virtuous or because my closet is so chock a block full that I can’t cram anything else in there. Maybe it’s the feeling that I should be doing something better with my time like having picnics or going hiking.

In any case, last week while in between film screenings on Vancouver Island, we went thrifting. It turned out that it was half price day at Value Village, so I managed to snag 3 sweaters and dress all for $15. (Mmm hmmm – that’s a bargain). I was pretty pleased with myself, having stuck to my  eco guns and shopped secondhand.

And then I started thinking about minimalism. Minimalists aim to live with very few belongings (eg. some people actually count their belongings, aiming to own just 50 or 100 things tops). And I have to say, I’m inspired.  Not to the extend that I am going to ditch my blender or my tickle trunk of awesome costumes, but I have decided to cap my wardrobe.

That’s right, in my newly dubbed ‘one in, one out’ closet, I am going to have to donate 3 of my current tops to charity in order to get my 3 new-to-me sweaters in the door. (No fair trading an old pair of socks for new jeans – they have to be the same general category of clothing).

It seems easy in theory, but when I actually tried to do it, I just couldn’t find three shirts I was willing to part with. I have two rubbermaid containers full of shirts; I only wear maximum 2 at a time; but I seem to have sentimental attachments to every single one.

Grant has been successfully trimming his belongings by taking photos of the items he feel some distance nostalgic connection to and them dropping them off at the Sally Ann. But so far all I have managed to get rid of is a couple pairs of raggedy underwear (rag bag), a few single socks (dusters), and some t-shirts that would fit a 12 year old.

Seems like to road to wardrobe minimalism is going to be a long one for me.

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Selt Directed Greens vs Uninterested Polluters

I’ve had tons of people come up to me in the past year and tell me about how they only have to take their bin to the curb every few weeks, or how they started composting, or how it drives them crazy when their co-workers don’t recycle. It’s actually fascinating and uplifting all at once.

But I know that for every person like that, there’s another one who drags their overflowing wheelie cart to the curb every single week and that chances are it contains paper, aluminum, glass, and other valuable resources. Continue reading

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Babies Equal Garbage?

babyOk, this is it, I’m a declaring to the world that when I have kids, they will be using cloth diapers the majority of the time.  And you can hold me to it.

What else in the western world creates such volumes of consumer level garbage?  What else makes your garbage smell that fricking bad? Except disposable diapers.

Not that I haven’t been aware of this for awhile, but last weekend, I had occasion to have a few disposable diapers left in my garbage bin, and let me tell you, if I had a garbage bin that smelled like that during the garbage strike, you betcha that I’d be pretty irate.  I’m starting to sympathize with those parents who resorted to dumping their trash in public parks just to get it off their property. . . . Continue reading

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Day 151: Pet Waste

fiddleGato, our cat, was none too impressed, but our household acquired a new member on the weekend: a puppy.  Of course, being of the zero-waste sort of persuasion, we started thinking about pets and the world of waste management.

I will fully admit that we are not the most responsible of pet owners when if comes to waste, allowing Gato to do his thing outside wherever he pleases (which turns out to be primarily under the deck), but a dog is another thing.  Dogs don’t stick to one place, and you can’t have dog crap lying around the yard.  You have to do something with it.  But what? Continue reading

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