Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Organic Debate

Tonight I thought I'd share a link for you to check out:

I found this on yahoo earlier today and have been reading this and other articles. I think it's quite an interesting one - talking about organic food and if it's worth it. There seems to be a debate about what is better for you - organic or not. And it also looks at locally grown, not certified organic but from farms that work hard to not need pesticides & hormones etc. Very interesting reading.

And again, another list of what to buy, what to skip, in the organics section of the grocery. Worth a look as it's more comprehensive that what I have shared before. (you may have to cut/paste this one if it comes out too long)

I'm looking forward to late spring and onward as the locally grown stuff will soon be ready where I live. I'll continue to order through SPUD but I'll also compliment it with local stuff as a lot of what I can get around here is grown without sprays etc. It may not be certified organic - but it came from just down the road so it's fresh and hasn't used up a lot of gas to get here.

So take a look and enjoy those links. It's nearly 8pm. We missed Earth hour last night and so I want to get in an hour of being unplugged tonight. I may be a day late - but I'm still trying! Besides, I had a date last night and I didn't want to miss the opportunity for a nice dinner out with my husband. We were participating in spirit and will do so properly tonight.

So...lights out now! And if you missed Earth hour on Saturday - take an hour this week and get unplugged. Light some candles and play a board game, talk to each other, take a bubble bath, a nap - whatever you fancy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Declutter Update

If you are reading my blog, you know I'm working on letting go of the excess. I say that we are blessed to have too much, rather than too little, but that it's time to share what we don't need.

I'm making progress. It's slow, but it's happening.

So far I've got a deep freeze in my hallway that's nearly ready to move on to it's next home, I've got 4 more boxes of things to take to the consignment shop (Urban Attic in Surrey - that's my plug, it's an awesome store!!), three more boxes to take to my parents garage for our yard sale later this year - maybe more as I've not boxed up everything and I'm guessing. I've also cleaned out my son's room and it's much more user friendly. My closet is cleaned, my linen cupboard is cleaned out, my hall closet is nearly there, too. I've listed a few things on craigslist and full circles (the Canadian version of freecycle that's now taking over the nation) to both sell and give away. I have two boxes of stuff to put on ebay and I've given friends some more things that they can use. This is what I've done in the past 10 days.

I'm still going to go through my son's toys for things to pass along, and I've got a little bit more culling to do with my books. We've got two bins of them in our storage room to sort and we'll let go of most of them. I also have two rubbermaid bins of clothes to sort. I kept them for when I lost the weight after the baby. Hmmm.. lost most of it, but I'm bigger than before. Sigh. I'm going to take most of it to consignment and when the time comes, I'll head back there to buy new to me things in a new to me size. I'll keep my most favourite pieces and then someone else can make use of the rest now while it's in style, instead of it sitting in storage for nothing.

You can feel the change in our home, it's feeling lighter. Now all I have to do is move on all the stuff piled at the door waiting for it's new home. That's a job for the next few weekends. I really need to cook some more or at least take some of the stuff in the freezer for my parents to cook during the week as a nearly empty freezer isn't very energywise. I've stuffed my fridge freezer full, so for another week, it'll have to do. After that, I'll take the last of it to my parents and store it in their freezer. I can hardly wait for this one to be gone!

My last task will be to tackle the kitchen. I've put all the kitchen gadgets in a bowl on the counter and as we use them, they go back into the drawers. Whatever is left will be let go of, unless it's something we usually use but didn't this past month. (i.e. the can opener) I have a sneaky feeling that the zester is going. Can't remember the last time I needed it for lemon or orange peel and I'm sure a little sharp knife could do the trick. I've still got pantry cupboards to tackle and lots of 'stuff' to make choices on in all the other kitchen places.

While I'm making the most of March, I'm not as far ahead as I'd like since we've been down sick for pretty much all month. I plug away when I'm feeling good - and that's ok. It's a process and it really never ends. Once you're done the big clear out, you always have to take a second look at what is in your life and decide if it's needed.

I wish I'd weighed what was going out, though. It would have been neat to know how many pounds of things I've been dragging around all these years that I've finally let go of. Now I'd like that to correlate to my body!!

The Pain of Packaging

OK - I'm on a rant. Be prepared!

For Easter this year, my son got toys from his Nana. While we don't really need more toys, I understand the need she feels to spoil him. But that's not what's got my panties in knot.

PACKAGING!!! When on Earth will these toy companies get with the program? For one Little Tykes toy truck I had to undo countless pieces of wire holding it onto the cardboard, cut apart tape, peel away two layers of non-recyclable plastic, and in the process, I was stabbed by a piece of wire that wasn't coated on it's end. I am NOT impressed.

My son got a Fisher Price farm - the barn and it's contents were new to him, but not new from the store. That got two thumbs up from me. The truck that accompanied it was by Little Tykes - it's getting a F for it's packaging practices.

Whatever happened to putting the toy in a box with a picture on the front. My son was recently given a vintage Little Tykes schoolbus that someone had purchased years ago and never used. It came in a box - a regular box with an attached lid. I was thrilled! This way you could reuse the box if you wanted to. Yes, there was a little bit of plastic inside (a bag with the little people in it) but not near the packaging they use today.

I have to ask - what does it say about us as consumers that we allow this to happen? That we allow the toy companies to not only influence what our kids think they need - but that we go against our values and buy them - packaging and all! Something's gotta give. If we don't take a stand and tell these companies how we feel, they will continue to do this. Why do we need to see the whole toy before we buy it? A picture on the box used to do the trick, but now we want the whole thing encased in plastic so we can see it all. BAD BAD BAD! Shame on us and shame on the toy companies. (and let me tell you, they aren't the only ones that do this)

I'm tired of a ton of wire, tape, unrecyclable plastic and cardboard that is only fit for recycling. I want a box I can keep that toy in so all the parts stay together. I do NOT want to be throwing away my child's future along with the packaging. It's bad enough all these toys are plastic - but at least we can take care of them and pass them on to other children over and over so they have a useful life.

I'm the first to admit I've bought toys like these - I even have a few in the cupboard to give to my son later in his life - but now I think I'm going to take a stand. I am going to head back to the kid's swapmeets to buy his toys. I'm going to buy him toys without packaging or that are made without all the bad stuff (IKEA - this is where you win with some of your stuff - not all, but some)

And while I'm at it - what is wrong with the Overwaitea / Save On Foods chains? They sell eggs in styrofoam cartons????!!! I applaud their good sense to introduce their Changes centres to help give incentive to people to return packaging for recycling - but they won't touch these. Western Family Eggs - NOT good for the environment. And even those that are in flats are packaged with plastic film that's not recyclable.

This week I'm going to write a letter to Fisher Price, Little Tykes, and Jim Pattison's grocery store chains(again on the last one- they don't bother to reply, either) and tell them just how bad they rate with these products and what I'd like to see (cardboard and recyclable materials at the very least) in the future.

Heck - while you're at it, do the same. Tell all those companies that package things in wasteful ways just how bad they are for the earth. Tell them to change or you won't buy. Money talks and if we all made the choice to avoid until they do right, they would change. They'd have to or else they'd go out of business.

This week - put your pen to paper and your money where you mouth is. Speak up with your words and your pocketbook.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Green Tips from a Wet Place

In lieu of a long post today, I thought I'd share a few quick tips to help you be a little 'greener'. It's raining here so I think these will all be about water.

For a quick fix that helps both the environment and your hydro bill - put a low flow shower head onto your shower. Today's shower heads use much less water, but unlike the old ones,they have more force behind them so you don't have a trickle for a shower - you still get a nice strong flow. You can spend as little or as much as you like and over time (depending on your price point) you'll see savings that you can take to the bank.

Get a rain barrel. You can use the water you save in your garden. It's better than the chlorinated stuff you spray onto it from your tap. And it's free! If you can't get a barrel - put out a bucket and collect the rain. Use it to water your houseplants. In the summer, put a lid on the bucket and water the plants outside on non-rainy days.

Fix a broken toilet. When they run, they use water and they cost you money - very likely much more than you save by not buying the part you need to fix the thing in the first place.

Toilet not broken? Displace some water in the tank by using a small milk jug filled with water. You'll save a couple of litres with every flush.

Turn off the water when you brush (shave, wash your face..etc) turn it on when you need to rinse.

Always run your dishwasher when it's full.

If you must run the washing machine with a smaller load - use the lower water settings. No need to wash a few small things with an extra large dose of water.

And that my friends, is all I can think of tonight to save you money and save our planet at the same time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

To Be or Not To Be Organic

It's a tough decision. Organic is, without a doubt, a healthy way to go. It's best way to get a handle on all those nasties we ingest (pesticides, fertilizers and heaven knows what else) that are put on & in the food we eat. It's also expensive, and as my friend Maisie said in her comment to my last post - when you've got growing children and a budget, it's not easy to do.

I order from a company called SPUD - small potatoes urban delivery. They have great prices and having it delivered helps me to NOT make impulse purchases at the grocery store. This is how it saves me money. Plus, I'm busy and it saves me quite a bit of time, not to mention gas (which is creeping ever upward!) They are at . If you'd like to browse and see what they have, use V4C 3C9 as a postal code (not - not mine, but it's in their delivery area) I'll put in a referral code tomorrow in case you live in their delivery area and want to try them out - that way you can use me as the referer (is that a word??) Aha.. here is the code: CR5-318120.(save's you $25) I believe they do Vancouver/Lower Mainland/Whistler and Calgary. But you'd have to check as they may deliver elsewhere, too.

I order quite a few things from them - but not meat. I still can't get my head around the price of organic meat. Maybe soon - but not yet. I do buy from them veggies and fruit, dairy, my cleaners, and this week I even bought recycled toilet paper. When I was in the grocery store this morning, I checked out their prices on the things I buy and the prices were very much the same.

If you are unsure of what to buy organic - here is a list from Canadian Living Magazine of the items with the most pesticides: Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Lettuce, Imported Grapes, Pears, Spinach and Potatoes. If nothing else these would be good choices to start with. And remember - with your fish - the bigger the fish, usually the higher the toxins. That's why they don't encourage you to eat tuna daily anymore.

Items like Avocados, onions, pineapples, magoes, Asparagus are said to have less pesticides. I've seen avocados listed as the least likely to contain pesticides in a few different articles , so I'm not going to pay the extra for organic anymore - especially when my son loves them and I buy a few a week.

And to be green - buy local. If you buy local, in season produce, you will save money - what a bonus! My local veggie market sells a lot of things that are grown without sprays (leafy greens of all kinds) at excellent prices (the best anywhere) and they stock a lot of locally grown items. When I have the time to go by there, I will pick up these things and just order what they don't have. I'm not yet ready to give up my bananas, but I'm trying to balance this with buying as much local stuff as I can. I do choose local items over imports as much as possible not matter where I buy them.

I'm planning on using up all the leftover veggies tomorrow. A stir fry or soup or something tasty like that. Gotta fit in the next order of fresh stuff - so I'll make applesauce with the old apples, too. I do not want to waste food like we used to. This is another bonus of my ordering. I'm not buying lots of extras that catch my eye, only to end up in the garbage when they've gone off.

It's good to do a little research on what is grown locally and when it's harvested. Plan your meals around that, buying local organic when possible, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the taste, the price and the good feeling you get from supporting a local farm.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lighten Up!

This week I think you can take that literally as we hit daylight savings this weekend and I'm letting go of stuff. We've returned from vacation - to all of us getting sick. Yet the declutter is still happening. I now have 8 boxes of things for the garage sale. I just have to figure out where we will store them until we have one this spring. My food processor- barely used, my cross-stitch stuff and some of my fabric are finding a new homes with a friends and family. These things just didn't want to go to a garage sale. It's funny how you look at something and someone's name just pops into your head! Now the intent is these things will be useful for the recipients, not left to become another person's clutter. I'm asking first - always a good thing.

I have some towels/pillows for the animal shelter, clothes/shoes/household items for the consignment shop and a batch of recycling to go out. All of this will be distributed on or before Friday. We also pulled our freezer out of the baby's room (yes, we had a deep freezer in there). It's now sitting in the front hallway and as soon as we've eaten our way to the bottom, it's going to be getting a new home. This move is allowing me to put the stroller into the hall closet (keeping the dirt out of my home!) and my big blue trunk into my son's closet. I can put his toys on top of the trunk and still have room for his clothes to hang, so it works out well. The contents of the trunk will be reviewed before it goes there, too. It contains my mementos and I'd like to work on letting go of the unnecessary and finding ways to honour the other things.

I've cleaned out my craft trunk and now have a list of projects to complete. I will be assigning them a deadline and if not done they will be released to the world to find a new home. This is where the cross-stitch stuff, the fabric, some knitting needles, and a few unfinished projects that are being let go of came from. I find it very hard to part with stuff like this, but I'm doing it and am proud of that! I only have one rubbermaid trunk of craft stuff now. (not counting my scrapbooking stuff)

Speaking of scrapbooking, I have decided, after 10 years, to stop as a consultant. It's been on my mind since my son was born and now it's time to let it go. Rather than a joy, it became emotional and mental clutter. It might not be physical, but clutter is clutter. I'm having a final workshop at the end of the month and will then pass my clients to my upline and a friend. Now when I scrapbook, it's for pleasure and not business.

Papers have been culled - lots and lots of papers. These things multiply like bunnies - no - like fruit flies! I have a small basket of things to go through and action or file. Much better than the great big box of stuff I'd collected. From this point on I'm going to try to open the mail over the recycle bin.

And the final tally of things thrown away - nearly zero - a few bits of plastic, a bit of string that's about it! I'm determined to find new homes for all of this.

I'm also using the library more, not printing things at work if I don't need to, recycling everything I can - even if I have to take it to my parents place as their city recycles things mine doesn't, and bringing my mug and utensils to work to avoid disposables.

Peter Walsh says that you must focus on the live you wish to live. I wish to live a simpler life, without clutter all over the place. One that is kinder to the earth and safer for my child. I have a vision of what would look like and I'm aiming for it. Somehow having thought that through first really does make a difference in how I look at things. It's easier to let go of something that isn't contributing to the vision - even if it's sentimental.

I'm trying hard not to buy anything right now. I will wait to buy containers until after the purge - this way I'm only containing the things I want in my life, rather than trying to contain everything I have now.

And my last green endeavour is that we are continuing with our organic foods delivery. I think it's worth it.

Stay tuned - I'm not nearly done yet as I pursue my need to let go of stuff, while ensuring it stays out of the landfill!