Monday, November 23, 2009

Being mindful - staying focused

It's funny to think that being mindful of what you are doing and focusing on the task at hand could be a green thing  but it truly is.  You see, I've discovered something about myself - I have the attention span of a flea.  Now, if I actually was a flea, that would be ok, but in a full size human being that's a recipe for disaster, and for waste.  I have noticed that, because I tend to get sidetracked, I forget things like putting leftovers in the freezer for future meals, making sure not to burn the rice (which I do everytime!) and planning to use up all the perishable food.  I am great at saving stuff to take to the recycling spots, but not so hot at getting it there as I never seem to be organized enough to get out the door.  If you saw the big batch of batteries I have to take in, you'd understand. It's been well over a year and I keep forgetting them, even when they are in my car.

If I was mindful of one task at a time, that wouldn't happen.  None of it would happen - except maybe the rice.  I just can't get that right.  I want to be more focused; to finish one task at a time so that each idea or line on my to do list is completed, instead of having a big list of half done stuff.  When you live like this, you leave little things undone and that's just not good stewardship of your resources. 

We are taught to multi-task and evidence is now showing that the human brain isn't wired to do thaty. I think women do this more than men. We try to get just one more thing done on top of the ones we've already started.  It's very zen to be mindful, and I can sure see how it could save me some money when I stop wasting stuff or buying duplicates because I've forgotten I already have certain things.

As for the rice, I think I might get a rice cooker and save those stovetop pans from permanent black burns.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Birthdays and Being Green

When you are talking about kid's birthdays and being green, it's usually not in the same sentence.  Let's face it, birthday parties are about games, presents, cake and goodie bags - that's it.  Yes, I know that it's supposed to be a celebration and gifts aren't important, but try telling that to a preschooler! 

This year we tried to do it a little bit differently for my son's birthday party.  I invited 5 kids (4 families) and each came with a parent.  Before I knew what I'd done, I'd gotten caught up in the birthday decor - the plates, the tablecloth... none of it reusable.  But before it went to far, I stopped myself.  

I went hunting to see what leftovers we had and began to plan what we needed for parties.  To that end, I went to IKEA and bought a six piece set of kid's plastic bowls, plates, cups and cutlery.  Now the kiddies had fun stuff to use and I can reuse it here daily as well as for my next kiddie birthday party (coming up quick).  I used the paper stuff for the adults, but only opened one package of plates, figuring we'd switch to my dinnerware if needed.

I knew I wanted to hand out goodie bags - last year I did books and a toy car - things that would last. This year I sewed up a tote bag, a crayon roll (with crayons) and a matching bean bag.  I added a colouring book and viola.  A goodie bag that has things in it designed to last a long time and spark the imagination.   I'm pretty proud of them, that's for sure and will post a picture here asap.

As for cake - the only kind my son can have is either homemade (and I didn't have time to make one) or an icecream cake.  We chose an icecream cake big enough for the party and the family gathering coming later. (after all - it goes in the freezer, right?)  The only part of that we didn't recycle or eat was the base under the cake.

Prior to his party, I cleaned out the kid's toys and packed up a large box of stuff to take to the swapmeet.  Kid 'stuff' swapmeets are very popular here, and I've been building up a big collection of stuff to take to one.

Many of his gifts didn't have much for packaging - a big plus, but for those that did, I pulled it all apart until I had everything recyclable out of there and in the blue bin.  There wasn't very much waste, which was a really good thing.

The party was a great success - 6 preschoolers and two babies playing, yelling, screaming! 3 hours, plenty of help.  This allowed us to enjoy the kids and the day.  I think that having planned a little better this year, and having considered the impact of most of what we did, helped to make it a little Greener than it would have been without the legwork.

We've got lots of room for improvement, but this was a fabulous start!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sharing - the greenest way of all

Wow, time sure flies when you are having fun!  I'm on the countdown to return to work and have been making the most of it with my family.  Today I wanted to share just how wonderful sharing can be. 

I've been clearing out stuff like crazy around here - boxing up for a kid's stuff swapmeet, donating things and putting stuff on fullcircles and craigslist.   Normally when I post free stuff, people come by and pick it up from outdoors. I never see or hear from them and the stuff is gone.  But this past week something different happened.  I had a lady leave a thankyou card with a lotto scratch ticket in it at my door - just to say thankyou.  Another person left a little note with a handknitted dishcloth at my door - again to say thankyou.  A man stopped to knock and say thank you for something else and another lady sent me a thank you email. Wow! 

I never expected anything in return for what I was sharing.  It's all stuff I didn't need and I thought someone else could use. It didn't need to go to the landfill - it just needed to be connected to the right person.  That's all I was thinking.  But something else happened last week - I noticed that it felt really good to share.  I've been trying to follow the Flylady program ( to help me get on track with routines and clearing out stuff before I head back to work and she says to bless others with things we no longer need.  Instead of saving it all for a garage sale, I decided to do just that.   I don't have to store it and they get to enjoy it.  It's a very 'green' principle. 

So - if you don't love it, it doesn't have deep meaning to you and you don't use it - why is it in your house?  Share it and watch how good things flow back to you just when you need them!