Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bye-bye Google? (Day 17)

Like Vanessa, I am on the computer constantly searching stuff - new recipes, green tips, how to fix things, great deals on kids' clothes - you get the picture.  So I thought it was really neat that Vanessa had discovered this search engine called GoodSearch (

It is powered by Yahoo!, so the search quality should be good.  The company also donates money to an American charity of your choice, every time you type in a search.  (I tried to find a Canadian charity but did not have any luck, so I chose Greg Mortensen's Central Asia Institute).  I like the idea that I can search the Internet and help fund a worthy cause at the same time.

According to Vanessa's blog, "GoodSearch donates 50% of its advertising revenue to the charities and schools selected by its users. They estimate that only about one cent from each click goes to the cause, so you really need to search for a whole lot of stuff for it to make a difference".  

Several readers commented on her blog that the quality isn't the best, but I think I'll give it a try. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

One glass a day (Day 16)

Another of Vanessa's changes.  She decided to only use one glass per day for cold drinks and one mug for hot drinks.

I've been doing the one glass per day thing with my children for years.   I use coloured plastic glasses, and each of them gets a colour for the day.  It's simple and it works.  Fewer dishes to cleanup, and no throwing out drinks because I'm not sure who they belong to.

But DH and I have always used as many glasses/mugs as necessary.  I've never thought about the one-a-day rule for myself.  So starting today, I am going to follow my kids' lead, and only use one mug a day for hot drinks and one glass a day for cold ones.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

No more baths for the kids (Day 15)

Continuing with the water conservation theme, I'm implementing another of Vanessa's changes.  I'm switching the children from baths to showers. 

With summer here, the kids get filthy from playing outside - in the sandbox, on the climber, running around.  I need to bathe them every night.  Of course, no one wants to reuse the bath water, so it's fill and drain, fill and drain, fill and drain.
A few times in June, I plunked them in the shower to save time - it was a school night, we came in late and they needed to get clean.  But lately, it's just been easier.  Turn on the shower, put them in it, wash and dry.  No more fights about who gets which bath toys, whose water was hotter or colder, or who got more water in the tub.  No "accidental" dumping of the shampoo bottle to make a bubble bath.  

There was some resistance at first, but having done this for about a week, the kids seem to accept this as the new order of things.  So I'm going to keep it - and hope my youngest learns to shower herself soon.

Week 2 Update

The second week has gone by, and all changes are in place, for the most part.   Travel has made some of the earlier changes very hard to keep. 

We stayed with my BIL and they drink lots of bottled water.  Of course, my kids wanted to drink it, too, for the novelty.  Then there was the extended family BBQ on the weekend, which had bottled water, paper plates, plastic cutlery and no compost bin.   I will modify my "no bottled water" to allow the kids to have it as a treat at a party.  I didn't have it, and will continue not to drink it, but I hate to consign them to nothing to drink (since the only alternatives are often soda or tetra packs of juice (which I think are just as bad for the environment)).   Yes, I could request glasses for them, but let's be realistic - the kids want to be the same as everyone else.  I see no harm in the occasional bottle on at special events.

Unplugging has been a challenge as well.  I can't seem to remember to turn off the computer power bar, or always unplug the coffee maker or toaster.  I shall persevere - hopefully practice makes perfect.

I'm not too thrilled with the navy showers, but now that I've turned up the heat slightly, they are too bad.  DH even tried one this morning - I'm not sure he'll stick with it, but I'm happy he tried.

The ants have returned. I tried the Borax as suggested by a reader, but it didn't seem to help, either. The critters still managed to find their way into my house. DH set out ant poison, which seems to have done the trick. Not very environmentally friendly, I know.

Everything else has been going smoothly - I love my new face moisturizer, and being without a hair dryer has been great.  I'm looking forward to doing some canning this weekend.  I plan to put an extra travel mug in my van tomorrow in case I need a coffee break.  I also received (and paid!) my first electronic bill.  It was really simple and really easy.  I don't know why I didn't switch before.

For those of you that pay attention to these things, I have also decided not to follow Vanessa's changes in order.   Many changes have happened due to circumstance, others due to the "stealth factor".  I promise I will attempt every one of her changes at some point in the next year.

Thanks to everyone for their support - your comments and suggestions, words of encouragement and shared stories are providing me with continued enthusiasm for this project.  

Re: No more disposable coffee cups

Ottawa (where I live) recently implemented a green bin, or food waste composting program.  I checked the city website and disposable (paper) coffee cups ARE allowed in the green bin.  This doesn't change my resolve to not use them, but I thought I would let everyone know to check with their local composting program to see if paper coffee cups are accepted.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Preserving foods (Day 14)

I've been thinking about food today. I was trying to decide on a green change for today, and read Vanessa's list. "Preserving and canning food" stood out.

I was at the grocery store this evening, and noticed all the fresh Ontario produce that is available. 
DH and I have a vegetable garden.  Not a big one, but enough that we enjoy fresh lettuce, green beans, zucchini (!), and potatoes on a regular basis.  Summer and fall offer lots of fresh food.  But what about winter and early spring?  Our food typically comes from far away places like Mexico, South Africa and Chile.  Is this a really sustainable way to eat? 

For those who wish to discuss the merits of sustainable eating, Michael Pollan's books The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food are required reading.   I read IDOF last year and DH is currently reading TOD.  We've been discussing the whole food processing cycle, and wondering how to make our consumption more sustainable. 

DH comes from a family of farmers, so it was only natural that we planted a small garden in our yard.  I've always tried to eat locally in season, especially peach, pear and berry season!   I usually buy Ontario produce, and gorge myself sick on corn when the local stands open up. 

But then winter rolls around, and local produce becomes almost non-existent.   I always make jam from in-season (and preferably local) strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and peaches, but that's usually as far as local goes in winter.

So this year, I decided a reasonable next step would be to preserve some of the produce from our garden.  I chopped rhubarb and froze it, and canned beets for the first time.

But it didn't occur to me to preserve other fresh produce for the winter months until I saw the peaches at the grocery store.    They looked and smelled wonderful.  And they were cheap.   I was only going to buy one container of them, until today's lunch flashed through my mind.  The kids ate canned peaches at lunch, and we went through a whole can in one sitting.   As I stared at the peaches, I thought, I could can those.  Not only would it be cheaper (I'm sure I'll get at least three jars per 4L basket of peaches - at the cost of one of the cans of store-bought), but it will be with fresh summer-sweet fruit.

If I have any success, I'll expand to pears and applesauce.  Maybe even freeze some local corn, too.

No more disposable coffee cups (Day 13)

I hadn't realized how much waste goes into disposable coffee cups, until I was at my inlaws' this weekend.  My SIL and BIL enjoy their Tim Hortons' and often make at least one run a day to the coffee shop.  While we were there, DH and I consumed at least one a day ourselves, bringing the disposable coffee cup total to a minimum of 4 a day, plus carrying tray.  That was 16  for the weekend, not including the cups that DH and I consumed on the way down and way back.

It made me think about all the times I slip into the Tims' or Starbucks drive thru while running errands, between school bus pick-ups and on the way to work at the library.  How many of us do the same?

I always thought that paper cups were compostable or recyclable, but according to Environment Canada ( they are not, and should be tossed in the garbage.  This contributes 114.5 MILLION kilos of paper waste into the landfill each year!  That's a lot of garbage.

It certainly gets me thinking about how to change that statistic.  The most obvious way is to use the travel mug that I carry on road trips.  And ask for a refillable mug if I'm in a restaurant.  Make my own coffee and take it with me in a thermos.

And most importantly, not be afraid to ask for the server to pour my coffee in a travel mug when I'm in the drive thru.

No more hair dryer (Day 12)

Part of the joys of travelling is the packing.  Or the forgetting, in my case.  It's inevitable - whenever we go somewhere, I forget something.   It could be as simple as a toothbrush or as complicated as my DD's Epi-Pen (only did that once, thank goodness!).

For my trip to my inlaws' this past weekend, it was my hair dryer.   I, therefore subjected everyone to my wind-swept (or blown, as the case may be) hair this weekend.  And you know what?  It didn't look too bad. 

Apparently, I have a bit of a wave in my hair.  And my current haircut provides little "wings" around the side of my face.   I think it's rather attractive.  DH thought so, too.  "Hey Farrah," he said, "I like the 'do."

So for all my friends and family, you'll be seeing my new "hairdo" for the next 11 months or so. 

Just don't call me Farrah.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Army Showers (Day 11)

Ugh.  That's all I have to say.  Having decided to limit my showers to luke warm water and darkness, I thought, why not go all out and turn the water off inbetween soaping and rinsing.

That was a really dumb idea.   I am not enjoying this at all - I'm shivering and soapy and having a hard time getting the water back to a decent temperature once off, so I'm really having a cold shower not a luke warm one.

I think I'll raise the temperature a bit, so I at least warm up a bit during the rinse cycle.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Showers in the dark (Day 10)

It's hard to make changes to your lifestyle when you are on the road (or to keep them for that matter, but that's a post for another day).
I wasn't going to make this change of Vanessa's until later on, but it is another easy one, and more importantly, easy to accomplish while I am away.

I am showering in the dark.  Vanessa found it to be a relaxing way to enter into the day.  I must say, although I've only done it twice, I have to agree. 

Our bathroom has an overhead light in the middle of the room, a light in the shower stall, and a multi-light fixtures over each of our two sinks.  It's really enough light to direct airport traffic onto a runway.   By turning off the lights to shower, I'm sure I'll save enough electricity to power the city for a day. 

It also helps with the transition from "sleep time" to "awake time". It is summer, and there is lots of natural light coming into the bathroom early in the morning. It makes for a pleasant early morning experience. No more harsh glare from the bathroom lights before I've had a chance to wake up.

I'm curious to see if I'm as enamoured of this change in the winter, when it's dark outside, as I am right now.

No more hot showers (Day 9)

Like Vanessa, I have discovered the delights of a luke warm shower.  I really love it.  I'm always been a hot shower person - you know, the kind that steams up the shower for an hour after I'm finished with it.  But I've been so hot lately (we've had a major heat wave in Ontario for the past couple of weeks), that I haven't been able to stand the thought of hot showers.  So, I've been having cool ones.  And I love them.

I emerge cooled down and refreshed, more ready to face the day, rather than hot and cranky, and NOT ready to handle kids and husband.

I'm going to continue with the luke warm showers as my next permanent change.  Although I wonder if I'll still be in love with them once winter hits.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm travelling

Hello all - I'm on a road trip to my in-laws this weekend, so I don't know if'/when I'll get another chance to post while I'm away. 

Rest assured, if you don't hear from me in a day or two, that I am still implementing my changes, and will provide a full report on Tuesday, when I return.

It's only skin deep (Day 8)

I need to change my cosmetics regime.   One of the worst offenders in the chemical chaos is the cosmetics industry.  Too many harmful chemicals are absorbed into our skin and poured into our river systems.  If I'm going to "greenify" my life, I need to start with myself.

As it happens, and the reason for today's blog, I needed to buy some face moisturizer.  I don't use a lot of cosmetics, but I do use this product everyday.  So I decided to check out the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database ( to see how my current product rates. 

OK, that was scary.  My current moisturizer rates 8 out of 10 on the nasties scale.  Obviously, I wouldn't be replacing that exact product!  I also didn't want to have to visit a specialty store to buy green products, or pay for extra shipping/handling from a website.  I wanted to be able to purchase the product at my local drugstore or grocery store.

I made a quick trip into the store, to find all of the "green" cosmetics that were carried.  I wrote down the names of the ones that I thought would be suitable.  I picked the one that had the fewest nasty chemicals that I could read on the label, and brought it home for comparisons.

I was surprised by the ratings given to several of the supposed "green" products on the EWG's database.  Many scored 7, 8 or 9 on the scale, when I was sure they would be 2, 3 or 4.  I also plugged in several well known "regular" brands, just to see how they rated.  At the minimum, they were all 8 out of 10.

The product I ended up with scored 4 out of 10.  Much better, although not as good as I had hoped.  I paid for the "greenness", as it was twice the prize of my regular brand, but I feel this is money well invested.  I tried the product this morning, and am very pleased with the texture and feel of it on my face.  I will keep this moisturizer.

I will also check EWG's website as I need to replace my other cosmetics products.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Week 1 Update

Well, the week has flown by.  It's hard to believe that I have made 7 changes already.  None of them seem to have caused any undo hardship for me and mine.  In fact, most of them were so easy, I don't know why I didn't implement them before now.

Day 1 - E-billing
So far, so good.  I've switched another bill over, bringing my total to 6.  Now it's a waiting game to see how the payment portion flows.

Day 2 - Ant control
The icing sugar/baking powder solution got rid of the ants in my house, but doesn't seem to have eliminated them altogether like I had previously thought.  The ants are congregating around the little piles of powder on my porch.  Hopefully, I haven't created a further problem by providing them with a steady food source.  However, as long as they stay out of my house, I'll leave them alone.

Day 3 - Bottled water
No bottled water this week.  This had been relatively easy, as we haven't really travelled anywhere or done anything that required a drink purchase.  The real test will be this weekend, when we travel to my in-laws (who are out of town).

Day 4 - Water Jug
This has been great.  I've used this every day; so have the kids and DH. 

Day 5 - School supplies
As mentioned in my post, I didn't have much luck "greening" the school supplies for this year.  Many of my readers posted comments re: recyclable school supplies, and I thank everyone for your insights.  Hopefully, in the future, as I need to purchase new supplies, I can take advantage of everyone's suggestions.

Day 6 - No Junk Mail
I just implemented this a day ago, and haven't seen any improvement yet.  I'm hopeful that today's mail will produce the desired result - no more junk mail in my mail box.

Day 7 - Unplugging
I didn't have any problems with the coffee maker this morning, however, I did get a look from DH when he went to use the toaster and it wasn't working.  I smiled sheepishly and shrugged.  Hmmm... verdict is out on this one.   NB: further to several readers' suggestions, I have plugged the computer into a power bar and will turn it off when I am finished with the machine. 

A big thank you to everyone who has been following this blog both publicly and privately.   Your support, comments and questions have made me realize that this endeavour is worthwhile, and that I'm not any crazier than Vanessa was when she started!  :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm no longer plugged in. (Day 7)

Well, sort of.  Not plugged in, I mean. 

I followed another of Vanessa's changes and unplugged any electronic equipment not currently in use in our house.  The toaster, the telephone charger, the coffee maker, some of the table lights.  The only exception was the computer/modem/printer combo, as I am a little leery about messing with that, and the TV/stereo system (as I can't reach it to unplug it.  Like Vanessa, I'd have to move a very heavy stereo stand to get at the plug.)  I shut the computer down every night, so although we are still drawing phantom energy, it is not as much as if the machine was left on all the time.

The coffee maker is the one that concerns me the most. 

Although I am a morning person, I usually need my coffee to really wake up and be ready for the day.  Poor DH can't FUNCTION without the stuff.  He usually stumbles around in the morning trying to figure out where to put the water and the coffee in machine, until I take pity on him and do it for him.  Hence, coffee making is my job.

I have visions of me muttering and mumbling that the stupid thing is broken because it won't turn on, until I remember, like an idiot, that I unplugged it.    I can hear the conversation now - "Honey, the coffee maker isn't working. Do you think we need a new one?" "Did you check to see if it's plugged in?" Silence. "Oh, right". Plug item in. "Never mind."

Wish me luck tomorrow morning - I will probably need it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm seeing red! (Day 6)

I joined the Red Dot Campaign ( today.  This is a privately funded social venture promoting the reduction of junk mail.  Their mandate is to raise awareness of Canada Post's eco-friendly Consumer Choice option that reduces waste and clutter.  All you need to do is put a "no admail" or "no junk mail" sign on your mailbox.  The signs can be downloaded from the website and taped to your mailbox.

I also signed up for the Canadian Marketing Association's Do Not Contact Registry (, to reduce unwanted marketing offers from their members.

Then, I thought, what the heck, and signed up for the CRTC's Do Not Call List (  The website is not up and running yet, but you can contact them at 1-866-580-3625.

Back to School Daze (Day 5)

Yes, I know, it's not back to school time yet.  But the school supplies are out, so I thought I would get a jump on my shopping this year.  I left it too late (mid-August) last year, and had a hard time finding certain items.  So I thought I buy early this year, and just store in a safe place until September.

I also thought I would "green" the school routine.  Boy, I was wrong.  Do you know how hard it is to find recycled, recyclable or otherwise "eco-friendly" school products that don't cost a fortune?  Almost impossible.

DD needed a new backpack for the coming school year.  We managed to get two years out of the last one, so I can't complain.  Fixing the broken zipper and torn pockets would cost more than a new backpack, so we relegated last year's to the dress-up bin, and went shopping.

No eco-friendly packs to be found at the two stores I visited (i.e. none made with recycled materials).  I'm sure I could have found other options if I went to a specialty store, but realistically, I'm not going to travel 1/2 hour or more and waste gas like that to look for something that will be last one or two years.

As for school supplies, I found some that fit the bill of environmentally-friendly.  But the cost - 2 to 3 times the price of "regular" supplies!  Not going to happen, my friends. 

I love DD, but she loses things at school.  She was supposed to take 9 glue sticks last year - I think I ended up sending 15.  Pencil crayons?  One pack was supposed to last the year - I sent at least two, plus a few stragglers from our pencil crayon bin at home.   Erasers?  Ditto. 

Here are some sample prices of "green" vs "regular" items: A package of 2 "latex and PVC free" white erasers - $3.79.  A package of regular white latex free erasers - $1.79.  Recycled wood pencils - $3.50 for a pack of 5 or $2.25 for a package of 10. 

Guess which I bought?

There is just no way I can justify spending that kind of money for stuff I KNOW will get lost, broken or "borrowed" never to be returned, within the year.

I wasn't going to get any green supplies, but she reminded me about the eco-challenge I have undertaken, so we comprised - I bought recycled lined paper for her for school.  "Regular paper" cost $1.99 for 200 sheets vs $2.28 for 150 sheets of recycled paper. 

Not really a bargain, but at least I've done something.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Water, Take II (Day 4)

DH was standing at the sink.  I looked at him, trying to figure why he was running the water.  "I'm getting a drink," he explained, "and waiting for the water to cool down."

I should mention that DH likes COLD water with lots of ice.  It was going to take a long time for the water to cool down enough for his liking.

As I watched him, I realized how much water was going down the drain, completely wasted.  I then realized that I, too, had this habit of running tap water to cold to get a drink. 

After my post yesterday about bottled water, I couldn't get water off my mind.  How can we conserve more?  After seeing DH getting his drink, and recognizing that I often did the same, I went on a search.  And found it, hidden on the back counter in the laundry room, behind a pile of junk.  Our old Brita filter jug, minus filter and top.  They had broken a while ago, and the jug, until this moment, had been destined for the landfill.

I returned to the kitchen, and filled the jug.   "If you want a drink," I said, "you can get cold water from the fridge."  I placed the jug on the top shelf in the refrigerator.

He smiled and shrugged.  "Another eco-change?" he asked.

"You bet," I replied.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Water, water everywhere (Day 3)

Another minor change today - no more bottled water. 

I know I said that we rarely use bottled water as a family, and therefore, considered myself "environmentally-friendly" in that regard.  But as I got thinking about it, we still occasionally consume it, and I thought that maybe a total elimination of the product might be better.

We already have refillable thermos for the kids' school lunch bags. We try to remember to take them when we go out to places like sports class or somewhere that the kids might want a drink. We take them when we travel to visit friends or relatives. We drink tap water at home.

We also have a hydro back-pack that a friend introduced me to a year ago. It's a great thing - a refillable water bladder that fits snugly into a small day pack.  We take this when we go hiking, or I take the kids to the park and don't want to be bothered with individual thermoses.

So the kids are pretty green. But DH and I? Well, that's another story.

I admit that I am not nearly as prepared as my kids for a sudden thirst. Yes, DH and I bring travel mugs when we travel, but only use them half the time. I certainly don't think to bring a thermos for myself for everyday use, if I am going out somewhere.

As for DH, I don't have a clue as to what his bottled water consumption is. We don't drink bottled water at home, but at his office? When he is out and about?  I really don't know. He does bring a Nalgene bottle filled with water to work, but does he refill it?
My commitment to change, then, is this: no more plastic water bottles for me or the kids. If we get thirsty and there isn't a water fountain, thermos or refillable cup/mug somewhere nearby, then forget it.

P. S. -- For those at the BBQ I attended tonight - yes, we drank bottled water.  And yes, that will be the last for us for the next year.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The ants come marching.... (Day 2)

...into my house, fa, la, fa, la.....

I woke yesterday morning to a trail of little soldiers marching between my front door and a sticky spill (juice?) in the middle of the kitchen floor.


Mentioned it to DH, who commented that they must have come in the cedar mulch he spread on the front garden beds. Great. Now what?

I like ants - all creatures have a reason for being, and as a gardener, I know they are an integral part of a healthy eco-system. But I do NOT like them in my house.

I checked Vanessa's list for eco-friendly insect solutions. She only dealt with fruit flies, so I was on my own. I planned to spend part of the day doing research with my friend, Google, but between the kids and household stuff, just didn't get a chance. I swept up the errant insects and dumped them back outside.

DH came home from work that night with a tip from one of the admin assistants. She suggested a mixture of equal amounts of baking powder and icing sugar. "Icing sugar to attract them," he said "and baking powder to make them explode!" Apparently, their little internal systems can't handle baking powder and everything shuts down. Seems kind of cruel, but on the other hand, I don't think it's any more cruel than poison or traps.

I gave it a shot. I mixed the powders together and sprinkled them on the front porch around the base of the door, and in the flower bed where they seemed to be nesting. I watched some of the ants pick up pieces of the mixture and dutifully carry them back to the nest.

And this morning, not an ant was to be found.

Not in the house, not on the front porch and only a few in the flower bed. It was kind of eerie, actually. Like I created my own little ghost town.

But I think I'll keep the recipe handy, just in case.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

366 Changes

[note - due to a mix-up on my part, this post should be read BEFORE "It hurts...]

It's going to take a lot of work to think of 366 changes to make to my family's lifestyle. As mentioned in previous posts, I am starting with the changes made by Vanessa Farquharson, and moving on from there.

There isn't enough space in this post to list all of the things she has done. I invite you to check out her blog at

I am starting with "March" - 31 changes in total. Well, for us, that really amounts to 15 of her changes to implement. We already either practice (14) or "do not apply" (2). (FYI, we do not have a cat, therefore no need for cat litter, and do not use dryer sheets, so no need to switch types).

As for the other 14, we already use recycled paper towels, don't use the heating pad except in emergencies, turn down our thermostat, rarely use bottled water, check tire pressure, use a phosphate-free dish detergent, am not going to buy any more electronic gym equipment, use tote bags, use recycled toilet paper, use vinegar/water to clean glass, belong to the Freecycle network, turn off all lights before leaving home, don't use disposable cutlery/plates, and don't use lint removers.

Once we implement her 15 changes, I then need to come up with another 16 for the month.

Oh my stars. The reality of this is starting to set in. Ok, don't panic. Take a slow, deep breath. One change at a time....

It only hurts a little bit.... (Day 1)

Well, I've done it. Made my first of 366 changes. I switched to electronic billing for some of my bills.

Why not all, you ask? Well that a good question with a bit of a complicated answer. The simplest way to answer is "stealth factor". I didn't touch any bills in DH's name.

I can't, in all honesty. He has to authorize the requests, as he is the contact person on the account. Why not ask him to authorize them? Back to the stealth factor - I want to slip through this green challenge with as little inconvenience to the family as possible, until much, much later.

So, I thought I would start with the bills I can control (the ones in my name) and work from there.

Unfortunately, this only amounts to about 8 bills changed so far. Five I have set up through e-post ( and another three directly with the company. Of the remaining bills, there are about 5 or 6 that I am not going to switch until I talk to my accountant re: the need for paper copies if my soon-to-be-defunct home business ever gets audited.

Was the process painful? Not really. It was easier than I thought to switch over the billing. A few simple clicks of the mouse and voila! A virtual postbox is created.

The amount of paper I have saved, personally, is not a great amount - about 4.3 lbs per year. But e-post estimates that if every Canadian changed 8 paper bills into electronic ones, we could save about 88,704,000 lbs of paper annually! That's 766,080trees!

Emotionally, though, this challenge was a little more difficult. I like paper. I like the feel of it and the sense of importance I get when I have mail. Do you remember how as children, we couldn't wait to get mail? Birthday cards, magazine subscriptions, occaisional "thinking of you" notes. I'm still like that - I love seeing the pile of envelopes in the mailbox when I open it.

The true test of this change, of course, will be when it comes time for paying the electronic bills. I'm kind of a visual person - if I can't see it, or it isn't written down, it doesn't happen. I'm worried that I won't remember to pay the bills unless they are sitting in all of their paper glory in my mail basket.

According to a recent Ottawa Citizen article, Canadians are great at paying their bills electronically, via online banking, etc., but aren't very good at receiving their bills electronically. Many cited reasons similar to mine - they like the paper copies, they need a visual reference, the need to have a paper copy in case of a disupute with a company. We obviously need to do a better job at trying to get ourselves off the paper addiction. We need to start asking, do I really need this piece of paper?

It's a question I'm going to start asking myself a lot more often.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Houston, we may have a problem.....

DH noticed my introductory blog submission last night.

Uh oh.

"Hmmm", he said. "Are you blogging now?", with the implication, you don't have time for that nonsense.

"No," I replied somewhat truthfully, "not yet". I hadn't posted yet, so I wasn't really lying, was I?

"Hm." was the response. "Don't be getting any crazy ideas."

DD, DS, and DD thought my ideas were great, until they realized they would have to be involved.

"But mummy, I don't want to lose my TV and movies!" "Mummy, I want treats!" "Does this mean we don't get any more presents?"

So much for family buy-in. I guess I'll just have to apply the stealth method for the first few changes, until someone notices.

How green is my valley?

I just finished reading Vanessa Farquharson's book Sleeping Naked is Green, and I must say, I'm impressed. Here is a woman that sought to change her environmental footprint, one small step at a time, and succeeded. One change a day, for 366 days. At the end of her year, she allowed herself to revert back to her "old" ways. Surprisingly (or not), she managed to keep about 74% of her changes.

I thought about the changes she made, and began to analyze my own "greenness". She has made changes that we haven't and didn't make some that we have.

As I mentally tried to apply her changes to my family, it made me wonder, how PRACTICAL and REALISTIC are her changes for my family?

We are a family of 5 with three children under the age of 8. DH works a 40 minute drive away. I am a stay-at-home mom with an on-call job at the public library.

Can we really eat more local and organic food without breaking the bank? Is it really reasonable to get rid of satellite TV, not use the car on weekends, or not use staples?

A friend recently told me that she thought we were the most environmentally-friendly family she had met. But are we really? Is there anything else we can do to reduce our carbon footprint while acknowledging the realities of suburban life in 2010?

I have decided to take a leaf from Vanessa's book, and will make one change a day for the next 366 days. I want to see if we can improve our environment and our future. I will use Vanessa's book as our starting point, and hopefully come up with other changes.  Her website is - all of her changes are posted there.

I invite you along for the fun. The adventure is just beginning......