Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's still going down!

Wowee, I'm so excited! I thought for sure that this electricity bill would either stay the same or go up a bit. We have electric heat after all in parts of the house, and Dec. to Feb. is normally the most intense heat-wise.

But check it out - we went down again. To 5.8kWh per day.

This time 2 years ago (last year's numbers somehow disappeared from our bill), we were at 22.3kWh/day. So we have reduced our electricity use by 74%. And in terms of the Riot, we are at 18%* of the Canadian average.

*math is as follows:

My garbage - the situation is not as bad as I thought

Ok, so after a few weeks of monitoring, it seems like we are producing on average 10lbs of garbage per week.

This is just an estimate as I don't have a bathroom scale (keep meaning to pick one up on usedottawa). I'm actually pretty sure its more like 7lbs a week but thought it better to estimate up to 10lbs.

So 10lbs per week between 2 of us makes 5lbs per person per week which puts us at 31% of the Canadian average.

I think we can make improvements in the following areas:
  1. I am going to bring a dish cloth to work so that I don't use paper towels to dry my dishes.

  2. I am going to stop using qtips

  3. I am going to get really serious about recycling anything that can be recycled (any scrap of paper - bill, note etc. is going in the recycling)

  4. Make more of my meals (and lunches) each week. Turns out I was eating out (think lunches wrapped in plastic) more than I thought. **I suspect this will be the most important one

We have already:
  1. stopped using paper towels (use cut up old t-shirts instead)

  2. started buying milk in glass jars 50% of the time (might up this but I'm unsure if the extra weight from the glass cancels out the carbon savings of not having to recycle the milk carton?)

  3. buy our eggs from friends so reuse our carton (but you can do this too by getting your eggs at the Herb and Spice where you can bring your own carton)

  4. Buy a lot of food in bulk and at the farmers' market - keeps packaging to a minimum

  5. Stopped using saran wrap (use tupperware containers instead - are plastic but I already have them)

The other thing I have to figure out is whether the weight of my recycling counts towards my total. I feel like it couldn't possibly as most of us put more than 20lbs of paper recycling out every two weeks. But either way, I'm very motivated to cut down what is in my recycling boxes as well since there is a carbon cost to recycling and because plastic and paper can only be recycled so many times.

Other rioters - thoughts? Should I be weighing my recycling as well?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Uranium mining in Eastern Ontario

On February 7, 2008, the Community and Protective Services (CPS) Committee VOTED UNANIMOUSLY to recommend that Ottawa City Council petition the Province of Ontario for a moratorium against uranium exploration, mining and milling in eastern Ontario.

The final vote is taking place on Feb. 27. Please show your support by emailing Ottawa city council before then and ask that they support a moratorium against uranium exploration and mining in Ontario. has a list of Ottawa city council members, their email addresses and a sample text for you to use. They also have a lot of information about uranium mining and why it is a complete disaster.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Water use Dec-Feb

We got our water bill today - check it out!

Our water consumption
The 0.3 cubic metres per day looks really exciting but is actually probably that low because the previous bill was overestimated.

It still means that we are holding steady at 0.6 cubic metres which is a huge improvement over before (1.1 in Feb last year!!).

This works out to 200L of water per person per day (0.6 cubic metres is 600L - 3 people in our house). So in terms of the Riot for Austerity we are at 60% of the Canadian average (335L of water per person per day). Still a long way to go but I think having the new toilets is going to help a lot. After that its going to get a little trickier (especially because one person in the house is not participating).

If you are curious to see what your usage is in litres, you can use this handy conversion tool.

To reduce our usage we have done the following so far:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is it weird to love a toilet?

I hope not because I really, really love our new dual flush toilet. Hubby installed it today. Looks great doesn't it? Next job is installing one downstairs in our tenant's apartment. We made sure to pick a toilet that was on the city of Ottawa's approved list, which means we should get a $75 rebate per toilet.

If you want to know where to get a dual flush toilet in Ottawa, check out this listing.

Or if you want some ideas on how to reduce you toilet water use without replacing the toilet, check here, and here.

Hands down one of the biggest things you can do to save water using your toilet is to practice selective flushing - something that folks who are on well water or have a septic system are well aware of. We'll still be doing it even with the dual flush toilet.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Garbage reduction time!

This one's been on the ol' to do list for a while. I think I've been procrastinating on it because I know its a problem here (we make a lot of garbage), but I don't know what to do about it.

We prepare most of our food from scratch. We buy very little food packaging (buy in bulk with my containers) and buy veggies at the market. We rarely buy anything other than food.

But still we make bags and bags of garbage each week.

As part of the Riot for Austerity I'm supposed to reduce the amount of garbage I produce by 90%. The average Canadian generates about 16.1 lbs of garbage PER PERSON, PER WEEK. A 90% reduction would mean 1.6lbs of garbage PER PESON, PER WEEK.

All we have done so far to reach this goal is to switch to cloth hankies (no kleenex) and stopped using paper towels.

In order to figure out what else we could do I am going to pay close attention to the garbage we make each day for the next few weeks.

In the meantime I'm open to suggestions.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dried citrus peel

I was inspired by crunchy chicken's post today.

lemon peel left to dryI love the idea of using every last bit of food so that nothing is wasted. I especially love the idea of taking something that would go into the composter and turning it into something usable (in a later post I'll share a pickled watermelon rind recipe that's divine!). However as much as I like candied peel (really), I'm trying not to use too much sugar. So I've decided to make dried peel out of the lemons that I use for my hot honey and lemon drink (below). Turns out there are all kinds of uses for this dried peel. You can:
  • add it to rice as it's cooking

  • grind it up and add it to recipes or add it to pepper to make lemon pepper

  • put it in simmering water to make your house smell nice

  • add it to other dried herbs to make yummy herbal tea

Here's how you do it:
-peel your citrus fruit using a vegetable peeler so you get the rind and not the pith
-leave out to dry on a baking sheet or plate
-this will work the best in times of low humidity (i.e. not the summer months in the Ottawa Valley)
-once the peel is dried (5 days max), store in a jar.

*note: use only organic, pesticide free fruit for this recipe

Hot honey and lemon drink

I love this so much when I am sick. The honey is so nice on sore throats and the lemon is full of vitamin c goodness.
  • juice of half a lemon

  • hot water

  • 1-3 tbsp honey

-add lemon juice to a mug
-add hot water until mug is full
-add honey to taste

Chicken soup

Veggie friends, avert your eyes....

I made this soup the other day because I needed something to make me feel better and didn't want the tetra-pak, aluminum packaging, or preservatives.
  • 3 chicken pieces (2 drumsticks and a thigh)

  • water

  • medium carrot

  • fresh rosemary

  • salt

-put the chicken in a pot
-add water until chicken is covered
-add roughly chopped carrot (could also add celery, onion or other aromatic)
-bring to boil and then simmer for 50mins
-add fresh rosemary (1 sprig). Optional but worth it.
-simmer for an additional 10 mins
-remove chicken
-strain the soup through a sieve, cheesecloth etc. to get rid of the bits
-add salt to taste (my taste requires a lot of salt - but I still think its less than in the canned stuff)
-shred the chicken and add some to the soup. The rest can be eaten in sandwiches, or on salads etc.

*this makes enough for approx 3 bowls of soup
*chicken, carrot and rosemary was local and organic