Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Earth Hour day!

We won't be wandering downtown this year to see the lights go off like we did last year.

Instead we are going to eat a veggie meal via beeswax candlelight*, then we are going to go around the house unplugging everything (it doesn't just have to be about the lights!), then at 8:30 we're going to walk around our neighbourhood for the hour. Luckily we are at 14 degrees here in Ottawa today so it should be a lovely walk. :)

What's everyone else planning to do?

*if you are going to burn candles, I'd strongly recommend beeswax. Regular candles are made from crude oil, throw off a lot of CO2 when burning (which kind of negates turning off the lights), and they are just generally unhealthy to be around.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crackers and granola

I took the day off today and decided to try making my own crackers.

It's been on my mind for a while because I'd like to have crackers made from local flour. And also because I'm trying to cut down on the amount of garbage/recycling we are creating.

I used this recipe. I still can't believe how easy it was! Mix all the ingredients, roll out, bake and that's it! I used local spelt flour from Little Stream Bakery (bought at the organic farmers market), olive oil and salt. Using butter would have made them more local but I like the idea of having vegan crackers. Also I just found out that you can get olive oil in bulk at the Herb and Spice on Bank St. :-)

After baking you get to break the crackers up into random sizes which I quite like. And they were really tasty! Here's what the finished product looked like:

Then since the oven was hot, I also made a batch of granola. The recipe I use is a modified version of the granola I would make every Saturday morning at the health food store when I was in highschool. Here's the recipe:

4 cups of oats (large, small or a mix of both)
1 cup of oat bran
1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I used a mix of walnut and hazelnut)
1/2 cup brown sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of sunflower oil
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients. Pour into pans/cookie sheets so that it just covers the bottom of the pan and put in the oven. Stir regularly. After 10 mins start to keep an eye on it (granola burns quickly). Granola is ready when it is slightly golden. Remove pans from oven. Allow to cool and then break up leaving some chunks. Add dried fruit if desired (I often add dried cranberries).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free book on the tar sands and other news

Saw this on David Suzuki's twitter today. It's a free book available for download on the tar sands. I've read the first little bit and so far it's good. Easy to read. Written by Andrew Nikiforuk.

In fact there was a lot of green news on twitter today including:
1. Shell's decision to stop all investment in renewable energy to focus instead on biofuels (from the Guardian). Like anyone needs another reason to boycott Shell.

And if you want some good news after that little gem, there was this:

2. Last week, thanks to some gusty winds, Spain generated 40% of their energy requirement though wind power. This was from Ecogeek.

Have I mentioned that I'm becoming a big fan of twitter? If you're on it too, you can find me here.

And to end on a really positive note, there's a free green expo happening this weekend at Lansdowne Park. Looks like it is worth checking out. I'm especially interested in the 'Creating sexy rainwater harvesting systems' seminar.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What water filteration system should I buy?

Photo by Snap

We've been thinking for a while about getting a water filtration system. And when I say thinking I mean, doing a bit of research, feeling overwhelmed with the number of options, and then not thinking about it for a month or so. This process has been going on for, oh, about a year.

Ever since we learned we had lead pipes.

We've had the water tested and it's within allowable levels. We are at 2.3ppb and the max allowed (here in Ottawa anyway) is 10ppb. However I don't feel too comfortable with that for two reasons:
1. The normal range is <0.5, and as far as I'm concerned anything higher than that is an issue and
2. The dude ran the water for like 2 mins before he took the sample. Which I am not doing. So I'm not sure if that means the water I drink would have more lead in than his sample or less? Either way, I don't like it.

So, here are the options I've been looking into:

  1. Charcoal filter jug - least effective filter from what I've read but also the cheapest. Jugs all seem to be plastic which, since I've switched to stainless for my travel bottle, I'm not too keen on. But the plus is that they can often be found used on Craigslist and Kijiji.

  2. Ceramic filter - more effective than charcoal, but fragile (break easily). But they are cleanable so last a long time.

  3. Reverse osmosis - removes more bad stuff than charcoal and ceramic but wastes a LOT of water. In fact they waste more water than they make.

  4. Distillation machines - removes all nasties but also takes out minerals as well. Requires electricity to run (although I have heard rumours about solar ones).

  5. Boiled water - removes all nasties, cheap, requires no special equipment, BUT is a bad choice for me because apparently boiling water actually concentrates lead in your water. AWESOME.

None of these really sound like the perfect option but perhaps there isn't one. In the interest of ending this cycle of indecision, I think I'm going to go with this.

It's a gravity fed system. Requires no electricity. Has filters that you can clean. Has a stainless steel container. Gets the lead out (ha ha), and also has additional filters that take out the flouride (which I don't feel like sucking back anymore)

Unless anyone has any other suggestions?

Oh and we are signed up to be part of the lead pipe replacement program but holy, long process.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Garbage check-in

Well it's been 3 weeks since my last garbage confession.

Here are the most recent stats:

Garbage: 17lbs
Recycling: 0lbs (this is mostly due to laziness - there is some out there, I've just haven't felt like taking it to the curb)
Compost: 6lbs 14oz

That means for the last 3 weeks we are at 18% of average. Not bad. :)

And for the last 8 weeks we are at 30% of average.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Anyone else got their laundry drying outside today?

Just put mine out. It's a gorgeous sunny +6 degree C day here in Ottawa.

Spring is in the air. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Captain Charles Moore on Ted

You'll never want to buy plastic bottles or use plastic bags again.

Captain Charles Moore on Ted: Ideas Worth Spreading

(thanks to Fake Plastic Fish for pointing it out)


There was a pretty kick ass article in the Citizen today. It's worth a read.

Why I love my Klean Kanteen

I emailed the folks at Klean Kanteen last week because I needed a new silicone seal for my awesome stainless steel Klean Kanteen. I didn't want a whole new lid though, because my lid was fine. It was just the seal that wasn't. See there's a chance that I left some juice in there, and that *might* have caused mould to grow on the seal. Gross? Yes.

Reason #1 I love Klean Kanteen: they offered to replace the seal for free, no questions asked.

After thanking them very much, I asked if it would be possible for them to send it to me in as little packaging as possible. Ideally no plastic.

Reason #2 I love Klean Kanteen: They said no problem.

True to their word, this is what I received today:

Yeah the sticker is plasticized but I'll stick it somewhere so it doesn't go in the garbage. Plus it has that John Muir quote on the back of it: "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world". I love that quote.