Thursday, October 29, 2009

Video you should watch

I was one of the many who retweeted this video on Twitter today. Thought it was important enough to post here as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I am SO lucky!

Check this out!

Isn't it awesome?!

Best buddy @resultsjunkie gave this to me yesterday. It's hand sewn using materials she bought when we went to the annual fabric flea market to benefit the Cambridge Street Community School.

I'm so excited to have somewhere to put all my needles and sewing bits and pieces. Thanks @resultsjunkie!!!

She's miles ahead of me. All the material that I bought is still sitting in a pile on a chair in my office (the books are ones I got at a second hand charity sale at work - $1 per book!).

I have too many projects on the go at the moment! But I'm hoping that green and gold silk sari is going to become the new lining for my winter coat - current lining is full of holes. And that super awesome vintage orange and white print will be pillows for the chairs in the office. Not sure about the rest yet. Yay for sewing projects!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A new deodorant

We've talked about my deodorant challenges before. Last time I brought it up I'd recently switched to using baking soda on my pits.

Well it's confession time. After about 6 months of working like a freakin' miracle, the soda stopped doin' it for me. Just flat out quit.

So since then I've been back to the addidas deo. Not because I love it but because it's the only product I can find without aluminum that works.

But I have a problem.

I'm doing the plastic challenge over at Fake Plastic Fish (week 3 plastic garbage pic is on that blog here). And it was tough this week to include in that pic not one but two heavy, plastic, non-recyclable deo containers.

So this weekend I purchased this:

Its a locally made deo by my fave - Urban Forest. All natural ingredients. No palm oil (I got your back orangutans). Plus it's completely plastic free.

Tried it out today and it gets a mixed review so far (but it was ridiculously hot in the office today - has been for the last week), so I'm going to do a proper 2 week test drive.

Cross your fingers that it works. I don't want deo packaging to be in any more of my weekly plastic garbage pics!

Friday, October 23, 2009

International Day of Climate Action is Saturday Oct. 24

This is big folks. Tck, Tck Tck says it is the world's most widespread political event in history.

Actions have already started. Check out the website to get updates.

If you are in Ottawa, join me and 000's of others for the Fill the Hill event. It starts at 12 and ends around 3pm. If you can't make it for the whole thing, the key time to be there will be from 2pm on.

If you aren't in Ottawa, check out this list for actions happening in your area.

The timing of this event is critically important. The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) is happening in Copenhagen in December - we need to show our leaders that we are ready for them to sign a global climate deal that is ambitious, fair and binding. Time is running out.

Here are some of the pics already coming in from around the world.

And this is what everyone at Fill the Hill will be doing together tomorrow afternoon:

Be a part of it!

If you liked the version of Midnight Oil's Beds are burning in the above video, check out this full length version. Loving the can con - Hawksley Workman and Ed Robertson. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plastic challenge - week 2

Recyclable Items
  1. Plasticized milk carton (part of the curbside program but unsure how it's recycled)

Non-recyclable Items
  1. plastic lined can (can is recyclable but the plastic lining isn't)

  2. plastic wrap from local cheese

  3. bag choc chips

  4. 1 piece saran wrap(was used to cover pie brought home from M&D's)

  5. remains of a scrubber (used to wash dishes)

  6. two labels from local beauty products (came in glass jars)

  7. plastic top from sour cream

  8. sticker removed from brother's guitar case (which I've adopted)

  9. top and security seal from vitamin bottle (glass)

  10. two cereal bags

  11. wrap from eye drop box and 4 eye droppers

  12. vitamin powder package

  13. top of cheese curd package

  14. misc plastic wrap (not sure what this is from)

  15. 3 plastic grocery bags (for garbage)

Total number of items = 25
Total weight of plastic stash = 4.75oz
Tally analysis

  • What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
    *milk (could buy in glass)
    *choc chips (could buy in bulk)
    *saran wrap from pie (could have brought a container to M&Ds)

  • What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
    *cereal (I could make my own granola)

  • How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?
    *sour cream?

  • What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
    *eye droppers. I hated using them but it was a bit of a necessity this week

  • What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
    *make an effort to buy more food in bulk and maintain a good stockpile of food essentials to prevent last minute trips to our neighbourhood grocery store (which doesn't have any bulk food). E.g. choc chips

  • What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
    *non-bulk chocolate chips

  • What did I do this week to avoid plastic?
    *Make cookies from scratch
    *Buy soap wrapped in paper
    *Brought my lunch to work most days and on days I didn't bought lunch from the deli that sells sandwich wrapped in paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Watermelon rind pickle

Well it may have been Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada yesterday but it smelled like Christmas at chez green grrl.

That's because I was busy whipping up a batch of watermelon rind pickle. I had thought my canning was finished for 2009 but when I cut into the local, organic watermelon I got at the farmers market and saw the thick white rind, I just couldn't let that rind go to waste.

I know what you are, green grrl, it's the RED part you want to be eating!

And you are right. But let me tell ya, there is some deliciousness in that rind. And you KNOW I love turning something that would go into the compost into a food item.

Plus, 'pickle' is a bit of a misnomer. I'd be more tempted to call it candied watermelon rind because it ends up as sweet as, and with the texture of, candied ginger. In fact, you could probably make some local candied *ginger* using watermelon rind and substituting ginger for the cinnamon and cloves.

Anyway, doesn't it just look delicious?!?!

Here's the recipe (yes, there is a rather shocking amount of sugar):


1/4 cup sea salt

1 8-10lb watermelon, rinsed and quartered

5 cups sugar

4 cups white vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp whole cloves

1. Cut off red watermelon flesh from white-green watermelon rind and save for another use. Trim off and discard thin green skin, leaving white and pale green part of rind intact, then cut into 1inch pieces (about 7 cups). Add pieces of rind to a large bowl, cover with water and add salt, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The following day, boil sugar and vinegar together in a medium non-reactive pot over high heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, 4-5 mins. Add cinnamon and cloves, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until reduced by one-third, 25-30 mins. Meanwhile, drain rind, then put i8nto a large pot, cover with water, and boil until translucent, about 15 mins.
3. Drain rinds and add to pot with vinegar syrup. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until syrup has reduced again by one-third, about 2 hours. Discard cinnamon and cloves.
4. Fill 5-6 hot sterilized pint canning jars with hot pickle and syrup to ¼ inch from the top. Screw on hot sterilized lids and process a water bath for 20 mins. Remove jars from pot and set aside to cool completely. Refrigerate after opening.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Plastic Challenge - week 1

Here's the week 1 pic. As Beth (aka Fake Plastic Fish) suggested I didn't change any habits this week. This will be our baseline.

As per the challenge rules, I need to answer some questions....
Week #:1
Name: Green grrl
Recyclable Items
  1. 2 jugs (local apple cider) - recycling #2 - this is included in our curbside recycling

Non-recyclable Items
  1. 1 potato chip bag

  2. 1 package - organic sausages

  3. 1 bag tortilla chips - bag looked to be paper but is fully plastic on the inside

  4. 2 pieces saran wrap *

  5. 1 plastic window from a bag of bread

  6. 1 bag local cheese curds

  7. 2 stickers from a box of choc

  8. plastic security seal from eye drops

  9. label from a glass bottle of juice

  10. cough drop wrappers

  11. 2 cookie wrappers*

  12. 1 bag salad greens - opened badly so hard to reuse

  13. conference name tag (printed on hard plastic like a credit card - grrrr)

  14. conference name tag holder

  15. styrofoam container - went to a restaurant that only served in styrofoam!

  16. small plastic pot and lid

  17. 4 plastic grocery bags (not depicted)

*items with a star are from my lunches at a conference I attended last week - I was going to bring my own but figured since they were making a lunch for me and the plastic would be going into the garbage anyway, I may as well get the lunch. Good decision?

Total number of items = 32
Total weight of plastic stash = 7oz
Tally analysis

  • What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?
    *sausages - bought from a butcher in butcher paper
    *choc box stickers - easy to get choc in non plastic packaging

  • What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn’t exist?
    *potato chips
    *tortilla chips
    *any food served only in styrofoam at restaurants

  • How many of these items are from “convenience” foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?
    *cheese curds?
    *perogies (was what was in the styrofoam)

  • What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
    *local apple cider (I know not really essential but so good and only available for a short period. Will keep looking for glass though)

  • What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
    *less junk food

  • What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

  • What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
    *I'm actually surprised there wasn't more plastic. I'm annoyed at the conference pass thing. Am going to write to the organizers to see if they can do it with less plastic next year (is an annual conference).

Personal description
  • location = Ottawa, ON, Canada

  • gender = female

  • relationship status = married no kids

  • work=in an office

**I totally encourage anyone else who is interested to also sign up for this challenge.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can I just go on the record

And say I do not like auto flush toilets?

Go in the stall with a coat and a bag and the dang thing flushes while you are hanging everything up.

And if you don't stand perfectly still while doing the hover over the seat routine it will flush a few more times on you. Literally.

AND if you don't get out of that stall lightning fast (e.g. don't dilly dally grabbing your coat and bag) it will flush another few times for good measure.

THAT is one big waste of water.

Can I just go back to flushing with my foot please? No germs and no superfluous flushing!

This dude seems to agree about the auto flush:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Plastic on my mind

I've been a regular follower of Fake Plastic Fish for ages. If you haven't been to her blog, you should. On her blog, Beth itemizes and photographs the plastic garbage that she creates on a weekly basis. She has been doing this for over 2 years now, and for as long as I have been reading her blog I have been inspired by her dedication, and advocacy for plastic free living.

Recently Beth tweeted that folks might want to follow @midwayjourney. So as an obedient reader, I did. The short version is that Midway Journey involved a group of artists (including the amazing Chris Jordan) traveling to the midway atoll to spend two weeks documenting the plastic that is washing up on these islands in the middle of nowhere. Plastic that is killing animals in huge numbers. The team left Midway last week, and before leaving, Victoria Sloan Jordan wrote that she is going home a changed person. Indeed as a lowly observer it is hard not to feel changed looking at the images of this beautiful place that is part military ghost town, part tropical paradise, and part canary in the plastics coalmine.

A week or so later Beth posted a reminder that she is hosting a Plastic Challenge where she is asking participants to upload pics and details of their weekly plastic garbage.

And finally something clicked for me. I've been feeling a bit stagnant lately with my footprint reduction effort. I needed something to get fired up and excited about. After seeing the pics and video from midway, I'm definitely fired up.

So, I've signed up for the challenge. And I'm feeling a bit nervous as I suspect that plastic garbage is going to prove to be one of those things that I think I am doing well with but in fact, am not. But I'm sure Beth would say that, THAT is what the challenge is all about. Being aware of our impact.

I'm in!

Here are some videos from the Midway team.

The first one will hit you in the gut. The second will give hope.