Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Life in Plastic

Trying to get through a day without using a plastic bag can, at first, seem like an impossible task. We use them to carry groceries home in, we use them as garbage bags, we take our lunch to work in them, bring them with us when we are walking our dogs in case they decide to poo on the sidewalk in front of Starbucks. In fact, it's hard to imagine life without the plastic bag, but we had better start imagining it fast because they are quite the environmental menace, both in their production (made from virgin petroleum) and in their absolute stickaroundness in our ever swelling landfills (they last 1,000 years.)

The best thing would be if everyone joined places like Leaf Rapids, Manitoba and San Francisco, California and banned plastic bags altogether. In the meantime, we could find alternatives in the situations where a plastic bag would normally be used. Canvas shopping bags instead of "double-bag-it", buying your bread from bakeries with paper bags, buying dry goods in bulk, reusing plastic bags you already have to get them home, and skipping on those produce plastic bags that give us the illusion of protecting our apples from the scary germs we think are on the checkout counter (really, people, that is probably the least offensive place those apples have been -- just give them a good wash at home.)

Plastic bag recycling is, or will be, available in some places, but they will be turned into things like plastic furniture, not more plastic bags, so it's really kind of pointless next to the option of not creating the bags in the first place. Recycling plastic bags will not put an end to the pollution that their creation causes.

So, the next time the grocery clerk asks you if you want a plastic bag, proudly lift up your nifty canvas bag and politely refuse, or I guess you could give them a dirty look, depending on your style.

For more info on Leaf Rapids' plastic bag ban, go to:


Monday, August 6, 2007

Superduper Dishsoap

In the past, I have been hesitant to switch to eco dish soaps for my house because previous attemps had left me paying more for something that worked less. The stuff seemed to just fizzle in my sink, cleaning nothing, or when they did have a nice lather, turned out to be loaded with stuff that turned out to be not so different from the ingredients in the mainstream brands I was trying to avoid. I would slink back to brands like Palmolive, knowing I was putting all kinds of crap in to the ocean (and into my body in the form of chemical residue), but faced with the dilemna of feeling like the other stuff was leaving gross food gunk on my plates, and especially cookware.

Along came (award winning) Ecover -- this stuff is awesome, completely and quickly biodegradable and not tested on animals -- it comes in lovely scents like chammomile/marigold and lemon/aloe vera, and leaves your dishes squeaky clean sans that scary lemondeath smell that grocery store brands leave on the dishes. It works on pots and pans, leaves no streaks on anything and bubbles up nicely.

In Toronto, you can get it at Appletree Natural Foods on Queen Street West -- I am guessing Whole Foods and many other health food stores may stock it, too -- Ecover has a website at, or you can call them at 1.800.449.4925 to find out where you can get their products (they have a large line of homecare products.)

Bonus -- try this recipe the next time you need to clean the bathroom instead of Vim.

1/4 cup of Ecover dishwashing soap (hand-washing, not dishwasher stuff)
2T of baking soda
mix it up nice, and go to town -- you can adjust the proportions if you want it to be thicker or thinner --

Happy scrubbing!


Friday, August 3, 2007

Climate Change Convert

Maybe it was bringing a baby into the world in May of this year. Maybe it was the number of days this summer that I walked out my door to see the CN Tower clouded with haze like it was some grizzled old road warrior standing outside a truck stop with a smoke hanging out of his mouth. Perhaps I am just getting older and wiser -- it seems that I am suddenly consumed with my consumption, and feeling very hot and bothered about how hot and bothered I am walking down the street on any given, hazy, smelly, lung busting summer day here in Toronto, ON.

Admittedly, I am new to the world of giving more than a passing shit about any of this. Sure, when confronted with the way our planet seemed to be going thanks to our misuse of it, I felt sad, guilty, and even curious as to what kind of changes I could make that would make a difference. A bit of time would go by, though, and I would be throwing away plastic bags inside of plastic bags inside of plastic bags and leaving the radio on when I was out of the house because its sound was nice to come home to. I was threatening to throw my husband's to-be-recycled recyclables in the garbage if he left them in the sink one more time (slimy unrinsed hummus containers, anyone?) I am sorry to say that for 28 years I have pretty much been an environmental menace.

I am now in the process of turning this around, and of trying to make it look fun, effective, affordable, and above all, necessary, to the people around me so that, perhaps, they will join me in trying to detox the earth we live on, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the attitudes we have about our supposed right to mess them all up in the first place.

I am starting this blog as a way to share my journey towards becoming a positive force in the fight to save the planet from our mistakes. As I sit here and consider my life of envirocrime, I know very well that there is really nowhere to go but up.