Cheap Green Thrills

Transit TransfersI was recently out of the office on a course and was forced to take public transit to get there.  All of these years of carpooling to work made me forget about my old university years of riding the bus everywhere. I would have to say that I have been spoiled or made lazy by the convenience of a vehicle.  Surprisingly, I got to my course a lot faster and cheaper than if I were to drive.  By the time, I factored in gas, parking and the additional time I would have spent on the road, I paid for my lunch out and then some.   My little one had mentioned to me one morning that she wanted to take the bus with me.   I thought about it and figured, why not?  Of course, she didn’t come to my course but we decided to take public transit on the weekend as a day trip.   She loved the idea of riding the Skytrain and Seabus.  It was a cheap trip because the kids were free (under 5) and riding through all zones was the same price.  She was excited to be able to gaze out the window and watch the buildings and scenery go by.  Her favourite part of it all was going into the tunnels.

Anyway, it was a great way for us to spend a day without having to add more to our carbon footprint.  It exposed us to the simplicities that excite a child and it made us realize that entertaining a child doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  As well, it saved us the hassle of driving with the kids all day.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions about some cheap and green thrills?

§CC

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February 15, 2009 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Freecycle It!

img_4323Ok, I know I’ve blogged a tiny bit on Freecycle before but I’m dedicating this post entirely to this incredible network that is, as their motto states, “changing the world one gift at a time”. If you haven’t joined, you should. If you have joined, you should really use it.

A bit of history: it was started in 2003 by Derek Beal, out in Arizona, with a member’s list of perhaps 30-40 people. Now, it’s gone international: 85 countries, and over 6 million members.

So what is it exactly? It’s a non-profit group dedicated to keeping one-person’s-junk-and-another-person’s-treasure out of landfills. It’s the basic 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with a no-strings-attached twist. By freely giving your unwanted/unneeded stuff to someone else who needs it or wants it, as quoted on Freecycle’s site, “members of Freecyle Network instill a sense of generosity of spirit as they strengthen local community ties and promote environmental sustainability and reuse.”

There’s over 4,000 groups worldwide, so you’ll need to find one that’s in your community. (Note: since the groups are set up through Yahoo! Groups, you’ll need to first have a Yahoo! account/ID.) Once you’ve found one, you’ll need to join that group to be able to obtain access to all the posts and to be able to post.

There are 2 parts to this network: the giving and the receiving. You’ll be surprised at all the stuff that’s offered and all the stuff that’s needed. I’ve seen pianos, sofas, baby clothes, computer parts, TVs. So if there’s stuff you no longer need or if there’s stuff that you need but don’t want to buy, consider using the Freecycle Network.

Since I’ve joined, (I’ve been trying hard to declutter this year — a bit of a New Year’s resolution) I’ve found new homes for a microwave cart that was collecting dust in the garage, some unused pots & pans that were taking up precious kitchen space, a lighted Christmas Village set that we barely used; and I’m in the process of giving my dated Today’s Parent and House & Home magazines a 2nd life. It really does feel great knowing that I’m part of this great network giving in the spirit of generosity back to the community that I live in.

Are there others out there that use this network? Let us know of your experiences.

≡mar

February 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

Light it Up

Compact Fluorescent Light BulbOur house is riddled with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) as they use approximately 75% less energy, are better for the environment and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Last week, I heard on the radio that the energy-saving CFL’s  were known to cause rashes and burns, equivalent to a sunburn, on some people. Of course, I needed to look into it to find out what that actually meant to me and my family since we have changed over all our bulbs to CFLs.  Upon searching, I found that they actually have a little bit of mercury in them and emit ultraviolet radiation.   Each bulb manufacturer varies, but  according to EarthEasy, each of them “generally contains an average of 5 mg of mercury, about one-fifth of that found in the average watch battery, and less than 1/100th of the mercury found in an amalgam dental filling.” According to the news program 16:9, Health Canada states,  “CFLs are not provided with a prismatic diffuser that filters ultraviolet radiation out. Therefore, there may be skin sensitivity issues, especially in people with certain skin diseases”.   I also heard that the rashes and burns occur when you are about 30cm or closer to the CFLs.   As well, by 2012, Canada will be banning the sale of incandescent lights.

Some things to note about CFLs:

  • CFLs come in various different shapes and sizes, and lumens (amount of light be generated). Some even come domed for a little extra protection.
  • There are limitations to CFLs in such things as dimmers and some timers.
  • Dispose of used CFLs carefully, some retailers such as Home Depot and IKEA, provide recycling programs for burnt out bulbs.
  • Don’t get too close to the bulb itself, especially for extended periods of time.
  • If you break a CFL use caution to clean up safely. Here are some good instructions for cleaning up!

Happy Lighting!

§CC

January 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

A Greener Dine-Out Vancouver

fork-knifeBack in the days when my husband and I had more free time, we used to take in one of Vancouver’s most awaited culinary affair. Now with 3 kids, unfortunately, finding some alone time for a date night every so often involves a lot of forethought and schedule juggling. So we’re not sure if we’ll be able to partake in this year’s Dine Out Vancouver before the February 1st deadline.

But for those who are able to, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy some fine dining at relatively reasonable prices. And better yet, I just found out that some of the participating places are part of Green Table, a network of restaurants and food services committed to sustainability and the earth. Here are the restaurants that are both part of Dine Out and also the Green Table: Bistro Pastis, C Restaurant, Elixir, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen, Hamilton Street Grill, O’Doul’s, Nu, Ouisi, Raincity Grill, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co., Salt Tasting Room, West, Wild Rice, and Zin.

So if you haven’t made your reservations yet, and are planning to “dine out”, consider those restaurants that are part of this Green Table network. Or if you can’t make it for this year’s Dine Out, keep the list of Green Table restaurants in mind the next time you plan to eat out, there’s over 30 places to tempt your taste buds.

Bon Appétit! If you have a chance, tell us about your experience.

≡mar

January 21, 2009 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

Blue Bin Etiquette

Blue BinHappy New Year! We hope you have managed to escape all our snow relatively unscathed!

With the arrival of the New Year also means the arrival of a new curbside garbage pick up schedule. There’s a permanent location on our fridge for the schedule. I periodically refer to it after a holiday or when I need to find out what can and cannot be thrown out and recycled. To tell you the truth, I am a little ignorant when it comes to putting stuff into the blue bin. I put things that I think should be recycled but don’t necessarily know if they are actually suppose to be there. My husband puts out the bin and I keep my fingers crossed that all the items are actually emptied out of it. I did a bit of research and have found out that there are actually quite a few resources out there to help you find out if you can recycle items or where you can recycle them. Did you know that you can bring your old cell phones to thINK Food who takes old cell phones as a fundraiser for local foodbanks?  The Recycling Council of BC offers a great resource for all things recyclable. They offer great tips, education, and services for recycling. There is even a materials exchange where you can buy and sell items that can be reused.

According to MetroVancouver.org, “currently, residents and business recycle just over half of the 3.5 million tonnes of garbage, or solid waste, created in the region each year”. So my goal this year is to work towards zero waste. The Zero Waste Challenge is part of the regions’ Solid Waste Management Plan. The 5R’s of the Zero Waste Challenge are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover and Residuals.  I have adopted some of the principles and hope to incorporate the rest of them.

§CC

January 15, 2009 at 11:13 pm 1 comment

Happy Snow Day

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone!

shovelling-snow-400-x-267

We were thrown a little off track with all the white stuff that kept coming down.  There was even a possibility that our Christmas gathering with our extended family would be cancelled — but  is wasn’t. And as the snow kept piling up, it felt like we were perpetually shoveling our driveway to no avail; our kids even picked up the shovel to help. However it wasn’t all work and no play, as we got to build the largest fort ever in our backyard and a snowmenpeople family. Hope you all got to enjoy the fun side of snow too.

We’ll be taking a little break over this Christmas season, but we’ll be back in January. We hope everyone had a warm and blessed Christmas with your family and friends. And with 2009 just around the corner, a safe and wonderful New Year!

≡mar

December 27, 2008 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment

Stainless Steel Giveaway

Here’s a quick post to let you in on a giveaway from Stephanie of Keeper of the Home (btw: she’s got a great blog). You’ve got only until tomorrow, Friday, before 6pm to win yourself a product from the Tickle Trunk. More about the Tickle Trunk later……

December 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm Leave a comment

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