I believe we can be anyone

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle you can fight--but never stop fighting! E.E. Cummings

Friday, August 27, 2010

Part 2: 10 Easy and Simple Ways To Go Green

So what can you do if I have inspired you to care for yourself, your earth family and the environment?  Below are some simple and easy tips to help you get started in implementing changes in your life.

1. Start recycling. Get a big bin and start recycling paper, plastic, cans and glass. If you have a recycling service, use it! If not, you may need to go to a depot to drop it off. Bins in Calgary allow you to dump everything in now, so no more sorting! We don't have a recycling service because we live in an apartment building but we still go to the depot and recycle. Community Natural Foods has small recycling boxes too.  I simply bring a load with me when I'm off to get some groceries and accomplish two goals.  http://www.communitynaturalfoods.com/  You will be amazed at how much less garbage you will have just by recycling all that stuff you would normally throw out.


2. Bathroom recycling. Put a small bin in your bathroom for plastics and your empty toilet rolls and tissue boxes. By the way, Shopper’s Drug Mart has 3 ply tissues, their brand, a box of 90 for .99 cents. Stay away from Kleenex brand. Sure they have pretty boxes but as I priced out a box of 90 of their brand, it was $3.49 for a box of their tissue! $3.49 is a ridiculous price. Shopper's also has recycled toilet paper for $5.99.  If only their tissues were recycled.

You can find many nice looking containers to put your recycling in around various rooms in your house if you like.  Perhaps one in your office too for all that shredding!

 

3. Buy green vegetable bags. Go to a natural food store and buy those green vegetable and fruit bags. Or you can buy hemp or cotton mesh bags. If you have the time and sew, you can make homemade terry or cotton bags. They breathe better, are environmentally friendly and you can reuse them, even the green bags. Bring them with you to the grocery store and stop bringing home those plastic bags from the vegetable and fruit section. You will be amazed at how many bags you will save that way. Fruits and vegetables that don't need to be in bags are: apples, bananas, avocados, onions, potatoes (all kinds including squashes), garlic, ginger, tomatoes and oranges.

Green bags work great but other alternatives are hemp mesh bags or you can sew and make your own terry or cotton bags.


 

4. Buy reusable shopping bags. Stop using plastic grocery bags. Demand that your grocery store stop using them. If enough people complain, they may do something about it. Community Natural Foods banned plastic bags a few years ago. They will give you a .05 cent bag credit for every bag you bring on your own. Also, if you happen to forget your shopping bag one day, you can purchase one of their recycled paper bags for .25 cents. COOP will also give you a .03 cent bag credit but they sometimes forget to give a credit so you may need to remind them. Make it a habit to bring at least one bag with you whenever you go out for those spur of the moment shops. Keep it in your purse, backpack or briefcase. They don't take up that much room and it will stop you from bringing more bags home.


There's a wide variety and nice assortment of reusable shopping bags that you can buy nowadays.



5. Use a reusable shopping bag to store plastic bags. These bags have all kinds of uses. Keep a reusable shopping bag in your cupboard or closet (I have mine in the hall closet) for all those plastic bags that you end up collecting from toilet paper, paper towels, tea lights, bagged vegetables etc. (as I mentioned above). You can take these in and recycle them too. You will be surprised at how these accumulate even after cutting down on grocery bags and vegetable bags! Every little bit counts!

A photo of one of my reusable bags used to store plastic bags.



6. Make it a habit to bring your own "to go" cup with you. If you think you will be going out for coffee and will likely take it "to go", bring your own "to go" cup with you. No matter what size your "to go" cup is, Good Earth Cafe http://www.goodearthcafes.com/ will only charge you for a small size rather than the regular medium or large because you aren't using their cup. It saves them money and helps the environment. The deal is nice but just bringing your own mug will save thousands going into the landfills.

 


7. Insist on a real coffee mug if you are staying in. If you don't ask, you won't get. If a company refuses to give you a real cup when you want to stay in to have coffee or tea, you can make the choice to walk out and take your business elsewhere. Let them know you are environmentally conscious and don't want the cup ending up in the landfill. Better yet, write or email the company directly and make some suggestions. A tea shop that I love is Steeps.  They have old fashioned tea cups when you stay in.   http://www.steepstea.com/





8. Notice the environment around you. Start noticing how many plastic bags are on the ground, grass, parks, etc. when you are out.  I'm amazed at how much garbage I see when I am walking or riding my bike. Now I realize that maybe you didn't throw it on the ground, but just because it isn't yours doesn't mean you can't pick it up and throw it in the garbage yourself from time to time. I do draw the line at really icky stuff though unless I happen to have plastic gloves or a garbage bag on me. This is our planet. Not yours or mine, ours. Help to beautify the space and pick up garbage when you can. If you see a plastic bag flying around, help the environment by not allowing that bag to fly in the wind eventually ending up in our oceans. Imagine if one person picked up one piece of garbage everyday!  I can dream, can't I?

Top photo, a plastic bag in a tree.
Bottom, a photo I took of a baggie on the ground while I was out riding my bike on the bike path.

 


9. Stop buying bottled water. A lot of these companies are making a mint off of water that isn't actually filtered. Bottled water generally isn't monitored for safety so there is no way of knowing whether bottled is better than tap. Apparently some of these companies are putting tap water into bottles and charging a mint for them. It's a scam. Check your sources as some companies are more reputable than others but you would be surprised at what you may find. 


Check out the trailer for the documentary Flow below.



Bottled water has become big corporate business. Stop buying bottled and save money and the environment.  Big corporations (and government) are now attempting to own water that is a resource that belongs to everyone.  Use your power with the money you earn to stop supporting these companies.  Money talks.


 

10. Buy a good water filtration system. Brita is a good start but there are better ones out there. It's worth the investment and is cheaper in the long run than continually buying bottled water, plus it helps the environment.


Santevia's water system purifies, mineralizes, alkalines and vitalizes the water. Community Natural Foods sells them for $169.99 and occasionally they will go on sale. "While water filtration is important to yield clean, contaminant reduced water, it is merely one element of organically complete water. Unlike many high-tech water filters, Santevia cleans your water without using chemicals, artificial filter media, water pressure or electricity. Santevia uses all-natural and effective compounds such as earthenware ceramic, coconut carbon charcoal, volcanic Zeolite and silica sand."  http://www.santevia.com/


Below is an example of the Santevia water filtration system countertop model.


I'm planning on purchasing one of these soon. Again, do your research in regards to water systems, bottled water and water service companies. Water is the "in" thing now so many companies will capitalize on this by making a lot of money and destroying the environment in the process. Check your sources, be informed and do your research, go by word of mouth and then trust yourself to make the best decision. 


I recently read an article about some areas in the US where it is now illegal to have rain barrels. The government and corporations are now trying to put ownership on rain!! This is insane. Will they also one day say they own the air we breathe and the fire when we have a firepit or are camping?? People need to become proactive and stop this bullshit from happening. Governments and corporations don't own the air or water for that matter.  They are earth resources for everyone and it is our right to have clean and safe water.



Unbeknownst to a lot of us, our freedoms are slowly being taken away and unless we do and say something it may be too late at some point. Use your voice. Speak with your dollars. Sign petitions. Be aware of what's going on. Spread the word.  Thank goodness that there are people out there lobbying for the average Joe but we, as a society, need to be proactive to the best of our abilities. Start educating yourself and stay informed. Knowledge is power. The government is our employee, not the other way around. We pay with our tax dollars and we can choose to support businesses that support the environment and are ethical.

Well, there it is, 10 easy and simple ways to get started.  Hope you enjoyed it!  Stay tuned!



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ahhh, Summertime!

Ahhh, summer.  My favourite time of year!  A time of year when I can finally let go of my fall, spring and winter (haha) shoes, boots and clothes and wear less!!  I have the type of body that gets cold easily so I really look forward to the freedom of summer; feeling warm and wearing dresses and sexy and slinky clothes.

I love the smells early in the morning.  There's a freshness in the air.  I walk out onto our balcony and I can now enjoy the fruits of my labour; all the flowers and plants that I have planted earlier on.  I can easily smell them from the freshness of the morning and also in the later evening.

The fruits of my labour.



I have started to ride my bike more again.  I enjoy riding in the early evening.  Nature comes alive again and the I can smell all the scents of nature as everything is getting ready to go to sleep.  Those two times of the day are magical for me; there's a quietness to them.

A ride around Weaselhead Park with a field of purple flowers.



Nights are getting shorter now and I feel an urgency to get out as much as I can before winter comes again and I'm cocooned.  Even though it hasn't been the hottest summer this year, every nice day that comes along feels precious now.  Perhaps it's teaching me to seize the moment because tomorrow might be raining or cold.  Ironically as I write this, it's a cool, cloudy August day.  It's not long before lying on the warm grass looking at the sky will be another memory until next year.



One day, my dream is to live and be somewhere where it is warm all the time.  Well, maybe even to live for part of the year where I can get away from the cold winter months and spend my days soaking up the sun, riding my bike or dancing barefoot in the grass.  Maybe I will spend part of my day writing to you from my computer sitting on the beach.   Who knows?  I can dream, can't I?



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Part 1: The Curse of Plastic

I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately.  I never used to.  Over the last ten years I have been awakening to what is going on in the world.  Ignorance was bliss in a way.  But ignorance gets me into trouble too.  It gets us, as a society, into trouble.  And so, as I started my journey of awakening ten years ago, (and I mean, really awakening), it has been quite an eye opening, informative, frightening, frustrating and enlightening journey.  I decided to take the Red Pill.  I realize that going in this direction may turn some people off because some people want to stay asleep.  So be it.  I'm speaking to those of you that want to take the Red Pill.

Part of my journey lately has been in the form of watching documentaries and becoming aware of social, political and environmental issues.  Documentaries are amazing pieces of work.  People will argue that it's always about a person's own personal viewpoint.  But isn't everything?  So what?  Who would I rather believe at this point: corporations, religion and government?  I think not.  Their track record hasn't exactly been stellar for centuries now. 

What I like about documentaries is they inform, awaken and enlighten us to the truth; that is, if we are willing to be open to hearing and seeing the truth.  It can be quite a jolt at first.  Some of us, after seeing or hearing the truth, go into a state of denial; sometimes temporarily, sometimes forever but hopefully making their way back to reality.  I was asleep for a long, long time.  I was like the walking dead in a way.  Thank goodness for personal growth courses.  It shook me awake and now there is no going back.  Everyone needs to wake up to what is going on around us.  Whether or not they do is their choice.  That's what free will is about.

I recently watched a documentary called "Addicted to Plastic".  See it here.


This movie ties into an email I got a few years ago.  This email had photos of the ocean and all its sea life and how the throwing away of plastic bags and plastic in general does extreme harmful damage to this environment.  I still have those pictures engrained in my brain.  Ever since I saw that, I swore I would be more conscious about how I use those bags and how many I would bring home.   It's been a work in progress like everything else in my life.  And it can be for you too, if it isn't already.

On the left, a sea turtle unknowingly having plastic for lunch. 
On the right, a dissected bird.   Many birds like these scour for food in the oceans and end up eating all kinds of plastic items instead because they look like food.  This ends up killing them in the end.

    
                       
It's amazing how many plastic bags I can collect in a month.  I have purchased reusable shopping bags as well as those green reusable vegetable and fruit bags but plastic bags still creep into my life.  Thank goodness for recycling because that does help to alleviate the guilt I sometimes feel.  The odd time I forget to bring my shopping bag I end up taking a couple bags home again which I then promptly use for the kitchen as garbage bags.  Even though I am pretty good at bringing shopping bags with me, I still have a collection of plastic bags that accumulate. 

Below is one of my reusable shopping bags filled with plastic bags.  Yikes!


For example, I buy a bag of organic carrots and voila, they are in a plastic bag!  Bread is in a plastic bag.  Toilet paper, paper towels, tea lights, cotton balls, socks and underwear, dry cleaning and on and on it goes.  At this point, it's really difficult to get away from it completely in our society.  And that's what I loved about that movie; despite the gloom, the movie still left me with some hope because there are people out there that are doing amazing things. 

At this point, how we have set things up as a society, it would be difficult to have no plastic at all.  It's in almost everything.  But plastic has also allowed us to create all kinds of products that we wouldn't have been able to create because of its pliability.  I just don't think it is safe to combine food and drink with plastic materials anymore as more and more research is showing.   But that's another topic for another day.  I just know I'm starting to use more glass and stainless steel whenever possible.

The other thing they discussed in the movie is how plastic affects sea life and the oceans.  It's really quite unbelievable how much garbage and plastic travels to our water systems.  And guess what?  Some of the plastic that has been broken down into tiny bits looks like fish food.  And so, fish eat it.  And then guess what?  We go fishing and eat that fish that has ingested all that plastic and then we eat it.  Neither of which is good for the fish or us!  It's toxic.  The very thing that we have created, plastic, is wreaking havoc on our environment, nature and ourselves and all in the name of convenience. 

Below, a beautiful Hawaiian beach strewn with garbage.


We have become a "throwaway" society.  Rick and I went for a bike ride the other day and stopped into Starbucks (I have to say I love their green tea matcha lattes).  I noticed a couple of things while on our ride and at Starbucks.  First, I can't believe how much garbage I see on the streets and in nature.  Is this what some of us have become to believe:  that it's okay to use the earth as a dumping ground?  What happened to putting things in garbage cans?  Now I realize that sometimes there isn't a garbage can around, but couldn't a person just carry it until they found one?

On the left, a scene I have seen more than once:  plastic bags in trees.
On the right, the shoreline of a city that is covered in plastic garbage.  Unbelievable.

       

After seeing that movie and seeing what plastic bags do to sea life, I cannot in all good conscious walk by a plastic bag on the ground anymore.  I need to pick it up and find a garbage can because I have seen where this bag could potentially end up.  I wish that everyone would just ban making bags period like they have in some cities. 



What I noticed while we were in Starbucks.  I'm not sure if this happens in other coffee shops.  But we decided to stay in and have our beverages.  I had to ask for a real coffee mug.  I didn't want a "to go" cup because we were staying in.  Rick on the other hand asked for an iced coffee and they put it in a plastic "to go" cup because they weren't "allowed" or didn't have a cup to put his iced coffee in.  Really?   I found that strange.  They couldn't just put it in the same kind of cup I had apparently. 

Everyone that was in Starbucks sitting down had "to go" cups, yet they weren't going anywhere.  What the heck is going on with that?  Is it because it's cheaper for companies to put drinks in "to go" cups than it is to wash real cups and glasses?  Good lord!  What is the reasoning behind this logic?  Is this what the world is about now; continually cutting costs at the expense of the environment?  Does it cost that much more for someone to wash dishes?  It's ridiculous.  Demand a real cup when you go for coffee and plan on staying in! 

Go Green and have your coffee or tea in a real cup.  Or plan ahead and bring your own "to go" cup with you if you don't plan on staying in the coffee shop!

     

It's a sad state of affairs when we think everything is disposable.  It's not.  Plastic does not disintegrate, it lasts forever.   And the more we can shift our thinking about that, the more things will shift.  We as consumers have more power than we think.  We choose and speak with our dollars.  What would happen if all of us stopped supporting businesses and corporations that didn't have our planet's best interests at heart?  This is where we live.  What are we going to do when our planet runs out of resources after we have used and abused it to no end?  Throw the earth away and move to another planet?  I don't think so.  It's time to get with the program.

How cute is this face?  Remember, sea life and animals were here first.  Let's help them.

     

Let's do our part to shift our thinking and help keep ourselves, our oceans, forests and planet healthy and green.  It doesn't matter what race we are because we all have something in common:  each of us is a human being living on this planet.  Let's help to keep our planet beautiful. 

  

Stay tuned for Part 2:  10 Easy and Simple Ways to Go Green