Monday, December 31, 2007

Dealing with Snow

Living in Canada, you'd think I wouldn't be all that surprised by the amount of snow we've been getting this year. Well, consider the past couple years when skiing resorts opened late and had to make snow due to lack of the real thing. Seriously. Global warming at it's finest. And the melting polar ice? Yeah.

Getting back on point, this year we've been snowed over by record amounts of the white stuff. Don't get me wrong. I love the stuff and so do my kids. It makes everything look pretty and clean, and actually gets the kids out of the house and away from computer games. There is the down side, though. Getting rid of it, or moving it out of the way enough so you're not forced into hibernation. Good ol' fashioned shovels are losing favour with many people. And really, who can blame them for not wanting to be a statistic of the snow-shovelling induced deaths and heart attacks? The problem lies not only with our increased inactivity but with the alternative modes of snow removal. The snowplows and snow blowers and their putrid exhaust fumes, or toxic emissions if you prefer. Blah. We tell our kids to get outside into the fresh air, but then we fire up one of these "helpful" machines and pollute that air. When are we going to learn?? Maybe if we exercised on a regular basis throughout the year, our hearts wouldn't scream at the injustice and pain inflicted on them during a snow-shovelling session. Maybe our health would improve overall. Yes, all that good-for-you stuff takes time away from sitting in front of the television with a bag of greasy, salty, bad-for-you chips. So. We obviously know better. We just have to be willing to get a grip and actually DO what is better for us. Myself included.

Rant done. Over and out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Forgot to Mention

Also on canada AM today was a story on asbestos found in common household products and toys.
There is a CSI fngerprinting kit toy that had asbestos contamination, duct tape, wall spackle...go to the above link to learn more.

Things Have been quiet

in the Being Green department here at Chez AliP. I still try to clean green with essential oils doing my germ killing but I must admit to slippage with the cold and flu season attacking us with a vengeance. I broke out the forbidden chemical disinfectants but only when alone in the house and only in the bathrooms. We have been "new" virus free now for about a week and a half....whew. I can go back to my less scary methods of cleaning and disinfecting.
Why do we do this? I'm not the only one thats for sure..
Also in the "green" living books, its wintery here now and the heat is on. We didn't order firewood this year since I felt we had enought left for emergencies and super cold spells. Our electricity is produced by hydro plants here and thats a cleaner method than coal fired plants like we had in Nova Scotia. The heat in my home is electric and I have thermostats that have a 'set back' feature so that the heat is automatically turned back at night. the downside is that its light sensitive and on real dark wintter days it doesn't go to the daytime cozy setting of 19 degrees. Unless I tinker with the set back or turn on a bright lamp near the thermostat. Sweaters and slippers are being worn by myself all day since I am pretty sedentary, blankets cuddled into for evening TV or reading by the rest of the family. We save ourselves some coin with the lower temperature setting too.
There was a recent new story on how much cleaner North American are (personal hygiene) compared to some Europeans like Parisians. It was a study on water usage actually and in NA we use a lot more water for bathing and showering where as Parisians use more in meal preparation. Very interesting if you think about it and there is a whole book on the subject which I saw touted on Canada AM last week but now cannot find for all my Google skillz.
Being green: bathe less, wear a sweater, avoid chemicals. I guess thats my message this time. LOL

Tuesday, September 25, 2007



Noone is safe it seems. Even plastic backed baby bibs that we so blithely buy for drooly babies who grow to gnaw and chew at them are testing positive for lead content. Lunch boxes that we send our kids to school with!
Know what really sad and pathetic? This country prides itself on producing quality safe goods and yet we import cheap dangerous shit from China and poison ourselves anyway.
Pathetic. Be safe and get a test kit.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Recycled crafting etc

The news today reported on Lights Out...a movement to turn out lights in big cities for a half hour or an hour at night. Lights that really are not necessary like office buildings that are empty, large lit signage for advertising. Basically its a black out to raise awareness for energy consumption reduction. Useless gesture? I don't think any campaign, a hook is needed to catch the attention of the general public. Rome and now London have given it their shots, what about other urban centers? And how much energy is saved by these blackouts? For sure it is not a negligible amount! We are now in the summer season where we may not be heating a building but cooling it so energy demands are still high and often cause stress on electrical supplies. A large reduction in unecessary lighting and the light pollution it causes could be a very good thing. A walk beneath STARS in the central city anyone?
Crafting with recycled stuffs: I am interested in this from a knitting standpoint and have 3 or 4 sweaters waiting for "frogging" meaning waiting to be ripped apart for their yarn yardage. This is an idea that is gaining interest among earth and frugal minded knitters and sometimes you can score a luxury fiber for a pittance at a thrift shop or clearance sale. I would like to do more of this but in using my spare time actually knitting I haven't yet gotten around to the recycling. I guess I will have two stashes: one of new yarns and one of sweaters waiting to be recycled for their yarns. ;oD Could be worse right?
Here are 3 links to get ya started on recycling yarn for your handy works. Never forget you can recycle old clothes for their fabric to save money on your sewing habit too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dishwasher Powder

(Gratuitous boat shot: Look windpowered travel!!!)
I have been using a homemade version of dishwasher powder for awhile made from a 1:1 ratio of baking soda to Borax. I am unimpressed. I tried adding salt. Still not happy. My glasses are cloudy coated (can scratch it with my fingernail so its not etching) and some dishes just do not come out clean.

I am unhappy with this recipe and so far all the homemade recipes I can find are pretty close to this with perhaps citric acid added.

Thus, the great dishwasher powder experiment of May 2007 came to and ignomious end...with me buying some chlorine free stuff at Zellers on a major sale discount (Amilya's Soapworks). Sweet.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mother Earth News

There are folks out there that are thinking along the same lines as I. Imagine my surprise.

Apparently the people at Mother Earth News think that chickens are worth an article to extol their virtues. Quite timely. You can read it in the April/May 2007 issue.

Further to yesterday's entry, one will also find a short article on "The long-term Effect of tillage", among other informative topics.

I really like this magazine. The only draw back? The advertisements featuring tractors, trucks, tiller, and lawnmowers. Not so earth friendly. Surely they could make a greater effort to find more earth friendly, "green" advertisers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Right Tool

When you need to get down to the roots of all evil, namely those of dandelions (among other less than favourite weeds), this weeder is the PERFECT tool for the job. Forget the tiller. The price tag alone might send some for the smelling salts. And it will just sit there if you don't feed it some nasty gasoline. Although it may not need much, did you happened to notice the gas prices lately?? Not only will it pollute worse than a 1980's V8 Cadillac, it'll only cut those nasty roots at their knees, leaving enough to make your life miserable in the future. Did I mention it disturbs, if not outright kills, the garden helpers, such as worms and centipedes to name just a couple? Sure a tiller makes fast work of fluffing up the soil, but does it really? Those nice air pockets the earthworms worked so fervently to make for your plants? Gone. The delicate balance of organic matter that your plants will long for during their life span? Pushed underground where it's out of their reach. (That's probably why so many people still run to stores for chemical fertilizers!)
Alrighty then. Off the soapbox I go. To grab my weeder (which, by the way, cost a lot less than a week's worth of coffee) and put my muscles to work.
You didn't know that weeding burned calories, did you?!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oh MY!

I didn't pass the test. Not even close.

Now go take the test yourself. Don't be shocked by the results. At least you'll be sitting down.

My ecological footprint is too big for this planet. Much too HUGE! I would have never thought it. Maybe if the test had been a bit more specific in some areas, such as food... Don't mind me. I am still recovering from the shock of it all. I didn't think the test would judge me so harshly for eating meat and dairy on a regular basis. After all, my husband and oldest son provided most of the meat for the freezer last year: deer and bear. No importing, processing, packaging required. In the summer I grow a decent sized garden, and supplement with locally grown produce where possible. More often than not I bake bread for our family, milk comes from our cow and eggs from our chickens.

I don't fly anywhere anymore, don't ride a motorcycle, and make only one trip per week to town, not quite 30km away. Sometimes, if I am organised, I don't visit town even every other week. Especially if I remember the mobile library schedule that comes to our community.

I will try to lessen my footprint. How about you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Green Pest Control!

Doesn't get much greener than this. And not only do you get pest control but fertilizer too! And the bonus eggs... Did I mention the entertainment? Free! The dude in the middle is "Romeo", a polish rooster. Although I have bigger roosters, he's the boss! Just look at him watching over his workers... Hee hee

Anyone can raise a chicken or three in their backyard. They don't need a huge amount of space. Just make sure your yard is fenced or your neighbour (and possibly his dog) will be enjoying a free Sunday dinner (if they're so inclined). And of course check the by-laws governing your property.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Gazette Article Link
From this article in Saturday's Gazette, I found out that dishwasher products, unlike laundry and dish liquid for hand washing, are a source of phosphate pollution in our water ways in this country. Blue Green toxic algae anyone?????

Friday, May 18, 2007

Itchy heads etc:

The women in my family suffer from itchy head syndrome. This is in no way a scientific term. We occassionally come a cross a hair grooming product that causes such annoying head itchiness after even one use, that that brand is forsaken. Occassionally a dandruff problem would have us reaching for prescriptive or drugstore products to soothe the itch and flaking. It would help, for awhile and dry out my hair at least...Viscious cycle no? Question it we didn't very much. Until now (me).
While looking up greener cleaning methods for my home I found out a bit about the toxic substances used in modern grooming and cosmetic products. Scary... and my itchy head question seems to have been answered inadvertantly. Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulphates. In almost every soap, bubble bath, shampoo, face wash, moisturisers, lotions, and dish detergent currently on the market no matter how natural or pure the company's claims. Even some in the health food stores have it in the listed ingredients. Holy massive eczema breakouts Batman!
Even in those special MILD soaps that dermatologists sometimes extoll the virtues of for their eczema patients you will find the dreaded SLS-es.
Finding this out sent me straight to the health food shop and healthy stuff department of the local Loblaws. I was planning on maybve making my own shampoos from recipes I had acquired over the years but had not bothered to try. At this point in time I am a bit pressed for time etc so I actually end up buying a shampoo, reasonably priced and in a biggish bottle by the company JASON. They only had one kind so I took it since it seemed to be for my kind of hair anyways. It doesn't suds up all that fantastically , but on the second lather it was better and my hair was clean without being totally stripped (because of its low lather it also rices great...less water used!!). I used no conditioner this time, blew dry and had non-frizzed shiny bouncyish hair. Me happy.
Next day, I took myself to Loblaws and lo and behold they had HEAPS of JASON stuff at lower price than the healthfood store. Body washes and shampoos and conditioners oh my. I grabbed the coordinating conditioner for my shampoo and eyed the other products for future reference. They even have kids stuff which my guys will love. Used the conditioner today with the shampoo but no blow drying . It detangled wonderfully and rinsed fairly well. I am pleased. NO ITCH thus far. Yay!!
I have already called my mom who is the itchiest of all of us and has used and still uses horrid things on her scalp to make it stop. She also suffers from psoriasis so the SLSes are not helping with that little bit of hell. I suggested her next hair products be of the JASON line since she won't remember to look for SLS free on labels (she's old and forgetfullish).
Based on my bit of anecdotal evidence I recommend that you look at your own grooming practices, especially if you suffer from any skin conditions. SLS-es may be an aggravating factor and I recommend switching to SLS free products for your own health and the health of your family. Pick one thats affordable..there are many that are priced out of this family's range and I don't think a clean itchless head should cost a lot.
I'm also test driving the Emu Oil soap by Soap Works. Compared to other emu oil products, its very reasonably priced at less than half of what I paid for a drugstore carried soap that shall remained nameless. This is until I can try rebatching a store bought Marseilles soap(Castile soap) into handmade enriched bars. Experimenting will take place in June before I go on vacation for the summer with my kids, camping. I will keep you all posted.
Please feel free to comment or question! I in no way know everything and can make errors. If you find I have done so please correct me. As always, comment politely please.

Information Need Not Cost a Dime

Thanks Crazy Aunt Purl. This is a really good source of information. Just for the record, I've never tried this company's products and don't plan on it. Information, however, is free, and the more one knows the better the choices one makes. Hopefully.

More free information. Take stock of the chemicals in your household. Ignorance is bliss. Bliss we can no longer afford. Our health and our planet require us to educate ourselves with the facts. Remember to call your municipal agencies for information on proper disposal of hazardous waste when you switch to greener or less toxic products.

On a lighter note, here is a very simple recipe for a wall cleaner or anything-else cleaner. With kids and animals, I suspect I will be putting it to use often.

I reused a plastic bucket from a dishwasher detergent (didn't have to go and buy one!) and filled it about half full with warm water, about 3L. In it I dissolved about 1/4 cup of borax.

That's it. I found a couple rags made from old towels and showed the kids how to clean their fingerprints off the walls! Granted they weren't overly enthused about it, deciding the floor or windows were more "fun" to clean, but hey... That's more than I bargained for. After they were done cleaning I went around with a clean damp rag and wiped down any residue.

Getting them involved didn't cost anything, showed them that it takes effort to clean and it got them away from the TV. Not to mention it got us working as a family. Win-win.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

About bags

I am all about looking at both sides of the coin.

In response to Ali's post, check this out.

And further to purchasing store bags for reuse, here in Nova Scotia, Sobeys sells their brand of bags for $1.99 each or $5 for 5 if I remember correctly. The bonus is that they will replace them for free if they rip or wear out. Yes, made from recycled materials and recyclable. They are quite sturdy and mine would have lasted much longer if I didn't try to test just how strong they were!

On the other hand, Atlantic Superstore is playing catch up with their own brand of bag. Theirs costs $.99. Plus they offer plastic shopping boxes with handles for $3.99. I guess they got fed up with people bringing in Sobeys bags into their store!

It's a step in the right direction either way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm in the burbs ....

I was a country mouse but am now a town mouse again. Life is a bit different here. No manure piles, no free ranging chickens... BUT a marked decrease in mileage with my car. Not all changes are bad ones.
I took a quiz on how "green" I am. Apparently the fact that I own a car and a house that I heat (since in Canada we have this wacky thing called winter), eat meat regularly.....we would need 3 1/2 planets if everyone lived like me. Now, Call me crazy but I took it a little personally. I do what I can and while I know there is room for improvements and I am making them , its like its never enough for the environmental activists.
Case in Point: Ontario. They are implementing a long overdue policy to phase out plastic shopping bag use. this is GREAT, but when reports come in from the acivists they are being quoted as thinking it is a weak attempt at best. I think that if we show a little more approval for these things maybe they powers that be would be more willing to make more and more changes that the activists suggest.
Here in Quebec we have great shopping bags available for purchase for about a buck apiece. Each bag can hold about 4 plastic bags worth of groceries, depending on how big stuff is and how much you can lift. My favorites are from the Metro chain of grocery store...they have two sets of handle so you can shoulder the bags which I find way better since I am height challenged. Each bag lasts many trips. Another plus: 5 cent savings per use at grocery store that honor ecologically sound bags. Twenty trips and the bag is paid for.
No reusable bags for sale in your area? Get some made or make them yourself with your mad sewing or crochet skillz. Here is a mesh bag pattern available at Canadian Living's website:
There's also a pattern in Knit 1 magazine's summer issue. Get even more EcoCool and use organic cotton or hemp yarn!!OR recycle old teeshirts by cutting them into strips and knitting or crocheting them into a bag.
Cheap to make or buy, there really is no excuse not to say" No Thanks! I brought my own bags."when they ask "Paper or Plastic?"

Green is Good!

Hi. My name is Barbara. I live and try to be as green as possible in rural Nova Scotia. On a very small budget. At least I don't have to buy sheep or cow manure to feed my garden. It's free for the taking from my animals (they're quite generous like that!).

This is a picture from last year's garden. A garden that hasn't seen chemicals since we bought the farm over five years ago. Every year I try to go bigger, better, tastier, and greener.
I hope you will join Ali and I on our green journey. Because greener is better.

#1 post

In this blog I hope to share information on how one can live a greener life without going broke on outrageous prices for "eco friendly" products. When I get the kinks worked out I hope to post often. Visit often and comment politely.