Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 132 of our Green Year: Turning Leaves Into Fertilizer

It is just about fall, and that means it is the time of year for raking leaves. From now until October, millions of families around North America will be raking leaves off their lawns and putting them into plastic garbage bags to be sent to the landfill, or burning them. Sadly, both of these options are not the best for the environment.

First, putting the leaves in bags and sending to the dump contributes to waste. Yes, the leaves will biodegrade, but the plastic bag will not. Second, burning the leaves releases the carbon dioxide that the trees have stored in them, and it will put soot into the atmosphere. Therefore, neither of these are the best options.

For Layla and I, we will be raking up our lawn, but we will be doing something with the leaves to help the lawn next year. There are two things you can do to make your lawn nice and beautiful next year, and help your garden as well. First, we will be collecting our leaves and not putting them into bags. Instead, we will put the leaves into a compost bin so that they can degrade over the winter and become mulch in the spring. This will allow us to use it in the garden as compost to help the garden grow. Second, we will leave some leaves on the grass and break them up into little pieces with a rake or some other method. The reason for this is that while a layer of leaves can suffocate the lawn, smaller bits of leaves will break down quicker, and provide nutrients for the lawn to help it grow.

Fall is here, and that means Layla and I will be going through a lot of fall green solutions to help us go green in the fall. Stay tuned to the blog to find out how you can go green during the fall. For Layla and I, it is hard to believe that we went through spring, now summer and are entering fall with Our Green Year. That being said, there is still a long way to go!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 131 of our Green Year: Painting Green

When Layla and I first moved into our current house, we bought paint to decorate the place. We only got around to one room because we were busy with work, and until recently we had not thought of how we would dispose of the used paint. When we bought the paint, we were not in Our Green Year, and as a result, did not think about the toxins in the paint. There are many sadly, and that makes disposing of the paint difficult.

So, now Layla and I have to find a environmentally-friendly way to dispose of a horribly environmentally-unfriendly product. Thankfully, it is very easy to do. There are several special waste depots that accept paint, and many of those depots then take the paint to facilities where it is recycled and used again as paint under brands like Boomerang. It is a great way to recycle and keep those harmful chemicals out of our environment.

You should never dump paint down the sink, or into the sewer. In the sink it goes into our water supply, while the storm sewer takes it immediately into the nearby ecosystem.

In 2005, one-third of households had leftover paint they wanted to dispose of, but only half used a special waste depot. The rest just threw it in the garbage or down the sink, which creates significant environmental problems.

In our household, our paint will be recycled and reused so that it stays out of the environment, and only on the walls. If we can, we will also only buy non-toxic paint to paint our house with as well.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day 130 of our Green Year: Finding The Organic Certification

Recently, Layla and I watched a report on the news that showed many of the items that call themselves 'organic', are not actually organic. In fact, the report said that nine out of ten carry ingredients that are far from organic.

Going organic is very important to Layla and I, and even though we see something that says 'organic' on it, that does not mean that we will simply take it for granted. We always check the ingredients to make sure that when it says organic, it means organic.

However, even with that, how can we be sure that the cranberry sauce we buy, which only has cranberries, water and an orange peel in it, is actually organic? Who says they didn't use pesticides on the cranberry crop? This is where the certification comes in.

Organic certifications are put on items in teh grocery store that meet a set of criteria that is investigated by a third party. These are items like:

  • Not using fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives or GMOs on the food.
  • No chemicals used on farmland for at least three or more years.
  • The producer must provide a detailed production and sales record.
  • There must be a strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products.
  • The producer must submit to several on-site inspections.
When they meet all the criteria, they get a badge on them that looks like what is seen above, in the United States and around the world. This is how you know what you are getting is organic. Of course the only way to know for sure is to grow and produce all your own food, because only you can know your food is organic.

It was time to take our recycling to the recycling depot. It took two car trips, and a full load each time, but it is great to know all those products will be used again, but in different forms.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 129 of our Green Year: Making Pita Chips

A few weeks ago, Layla and I talked about how bad some potato chips are for people, especially considering that several potato chip companies have pledged not to get rid of a cancer causing ingredient, but only lower it.
We enjoy some pita chips from a pita chip company located in Cranbrook, but Layla raised the point that we buy those chips from Cranbrook, which is then transported to here, causing greenhouse gases to go into the atmosphere.

As a result, we decided to make our own pita chips and it is incredibly easy. All you have to do is buy some pita bread, rip it up into thin little slices and put it into the oven. You can use some butter on the pita bread to help hold a variety of spices on the bread while it cooks. We are going to use Cinnamon on our pita chips.
Leave it in the oven for several minutes, until the chips become hard and crunchy. At this point, take the chips out and let them cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, you can eat them!

That is all it takes to be environmentally friendly with your pita chips. You may have to use the oven, but if you have a solar cooker like ours, and it goes to 400 Fahrenheit, then you can use the solar cooker and make pita chips that are very environmentally. Going a step further, you can even make your own pita bread!

Let us know how your pita chip test goes if you do it! Contact us at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 128 of our Green Year: Uses for Old Jeans

Today, I ripped one of my jeans and decided the time had come to retire them. Now, since we are in Our Green Year, the decision was made to not only retire them, but reuse them in a new manner. Thankfully, jeans are incredibly versatile, and can be used in a wide variety of ways. So, this one pair of jeans will be turned into one, or more, of the following by Layla and her trust sewing machine.

  1. You can make pot holders out of denim jeans because denim is actually quite good of keeping the heat off your hands. Try this instead of buying new pot holders from the grocery store.
  2. Take the legs of blue jeans, cut them in half and sew the bottom of them, and you have some great hanging sleeves to store anything you may need to, including cleaning rags and socks.
  3. Use parts of the old jeans, to patch up another pair of jeans so that you don't have to buy new jeans for awhile if more jeans rip.
  4. Use them on a scarecrow. You may think this is not exactly going green with them, but if you have birds wrecking your garden, you are not producing as much, which means you have to buy more.
  5. I love coffee, but sometimes it can get cold too quickly. As a result, creating coffee cozies out of old jeans may be the solution I am looking for so that I don't have to microwave my coffee, or drink it quickly to keep it from getting cold on me.
  6. Layla and I enjoy gardening but it can be hell on the knees. So, we think knee pads made from jeans may be the exact solution we are looking for.
There are plenty of cool ideas for what you can use old jeans for, and these are just a portion, the ones we want to do ourselves. In the end, if you have no more uses for what is left over of your jeans, then all you have do to is cut the jeans up into little pieces and toss them in the compost bin because, yes, jeans are able to compost too!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 127 of our Green Year: Saving Computer Power

For Layla and myself, our lives revolve around the computer. We work on the computer every day as professional writers, so having a computer that works is important to us. However, at the same time, we have to think about how our computers will affect the environment since they run all day. We have thought of ways to deal with this, including buying a solar panel in the future to plug into, but what about other things we can do to save the environment while we work on our computers. (The picture shows a lot of computers, but we were in the process of transferring data from our old ones to our new ones.)

First, by using the proper computer power management settings for our laptops, we can save about half a ton of CO2 per year, and $60 per year in energy costs. This would be using the minimal power settings.

Second, the days of needing a screen saver are gone with modern monitors that are not susceptible to the burning of an image on the screen. Therefore, we do not need to use a screen saver because the monitors will dim instead, to save power.

Third, speaking of dim monitors, we can dim the brightness on our monitor. Using the brightest setting on a monitor consumes twice the power of the dimmest setting.

Fourth, unless we are using the speakers, printers, or scanner,s they are going to be off. As well, at night the power bar for the computers goes off to keep from using phantom power, as we have discussed in a previous blog post.

Lastly, people should use laptops instead of desktops, as we do, because laptops use much less power than desktops.

Those are just a few tips that we will be using as we green our own computer use as part of Our Green Year.
One more note, Layla and I are on our way to reducing possessions by a great deal. We are putting up posters around our town this weekend advertising that we are giving away, for free, our bookcases, books, some appliances, chairs and other knick-knacks, while selling our patio set, table and chairs, vacuum and more.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 126 of our Green Year: Greening The World With Facebook

Layla and I are self-described Facebook-aholics. We love it and not a day goes by that we don't log on a few times. We even have a Facebook group for Our Green Year, and you can join it if you want, just click the link on the side of this webpage.

Thankfully, Facebook also helps us go green, beyond spreading our green message that is. They do this through a variety of applications that allow you to help others go green through the magic of Facebook, clicking and advertising.

One such application is the Green my Vino application from Village Green Energy. When this application is added to an application, friends can send other friends gifts. For each gift they send, a pledge is made to wineries in northern California that grow wine in methods that use renewable energy.

SunChips has an application that for every person who adds it, they donate $1 towards the goal of $50,000 that will be used to plant trees in Greensburg, Kansas, which had most of its trees destroyed in a tornado.

Lastly, there is (lil) Green Patch, which is an application that saves the rainforest. Members get a green rectangle on their Facebook page that they can decorate with cute garden people, mushrooms and flowers and with each addition, money goes from sponsors to save the rainforest. So far, 29,259,567 square feet of rainforest has been saved.

Those are just a few of the applications that are used on Facebook to make the world a greener place. Do you know of some more? Let us know!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 125 of our Green Year: Not wasting food

Living in North America, we may forget that much of the world suffers with nearly no food, and the food they do have is not very nutritious. Some may say that talking about starvation does not have anything to do with going green but Layla and I disagree.
Around the world, pesticides and herbicides are used to get higher yields for crops, trucks and ships take the food around the world and pump CO2 into the atmosphere, and farmers in developing countries cut down forests and destroy habitats to make their fields. This is obviously important since we need to eat, but it came as a shock to me to find out that 50 percent of food is wasted. If we did not waste food, we would not need to use so much land to make food, so many herbicides to grow food and people around the world would have enough to eat.
This does not even take into account the water needed to produce the food, or the greenhouse gases produced when transporting the food. All of this could be decreased hugely if we just did not waste food, and by extension, we would help the environment immeasurably.

If you go to a buffet, most of that food will eventually be wasted. Walking through the produce section of the supermarket and you will see a lot of food that will never make it to the dinner table. Now, the argument can be made that this will all be composted, and that is good, but it does not stop the consumption. If a supermarket buys 100 heads of lettuce, and 25 are bought, they may compost 75 heads of lettuce, but they will still buy another 75 heads. Buying less heads of lettuce would allow the heads of lettuce to be spread across a greater geographic area, resulting in less lettuce wasted.
I used to work at A&W when I was a teenager and they had the policy that if a burger patty was cooked and then kept in the warming box for longer than 15 minutes, it was thrown out. I would try and ensure that I only cooked what needed to be made, but the pressure to keep wait times low for customers, while at the same time using fresh food was a hard balance to maintain. I cannot tell you how many fries and burgers were thrown out, but it would often amount to dozens a day.

It is truly amazing to think that 40 trillion liters of water, enough to provide for 500 million families, is lost every year because of wasted food. To produce one pound of beef, it takes 2,500 gallons of water. If that pound of beef goes bad, it is 2,500 gallons of water that has just been wasted. Yes that water most likely went back into the environment, and therefore is not technically wasted, but if that 2,500 was not wasted it could have been used to provide 2,500 of water elsewhere, thereby reducing waste.

Here are just a few stats about hunger that may help you stop wasting food.
  • In Asia, Africa and Latin America, 500,000,000 people live in absolute poverty.
  • Every year, 15,000,000 children die from hunger.
  • For the price of one missile bought by the United States, a school of hungry children could be fed a lunch every single day for five years.
  • Only 1/3 of the world is well fed, the other 4,000,000,000 people are under-fed or starving.
As a result, Layla and I will not be wasting food. It is one of the main reasons we walk to the store every day and buy only what we will eat that day. It keeps us from buying a bunch of food, 1/4 of which may go bad. How many people say they want to eat healthy, they buy a bunch of fruits but end up eating KFC instead? All that fruit goes bad when someone else could have bought it and eaten it. Now they have to buy more fruit because someone wasted food.

Leftovers will be a big part of our diet here. There are literally thousands of recipes for leftovers that can be made. If you have pasta one night and there is a bit left over, buy some tomatoes, shrimp and pasta sauce and have that pasta dinner again to finish it off. Did you have chicken for dinner? Take the bones and put them into a broth to make a great stew.

Do a search on the net, you will be surprised by how many dinners you can make when you use leftovers. Waste not want not!

In the Baird household, we will be going by the philosophy of 'Take all you want, but eat all you take!"
Oh, one less note. eating less will reduce waste as well, and also help to solve the obesity epidemic that plagues North America.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 124 of our Green Year: Supporting The Rainforest

In the past 25 years, there have been a few hot button environment issues. Easily the big four have been climate change, ozone depletion, endangered species and the rain forest. While countries around the world and especially in Europe are doing what they can to limit global warming, the ozone is actually beginning to recover because of the banning of CFCs and some animals like the Grey wolf and bald eagle have actually bounced back from near extinction, there is still something that does not seem to be slowing down. It is the rainforest and for the past few decades it has been one of the biggest worries for life on Earth.
Before going into what we are doing to protect the rainforest as part of Our Green Year, some information about the world's rainforest is needed.
  • Before humans decided the Earth needed to be pillaged, rainforests covered 14 percent of the planet, now they cover six percent and what is left could be gone in 40 years.
  • One and a half acres are lost every single second. That means in the 20 minutes it took me to write this post and research it, 1,800 acres of rainforest will be lost. In the time it takes you to read it, about 90 acres will be lost.
  • Half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed in the next quarter century because of rainforest destruction.
  • Every single day, 137 plant, animal and insect species are destroyed because of rainforest deforestation. This is about 50,000 species a year. In the 124 days of Our Green Year so far, 16,988 species have disappeared from the rainforests, most before we even got a chance to understand them.
  • About 500 years ago, there was 10,000,000 natives living in the Amazonian Rainforest, now there is 200,000. Since the 1900s, 90 tribes have been destroyed by European colonists.
  • The Amazon Rainforest covers 1,000,000,000 acres. If it were a country, it would be the ninth largest country in the entire world.
  • About 20 percent of the world's oxygen comes from the Amazon Rainforest alone.
  • Half of the 10,000,000 species on the planet (plants, animals and insects) live in tropical rainforests. About 1/5 of the world's fresh water is also in the Amazon Basin.
  • In 2.47 acres of the rainforest, you will find 750 types of trees and 1,500 species of plants.
  • The rainforest feeds us with items that include avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, rice, squash, yams, black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, tumeric, coffee, vanilla, Brazil nuts and cashews.
  • About 3,000 different fruits are found in the rainforests, 200 of which are used in the western world.
  • About 25 percent of all the pharmaceuticals used in the West come from rainforest ingredients, but scientists have only tested one percent of the trees in the rainforest.
  • The U.S. National Cancer Institute has found 3,000 plants that are active fighters against cancer cells, and 70 percent of those come from the rainforests.
This is definetely food for thought, and while we will be doing more as Our Green Year moves on, today we are doing something everyone can do to help; clicking a mouse.

The RainForest Site is one of those great sites that uses the internet the way it should be used, just like the Free Rice site we mentioned weeks ago. As the site description says, "The Rainforest Site is dedicated to the preservation of rainforests around the world. Your daily click funds the purchase of rainforest land by The Nature Conservancy, The Rainforest Conservation Fund, The World Parks Endowment, and Rainforest2Reef. These organizations work to preserve rainforest land in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and other locations worldwide."

In total, 35,500 people from around the world come to the site each day to click, and so far 150,000,000 visitors have saved 40,500 acres of land.

If you have a free moment, go there and click to help save something that is very important to the Earth and us.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 123 of our Green Year: The Purchase Questions

Layla and I are committed to decreasing our possessions and are currently going through what we own to catalog it and determine what can stay and what can go. I have already decided to give away 90 percent of my books, which is not an easy thing for me to do. The books I am keeping are only ones that have sentimental value to me.

Now, since we are reducing our possessions to reduce consumption and prove we do not need a bunch of items to be happy, we are also not buying up a lot of things. In fact, Layla and I have come up with the Purchase Question System, which we use whenever we have to buy something that is not essential (food would be an essential purchase).

These questions we ask are:
  1. Does the cost of the item warrant the benefit we may receive from it? This means that if the benefit is just an immediate gratification (shoes we don't need) then it is not worth the long-term cost.
  2. How much will this product be used after its initial 'neatness' wears off? Buying one of those dancing electric animals is a perfect example of this. It may seem neat now, but it will end up in the closet soon enough.
  3. Can it be recycled or given away later? If it can, it makes buying it easier because someone else can get use out of it after we no longer use it.
  4. Where could this money be better spent? If it could go to bills, mortgage, charity or anything else instead of the product, maybe it should.
  5. Why are we buying this product? If the only reason is because we just saw it, then it is not a good buy. Impulse buys are not something we want to do. As well, if we buy it because we saw it on television, then maybe its not a good buy.
Those are just a few of the questions we will ask ourselves to ensure that everything we own is what we need.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 122 of our Green Year: Enjoying cold food

Layla and I have moved beyond eating meat for the most part. We still have bison burgers on occasion, but it is becoming rare. Well, after we stopped using our microwave because it was hooked up to a faulty breaker, we began to realize that we don't need to use it that much in reality.

It was through this that Layla and I discovered the joy of cold food. This is not to say that we will be eating cold steaks by any means, but that we are going to be planning some of our dinners, lunches and even breakfasts to be cold. Why you ask? To save energy.

Much of what we do here is to save energy. We want to be able to use as little energy as possible, which means that using no energy to make our food helps. We may go full steam ahead on the Raw Food Craze, but it is too soon to tell. Instead we will be looking at what we eat and determining if we can make something to eat that does not use energy.

Instead of porridge, we can have cold cereal, a grapefruit or fruit.
Instead of making soup for lunch, can have a sandwich.
Instead of cooking a large dinner, make a large platter with cold deli meat on it.

Of course, this does not mean we will always eat cold meals, but if we can commit to two or three days a week of cold food, that will help lower our energy costs and our carbon footprint as a result.
There is nothing wrong with cold food, especially when it is 38 Celsius where we live in the summer.

On a different note, Layla and I were recognized in the grocery store today because of our TV interview. It was a very cool experience, especially considering we were asked a bunch of green question. That is essentially the reason we do this, to help spread the word of going green!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 121 of our Green Year: Catching Pollutants Before The Storm Sewer Does

When people see water going into a storm sewer, they usually think that the water that goes there makes its way to a treatment plant. Sadly, this is far from the case. Actually, water that goes into a storm sewer goes directly back into the ecosystem. This wouldn't be a problem, but with so many pollutants on the roads and in driveways, a lot of other pollutants are getting into the environment and the local ecosystems.

Looking around a small town, or a big city, you can find many driveways with large oil stains on them, and the oil that is there makes its way into the storm sewer when it rains, causing environmental damage. Most people do not even realize it either.

As a result, Layla and I will be doing a few things to ensure that we can keep pollutants from heading into storm sewers. We don't drive much, but when we do we will deal with this.

  1. We will maintain our car and ensure all leaks are patched and filled so that oil or other pollutants do not drip.
  2. We will put paper under our car to see if there are any leeks. If there are, then we will do step three.
  3. We will put something to catch the pollutant so that we can take it to a recycle facility that handles oil, antifreeze and more.
It is easy to do, but you just have to make sure you stay on the top of it because there is no excuse for sending pollutants into the storm sewer and onward into the ecosystem, when it can be prevented.

We have a cool bit of news as well. The David Suzuki Nature Challenge Green Room is doing a story on us for their website, it can be found at This is a great website that everyone should check out because in the Canadian green movement, David Suzuki is leading the charge.

We would also like to spread the message of LiveSmart BC. LiveSmart BC is a provincial program in British Columbia that offers $12,325 in rebates for homeowners to make improvements on their homes to be more energy efficient. This is a great opportunity for people in British Columbia and you can find out more by visiting or

Lastly, we have some news from the province of Alberta, where the oil sands continue their destruction of the environment. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are touring the sites right now, and it is just in time for them to see the new two headed fish that was recently found. Parks Canada called it very unusual and a fish with an obvious abnormality, saying "I have never seen anything like it before." The native people who live in the area, they stated it was linked to the tar sands development and the contamination of the Athabasca River (where it was found). As George Poitras of the Mikesew Cree said, "Our elders tell us that what happens to the animals and the fish is just a sign of what will happen to humans."

Food for thought.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 120 of our Green Year: Hemp Hemp Hemp

Well we have hit four months into our green year! Four months (120 days) down, eight months (245 days) to go! It has been great so far in these four months and we are looking to eight more filled with success and of course, green messages.

Today, we are going to go green with the pets once again, but this time it is not with their food. In fact, this also concerns Layla and I because we will be going green with our clothing in the same way. How are we doing this? Through hemp of course.

Hemp is a natural, and one of the most ecologically-friendly materials in the world. Of course it has a bad name in some areas because of marijuana, but the truth is that hemp is natural, strong and environmentally-friendly. As a result, Layla and I have decided to go green with our pets and ourselves by using hemp.

First, we bought one of our dogs a collar and lead made of hemp, which is more natural, stronger and looks great. On top of that, Layla and I will be buying hemp clothing for ourselves from now on. It is a bit more expensive but the hemp clothing is not made in a sweat shop and we can be assured that what we buy is good for humanity, and the environment as well.

You can find hemp in several stores in your local city, and you can order them online. I highly recommend them as they are comfortable on your body. Here are just a few tidbits about the great fiber known as hemp.

  • Hemp holds its shape with one of the lowest percent elongation of any natural fiber.
  • Hemp has the best warmth and softness characteristics compared to other natural fibers.
  • Hemp has been around for 8,000 years as something humans use, and as early as 2,000 years ago, it was used as paper in China. Until 1883, as much as 90 percent of the paper on Earth was made with hemp fiber, including an early draft of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Hemp is a renewable resources that grows faster than trees, making it very cost-effective. Hemp also produces more pulp per acre than timber.
  • Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition and does not yellow as it ages. Hemp paper dating back 1,500 years has been found. You can even recycle hemp paper more times than wood-based paper.
So, in our household, it will be hemp all the way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Day 119 of our Green Year: Green Piggy Bank

There is a classic episode of The Simpsons, where Homer is found to have a sailor's mouth and Marge makes him put money in the swear jar every time he swears. Well, recently we came up with the great idea, that is to say Layla came up with it, to have a "Green Swear Jar". What is that exactly? Well, put simply it is a jar that you put money into every time you do something that is not green.

This is a great idea because not only does it teach you to stop doing things that are not green, but it also helps you save money to buy something that is green. Depending on how green you are in your life, you could have enough money for a solar panel, or even a personal wind turbine generator before you know it.

Layla made our Green Swear Jar from scratch using a yogurt container and some special wool. It looks great and it works great.

So, here is how you can work it for your own home in terms of how much is paid for each offense.

  • Leaving Light On: $2
  • Leaving Fridge Open: $5
  • Leaving TV on when you are not in the room: $10
  • Leaving car running or idling when you don't need to: $20
  • Using cleaners that are not 'green': $10
  • Using the vacuum on the kitchen floor instead of sweeping: $5
  • Using the dishwasher when you could be washing by hand: $10
  • Taking a shower longer than 5 minutes: $2 per minute
  • Leaving the water running anywhere at any time: $5 per minute
You can even print up tickets on recycled paper (that will be recycled later) so everyone in the house knows that they did something wrong.

Why not try it out in your own house and let us know how it goes! If you make your own Green Swear Jar, send us a photo at and we will put it up here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 118 of our Green Year: Making Our Own Moisturizer

Recently, I read an article that stated some moisturizers, when tested on mice, caused cancer. Naturally this caused some worry for Layla and I because a moisturizer is supposed to make your skin feel nice, not give you cancer. However, as we have learned in Our Green Year, there are a lot of things that cause cancer, and most of them seem to be finding their way into our products.

As a result, Layla and I will be making our own moisturizer because then we will know exactly what goes into the moisturizer and we don`t have to worry that something which is supposed to be nice for us, actually being bad for us.

All you do to make your own moisturizer is take the following ingredients:

  • One tablespoon of olive oil
  • One tablespoon of coconut oil
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons of mashed strawberries
Mix together the olive, coconut and vegetable oils in a small bowl, then stir in the strawberries. Put it all into a covered jar and stick it in the refrigerator. It will keep here for weeks, giving you ample time to use it all.

That is all it takes to have nice skin, from a moisturizer that is cancer-free.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day 117 of our Green Year: Learning To Be Energy Conservers With Cell Phones

It seems like nearly every person on Earth has a cell phone, and all those cell phones need to be charged. Each cell phone on average uses .006 kilowatts per hour to charge. Each takes about two hours to charge once per week. This may not seem like much, and it is not, but as with so many other things with the environment, the devil is in the quantity. About 2.7 billion people have cell phones. So, if they all use their cell phones on a weekly basis, and need to charge their cell phones for two hours a week, that amounts to 16,200,000 (16.2 million) kilowatts per hour, or 32,400,000 (32.4 million) kilowatts used on average for a two hour charge by all cell phone subscribers per week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and you get 1,684,800,000 (1.6 billion) kilowatts per hour used by everyone on Earth each year to charge their cell phones.

The big problem here is that only five percent of the power used by the charger is used to charge the cell phone. Roughly 95 percent of the power comes from people leaving their cell phones plugged in longer than they need to. If everyone on Earth only charged their cell phones as long as they needed to, it would save over one billion kilowatt hours per year, enough to power thousands of homes. All it takes is keeping an eye on the charge and unplugging it when it is ready. Some people think that removing their phone from the charger does the trick, but it will still result in electricity going to the charger and being wasted.

As a result, Layla and I will be ensuring that not only will we keep an eye on our cell phone charge, but we will also look at other ways to charge cell phones that do not use the power grid, including connecting it to a solar power panel, of which we will be buying in the future.

Other things we can all do to reduce the energy use of cell phones is to look at solar powered cell phones, which will soon be coming on the market thanks to companies like Konarka Technologies.
You can also make sure your cell phone is clean and free of small bits of debris where the site of the charger plugs in. This will give a cleaner connection and better energy efficiency.

You can also conserve the energy on the cell phone by turning off the illumination during the day, sounds, vibrations and more. The less you use the cell phone, the longer the charge will last and the less energy you will take from the grid.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 116 of our Green Year: Visiting Farmer's Markets

In our town, every Saturday, there is a large farmer's market that goes on. Here you will find nearly anything you could want, from honey and mittens to beef and paintings. It is a great place to visit and as part of Our Green Year, Layla and I will be visiting the Farmer's Market tomorrow for a variety of reasons that apply to our green initiative.

1. It supports local producers of everything from fruit and meat to honey and painters. We can support them and provide them with the ability to work their craft. This then helps support the local community as well.

2. The food is organic and natural. You can get all sorts of food here without having to worry about pesticides or any other type of harmful ingredients on the food.

3. We get exercise by walking to the farmer's market. Why drive there when you can enjoy a beautiful day?

4. We establish community connections. Too often people do not know those who live in their community. Therefore, we will be establishing connections with our community by integrating and interacting with those who make up the community. It is a great way to get to know your neighbors.

The farmer's market is a great place to be green and meet others who want to be green.

Also, Layla and I recently appeared in Organic Lifestyle Magazine, (link on the right hand side of page). It was great to help spread our 10 tips for living green and we are happy to be a regular feature now. Check out the magazine at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 115 of our Green Year: The Toilet Rule

There is a golden rule of toilets in Western Civilization, and that is when you are done your business, you flush everything down. However, this can be very wasteful because each flush takes about five to 15 liters down with it. That seems like a lot when you don't have to actually flush every single time.

Hence, we are going to start going by the rule here of if it is brown, flush it down, but if it is yellow just let it mellow.

This is not for everyone of course, but Layla and I figure that with the huge amount of controversy in our own town about the watershed, we would like to find a way to deal with conserving water, since we conserve water nearly everywhere else already. We barely water our lawn, we reuse shower water, catch rain water, wash clothes by hand and even wash dishes by hand. For that reason, we think it is time to begin conserving water in in the toilet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 114 of our Green Year: Helping The Environment With Little Meat Eating

A recent report put out by the United Nations said that “Livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of bio diversity. Using a methodology that considers the entire commodity chain, it estimates that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport.”

This is a serious problem, and while we only eat buffalo and bison, if there was the same amount of buffalo and bison as there were cows, the problem would be the exact same. As a result, Layla and I are going to start eating less and less meat and going more and more vegan with what we eat. This is the most direct way to help make a dent in the 18 percent greenhouse gas emissions that are put into the air from cows, especially from transport.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 113 of our Green Year: Hiking Green

About a month and a half ago, Layla and I took part in the Mount Roberts hike, a tradition in our small town. It involved hiking to the Canadian flag on top of the mountain over the course of a day. It was a long and difficult hike, but it was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed it. In fact, we have always enjoyed hiking and while hiking is a very green thing to do, it can be even greener, hence why Layla and I are committing to be very green with our hiking beyond the 'leave only footprints' methodology.

The first thing we will be doing is buying second hand equipment, rather than the new and pricey equipment available through many retailers. We will do this because then we can help someone else re-use something, instead of having it thrown into the landfill.

The second thing we will be doing is ensuring we only hike on prescribed trails. There will be no hiking through areas that we are not supposed to because we may inadvertently be damaging sensitive plant species by walking where we should not.

The third thing we will be doing is packing lunches for hikes in reusable containers at all times. That way we do not create any garbage, we do not take away from the environment to make one-use only plastic wrap and we help keep the world a bit greener.

Lastly, we will only take pictures in the wilderness and nothing else. There will be no picking flowers or anything else while we are in the forest.

Hiking is very green, but it is possible to go even greener when you are hiking out there, and Layla and I will be doing that to help us become even greener when we do something we love.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 112 of our Green Year: Cleaning The Oven

One of the worst things you can do to your body, apart from drug-using, is cleaning the oven. Cleaning the oven uses harmful chemicals, dangerous aromas and a multitude of other things that can severely damage your health.
Two years ago, when Layla was cleaning the oven before a move, she ended up with her skin peeling off her fingers and severe cracking of the skin for a few weeks after. This was while she wore gloves as well.

As a result, finding a green solution to cleaning the oven is very important. We have looked around for several 'organic' oven cleaners but they have not been found, at least by us. However, in a previous blog we mentioned that vinegar could be used to clean ovens, and one of our long-time readers, Eryn (who has provided many tips herself), decided to try it out and this is what she had to say:

"For the record, vinegar worked like a charm! It isn't absolutely perfect (my husband did it and I don't think he used as much elbow grease as I would have) but it only took about 10 minutes and the blackened yuckiness just wiped off."

Naturally, vinegar is not going to work as good as chemical cleaners that could eat their way through cement if you left them long enough, but they will do a good job as long as your oven is not caked in old and cooked food.

There are plenty of cleaning tips we have mentioned in this blog over the past 112 days, including using vinegar and baking soda to unclog drains, using lemon juice as a disinfectant and more, so be sure to check them out.

Do you have some cleaning tips we may not have thought of? Let us know and we will try it out and do a blog about it. E-mail us at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 111 of our Green Year: Making our own detergent

One of our readers, Paula, was nice enough to let us know about a great laundry detergent recipe that you can use when you don't want to use some of the other types of detergents, a few of which are used on animals when they are in the testing phase.

Paula said that the detergent has been used to clean everything from her husband's work clothes, to her baby's diapers and it works on everything in-between, making it a very cheap and effective laundry detergent.

To make the laundry soap, take the following ingredients:

One part grated soap bar
Two parts Borax
Two parts washing soda

Mix this together and you have some great laundry soap!

That is how easy it is to go green sometimes, you just need a bit of know-how to create some great laundry soap.

Do you have some tips of what we could do to go green? Let us know by dropping us a line!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 110 of our Green Year: Green Gift Giving

My dad celebrated his birthday on Thursday, and today we are holding a big birthday party for him at my parent's farm. As a result, there will be a lot of gift giving going on, and Layla and I have decided to make our gift giving a bit more green than it has been in years past for birthdays. So, here are some great ways that we have, and you can, go green with gift giving.

These are easy ways to go green with your gift giving and help out the environment in the process.

  1. Only buy something a person is going to use. There is no point buying them a singing bass that they will think is cute for the first hour, and annoying for the next ten years.
  2. Try and buy a consumable gift like organic tea, coffee, fruit fresh flowers and anything else that will not take away from the environment when you give it to someone.
  3. Donate money to a charity in the name of the person. This may seem like a cheep way to go, but it is actually a very thoughtful gift and the right person will really appreciate it.
  4. Make a gift yourself like a sweater or anything else that could eventually be considered a family heirloom. The person you give the gift to will love it.
  5. Buy a gift that is made or produced in your local area. You will be able to support your local economy by doing this, and hopefully help keep a local shop in business for a little while longer as they compete against the big companies in town. You also save the environment because you don't have to have the gift shipped to you, which creates emissions.
  6. Always think about the packaging before you give someone a gift. This is very important because to go green you have to think about the gift itself, and the packaging that goes along with it. Too many people forget about this.
No matter whose birthday it is, or how much money you may have, it is possible to go green when you are getting a gift for someone.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day 109 of our Green Year: Curse That Junk Mail!

A few months ago, Layla and I signed up to limit the amount of junk mail that we get and it has actually made a nice dent in the amount we receive on a weekly basis. Of course we no longer hear about the 'Super Amazing Deals!' that are on in our area but some how we will just have to survive.

However, even with our junk mail reduction, some still makes it through and we don't think there is a way to stop these bits of junk mail. These items include:

  1. A local newspaper that we don't really read.
  2. Updates from local politicians who tout being friends of the environment while sending out 20,000 newsletters.
  3. City notices.
  4. Other little flyers sent out by businesses in the area.
We don't want to throw these items out and with our motto Re-use then Recycle, we want to use the paper for something before we go and recycle it. Recently, we found these ideas on the internet.

  1. We can make little paper trees that will be put up in our house to help accentuate the real trees that we have. To make them you just do the following using junk mail, bristol paper, glue, scissors and a cutting surface. Adhere the bristol paper to the junk mail to make it nice and firm, then draw trees on the bristol paper, and then make perpendicular cuts to the base of each tree. Half the trees that should go up three-quarters up them, and the other half should go one-quarter down. Then erase any pencil marks and cut them out. After that, slide the two different pieces so they lock into place and you have some great trees.
  2. Since we only really get paper and not glossy paper in the mail anymore, we can shred what we have and use it for mulch in the garden or our indoor plants. We just can't use colored paper for it.
  3. We also make paper out of the junk mail paper. It is hard to write on something that is covered with words, so we need it to be clear. To do this, we rip the junk mail into very small pieces using your hands. After this, put the junk mail pieces in the blender with some water. the ratio should be 3:1 in favor of junk mail. Adding less water gives thicker paper. Then you pour the mixture on a window screen and let it drain completely. Put the mixture onto a towel and let it get completely dry. Then you can use your new, and recycled, paper.
That is all there is to dealing with the junk mail that seems to get through.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 108 of our Green Year: Recycling At The Movies

Today, Layla and I went to our first movie in two years; Kung Fu Panda. It was a really great movie, and the best part of it is that we went in there with nothing and came out with a variety of items that we will be reusing at our home.

We are not big on going to the movies, we actually prefer watching them at home or online. However, as we are partly on vacation, we decided it would be good to go see a movie we have both wanted to see, while seeing if we could be green about it.

  1. Receipts - The receipts of the movies will be re-used as to-do lists, bookmarks and more.
  2. Popcorn Tub - It is not the healthiest thing to eat, it is not something local but its hard to go to the movies and not have one. We are using the reusable tub as a pot for plants at our home. It is a good size and will work perfectly.
  3. Drink cups - The drink cups we also have will be re-used as flower pots as well, or anything else we may need for storage once they are cleaned.
As you can see, going to the movies can be just like camping; leaving only footprints. You can recycle what you get, and you can enjoy a great movie in the process.

Also, Layla and I hit 3,000 hits today and are going strong. That means we have a daily hit total of about 27 hits over the course of our 108 days. Thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point and we are going strong and hope to keep getting more and more hits every day to spread the green message.

If you want to talk green, drop us a line at If you want us to speak to a class or anything like that, remotely or in person, let us know. Layla and I are very committed to teaching others about going green and can help out in any way we can.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 107 of our Green Year: Learning From The Past

Today, for Our Green Year, Layla and I traveled back in time to learn about the world as it once was. Now, we did not literally go back in time of course, but instead we went to a living history museum to get some ideas for how we can go green. The reason for this is that to really go into the future of going green, we need to actually take a step back into the past. The past holds our future because in the past there was not electricity, gas or anything like that to help people live their day-to-day lives. As a result, they had to essentially find green ways to live their lives, without realizing they were being green.

Through our journey in the living history museum, we learned about putting sod on our roof to help insulate the roof and keep things cool. We learned about things we knew about, like making butter, and we learned about how important it was to have animals on your farm to ensure you always had food.

We also learned all the great things you could do with a wood stove and how people could live for 10,000 plus years without television, so we don't really need it now. One thing I noticed about going through this living history museum is that as more and more people move into the cities, and more and more people are located in one area, they seem to know the people around them less and less. There are many reasons for this, including suburbia, the television, video games and more, but there is something to be said about being able to sit on the grass and watch a performance with the people of your town, all of whom you know.

We have some great ideas now and we have learned to respect the past to find our green solutions in the future.

Also, we received our carbon offset certificate from CarbonFund.Org, and I encourage all of you to do the same. It is literally the least you can do to help mother nature.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 106 of our Green Year: Learning The Secret Hypermiling

As people try and get by on high gas prices, the craze of hypermiling becomes more and more popular. Hypermiling really is not a bad thing when you think about it. It is getting the most miles per gallon out of your car, which in turn helps curb emissions and protect the environment. It is not always easy to do, and it can be dangerous (following close behind a semi-truck to limit wind resistance), but Layla and I are going to give it a shot so that we can use less emissions when we drive, which is rare as it is.

First, we will try and travel light. With an extra 100 pounds of cargo, the miles per gallon can be reduced by two percent. Whatever does not need to be in the car can be removed, so don't be afraid to limit your cargo when you drive.

Second, when we are parking, we will back into parking spaces when we can. The reason for tihs is that cold engines use more fuel, so a three-point back-up job is more efficient at the end of a trip when the engine is hot.

Third, we will try and use cruise control when we can because accelerating can burn your miles per gallon. If you use the acceleration button on the cruise control it will burn less gas than the lightest tough on the gas pedal. This is not always easy for us to do, since we live in the mountains of B.C. and cruise control can be dangerous there, but we will try when we can.

Fourth, braking very gently will save fuel, so we will be doing that than slowing down suddenly. Doing this right can save a few percent on your miles per gallon.

Fifth, we will not be exceeding the speed limit since the faster you drive, the faster you burn your fuel and the less miles per gallon that you get. As well, we save money because we won't be getting pulled over for going over the legal speed limit.

Sixth, we have already decided to get rid of the air conditioning, and its a good thing considering it can lower your miles per gallon efficiency.

There are other things you can do to save on fuel and get better miles per gallon, but these are dangerous and Layla and I will not be doing them as we would prefer to arrive at our destinations in one piece. These are things like:

  • Driving far below the speed limit.
  • Taking corners at very high speeds.
  • Coasting with the engine off.
  • Passing red lights and stop signs when there is little traffic.
  • Over-inflating tires to reduce resistance when rolling on the road.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Day 105 of our Green Year: Dealing with Napkins

Layla and I went out for dinner for the first time in a long time recently, and one thing we noticed was that when your food comes, you get a lot of napkins. Usually this is more napkins than you will actually use and the ones you don't use are often thrown away with whatever is left on your plate.

It is a needless waste and it is unfortunate considering how many trees are often cut down to make things like napkins. As a result, Layla and I have decided there will be a couple things we will do to keep from wasting napkins.

First, we will be trying to bring our own reusable napkin from home. This can be something like a small, thin cloth, like a handkerchief, and it is something we can take with us wherever we go so that we can also help eliminate Kleenex from our lives. Then, when we are at the restaurant, we can use our own napkin, and not any the restaurant provides, which helps to reduce waste.

The second thing we do will be if we forget our handkerchief at home. This is to take all the napkins we are given and bring them home to reuse them or recycle them. This will keep us from having too much waste and it will help eliminate waste by recycling the napkins.

Going green can be something small, just like buying a handkerchief, and that is one of the main messages we are trying to teach with Our Green Year.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 104 of our Green Year: Turning off lights

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, you may be thinking 'But Craig, you guys already did something like this!', and that is true. However, this blog is not about turning off lights of our own home, but lights wherever we go. Lights are on all the time it seems, even in daylight. Even here visiting family, we are turning off lights that are left on by a lovely old grandmother and we are trying to do the same elsewhere.

When we use a public washroom and if no one else is in it (works great for individual washrooms), we turn out the lights. If we are somewhere where a light does not need to be on, we will turn it off. Just doing this little bit can help the environment because every little bit counts.

Turning off lights is really one of the easiest things you can do, as the brilliant marketing campaign of FLICK OFF has shown us (if you don't see why it is brilliant, keep looking at the capitalized words). We can turn off our own lights of course, but it can be just as good to turn the lights off elsewhere. If you are the last one out of a building, turn the light off. If you are the last to use a public washroom, turn out the light. Even at the home of family and friends, turn out their lights if they have forgotten to, or chosen not to.

It is true, going green can be as easy as flicking a switch!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day 103 of our Green Year: No More Chips

In the move towards going organic and green with what we eat, Layla and I have decided to get rid of a lot of the foods that we enjoy. We no longer eat certain types of snacks, and most types of pop are far gone for us because of what they contain. This progression to completely healthy and organic foods continues with our decision to no longer buy chips that are not all natural. The move to do this comes from a highly disturbing news story we read yesterday about a well-known chip company.

Three potato chip companies have agreed to lower the levels of a chemical that causes cancer in their products, after a settlement lawsuit. In case you did not read that properly, it said "LOWER" not "REMOVE". This means that the cancer ingriedient is important enough to the process to make the chips, but not bad enough (according to the company) to remove. There is an equation many companies use that tests if it is more profitable to leave something in that is danger, than it is to take it out. So, if the removal and changing of the process costs more than the estimated lawsuits, a company will choose to simply pay the lawsuits, despite how it ruins lives.
The chemical is acrylamide and that does not mean that acrylamide is out of the food you eat if you don't eat those chips. It was reduced by 50 percent in Pringles potato chips in January, and McDonald's, KFC, Wendy's and Burger King all will be posting warnings.

So, there will be no more chips for us unless they are all natural. We were able to find a great company in Cranbrook that makes all-natural pita chips, but we are also going to make our own. All you need is some pita bread, then you rip it into pieces, bake it in the oven (or solar cooker) and then sprinkle cinnemon and hummis on it. It gives great flavoring, it is very healthy and it tastes amazing.

When you see the ingredients of some of the products we used to eat, it is no surprise that cancer exists all around us in growing numbers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Day 102 of our Green Year: Carbon Offsetting

No matter what Layla and I do, unless we completely go off the grid and not go into civilization at all for anything, we are going to have a carbon footprint. It is an unfortunate byproduct of our society that no matter how green we want to be, there will still be cases where we cause a detriment to the environment. Perhaps it is just our nature as humans to destroy what caters to us, even if it is in a completely unintentional manner.

As a result, Layla and I have decided to find a way to ensure that we can offset what we do by helping the environment, rather than taking something away from it. One way we do this is with Layla's work with the Provincial Green Party, and our work as directors with Natural Control Alternatives. However, there is an even better way to do this and a more direct way, and it comes in the form of carbon offsetting.

Carbon offsetting is a financial instrument that represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsets are measured in carbon dioxide-equivalent, and one carbon offset represents a reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide.

We have chosen, which will allow us to purchase carbon offsets to in easy packages of home, car and air. Since we do not travel by air and barely use the car, we are going to be purchasing home packages each month to offset the amount of carbon we generate in our home. It will cost us $5.50 per metric ton of carbon dioxide. According to our calculations we have reduced our CO2 output from about eight tonnes per year to two tonnes per year, which means we will purchase at least two carbon offset credits. However, we will most likely purchase several more beyond that.

Now, it should be pointed out that just because we buy carbon offsets, that does not mean we can now leave the lights on all the time. Instead, we will continue to reduce what we have, while paying into carbon offsets that will fund environmental programs and help push renewable energy.