Friday, October 31, 2008
This is a great little tip that everyone can do, and it is even one of the acts listed on One Million Acts of Green from CBC. Obviously, you should not close vents in rooms that you use a great deal, but you can even close vents in rooms that you only use on occasion. For example, close the vents to the bedroom during the day, and open them about an hour or two before you go to bed. That should be more than enough time to help heat up the room, but you won't have wasted heat on that room when you do not need to. Also, remember to turn down your thermostat at night to limit the amount of heat that is generated when everyone is sleeping (hence the reason to open the vents an hour or two before you turn down the temperature. If it is a bit cold in the bedroom because you closed the vent, then that is just a good excuse to cuddle in bed!
Happy Halloween and Samhain to everyone! Remember to stop vampires in your house by preventing these power suckers from drawing power on things that do not need to be plugged in! Unplug your things when not in use.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
First, you need the following ingredients:
- Tablespoon of sugar
- Half a cup of milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
- 6 tablespoons of rock salt or regular salt
- One large Ziploc-type bag
- One small Ziploc-type bag
- Enough ice to fill half the bag
This is actually a quick and simple way to make ice cream, and it is relatively cost effective for how much you get.
More sad news on the environment front. It turns out that roughly one-third of all the fish-stock (small to medium fish) that is caught each year, is wasted on livestock. The sardines, anchovies, small fish and larger fish are often used for livestock feed because it is cheaper, despite alternatives like soy being much better for the animals.
As our fish stocks collapse (studies show as much as half of the ocean's species will be gone in 20 years), it is sad to hear that so many fish are being wasted when they do not need to be. Over-fishing is bad enough, wasting those caught is even worse.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
- Put all business computers, printers and other electronics in the office to sleep. This is important to do because they use much less energy. We only put them to sleep when we are working during the day and we are not in the room. During the evening, all electronics will be shut off completely.
- No more wireless in the office. While it would be nice to take our laptops anywhere in the house, we have committed to having our laptops fixed in one location and connected to our internet through cables, not wireless. The reason is that we recently read a story that said having your wireless set to On on the computer actually causes it to use a lot of energy. So, to save energy we turn of wireless and connect directly to the internet that way.
- Since we run our office from home, we do not have to drive to the office. We also do all our business over the net and phone so we rarely have to drive anywhere, thereby saving gas.
- All our ink cartridges are recycled or re-filled, rather than simply buying new ones.
- We never print anything off unless it is absolutely necessary (as per a previous blog we did).
- All lights in the office are CFL lights (as per a previous blog we did)
- All electronics will be recycled properly (as per a previous blog we did)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
- Skip buying plastic costumes. Many contain PVC, which releases dangerous chemicals.
- If you are going to be using makeup for your costume, try and buy organic make-up for your costume.
- The best option is to make your costume out of things in the house so that you are re-using what you already have and not consuming anything from stores for your costume. You would be surprised by the good costumes you can make out of household goods.
- If you have kids, the best course of action is to make a costume at home so that you can then re-use those items in the house again. While married couples can get away with buying a French maid costume and using it more than once, it is unlikely your kid is going to dress as Superman after Halloween, so make your kid's costume re-usable.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Naturally, since we are smack in the middle of Our Green Year, we figure that this year we should go with green Halloween treats, rather than the typical Halloween treats that are given away in the past. These treats can range from organic chocolate to organic lollipops, and they are a great way to help the Earth and to educate the kids during the Halloween season.
You can also choose treats that have little or no packaging, since packaging produces fossil fuels and not all packaging can be recycled. It is also very important to buy treats that are made locally, so you can support the local economy and reduce the CO2 used.
If you do not want to give any candy away, you can give away things that can be used like pencils, crayons and more.
At the ranch, we will be giving away some treats that we make here. This may not work in the city where many people do not know, nor trust those in their neighborhood, but many people in this area know those we live with and have known them for many years. Their kids know them too and there is no worry about the treats being tainted.
If you want, you can give away healthy treats like fruit, but again these may be thrown away by parents and therefore wasted, or they may not be appreciated by the kids and you could find yourself cleaning eggs off your house the next day. All in good fun on Halloween! :)
Recently, I saw an article that said Africa could solve its food crisis if it did not use the Western way of agriculture with pesticides and herbicides, and instead began growing their agriculture organically. In a study by the United Nations, through an analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries, they found that yields doubled when organic methods were used. In East Africa, that jump was as much as 128 percent.
If you are doing things green this Halloween, why not let us know by sending us some pictures of your kids dressed in recycled clothing or costumes, or you making Halloween treats out of organic products. You can send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Last week, I was watching CBC Newsworld when they broadcast a story about CBC's One Million Acts of Green. It was an interesting concept and it follows what Layla and I are trying to do, which is making a series of small changes in our lives that we hope will add up to big change.
For CBC's initiative, they want to have one million acts of green that are small, but add up to one big change. As it is described on the website, "It is not about overhauling your life; it's about one act from each individual amassing to a million. It can be as simple as switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs, starting a recycling program or walking to work. You can do one act, or you can do all one million! It's up to you."
This is a great idea and kudos to CBC for showing that small changes can make a big difference for the environment. With Our Green Year, we know that not everyone can do what we do. However, as we have stressed in our interviews with media, if we can do 365 green things, someone else can do 10. If one million people do ten things, that adds up to a huge difference.
So, for this blog, we are promoting One Million Acts of Greens and asking you all to register your acts of green as we have. As of this writing, the total on the website is at 89,498 green things done and 6.1 million kilograms of greenhouse gases saved. Good for you CBC!
Thank you to Jim Caudill from Bonterra, who was nice enough to drop me an e-mail and thank Layla and I for talking about his vineyard yesterday.
He sent us a pdf file that showed his vineyard has been growing organic grapes since 1987, well before green was the new buzz word for business. If you are interested in seeing the pdf, which also talks about the organic industry and is actually quite interesting, send me an e-mail to email@example.com
In an effort to help show people what not to do in terms of going green, a good friend of ours, Jay in Ontario, dressed as me during a Halloween party at his sister Min's house, and took a series of shots of him/me doing bad environmental things. Here are the photos below:
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Layla and I want to make sure that when we have wine to celebrate New Years Eve, our anniversary or Christmas, that it is wine that was grown in a sustainable manner. Hence, from now on we will ensure that the wine we do buy is wine that is organic and sustainable. Some of the varieties that we have found, and will try out to find the best, are the following:
- Tiny Medlock Ames is in Sonoma and it uses 100 percent solar powered machinery, sheep to trim weeds and organic grapes for its Bell Mountain Ranch Red.
- Bonterra has 1,000 acres of natural and organic vineyards in Ukiah, California, where they deal with pests by using native insects. They produce Syrah, which is a great wine from what we have read.
- In Oregon, you will find Cooper Mountain, a 123 acre estate that has organic and salmon safe wine (don't know why salmon play into it but they do). They joined a carbon emissions elimination program with 23 other Oregon wineries as well. Their signature wine is the Pinot Noir.
There are also plenty of organic beers out there, or you can make your own like one of our readers does. if you want organic beer, which by law has to be 95 percent made from organic ingredients, you can try the following blends.
- Butte Creek Brewing's Mateveza
- Veec Acai Spirit
- 4 Copas (the only organic tequila in the world)
- Maison Jomere
Below is a picture of me with the new Greenpeace calendar. Purchases of the calendar go towards helping Greenpeace keep the world clean and safe for the environment.
Friday, October 24, 2008
First, we try and look at our dog's mouth about twice a month to check for bleeding gums, pale gums, tartar, decay, sores and broken teeth. This is done so that we can make sure that he is healthy. Despite what many would think, the mouth can tell you a lot about the health of the body, even for us.
Second, bacteria can cause a lot bad breath and there is a lot of bacteria build up in old water. So, in our house we take the water that is more than two days old in Niko's bowl and we put it in the plants, then we refresh his water. However, this only has to be done on occasion because Niko drinks most of his water within two days since he has a small bowl. Most of the water that is collected each day is put into the water bowls for the dogs and is never more than a day or so old.
Three, a raw carrot is great to clear away plaque on a dog's teeth and they are a good source of vitamin A, C and fiber.
Lastly, we will be looking for organic dog treats that can help clean our dog's teeth. As well, we will begin making our own treats, as we have started to do, that will help keep the dog's mouth fresh and healthy.
Got some green tips for fighting bad breath in your dog's mouth, let us know with an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, October 23, 2008
- If you sprinkle some dry green tea leaves on the carpet, then crush them lightly into it and let sit, they will refresh your carpet. After you let them sit for 10 minutes, vacuum them up and they will deodorize your vacuum cleaner as well.
- Instead of using no-scent cat litters, just put some green tea leaves into the kitty litter with baking soda and you will get rid of the smell. Green tea can also be used to deter fleas.
- Put some green tea in the pet's bed or on their pillow and it will help get rid of the pet odors. If you have gunpowder tea leaves, then you can give it to your dogs so they can roll around in it because they like the smell.
- Many people put baking soda in fridges to get rid of smells, but you can use green tea bags or leaves in a small bowl. These will re-absorb all the odors in your fridge within three days. After you take the bowl out three days later, you can sprinkle the leaves around ferns, roses and other plants.
- If you like to cook, as I do, and you are preparing fish or garlic, you can rub your hands with wet green tea leaves to get rid of the smell after you are done using those ingredients. You can also rub wet green tea leaves on your cutting board to get rid of smells.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Borax is a natural mineral compound that has a pH of around 9, which makes it very useful for cleaning, especially considering its pH is higher than that of baking soda. It is slighly acidic, so wearing gloves is always important. Irritation to the skin can occur after prolonged contact. It is great for deterring mice as well, but here are some other tips too:
- Take one cup of Borax and put it into the toilet bowl before you go to sleep. Let it sit there, and the next morning clean the bowl with brush. The Borax will loosen all the grime and make it very easy to clean the bowl.
- If your dogs have fleas, then you can sprinkle Borax in their beds, on the carpet and anywhere else you think there may be harboring fleas (except on the animals). It should be noted that Borax is a boric acid, and that means it is slightly poisonous. However, to harm your dog or yourself, you or the dog would have to ingest a very large amount of it. put the Borax on the bed and then after a few hours, wash it well.
- Got mold in your house, then make a Borax and water paste and smear it on the moldy area, let it dry overnight and then sweep off the powder and rinse off the area.
- You can make a great laundry detergent out of Borax as well. You can find that post here.
- To use it as an all-purpose cleaner, mix two teaspoons of Borax with two cups of very hot water in a spray bottle, then shake to blend.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Thankfully, as with most things, there are eco-friendly stain removers, and these are the types of stain removers Layla and I will be using in the future.
Most stains can be removed by using soap, elbow grease (that means hard work) and water. However, here are some tips for common stains.
- Coffee: If you can tackle this right away with soap and water, you should be able to get it out. Wait too long and you may be out of luck.
- Fruit: If you have a fruit stain, you can put lemon on the stain and wash it out with that. Again, the sooner you do this the better.
- Mildew: We learned two days ago that tea tree oil can get this out, but you can also wash the garment in hot water (by hand) and then air dry it.
- Oil or Grease: Put some cornstarch, or even baking soda, on the stain and then place the clothing with the stain side down on a large rag on an ironing board. You should iron the clothing with the iron. This should make the oil and grease stains come out quite easily. The reason you have to use a hot iron (even an old style one that heats up on a fire) is because heat is needed to get the oil and grease out of the clothes.
- Rust: If you have rust on your clothes, soak it in a solution of one part lemon juice and one part water for thirty minutes.
- Sweat stains: Just wash this normally (by hand for us) and then air-dry it outside. The sun's natural bleaching properties, and lower temperatures outside the dryer will keep the stains from turning yellow.
Do you have some stain removal tips that are green, which we did not mention here? Send us an e-mail or leave a comment. You can reach us at email@example.com. Send us photos of your own green solutions and endeavors as well and we will put them up here.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Previously, Layla and I have mentioned the uses of baking soda and vinegar in the house, and as it turns out, they can be used to clear drains, as Layla and I have demonstrated to media on occasion. First, to keep everything clear in the drain before it clogs, pour one cup of baking soda, and three cups of boiling water down the drain. Do this a few times and your drains will be nice and clear, instead of ready to clog.
Another method is to pour vinegar and baking soda into the drain, which will react together to unclog the drains. It creates a cool reaction, and it is safe for the environment.
Here are same startling statistics given to us by a fan who read it in the Edmonton Sun.
- The average baby uses 10,000 diapers before being toilet trained. Each year, 1,000,000,000 trees go to the use of making diapers.
- By the age of six months, the average Canadian consumes the same amount of resources as a person in the developing world does in their entire lives.
- North America has eight percent of the world's population, consumes 33 percent of the world's resources, and produces half of the world's non-organic garbage.
- Only one percent of all the water on Earth is usable. Only two percent is in the poles, the rest is in the oceans.
- One ton of newspapers can be recycled to save 19 trees.
- The average North American throws away 600 times their weight in garbage during their life.
- Canadians produce seven million tons of organic waste each year, 66 percent of which is compostable. In fact 70 percent of all landfill waste is recyclable or re-usable, and 35 percent of municipal solid waste is packaging.
Today was a busy day for Layla and I, and we have some pictures for you of some of our activities today.
Here is a photo of Layla after she made some awesome organic doggy donuts out of Certified Organic ingredients.'
A close up of those yummy doggy donuts.
Here is a photo of me doing some hand-washing of my shirts today.
This is me drying said shirts next to the fire.
Here is a photo of me taking the shower water we collect and putting it in a container for the animal's water.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Here are some other cool tips for Australian tea tree oil that Layla and I will be using.
- Grout Spray: Use the same formula as mentioned above and you will be able to kill the mold that may exist in certain areas of your home. You can remove that musty smell of mold with this mixture, just do not rinse the residue off.
- If a dog, cat or person has thrown up on the floor, or there is blood somewhere, you can use tea tree oil in the above formula as an anti-septic solution as well. Just spray it where the blood or vomit is and get rid of any nasty germs or bacteria.
- If you take half a teaspoon of tea tree oil and put it in with your laundry, it will keep them from getting moldy. Layla and I will be doing this when we cold-hand wash our clothes over the coming weeks to see if it deals with musty smells as well.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
At the ranch, we have bought one pumpkin so far. We bought it from the organic store so that we could get one that was completely organic, but that is not where our green pumpkin ideas stop. First, we empty out the pumpkin and turn that into some awesome pumpkin pie filling. We had some of this for Thanksgiving and it was great. Since there are five people here, pumpkin pie is going to be welcome for the next few weeks as well.
Also, last week, Layla saved the seeds, baked them and then served them as a great treat for our Thanksgiving guests, and to our birds. For our future pumpkins, we will be doing the same. Feeding birds pumpkin seeds is completely safe, and even Dr. Ellen Dierenfeld who is a nutritionist at the St. Louis Zoo says they accept pumpkin seed donations after Halloween to feed the animals.
Naturally, we will make Jack-O-Lanterns, even though we do not get trick or treaters because we are so far out. After the Halloween season is done, we will compost all of our pumpkins so that they can help the soil for our garden in coming years.
We also took all the refuse out of the garden today and moved it into compost to help give the dirt we will use in the future some extra nutrients.
HAPPY SIX MONTH ANNIVERSARY TO US! This is a great day for us because it means we have hit a half-way point for Our Green Year. As of today, we have had 180 posts, appeared on two TV stations, three radio stations, two newspapers, some blogs and even a couple websites. We have also had 5,779 hits as of this post, which amounts to about 963 hits per month. Not too shabby. Thank you to everyone who has come by our blog and offered their comments, and thank you to everyone who is helping to make this a great initiative that can inspire others to go green as well.
In regards to global warming, here are some startling numbers from Discover Magazine.
$1,873,000,000,000 - The cost of climate change world wide by the year 2100 if nothing changes from this point on. This includes costs due to real estate losses because of rising sea levels, drought and hurricane damage.
1.13 x 10(to the power of 14) - That is the amount of heat that hits us from the sun every second, measured in BTU.
40,000 - The amount of carbon dioxide generated by humans in billions of tonnes, which the oceans have absorbed. However, studies show that the oceans...may be reaching their limits in this regard.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Rather than buying pet deodorizers that may do more harm than good to the air around you, there are some easy tips to neutralizing the odor. Just take some baking soda and vinegar and alternate them for cleaning. Also, sprinkling the area with baking soda and leaving it overnight will work quite well.
After you have done that, you need to neutralize the alkaline baking soda using vinegar. Use a wash of two cups vinegar, one gallon of water. You won't need all of that but it gives you the approx. measurements that will be needed.
Wash the area completely and the smell of vinegar will disappear after a few hours. Then, there will be no more smell and the pets shouldn't try and pee in that area again.
Our dogs are all trained not to pee in the house, but sometimes the cats get mad if we are not quick enough to clean the kitty litter (despite doing it on a daily basis) and they may pee in the bathtub (we do have one that does it on occasion).
Bottled water is bad, and for that reason we banned it early on in Our Green Year. Well, a new study by the Environmental Working Group found that bottled water often contains disinfection by-products, fertilizer residue and pain medication. The cost of bottled water is about 1,900 times greater than tap water, and people pay that much because they think it is 'pure', but that is far from the truth.
Bottled water sold at many places, including Walmart, was found to contain a mix of chlorine and fluoride, like in municipal water, so it is not quite pure. In the bottled water industry, unlike with tap water, the companies do no have to reveal the chemical components of its products.
Some other brands tested had fertilizer byproducts in them, prescription medication remains, industrial chemicals, bacteria, arsenic and boron. Even worse, one bottled water brand was found to create a 78 percent increase in breast cancer cells!
Mmmmmm bottled water...
Thursday, October 16, 2008
However, the phone book is still being produced, and while it can be understood for payphones, there is no reason phone books have to go to homes since the Internet is so wide-spread these days.
As of right now, I do not know if our provider will allow us to opt-out of the program. A search of the internet today revealed that there were no options for this. Hence, there is the need to find a use for the phone book. Now, while you may think recycling a phone book is an option, it is not. The reason is that many recyclers will not accept phone books because the lightweight pages of the book are too short to be made into new paper, and mixing old phonebooks into a waste paper bin can contaminate the entire batch.
Thankfully, phone books can be recycled and when it is recycled, it is used to make new phone books, insulation materials, ceiling tiles and roofing services, along with paper towels, grocery bags and cereal boxes.
This means that recycling your phone book is important because while you cannot opt out of the program it seems, you can talk to your service provider about the recycling program they have. Most will allow you to drop off the phone book at a central location, where it will be recycled properly. This is what Layla and I will do with the old phone books here at the ranch. If 500 phone books are recycled, it saves:
- 7,000 gallons of water
- 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space
- 17 to 31 trees
- 4,100 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power an average home for six months
However, going with our motto of re-use then recycle, there are some other things that can be done with the phone books.
- The shredded phone books can be used as great packing material.
- The papers can be used as a fire starter.
- You can also shred phonebook pages and use them as mulch to keep down weeds in the garden. The paper is biodegradable and will simply become part of the soil again.
Think your garbage doesn't make a big impact on the environment? Today I read a story about a whale that came onto the beach in Malaysia and died. When researchers did an autopsy on the whale, they found it had swallowed a black plastic bag, a rope and a bottle cap, which worked to clog its intestine. What a wonderful way to die....
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Moving on to our task for Day 177, we have decided to do what we did last week and join another environmental organization. This time it is the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The NCC is the leading national land conservation organization in Canada. The NCC works with individual and corporate landowners to protect important tracts of land. Since 1962, NCC has helped to save 2,000,000 acres of land across Canada.
This is a great organization that has worked hard to protect the environment of our country and to help ensure that in future years, people will be able to enjoy the protected lands that we now have, thanks to them.
Today, I read a report from Forum for the Future that detailed five likely scenarios for the year 2030 based on the world's response to climate change. It is a 76 page report that I read but they have a condensed version I highly recommend here. Some scenarios are inspiring, others are highly frightening.
As always, if you have any green ideas, tips or comments, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a picture of yourself going green, send to that same address.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Well, for Layla and I, today was the day to vote Green. You may remember way back in the first couple days of Our Green Year, Layla and I joined the political arm of the Green Party, for whom Layla works as secretary.
For the federal election, we decided to continue our support of the Green Party and vote green. We know there is little chance for the Greens to win, and while we do support the green policy of the Liberal Party, we decided to stick with the plan of supporting the Green Party and voted green.
If it was not for the hectic move we went through, we were going to help volunteer for the Green candidate in our old riding, Andy Morel.
Well, we will see how the government turns out, and we hope Elizabeth May gets elected, but who knows. All we know is that come next election, we will continue our support of the Green Party, as long as they continue supporting the environment.
In case you did not catch it, we have a video of our interview on CBC News on the previous blog. It is a good interview we feel, and it was really cool having CBC out here filming us yesterday!
If you have any green ideas or suggestions, or want to tell us about your own green story, then e-mail us at email@example.com. You can also send us photos of you going green to the same address!
Some interesting news regarding a little thought of form of pollution; noise pollution. According to a recent study by SFGate.com found that noise pollution is putting 1 in 6 San Francisco residents at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and other stress illnesses. When Layla and I hear this, we are glad to live in an area that is quiet and secluded. We only wish that everyone else had that option as well.
Monday, October 13, 2008
As many of our readers will know, we try and find sites where you can click to go green from your home or office computer, without taking too much time out of your day. Well, we have another one for you: EcologyFund.com
This site is owned and operated by The Hunger Site Network and when you go to them and click on their sponsor buttons, you help to fund for critical habitat and wilderness preservation. Sponsors have agreed to pay to protect the project you can select. It costs you nothing, but every day you can help by clicking sponsor buttons to save habitats. Even if you just register, The Hunger Site Network will donate 500 square feet of wilderness in your name, and then keep a running tally of how much you have saved so far. As it says on the website of EcologyFund.com, all the monies from the sponsorships generated go to purchase and protect wild lands.
A great thanksgiving dinner for us using homemade stuffing, grain-fed turkey, potatoes, peas and carrots from the garden and even homemade pies. We had 13 people out and it turned out to be a great day for everyone. You can see a pic here.
Some awesome news! Andrea and Trevor from CBC News and Radio came by today and did an interview with us about Our Green Year and what we are doing. It aired on CBC Edmonton News at 6 p.m. here, and a story about us will be on CBC Radio tomorrow morning, so check it out if you can. Thank you so much for coming by Andra and Trevor, we appreciate you helping us spread the message of how easy it can be to go green. Below is a picture of Trevor, Andrea and myself. If you want to see our story go to http://www.cbc.ca/edmonton/audio-video/ before the end of tomorrow and click on Latest Newscast. We are about 22 min into the newscast.Below is the video from CBC News, courtesy of CBC.CA.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
However, since we wanted to make sure that if we had a thanksgiving, it was a green one, we decided to be very conscious with what we bought. Instead of getting a turkey at a normal supermarket, we went to the local meat shop to get a 25-pound fair-trade and grain-fed turkey. We understand some won't have a turkey for Thanksgiving, but Layla and I have not gone vegan, despite reducing how much meat we eat. In fact, this is the first bit of meat we have had in awhile.
For our side dishes, we are using vegetables like potatoes, corn, carrots and peas that are straight out of our garden. We bought organic yams, and are making our own stuffing out of bread that went stale, organic celery and other natural ingredients.
Even our pumpkin pie is being made from a pumpkin we bought and not by buying pie filling with a pie crust.
You can even make a great centerpiece for your table by putting together something that incorporates leaves, sticks and other natural items. There are many how-to guides on the internet for this. At our thanksgiving dinner, as well, we will not have paper towels, but washable cloths. All our leftovers will be re-used, including turning the turkey bones into a great stew.
We will have a picture of our great Thanksgiving dinner up tomorrow or Tuesday.
We made a trip to the recycle depot here, and found that it did not compare at all with the recycle depot in our old town. However, we were able to recycle everything by going there and to the local bottle depot, which was just across the street.
Attached is a photo of Layla and I with all the corn husks and stalks that were pulled from the garden and were thrown into our large compost area.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
The WSPA is an international organization that is active in over 150 countries with more than 900 member societies. Started in 1981 with the merger of the World Federation for the Protection of Animals and the International Society for the Protection of Animals, the society has the goal to create a world where animal welfare matters, and animal cruelty ends, while working to build a united global animal welfare movement.
So far, the WSPA has been quite successful in their fight against the cruel treatment and abuse of animals. They have launched campaigns against bull fighting, bear baiting and dancing, whaling, capturing dolphins, intensive farming of animals and the abusive treatment of working equines and companion animals.
In 1991, WSPA began a campaign known as the Libearty Campaign, which works to end the use of bear farming, bear baiting and dancing bears. WSPA funds member societies to help with bear cub rehabilitation and the creation of bear sanctuaries. Thanks to their hard work, bear baiting has been made illegal in Pakistan.
They also design educational programmes for kids to teach them how to work with and care for animals.
As animal lovers, Layla and I are proud to be joining WSPA.
On another note, Erin Handy from the Trail Daily Times called us to do an interview for an update on Our Green Year since we are nearing our six month anniversary. Thanks to Erin and the Trail Times for helping to spread our message again.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Now, the wood stove is a dicey situation because it is not perfectly environmentally friendly. Soot does get released, burning wood does create carbon dioxide, but when done right, you can decrease those amounts of bad elements, and maximize the good element; heat. Some will not agree in using a wood stove, but Layla and I feel that it is better than using natural gas to heat a house. Plus, we already bundle up and do what we can to maximize the heat in the house, so that we can minimize our use of the wood stove.
As we said, wood fire does release carbon dioxide and soot, but fossil fuels like natural gas generate more greenhouse gases when you take into consideration the extraction of the fuels and the transportation. Plus, wood is a renewable resource.
Our fireplace is not a conventional fireplace either. It uses radiant heat by turning about 66 percent of its heat from the flames out to heat people and objects in the room and house. This is better than a typical fireplace that is more for decoration than anything else. With an open fireplace, only about five to ten percent of the heat actually escapes out into the room.
To minimize our effect on the environment, we only buy wood from a supplier who cuts up trees that have already fallen. We do not cut down new trees for heat here, and the supplier has been known for years and can be trusted. Plus, we are supporting someone locally, minimizing the transportation of the firewood. We also chop our firewood ourselves the old fashioned way; with an axe. From what we understand, the supplier does not clear out all the wood in the area either, in order to keep the habitat for small animals and insects intact.
Here are some tips for maximizing energy efficiency. We will be using these to minimize the use of wood.
- The wood is always kept dry because we want to make sure that it will burn sooner, rather than later. Wet wood requires more energy to get rid of the water, and that is energy that would be better used as heat. Also, the wetter the wood, the more smoke and carbon dioxide that is released.
- We adjust our air controls so that there is very little smoke initially, by increasing the amount of oxygen. This also minimizes the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
- The ash from the fireplace will be used as a de-icing agent on the steps in the winter, rather than using salt or chemicals. It can also be used to make soap, and as a layer for the compost heap.
For the past little while, we have posted bad environmental news, but today we get to post some good news. Yesterday, the Indonesian government announced that it would be protecting the rest of the forests on the islands from development and logging. This means that while 48 percent of the forests have been lost since 1985, the rest will be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Good for them :)
If you have pictures of your own fireplace or fire stove, send them to us and we will put them up. Got questions and comments, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
We have decided to go another step further now and put in a shower head that is low-flow. Having a low-flow shower head is a great option, especially if you enjoy long showers because it will give you the ability to conserve water, while you stay in the shower for longer. It is possible to have a ten minute shower and only use the amount of water you would in a five minute shower.
However, it should be noted that even with a low-flow shower head, we will not be taking longer than five minute showers and will stick with that rule.
With a low-flow shower head, a family of four can save 160,000 liters of water per year. Old shower heads use about 20 liters of water per minute, while new shower heads use about five liters of water per minute. That is one-quarter of what the old shower heads use and that means a lot of saved water.
Bad news if you are a penguin. According to the WWF, if the worldwide temperature rises two degrees Celsius, penguins will be extinct. Already, the temperature in the Antarctic Peninsular has risen 2.5 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years, which is five times the global average. Also in the past 50 years, penguin populations have fallen by half.
Got a photo of you doing something green? Want to send us a letter about your own green journey? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Hence, that is what today entailed. Through the process of canning the preserves, notably tomatoes, carrots, pickles and more, and then boiling them in a pot and canning tray to create a suction seal, you can have those great preserves days, weeks, months and even years down the road!
It is a great way to reduce your consumption at the grocery store because you won't have to buy those vegetables for quite awhile. With each harvest season that goes by, you add to your catalog of canned materials. It is a very green method because you are storing food so that it is not wasted and can be eaten later, you are not buying from a grocery store and instead living off the land for your vegetables, and beyond the process of creating the suction seal with boiling water, the process uses no energy to store, unlike when you freeze vegetables.
If you can, give canning a try. It is a very easy process and you can enjoy those carrots, tomatoes, corn and more even a year or two down the road.
Included here is a picture of the cans that we have downstairs in the cold room.
If you have any photos of you doing canning, let us know and we will put it up. Just send us the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Well there is a new document being drawn up and it is the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. The campaign has the goal of getting 10,000,000 signatures to help get the United Nations to sign into law a resolution that would give rights to animals around the world. In 2003, during the Manila Conference on Animal Welfare, 19 government delegations from the European Council, the United States and Saipan created a foundation text for the UDAW. Two years later, representatives from Kenya, India, Costa Rica, Czech Republic and the Republic of the Philippines agreed to create a committee to push for the initiative. Other countries have joined on with representatives of their own including Australia, Cambodia, Fiji, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. The initiative has active support of both the European Union and the United Nations.
So far, the initiative has reached over 1,000,000 signatures, with Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica, becoming the one millionth signer.
This mandate is the most ambitious initiative on animal welfare that has ever been attempted and since there is no international protection for animals, it is highly important. If accepted by the United Nations, it would recognize animals as sentient beings, which means they are capable of suffering. It would recognize that animal welfare is an issue of importance as a part of the social development of nations. Lastly, it would act as an initiative to create better provisions to protect animals around the planet.
Layla and I are big animal lovers, and that is why for our 169th Day of Our Green Year, we are signing this petition in the hopes that our future will see animals with rights to protect them from harm, pain and suffering.
You can sign the petition here.
For those of you who live in Ontario, I encourage you to send a letter to your premier regarding Bill 50. Introduced by Minister Rick Bartolucci, it would overhaul the 89-year-old Ontario SPCA Act to widen definitions of cruelty to animals and to address critical animal welfare issues. It will also allow investigators to bring abusers to justice.
If it is made law, it would make Ontario's weak animal protection laws into some of the toughest in the country, and the world. Some of the changes would include:
- Establishing new provincial offences against animal cruelty, including: causing or permitting distress, training or allowing animals to fight, and obstructing an Ontario SPCA Inspector or Agent.
- Giving judges greater flexibility to impose stiffer penalties, including jail time, fines up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime ban on owning an animal of any kind.
- Providing for inspection powers; allowing investigators to inspect premises where animals are kept for the purpose of exhibit, entertainment, boarding, sale or hire.
- Allowing the Society to apply for custody of an animal victim while the case is still in the courts; preventing the Society from having to return an animal to the owner during a trial if cause for concern is shown.
Hon. Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Rm 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M74 1A4
You can also e-mail them to email@example.com
If you do send a letter, take a picture and send it to us and we will put it up on our blog to show that you support helping animals! E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
On the weird search front, one of the searches that brought up our blog today read:
"has any human lived over 159 years?"...odd
Below is two pictures of Layla and I in the garden today bringing up the potatoes. There were pretty big ones in there as can be seen.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Hence, we have decided to do something very environmentally-friendly, and something everyone can do; get a library card. Since we moved from B.C. to Alberta, we no longer have library cards, which means on our trip to town next Monday, we will be getting a library card. In B.C. library cards are free, but here in Alberta it costs $10.
Getting a library card is actually a very green thing to do. You can read as many books as you want, without ever buying new books simply because you share those books with everyone else in the library. You get the books for three weeks, and if you are not done reading them, you can renew them from home, without ever going into the library. The way Alberta's libraries are set up, you can find any book you want from any library in the province and have it shipped to you when they do their book shipments to the libraries. This does create CO2, so for every book we have shipped from another location, we will pay into the green jar to offset it.
If you do not have a library card, get one. It is one of the best things you can do for your mind, and for the environment.
Sad news about the environment today. A recent study has found that one in four, or 25 percent of all mammals are threatened with extinction. On top of this, the population of one in two mammal species is declining. That means 50 percent of all mammals are on the downward trend with extinction. For those of you with young kids reading this, this means that when they are my age (28), as much as 25 percent or more of the animals we know and love will be gone.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has also been updated, and now includes 44,838 species, of which 16,928 are threatened with extinction. Of those threatened with extinction, 3,246 are critically endangered, 4,770 are endangered and 8,912 are vulnerable.
Since 1500, 76 mammal species have gone extinct.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
A recent report by the FDA showed that a chemical coating that is in microwave popcorn bags breaks down when it is heated into a substance called perfluorooctanoic, which is a likely carcinogen according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One has to wonder why a company would use a chemical that breaks down into a carcinogen when it is heated, like in microwave popcorn. This goes along with another study that found an acid in the chemical that causes cancer in animals and 'likely to cause cancer in humans'.
The danger in microwave popcorn does not stop there as there is another chemical called iacetyl that is found in the FAKE butter flavoring. Amazingly, there is a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn workers lung) that some workers in popcorn factories suffer from since they inhale the fumes on a regular basis. Diacetyl can also cause lung disease if inhaled according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Due to all of this, we will ensure that when popcorn is bought, it is bought in the form of popcorn kernels (organic if possible), not in the form of microwave popcorn.
If you would like to make popcorn, there is a handy way to pop your own. On the stove, pour three tablespoons of olive oil and turn on the medium heat. Put two kernels in and when one is popped, pour one-third of a cup of corn into the pan and cover it. When it begins to pop, shake it constantly to let the steam escape from the popping kernels. Then take the pan away from the heat immediately, pour into a large bowl and season it to the taste you like.
As we said, we do not have popcorn often, but this is a great and quick method to pop popcorn naturally, and without the chemicals of microwave popcorn.
Jim from Spokane e-mailed us a week or so ago with a question about brewing your own beer and whether or not it is green. Here is the question:
"I am a homebrewer and I reuse bottles in my brewing process, but I was just wondering as I made my last batch what went into the growing of my hops, grains, yeast, and other ingredients to make my beer. Is it more eco-friendly to brew your own beer, or just buy it from the store? Is it more eco-friendly to drink beer or wine?"
I have not been able to find an answer between if it is more eco-friendly to drink beer or wine, but my personal view is that wine is better since it is made from the juice of grapes. If they are organic grapes, all the better.
In regards to the other question, it is absolutely better to brew your own beer, both for you and the environment and here is why.
It is estimated that farmers spray their hops about 14 times per year, with about 15 different pesticides and fungicides. Hops accounts for about five percent of the total volume of the beer, and 50 percent of the taste. If you get your hops from an organic source, as well as your barley, then you are doing a great service to the environment. Making sure you can buy your yeast and other ingredients from organic sources also means that you won't have any pesticides or herbicides in them, which does both you and the environment well.
Also, if you are going vegan, and fish is not on your menu, beer may be what you don't want. This is because many beers are classified with isinglass, which is a collagen made from the bladders of fish. Where those fish comes from and the chemicals they have in them is anyone's guess.
Since you re-use your bottles Jim, you are helping out even more by re-using before you re-cycle. Great Job :)
An update on renovations, the wall between the living room and kitchen has been torn out, allowing for better heat and air distribution throughout the house now.
Be sure to check out Our Green Year Journal to see what we bought today on our weekly trip to the store, and a picture of our green penalty list.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
At this link, you can save seals, big cats, fight global warming, save the rain forest, save the oceans and save primates and pets. It is a great place to visit a few times a week to help save the environment through clicking. You can take a minute or two out of your day to do this and all you have to do is create a Care2.com account, which also provides you with a Care2.com e-mail address (should you want it). Care2.com will donate to environmental causes for every single e-mail you send.
As well, you will be able to track how many animals you save, how your fight against global warming is going and more. It is a great site that we will be using a few times a week as part of Our Green Year.
A busy day for us, as outlined in Our Green Year Journal by Layla. Here are some pictures of the butter we made, the fly strips we made out of syrup and organic sugar, the bread we made, our new plants in the basement, the green swear jar we have set up and the shower container for excess water we put in the bathroom.
Also, here is a picture of the cake we made from nearly total organic ingredients, except for the icing sugar and some other small ingredients that were already here when we moved in, and therefore could not waste.
The other picture is of our kitchen table with solar powered candles on it. The vegetables on the table are fresh from the garden and the fish dish is made from fresh fish. Behind the table, you can see that we are taking out the wall between the kitchen and the living room. We are doing this because the fireplace is in the living room, and taking out this wall will help improve heat circulation during the winter, meaning less reliance on the furnace.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Recently we have come across the concept of precycling. Precycling is recycling in a pro-active way by thinking about what we buy and the packaging that comes in it. We do this already to some extent, as has been detailed in the blog, but it was such a great concept we thought we just had to let others know about it.
Some precycling tips that we already follow, or will follow from this point on, include:
- Use cloth instead of paper towels.
- Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries.
- Donate all your redundant or old items to charities and non-profit organizations.
- Repair broken items instead of throwing them away.
- Turn old clothing into rags.
- Re-use everything you can from what you buy.
- Give used magazines
- Buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of packaged ones.
- Do not buy disposable anything.
- Do not buy single-use items.
- Buy in bulk when you can. (As we now do since we live on a ranch)
- Get e-mail subscriptions to newspapers and magazines rather than snail-mail subscriptions.
- Buy re-usable pens (or pens made from corn as we have)
Thomas Tucker from Greenblogosphere.com did a podcast interview with us today. We really appreciate him taking the time to talk with us. Our blog is featured on Greenblogosphere.com, where each blog is published there as well as here. Check out the podcast below for our interview!