Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 101 of our Green Year: Recycled Packaging

As we head headlong into Our Green Year, Layla and I are always looking for ways we can keep a green message in everything we do. Yesterday, we found the way to do this through recycled packaging. As we were picking up some natural dog food, we found a sweatshirt for small dogs that was not only made from recycled materials, but also had recycled packaging around it. This made for a great opportunity to help spread a green message while making our dog look good in the winter.

Now we have committed to reducing our possessions, so what we are doing is giving away all our dog's old coats and jackets (yes we spoiled him), but keeping this one. So that is five shirts and jackets given away, one added, which gives us an added possession total of negative four.

The thing with trying to find packaging that is recycled is that not only can you recycle the packaging when you are done with it, but you are not consuming much by getting recycled packaging. That way, by recycling and buying products in recycled packaging, you can keep in a wonderful cycle of environmentalism.

For that reason, Layla and I will be buying products that are put in recycled packaging, and this will primarily be food. Already, we only buy products that are in limited packaging because we do not want to contribute to the growing garbage problem of packaging waste, and we recycle nearly everything we get to be zero-impact, but now we can ensure we do not take too much away from the earth in our packaging.

Our motto is reuse then recycle, and now we can recycle, buy, reuse and recycle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 100 of our Green Year: Buying Buffalo

Layla and I are not big beef eaters. We enjoy having fish about once a week and the rest of the time we have veggie dishes, stew or pasta. Although on occasion we have a craving for a steak, burgers, or even some ground beef. We do understand there will be people who feel that eating meat is bad for the environment, but while Layla and I eat meat we do not eat much of it. We also believe that humans are omnivores and need to have some meat in their diet. We do not believe we need meet every day, or even every week though.

The problem we have with eating meat is that you don't know what is in it, you could have hormones or even E.coli. As well, cattle ranching causes huge harm to the environment through the methane that is released into the atmosphere from cows and the amount of land that has to be bulldozed to make room for cattle ranches. Estimates say there are about 1.3 billion cows on Earth. This means for every cow, there is about six humans taking a piece out of it. While we still do drink cows milk, the move to goats milk or a severe limiting of our milk intake will come in the future.

For those rare times when we do eat meat, we will no longer be buying beef, but will instead be choosing an alternative that, ironically enough, was almost made extinct by humans for their meat; buffalo.
All the buffalo that we by from are naturally-fed, with no byproducts or other weird ingreidents. They are free-range and they are managed. There are no-feed lot additives, no hormones and are 99 percent fat free. Buffalo is not only healthier for the environment, but also for ourselves because they are high in Omega 3, protein and iron. They are the best solution that we have found apart from a tofu steak, to satisfy cravings for steak, burgers and ground meat.

On top of all of this, Layla and I will be eating less meat in general and switching more to fruits and vegetables.

Update: A link to an article regarding a UN report about the negative impact that cow farming has on the environment has been added as a comment. It should not be mistaken that what is being done with cows can be done with buffalo; having vast numbers of either will put more stress on the environment because it is unnatural for so many to exist (one cow/buffalo for every six people on the planet). The best solution would not only be to completely stop the chemicals being used in beef production (around the world), but also to minimize the amount of meat being consumed. Moderation is key; we are omnivores, not carnivores.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 99 of our Green Year: Cooling Off In The Car

Whooo! One hundred days of Our Green Year so far! That is a big milestone for us and we are really excited about the next 100 days.

For today, since it is so hot out and since we have already talked about cooling down the house, we are going to talk about cooling down the car. Most people will simply use air conditioning to cool down the car, and while this is not as bad as using it in your house since it does not use the energy grid to power itself, and most air conditioners are made without harmful CFCs now thanks to the Montreal Protocol.
However, it does use your gas to power the air conditioner, it is still not healthy and in the long run, you still do damage to the environment. Thankfully, there are ways to get past the old air conditioner.

First, you can just roll down your windows. Sure it is not as good as the air conditioner, but it uses no energy except the movement of the car, which you are already doing. It does cause some problems with the flow of your car, and it does slow you down slightly, but even doing that means you drive a bit slower, saving fuel.

Second, try and park your car in shaded areas. This will keep it cool and you won't be switching the air conditioner on the minute you get into the car. You will be able to get about 20 minutes of cool driving with the windows down if you park in the shade.

Third, you can keep the interior of your car cool with a car window screen. This will prevent the sun from cooking the inside of the car, and prevent you from resorting to the air conditioner for a little while longer.

Fourth, if at all possible try and limit your errands and car driving to the morning and evening, when it is much cooler out. Driving at noon is just asking for a hot car.

These are just a couple of good ideas for keeping your car cool without the air conditioner. Many will say that the cool shade only works if you can find it, and the windows only cool down the car when it is moving. These are true, and in regards to the second point, why would you have your car idling when you don't need to anyways? The only case where you would do that is at a red light, and that only lasts for about 30 seconds to one minute.
As well, if you are thinking of using air conditioning in the car because you have a dog in the car, then it is probably best not to be taking the dog for a car ride during that hot of a day.

Keeping cool in the car is not that hard, and if it bothers you not to use your air conditioner, well too bad, you should be car pooling, taking public transit or walking anyways

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 98 of our Green Year: Reusing CDs

First, who here remembers the old 5 1/4 floppy disks? I do, I had one on my first computer, which was a Tandy 1000. Now, who remembers the 3.5 inch hard disk? Most of us should. Of course, the CD is something everyone has used, but as we make the switch to larger and easier to use USB drives that can fit on a keychain, the need to get rid of the CD becomes more and more apparent.

The thing is, these CDs do not break down easily, and it is not unusual for one to last for decades on end. This creates a problem with landfills as not only music CDs and DVDs enter there, but the billions of CD-Rs, CD-RWs and DVD-RWs that people use every year for a few files and then toss away.

Here at Our Green Year, we try and re-use and then recycle. This is the motto for our green initiative and it applies to everything, including CDs. So, here are some great ideas for CDs after they cannot be used anymore.

1. First, why not break the CDs into pieces and make some mosiacs. You can paint the CDs before you break them and this will give you a unique looking picture that can actually look quite good in an office.

2. You can also use these as a reflector on a driveway or sidewalk, or even on your mailbox to keep people from running into it. The lights will shine off the reflective part of the CD, and give you a free reflector for your home.

3. They can make a great wall border for a room, and will be a good compliment to your CD mosiac in your home office.

4. The most obvious use of an old CD is to turn it into a coaster. There is no reason to spend money on a coaster when you can simply use an old CD, which is free of charge for you.

There are literally dozens of crafts you can do with old CDs, so check out this site for some great ideas!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 97 of our Green Year: Spreading the Environmental Message

For the next few weeks, Layla and I are visiting family and one of the big points of doing this is to help spread our environmental message.
It is important that when someone goes green, they attempt to spread the green message to others, without being too annoying about it of course. Doing this helps to convince people that a green way of life is truly the best way of life. Of course, it is easier said than done and it does not always go over well with people, even your family.

While visiting my parents, I have already got them to begin using vinegar to wash their floors, and even told my grandmother that she should not let the water run while brushing her teeth.

It may seem annoying to do this to some, but it is important to spread the message of the environment and why we have to help it with those close to us. By convincing others to go green, we can help create a better world for everyone. A world where people will think about the effect what they do will have on the environment before they go about it.

Have you tried to convince someone else to go green as well?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 96 of our Green Year: Reducing Possessions

It is a well-known fact that as a species, we love possessions. We love to horde them, we love to hang onto them and we love to show others that we have them. However, our consumerism culture has actually created the environmental problems that we now face.

Our desire to own two or three cars, a large McMansion and more electronics than someone would ever need have raised the energy demands of the world, and pumped untold amounts of chemicals and pollution into our world. Our consumerism, could very well be our undoing.

As a result, Layla and I have decided that we will be reducing what we buy and only buying what we need will help reduce our carbon footprint. Do we need an iPod? No not really, we can just as easily listen to music on our computers. Do we need a new car? No not really, we can just as easily use our old one, or walk.

Before we make any purchase, we are going to ask "Is this good for us and the environment?"
This will help us keep our possessions low, because while we put a hold on what we buy, we will also be reducing what we have. Layla and I will be donating much of what we own to reduce our possessions, while also listing many products on FreeCycle.
We are hoping to do what many people around North America are doing, and that is living with 100 or fewer items (10 forks count as 10 items by the way). This will help make moving easier of course, but it will help us live a bit better with Mother Nature.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 95 of our Green Year: Checking Out Happy Frog

This post is for all our BC readers out there, and I know there are a lot of you judging by the log visits. Personally, Layla and I feel that BC is the best place on Earth to live and we consider it our home, despite only living here for slightly less than two years.

As a result, we want to support BC and we want to support businesses in BC that are dedicated to helping BC become kinder, smarter, healthier and greener. Which brings us to, which is a great site that serves as a fresh and innovative online community who has content created by its members.

Members who log into the site will be able to contribute the listings of their favorite businesses and organizations, while reviewing and rating them based on their sustainability practices and other green values. This means that those who live or visit BC will be able to find the green businesses who deserve support because of their dedication to making BC healthier and greener.

On top of all this, members can submit events to the calendar, ask questions and get the answers they are looking for, create their own pages of their favorite listings, and design personal directories.

Now, if Layla and I journey elsewhere in BC, we don't have to wander around looking for somewhere to buy green items, because does that for us

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 94 of our Green Year: Reusing Sweaters

It may be odd to start talking about sweaters as we go headlong into August, but the truth is that this is a great time to start looking through your closet at things you can reuse or recycle, and one of the most common pieces of clothing people will toss out is sweaters. Many people are not big fans of sweaters because they can only be used for part of the year, unlike a T-Shirt that can be worn year-round (at least under a big coat in the winter).

So, for Day 94 of our Green Year, Layla and I will be reusing our sweaters in new ways.

First, we will be giving old sweaters to thrift stores so someone else can get as much use out of these as we did. On the flip side, when we need a sweater, we will get ours from thrift stores as well. Why buy new when you can buy used?

Second, if you have a hand-knit sweater, and you know someone who can knit (Layla can), then have the sweater unraveled, cut out the thin spots and turn it into a toque!

Third, if it is wool or mostly wool, you can make a great heavy fabric that is great for craft projects. Just get a bunch of old wool sweaters, put them in a zippered pillow case and wash them by hand or by an energy-efficient washer. Only use a small bit of laundry soap (the green kind) and fabric softener (also green). After the load is done, check to see if the sweater has shrunk, if not, then do two loads by hand or in the washer. Now, just air dry and cut into pieces for a quilt, pet toys or anything else!

Lastly, use the old sweater as stuffing for a pillow. Why buy new pillow stuffing when you can give new life to pillows and cushions with an old sweater.

Got any ideas for what you can do with an old sweater? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 93 of our Green Year: Washing Vegetables

Layla and I grow our own vegetables because we want to have fresh vegetables without pesticides for our food. For vegetables that we buy at the store, we always buy fresh and buy organic whenever we can.
However, we cannot always do that and sometimes we have to buy vegetables that are not organic, and there we run the danger of getting vegetables that are coated in pesticides. As well, there are organic brands out there that are not organic at all, and do have pesticides on them.

Therefore, for our 93rd Day, we are making our physical environment more healthy by washing our vegetables and fruits whenever we get them, even if they say organic. Remember, the only true organic comes from your own organic garden.

Washing vegetables will help take off several chemicals from your food. While this won't get all of them, it will get most and that can help your body stay healthy, without the need for pesticides. We live with chemicals around us. They are in us and they cause so many diseases it can be hard to count (ever wonder why more people get cancer now than ever before?). That is why Layla and I will be washing our food before eating it.

Also, I read today a story (Photo by Will Andruschack) about a woman in Rosebud, Alberta who has a property next to an oil well that was put up there after she moved in. In 2005, she noticed that the dogs would not drink the water from the well, as well as the fact that it was fizzing. By the end of the year, she could not turn her taps off and there was so much gas in her water that it forced its way through the pipes. Soon after, she found out she could light it on fire. Tests on her water found high levels of methane, ethane and other chemicals used by oil companies for drilling. EnCana, the company that owns the well, says it is not the company's fault and deny actually causing this problem. A provincial report concluded that the gas was naturally occuring and had nothing to do with the company. Hard to believe right?
However, the University of Alberta showed that in its tests, there were strong similarities between the gas in the well and the gas that EnCana uses.

What a great province Alberta is turning into! Gas in your wells, poison in your air and all the Alberta Government reports that state it is all naturally occuring!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 92 of our Green Year: Collecting Shower Water

We had a great idea for a green tip from one of our readers, Eryn, yesterday, and it involves collecting shower water in a way neither Layla or I have thought of.
When we start up the shower, we usually let it run for about 30 seconds while we wait for it to get to the temperature that we want it. You don't want to step in a cold shower, but you don't want it too hot either.

There is nothing wrong with this, but it does waste water and that is a problem. As our loyal readers know, we have already limited our showers to only five minutes to save water, but we can go a step further to make that 30 second of water running does not waste anything.
Therefore, what we are going to be doing at our house, as part of Our Green Year, is putting a bucket in the shower when we start it up.

Sitting the bucket under the faucet, we will be able to collected that previously wasted wasted water in the bucket. Then, we can take that water out following the shower and put it in the garden to help the plants.
Naturally, you will want to take that bucket out when you shower or else you may get shampoo or soap in it, which could pollute the garden's soil.

Thanks Eryn for the great tip! If you have some tips for us, or pictures of you doing green things, send them to

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 91 of our Green Year: Clearing Up Some Light

Light pollution is a serious problem that most people do not take too seriously. Most people think of pollution only in terms of air, soil and water. However, light pollution is a serious problem and for our 91st day, Layla and I are turning out the lights.

As much as we can, we will be keeping the lights inside, and outside, off so that we are not wasting any power, or blurring up the sky with light. Look at any large city and you will see a lot of light pollution all over the place.
If everyone turned their lights off, like they did for Earth Hour, it would not only clear up the sky, but help our environment too.
So, we are turning off our lights whenever we can.

Here are just a few facts about light pollution:

  • Powering street lights in the United States alone puts two billion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is equal to 500,000 car tailpipes.
  • In the last seven years, average night time brightness in Northeast England has gone up by 4000 percent.
  • It disrupts our sleep and leads to health problems. It can also cause problems with our vision, hypertension, headaches and more.
  • Many animals are confused by the stray light in their habitat at night and it can affect their breeding and feeding.
  • Most street lights and home outdoor lights are so poorly designed they waste large amounts of light into the air above them.
Can you turn your lights off? We will.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 90 of our Green Year: Collecting Dew

This post will be a short one as it has been a rather long day. For our 90th day, and our third month anniversary, we are going to be collecting the morning dew for use on plants. This is really easy to do. All you have to do, is take a bucket, put a piece of plastic over it (some of the packaging we have has plastic that we re-use, and make sure there is something in the middle to act as a weight.
This will allow the dew to collect in the middle during the morning. Then, all you have to do is take that dew and put it on some small plants. You will be helping to water your plants, without using your water system.

It is a win-win scenario for everyone.

It works best on cool mornings obviously, so try and do it then. Hot days may not work as well. You also have to make sure you collect it early in the morning, before it evaporates.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 89 of our Green Year: Walking Each Day

Everyone knows how walking is good for you, but when you live in a small town or close to all the things you need, walking can be good for you and the environment.
Every day, Layla and I walk to the store first thing in the morning. We do this for a variety of reasons, all of which have to do with our health and the environment.

First, walking to the store is great exercise and it helps us stay healthy, which is important now that we have started eating only organic foods and drinks.
Second, walking to the store, or anywhere for that matter, means you don't take the car. Since we are in our one tank a month challenge, we are keeping from using the car by walking to the places that we need to get things.
Third, Layla and I walk to the store everyday to pick up the things we need for that day. Unless it is something that can be stored for a long period of time, Layla and I buy everything fresh. We get fresh fruit, veggies, fish and more by walking to the store. We determine what we will have for supper that night, and we walk to the store to get it. This is a very important thing to do because it also keeps things from going to waste. When you pick up what you need that day for your lunch and dinner, then you use it that day. You don't buy $300 worth of groceries and have $50 of it go bad because you forgot about something in the back of the fridge.

Walking to the store every morning is something that I really enjoy, and it is nice to find that it not only helps my body, but our environment as well.
If you see us walking to the store in the morning, stop to say hi!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 88 of our Green Year: Giving Rights to Apes

In the coming weeks, Spain is going to be passing a bill that will be revolutionary in its concept. This bill will extend human rights to the apes, including chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas. As a result, in the future, Spain will be the first country on Earth to protect apes as if they were humans.

Naturally, many disagree with this under the belief that humans are somehow separate from the animals species, and therefore allowed to have dominion over them. The truth is that we are merely a highly evolved mammal, and if it was not for evolving large brains for protection, our species would have been eaten by other animals long ago and disappeared forever.

Layla and I are big supporters of animal rights, so for the 88th day of Our Green Year, we have decided to donate money to, and join the Great Ape Project. This is the society that spearheaded the initiative to give apes rights in Spain, and everywhere else. They want apes to be treated as if they are humans, which we believe is the least that they deserve. After all, apes and humans share 98 percent of the same genetics, so we are very, very close.
Through the Great Ape Project, Spain will give the three essential human rights to apes, which are life, liberty and freedom from physical and psychological torture. This means it is a crime to kill them, use them on television and movies and use them in the circus or for medical experiments.

You may find it odd that we would give these things rights to apes, but the truth is that when you look at an ape, there is intelligence there. They are our cousins on this Earth and we need to start treating them like family. This is why Layla and I have extended our support to this project.

We do not have the right to dominate the animals of the Earth. We do not have a right to make them do our bidding and work for us. Some animals evolve highly complex strategies to survive in the wild, and that is what humans did, through our brains. However, our brains do not give us the right to kill whatever we see fit, and remove anything we find to be a nuisance. We can land on the moon, send probes outside or solar system, live in any environment on Earth and probe the secrets of the universe, but for whatever reason we can't figure out how to treat our fellow creatures properly.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 87 of our Green Year: Green Cosmetics

For Day 87 of Our Green Year, we are going green on something for all of us, especially women; cosmetics!
Makeup is something that is used on a daily basis by millions of people, but these products also come with a problem, and it is connected with the ingredients. Many of the ingredients in cosmetics contain ingredients that are dubious at best, most of which are petroleum based. Some cosmetics are tested on animals, and the ingredients in cosmetics can get into our air during the processing, contributing to pollution. So, what options are there for women and men who wear makeup? Plenty!

The first thing is to avoid aluminum in everything, including deodorant. It can cause skin irritation, inflammation and more. Plus, antiperspirants block your pores, which prevent the body from eliminating toxins through perspiration. This then reduces the body's ability to regulate the body temperature. Instead of using deodorant that uses aluminum and blocks your pores, we will be using natural products that do not do this, as well as baking soda and crystal stick, which uses natural mineral salts.

Natural toothpaste is also something you should go after. Does it not bother you that toothpaste labels say 'Do not swallow'? This is something you put in your mouth, its kind of hard not to swallow at least a bit of it. Many toothpaste products contain titanium dioxide, parabens and fluoride. Fluoride helps fight tooth decay and it has been around for 50 years in our toothpaste. However, high doses of this can be poisonous.

No animal tested products. Layla and I love animals and we will not be using any products that have been tested on animals. For our cosmetics, we will only be buying products with the Humane Cosmetics Standard Cruelty Free label.

Lastly, most of the cosmetic care products we buy from now on, from lipstick and mascara to toothpaste and shampoo will be organic. We love how we feel from eating only organic food, and we feel that going organic with all our beauty and cosmetic care products will do the same thing.

Got any suggestions for the beauty and cosmetic products we can wear and use that are healthy for us and the environment? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 86 of our Green Year: The Plain Truth About Paper

Every single day, we all use paper. It may be reading the newspaper, reading a book, writing something down or cleaning up after Fido. That paper, unless recycled or manufactured in a way that is sustainable, can cause large problems for the environment.

Living in Canada, Layla and I are lucky. We are able to work out on our deck, surrounded by tall trees and the environment. Trees are everywhere I look, and the air smells sweet thanks to them. However, recently I read a story on that stated the two biggest offenders in the world for the destruction of forests and pollution from pulp mills, are the two countries with 50 percent of the world's forests; Canada and Russia.

This really bothered us because we always take pride in the fact that we are Canadian. We feel that as Canadians, we see the environment all around us. However to find out that we are the worst in the world for protecting our forests, well that hurts our Canadian pride deeply. On the news we hear a lot about China's environmental record, but in many ways they are starting to outstrip Canada in terms of protecting the environment and its forests. In fact, China is the best in terms of preserving forests. Studies have shown that 90 percent, yes 90 percent, of the logging in Canada is done in old growth forests. These are forests that are literally hundreds, if not thousands of years old. On top of that, some of the worst cases for paper mill pollution are found in Canada.

It is not all bad of course, Canada did publish all of its Harry Potter books on recycled paper. While that is a lot of books, it does not make what Canada is doing right. As well, one thing we try to do here at Our Green Year is educate people, so here is some 'fun' facts about paper and how it is used, or misused, on Earth.

  • Half of the forests on the earth have been burned or cleared, and 80 percent of what is left is seriously degraded.
  • 42 percent of the wood harvest is used to make paper.
  • The paper industry is the fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions
  • One-quarter of the waste in the landfills of North America is paper.
  • If the United States cut its paper use by only 10 percent, it would prevent 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases from going into the atmosphere. That is like taking 280,000 cars off the road.
  • Recycled paper uses 44 percent less energy, produces 38 percent less emissions, 50 percent less waste water, 49 percent less solid waste and 100 percent less wood. Sadly, only 48.3 percent of all paper is recycled
Obviously there is a problem.

So, for our 86th day of Our Green Year, Layla and I are being paper-conscious.

  • When we receive an e-mail, or have something on the computer (other than stories that need to be sent by snail mail), we will not be printing anything off.
  • All the paper we will be buying, from toilet paper to writing pads will be recycled.
  • We already recycle all the paper we can, and we will continue to do that.
  • We will make our own birthday and Christmas cards, while reusing envelopes as well.
  • We will read magazines and news online, not buying them, unless they are from recycled paper.
  • We will write small on our paper pads and we will use both sides.
Also, Layla and I plan on writing a book about our experience with Our Green Year following this (any agents or publishers reading this?...) and we plan to publish with recycled paper as well.
I encourage everyone to check out one of the best sites I have found on the internet, and one of our Green Friends; Eco-Libris. They plant a tree for every book that you read and they should be commended for what they are doing. We need more companies like them.

Yesterday, when we did our TV interview, we were asked if we felt we were making a difference. I have thought about this and I hope we are. I hope that the people who read this are learning about the environment and learning that going green can be a small step (changing lightbulbs) or a big step (recycling everything and being zero-impact). I hope everyone who reads our blogs enjoys them and becomes educated from them about the world around us. We are on day 86 and still have about 250 days left, which is about nine months. There is still a long way to go, and Layla and I appreciate everyone who comes to our site to read our journey.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 85 of our Green Year: Weed Whacker Be-Gone

Today was a big day for us at Our Green Year. Not only were we featured in the newsletter for the Columbia Basin Trust, but we also had Shaw TV come to our house and interview us about what we are doing, and showing some of the initiatives that we have put forward during Our Green Year. It was a lot of fun and we were happy Shaw could help spread the message.

For today, we have decided to get rid of using a weed whacker, and have instead gone very old school with a sickle. If you don't know what a sickle is, it is a small hand tool used for cutting longer grass, it was also part of the flag of the Soviet Union. If you don't know what the Soviet Union was, go read a book.

Anyways, using this tool means we will not be using a weed whacker anymore. The reason for this is that the weed whacker will use gas or electricity, and that goes against the Our Green Year message. One of the biggest things we have learned with Our Green Year is that to go green, you often have to go old school. Well, you can't get much more old school than going with a sickle for cutting up tall grass.

It does take longer, its more work, but it gives you a workout and you are doing something to help the environment. That should be reward enough for you.

Also, thanks to Dave and Lillian Brummet, an author couple like Layla and I, who are from Grand Forks, BC. They were nice enough to pass on their own websites and internet talk show that features tips for a green lifestyle. I strongly encourage you to check them out.

Conscious Discussions talk radio show:
Authors Read radio program:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 84 of our Green Year: Free Rice

Rice is a staple of billions of people all over the world, and with rising costs in food, there has been a rising cost in rice.
Those people who rely on rice everyday for their diet, need to get rice, but as a Canadian, thousands of miles away, how can Layla and I help?
Thankfully, there is a site called that will help us.

Through, all you have to do is keep taking a vocabulary quiz. For every word you guess correctly, they will buy 20 grains of rice. You may think that is not much, but in just five minutes of doing the quiz, I had raised 720 grains of rice to be bought for those who cannot afford it by the site's sponsors. That amounts to about four bowls. Now, when you factor in all the other people using this site, you have a lot of rice. In fact, as of right now, the site has bought 38,979,346,150 grains of rice. If the average bowl of rice has 100 grains in it, that means the site has donated 389,793,462 bowls of rice. If someone eats three bowls a day, that is enough to feed one person for 129,931,153 days, or 35,000 years, give or take a decade. That is a lot of rice and that has all been raised since October of 2007. It is pretty amazing, and all it takes is you going there and spending five minutes to do a vocabulary quiz. You play the game and raise the rice, sponsors buy the rice and those who need the rice get it.

So far, the rice has fed 27,000 refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh for two weeks. In Cambodia, it provided enough take-home rations to last 13,500 pregnant women two months. In Uganda, it fed 66,000 school children for a week. In Nepal, it fed over 108,000 Bhutanese refugees for three days. in Bhutan, it fed 41,000 children for three days and in Myanmar, it fed 750,000 people for three days after the killer cyclone.

So, for our 84th day we will start taking five minutes every now and then to raise rice for those who need it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 83 of our Green Year: Local Eggs

In a continuing effort to go local, Layla and I have been looking for local providers for all the things we want for our house, from dog food to cheese. We are succeeding, and today is the day we go local with our eggs.
Eggs that come from the large factory farms are not the most environmentally friendly. The decision comes after reading a story that detailed what many chickens have to go through all so we can enjoy bacon and eggs.

In the United States, 340 million chickens are raised as laying hens through a nightmare life that lasts for two years. In some factory farms, a large portion of the hen's beak is cut off with a burning hot blade to keep them from biting handlers. Then, they are put in battery cages which are 18 by 20 inches, holding five to 11 hens. These cages are stacked on top of each other, and many birds die, leaving the survivors to live with the rotting caged corpses. Since male chicks are worthless, they are usually tossed out or thrown in highspeed grinders to become mulch for other animals.
After two years, the hen's bodies are nearly exhausted and egg production falls. They are then shipped to the slaughterhouse to be turned into food. Not a very nice life. Here are two pictures of some of these conditions.

As a result, Layla and I are now buying our eggs from a local organic supplier in an effort to lower our environmental impact, and clear our minds of any guilt for what we are eating.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 82 of our Green Year: Clothes Washing

A few weeks ago, Layla and I eliminated the dryer from our house in an effort to stop us from using the energy that it needs. This has worked out great so far this summer, and come this winter we are already thinking of ways to make this work.

Now the time has come to start changing how we wash our clothes. There are several ways of doing this, and Layla and I are going to be implementing the following choices:

First, we are going to wearing clothes a bit more as long as they are clean and don't smell. This means instead of wearing a shirt and pants once, then tossing it into the clothes hamper, we will wear those two or three times before throwing them into the hamper. Once they start getting smelly, then we will wash them. This brings us to our second point.

When we are washing clothes, we are going to wash them by hand as much as possible. This means that instead of putting a load into the washer, we will simply put some water in the sink, and wash the clothes like that. It uses less water, no energy and it is good exercise. We are hoping to find a washboard and washtub, but are having a lot of trouble locating one, so this is the option we will be going with now.

Now, we can say our clothes washing and drying is nearly no impact, with no carbon footprint. Also, you will have a much greater appreciation for your clothes and keeping them clean when you have to wash them by hand, but at least its good exercise!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 81 of our Green Year: Winding Things Up

Last night, a large storm blew through our area and knocked out all the power. Well, more specifically, a very large tree knocked down the power lines, which then knocked out the power. It was at this moment as we sat with no power that we realized one of the greenest things we can do is go with no power at all.

Currently, we have a wind up flashlight, and we will be getting a solar panel on order to get us partly off the grid, but we realized there are many other wind up items we could use. A windup radio for example. On top of that there are windup cell phone and other types of chargers.

Who knows what the future holds for all of us. Far from being a believe that the end of the world is imminent (although I do think that times are going to get a bit tough), it is important to have items like windup mechanisms that can provide you with radio to the outside world, a charge for your cellphone or iPod, or even light on a dark night.

These things are sold all over the place, so for our 81st Day, we are going to start buying all the windup items we can.
Do you know of some other items that you can buy that only need to be wound up? let us know!

Also, Layla and I saw on the news last night that there has been a decision made by the federal government to allow a company to put a pipeline through Jasper National park and Robson National Park. Both of these parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they join the ranks of Stonehenge, The Pyramids and more. It is unfortunate that this is being done, but it seems like another way that the federal government puts environment behind oil and money.
Now Jasper National Park and Robson National Park can look forward to a nice big oil pipeline going straight through them.
National Park? Protected Area? World Heritage Site? Who cares! Put the pipeline through!

The story regarding this is here (this is from April, could not find newest story)

Also, Layla and I appeared in the regional weekly magazine The Weekender today. Hopefully that spreads our message a bit more.

Yay to us and all the people who visit us as well! We hit 2,000 visitors today. Great job everyone for helping to make us so popular!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 80 of our Green Year: Going on the Global Warming Diet

While reading, where we are contributors for blog posts, we found out about an interesting new trend called the Global Warming Diet. This diet involves walking and eating less meat in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This is actually becoming very easy for Layla and I to do because every morning we walk to our corner (and locally owned) grocery store to pick up food for the day. This walk, round trip is 30 minutes.

Therefore, taking part in the global warming diet is going to be something very easy for us to do. Studies have found that public health and climate change can be tied together for a solution, and if more people used the global warming diet, they would improve obesity problems and climate change problems at the same time.

All you have to do with the global warming diet is walk instead of drive for half an hour each day, and limit the red meat you eat, replacing it with vegetarian choices. Doing this can actually cut the greenhouse gas emissions of the United States by millions of tons! Yes, that is true, millions of tons! So, Layla and I are taking part in this to do our part.
The reason that this can reduce that amount of greenhouse gas is because you will be driving 30 min less each day, while eating less meat. The walking will limit your appetite because you will become thinner, which also helps.
In the meat industry for example, the energy and land that is used produces 18 percent of all the C02 emitted by the United States!

So, instead of driving to the store, walk! Instead of driving to the park, walk! Instead of having steak three times a week, have it once a month! Eat vegetarian and organic and you will be surprised by how great you feel. Layla and I have been doing this for weeks now and we feel great from it!

So, join us on our global warming diet!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 79 of our Green Year: Green The Toilet

One of the biggest water wasters in the house is the toilet. This is something we all use, multiple times a day, which we have become so accustom to that any place that does not have a flushing toilet is considered to be 'a backwater shack'.

However, how can you go green with your toilet? Well, there is the obvious tip of 'when it is yellow, let it mellow, when it is brown flush it down', but what else can you do to conserve water? You really need to think of ways to conserve water with the toilet because it uses 20 liters of water every time it is flushed. So, for one person, who uses the bathroom five times a day, and flushes every time, they flush 100 liters of water down the toilet, literally. For a family of four, that can be over 500 liters depending on how often it is used!

So, what are some other solutions? Here is something that we will be doing during Our Green Year in our house.

First, we are putting a brick, or at least a plastic bottle full of water in the back of the tank. This will actually cut down on the flush of water by a quarter, or even one third. When you do this, just make sure you don't impede the flushing mechanism.

We rent, so we cannot get a low-flush toilet, but it will be on our list when we do buy a house.

What else can you do? Have any suggestions, let us know!

One thing I would like to talk about now, is the Alberta government's decision to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2050. There are several problems with this, and most of it is fluff with no substance from a government that is trying to make it look like they care about the environment. First, they are using carbon capture technology that has not been completely researched for long-term effects, and they are putting $2 billion into it. Second, I do not understand why governments like Alberta's insist on setting goals that are four decades away. Nearly every climate change scientist has stated that immediate action is needed (AS IN RIGHT NOW) to ward off climate change. There is no time to waste, yet the G8 countries and Alberta feel that lowering emissions by 1.19 percent a year until 2050 is a good plan. What is needed is a 50 percent reduction now, not later. We are nearing the tipping point, and the time to 'wait and see' or slowly lower emissions is long gone. This is just another reason why Layla and I are boycotting all things Albertan.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 78 of our Green Year: Dealing With Colds

Cold season isn't here, but we do need to start thinking about how to deal with it when it comes. As part of Our Green Year, we have decided that if we are to get a cold, we will deal with it naturally. There are far too many drugs out in the environment right now and it is starting to have a major effect on ourselves and our environment. Recently, CNN reported that prescription drugs were found in the drinking water of about 41 million Americans!

First, with any sickness, it is often a good idea to simply have some green tea. Green tea is one of the best aids to your immune system that you can find on the market. Just make sure it is organic and fair-trade tea so you can keep your mind clear of guilt.

You need to act fast when you have a cold, it will start with a sore throat and the best way to deal with that is gargling with some salt water. The salt will actually dry and clear out the infection. As well, putting some honey in your green tea can help a lot with inflammation.

If you have a sinus infection, then you can easily get rid of it, albeit in an uncomfortable manner, with a Netti pot that will irrigate your nose with salt water. Doing this, even when you don't have a sinus infection, can reduce the amount of particles you have in your nose.

If you have a rash, use lavender oil and vitamin E lotion to calm down the rashes. You can also use eucalyptus oil to open up your sinuses so you breathe a bit better. Peppermint oil on the temples can help headaches as well.

Trying to eat a balanced diet, having good hygiene and keeping healthy is the best thing you can do to prevent colds and other health problems. Being proactive with your body can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

As well, if you would like to read a fictional story that puts the belief that global warming is not a problem into prospective, read this story here If you want a copy of the story, you can also e-mail me and I will be happy to send it to you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 77 of our Green Year: Glass Milk

Layla and I have decided to go old school with our milk by eliminating plastic milk jugs, which we have already used to make pots for plants, by buying milk in glass containers. We had not seen these in awhile, abut after going to the grocery store recently, we found milk in glass containers that is actually made right in the Interior of British Columbia! It is from Dutchman Dairy out of Sicamous BC.

Plastic takes a lot of mining and a lot of work to make, while glass is much, much easier to craft and better for the environment. After you use the milk glass container, you can then use it for so many different uses. Plus they look great.

Now, these are more expensive, but as Layla and I have found out, going green and organic is not cheap. Our grocery bill has gone up, but so has our health. After going weeks of only organic local food, we are finding that we are feeling healthier and happier. Even after Our Green Year is over, we will not be going back on organic and local, it is just too good. Buying everything locally makes sense as well because of high costs for food these days. Everything is going up in price because everything needs to be transported, which takes gas. We have noticed that our eggs have doubled in price, it is amazing to think of how quickly things are changing.

Over the course of Our Green Year, almost three full months in, we have been watching the news and seeing the changes that are occurring. High costs abound, the stock market tumbles, and the world itself is changing. Is it changing for the better? Possibly. People are driving less, changing their habits and thereby changing the world. Time magazine actually had an excellent article about the ten good things about $4 gas. Located here

The world we knew of the past is changing. Gone are the days of cheap oil, traveling long distances and even discount airfare. It has been said that our average meal travels 1,500 km in total for all the ingredients before it gets to our plate. As Layla and I are finding out, there is no reason for that. You can get everything you need within your own area, province or state. We don't worry about our dogs getting sick by tainted grain because we buy local dog food, we don't worry about chemicals in fish because we don't buy fish from China. Our vegetables are organic without pesticides, we make our own butter, bread, yogurt and our pop.

It has crossed my mind whether or not what we are doing is changing the world, and based on the amount of people who visit our site on a daily basis, maybe it is. However, what I do know for sure is that Our Green Year is changing the lives of Layla and I, and it is doing it for the better.

So, here is to another 270+ days in the future!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 76 of our Green Year: Donating to the WWF

Now, judging from the title, those old-school wrestling fans may think Layla and I are using our 76th day of Our Green Year to donate money to the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE), but the truth is that we are donating money to the World Wildlife Fund. This is an amazing organization that does an incredible amount to help the animals of the world.

Layla and I are extreme animal lovers. We have two dogs, two cats and three birds. We love being around animals and we are lucky enough to live in a mountain town where it is not unusual to see a black bear wandering down the street.

We want to help the world as much as we can, hence Our Green Year, and we think one of the best ways to help the environment is by giving money to an organization that is committed to making the world a better place for ourselves, and the animals we share it with. Our donation may not have been large, but every single bit will help.

As well, we joined David Suzuki's Nature Challenge today. This is an effort to help the Canadian environment by living a green life, and we are more than happy to take part in this wonderful initiative.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 75 of our Green Year: The One Tank Challenge

A few days ago, Layla and I committed to only using one garbage bag a month, and so far we are doing pretty well with that. We are tearing apart everything we buy, and separating plastic and cardboard, as well as other items so that everything can be reused.

To go along with our one garbage bag challenge, we have also decided to use the One Gas Tank Challenge. This is something Layla and I have decided to do and it involves using only one tank of gas per month. We fill it up, and that is all we have for the month (unless there is an emergency). Now, we totally understand that some people cannot do this because of work and other commitments, but Layla and I work from home, live in a great community with everything we need, so we can actually do this easily enough.

The rules for this are simple. We use one tank of gas per month. If we end up with only enough to go to the gas station, then we have to wait until the month is over before we get another tank of gas. The only reason this would not apply is in case of emergency.

The reason we are doing this is not only to save money considering the high cost of gas, but also to help the environment by walking more in our town, leaving the car in the garage and taking advantage of the mountain air that is all around us for some exercise.

If you can do the One Gas Tank Challenge, let us know! We understand if you cannot though, this is not an easy one to do.

If you have pictures of yourself doing green things, send it to us so that we can show others that others are doing green things as well. Also, check out our first blog post on, which appeared today.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 74 of our Green Year: Watching The Weather

Often when I look outside, I see a neighbor across the street watering their lawn. They water it on a daily basis, then cut it, then water it more. One of the things that bothers me the most about this is that they water their lawn when it is supposed to rain, which just seems like a huge waste for me.

Therefore, for our 74th Day of Our Green Year, we are practicing the art of watching the weather.
So many of us are removed from nature that we don't even see the signs of rain, thunderstorms and more in our world. We are so out of tune, that it can be grey skies and humid, and people will still water their lawns.

Instead of doing this, Layla will be paying attention to the weather and the Weather Network so that we can see when it is going to rain. Why do this? Well, your lawn needs about one inch of water per week, and your garden, a bit more. Rather than waste water out there watering these things, we can simply check the weather for the next week and see what it looks like. If we are going to have rain for three days straight, then Layla and I will be putting out buckets and barrels to catch the rain water to reuse. If it looks like it is going to be 30 degrees with no rain during the week, then we can use the water we saved from the rainy week to water out garden.

We don't water our lawn, as we feel it is a waste (plus with using a manual lawnmower, I really don't want it to grow that fast.) Not once have I watered the lawn, yet my lawn is just as green as the neighbor across the street.

Knowing the weather that is coming can save you water, and help you save the environment as well.

Thank you to Vice TV which found our blog on banning Alberta products yesterday and sent me a link to a video on the oil industry in Sudan. It can be found here

Also, thank you to, we have been hired on as bloggers for the website where we can help get out green message out to thousands of people. The first blog appears tomorrow, so check it out!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 73 of our Green Year: Spreading Word of the Oil Sands

Cruising headlong into July, Layla and I were very troubled to read a story on today that talked about how Alberta's library users are fined more for late fees than oil companies in the province.

According to the story, located here, library patrons in Edmonton and Calgary were fined $4 million in library fines last year. How much were the oil companies fined last year? $249,000. That is about 6.3 percent of what library users were fined in Alberta.

This is a serious problem. It was only a few months ago that about 500 birds died in a toxic tailing ponds, not to mention other environmental problems that have occurred in the past few years. Several reports from environmental organizations call the Tar Sands Projects, the most destructive project on the planet right now according to

Here is a few statistics from to show just how damaging it is.
  • Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary, the largest city in Alberta, uses in one year.
  • 90 percent of the fresh water used by the oil sands ends up in tailing ponds that are so toxic, ducks have to be kept from landing there or they will immediately die (as 500 did earlier this year.)
  • The processing of the oil sands uses enough natural gas in one day to heat three million homes.
  • The toxic tailing ponds are one of the largest human-made structures in the world and they can be seen from space.
  • To make one barrel of oil from oil sands than from conventional oil takes three times more greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 72 of our Green Year: Making Yogurt

Hey all.
Well, we are both pretty sore from our arduous hike up Mount Roberts yesterday, but Our Green Year waits for no one. Therefore, we decided to make something yummy for our 72nd day, and that is yogurt.

Yogurt is something that tastes great, is healthy and can make great smoothies. However, yogurt is also very expensive. Pushing $3.99 for one container where we are. Therefore, to limit our use of packaging, to re-use containers we have and to be even more self-sufficient, we are going to be making our own yogurt from now on.

Amazingly, it is a really easy process.

You will need one quart of milk, two tablespoons of yogurt.

  • First you sterilize the milk by pouring it into a pot and bring it to the point where it is nearly bowling, with small bubbles forming along the edges and with steam rising. Check the temperature of the milk and ensure it is between 82 and 85 Celsius. Do this heating process slowly, while stirring constantly.
  • Cool the milk to room temperature while stirring on a regular basis. Check the temperature and do not move forward in the steps until the temperature is below 49 Celsius and above 32 Celsius.
  • Let the yogurt sit at room temperature while the milk is cooling.
  • Put the yogurt to the milk and then mix them together in containers by pouring the milk into a clean container. Cover each container tightly with a lid.
  • Put the containers in the oven (with only pilot light on) or outside so that the temperature gets to about 41 to 49 Celsius. When the yogurt is thick like pudding, it is ready to take out. Do not stir yogurt. The entire incubation process can take eight to 14 hours.
  • When ready, place yogurt in the fridge for about one to two weeks. Add flavoring if you want, like blueberries.
It is a long process but it can be worth it when you have some great, homemade yogurt available to you. Thanks to Eryn Wiedner who told us about making our own yogurt.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 71 of our Green Year: Celebrating Canada Day

Happy 141st birthday Canada! Today is Canada Day, and there are plenty of ways that you can celebrate holidays like this, including Independence Day. You could have fireworks, you could drive around, or you could do the green thing and celebrate the nature of your country, town, state or province.

This is what Layla and I did today. We hiked up Mount Roberts, which is about 1,800 meters, and 800 meters above our little town.
This was not an easy thing to do. It took 2.5 hours to get up the mountain, and it involved a lot of crawling on my part for the last half, before we got to the top where the Canada Flag was raised and about 50 or so people sang Oh Canada!

Then we crawled back down the mountain, enjoying nature the entire time as we walked through the forest and got amazing views of the entire area, as well as seeing mountains for as far as the eye could see.

There was simply no better way to celebrate the land we love, than doing it the green way and celebrating the land itself, the land of Canada.