Thursday, April 30, 2009

The First Plant Sprout in Our Seed Starters

Only took a few days but the first sprout has appeared in our seed starters. We have found three more sprouting (it is in the second row from the top, in the cup on the edge. Click on the photo to see a larger picture of it). Once they get larger we will transplant them into the soil outside.

We also planned out the garden today. We are using rain barrels, compost, soaker hoses and companion in the garden to get the maximum yield from our herb and flower gardens without having to use pesticides or herbicides.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talking To Kids About The Environment

Today is a big day for Layla and myself. Not only is it our five year anniversary, but we are going to the Youth Center in Stony Plain today as we were invited to talk with the kids about eco-awareness. Should be a lot of fun.

We will also be attending an eco-event at Meridian Mall on May 23 in Stony Plain, designed to spread eco tips and knowledge so if you are around, come check it out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seed Starters

Here is a pic of the seed starters we have going in my home office. We have several wild flowers and other types of flowers in place. Once they are ready, we will transplant them into the soil outside. The egg containers are made of paper and cardboard and previously housed organic and free range chicken eggs

Saturday, April 25, 2009

We have launched a new environment site!

In an effort to expand on Our Green Year, Layla and I have launched (name explained on site). This site will serve as a website that offers a wide variety of environment information. From projects to tips, news to interviews, is a one-stop information resource for all things environmental.

We are looking for volunteer writers for the site as well, so if you are interested you can contact me at


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 365 of our Green Year: Going Green....For Life

We have finally made it. Day 365 of going green. A long undertaking but well-worth it in more ways than we can count. Over the past year, we have met a lot of great people and changed our own lives by going green with 365 different green things. From the first day when we began to put out green tips to now, we have covered the gambit of different green tips that everyone can do. We have had difficulty at times, but it has been something we really enjoyed doing.

So, what do we do for Our Green Year's last day? Well, the best thing we can do and that is to continue going green for the rest of our lives. Stopping going green now? Why would we do that? We need to continue going green because that is the commitment we have made for ourselves with Our Green Year.

Our decision today to go green is to keep that message going.

This past year as been an amazing one for us. We have learned a great deal about the environment, both through research and through talking to people about it and hearing from people who come to the blog. We have received a lot of support from the people who come to our blog and while some have called us self-righteous, many many more have told us they support us in what we are doing.

When we started Our Green Year we did it with the only goal of educating ourselves and the environment. We didn't do it for money, for press or anything else. We started it knowing that not everyone could do everything we did, and not everyone would agree with all the posts that we put up. However, by doing 365 things, we knew that we would appeal to a broad spectrum of people and that two very different types of people could take at least 10 tips from our blog to use in their own lives.

Yes, some of our blogs were a bit out of the box for tips, but when you are doing 365 things that is just the way it goes. We supported environmental charities, donated to other causes, signed petitions and used click to donate buttons. These may not have been something everyone does or even thinks helps, but they all serve their purpose in helping the environment.

What comes next for Our Green Year? Do we stop now and go back to the way we were before? No, not at all. We started this blog so that we could change our lives and live green for the rest of our lives. The decisions we have made here will continue in our lives, and we will not fall back on anything.

Day 365 is not the end of Our Green Year, it is only the end of the first phase of something that is very important to Layla and myself and that is going green, educating ourselves, learning from others and helping to spread a green message to those who want to hear it.

Thank you to everyone who has come out to our blog this past year, and we hope you will keep coming after Day 365.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 364 of our Green Year: No More Toothpicks

One day left! Almost over for blogging each day, but not over by a long shot for going green and continuing with this lifestyle. Thank you to Jessica from AM 1150, who was nice enough to do an interview with us today.

Now, back to our second last blog for Our Green Year's first 365 days. Today, we are banning toothpicks. Toothpicks are nice when you have something stuck in your teeth, but it is a piece of wood that is used once and thrown away. Doing some research about toothpicks, we found out that toothpicks are actually older than our own species! Apparently Neanderthal skulls have shown evidence of toothpick use. It is our oldest dental instrument but now thanks to Eco-Dent and baking soda toothpaste, the time for the toothpick has passed.

Toothpicks are made from birch wood. Birch logs are spiral cut into spiral sheets, and then those are chopped, milled and cut into toothpicks. We use them once and throw them away, and our world has lost a tree that can take CO2 out of the atmosphere.

So, Layla and I are banning toothpicks and instead using toothbrushes and Eco-Dent to clear our teeth. It is better for the environment than cutting down a tree, and our teeth won't suffer from the loss of the toothbrush.

At the event we were attending yesterday to help raise money for the Youth Center, we were given two tree saplings and some bookmarks that have wildflower seeds inside so you can put them in the ground and grow wildflowers from. Below is a picture of one of the saplings that we planted.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 363 of our Green Year: Ensuring Clean Filters

Today was a great day for us! We attended the Youth Center Thrift Store Fashion Show where we had an Our Green Year exhibit set up and we met some great people. Thank you to everyone who came by the booth to talk to us, it was nice meeting all of you!

For today, which is our third last day, we are ensuring clean filters in our home and vehicle. As we have mentioned several times during Our Green Year, it is important to check your filters because if they are clogged, then more air needs to be pushed through and that puts more work on the furnace and on the car.

To improve fuel efficiency, you should keep your filters cleaned, as well as for the health of your car. The dirtier your filter is, the more gas you will use because the engine has to work that much harder.

For your home, cleaning the filter for your furnace is important for the environment and your health. Poor filters require more airflow and that takes up more energy, and not as many pollutants will be filtered out by the air filter.

Thanks again to everyone who visited our booth!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 362 of our Green Year: Disposing of Grease Properly

Sometimes when we cook, especially when we make eggs (Bison has nearly no grease and we eat it only once every few months), there is a bit of grease. It used to be people would just drop the grease down the drain and then follow it with hot water to keep it from becoming solid in the drain. However, as it turns out this not a very good idea and there have been plenty of commercials on television advertising this fact.

When you dump grease down the drain, it causes sewer blockages that can then cause overflows and ruin homes, cause problems for the environment and even cause health problems for people. You can find that raw sewage will back up into your home, your neighborhood and even in parks when these types of blockages happen.

Instead of just dumping the grease down the drain, Layla and I will put the grease in a container and when that container is full, we will take it to the proper disposal facility. That way we prevent environmental damage, and we keep sewage from backing up into our property! No one likes a backed up septic tank!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 361 of our Green Year: Celebrating Earth Day and Spreading The Green Message

The countdown continues to the end of the year! Four days to go! Today we went to the Farmer's Market and picked up some organic honey from a local supplier. It tastes great in the coffee. It was also refreshing to see so many local people selling food that is organic and preservatives free!

As for today, we are going green by celebrating Earth Day. In fact, we are celebrating Earth Day a few times this next week and a half!

On Monday, we are attending a Earth Day Thrift Fashion Show, where we will have a display of the things we have done this year. We are going to be talking with people who come by and spreading our own bit of environmental wisdom (as little as there may be) from the past year.

Then, that following Sunday we are going to the big Earth Day event in Edmonton. We are not speaking or have anything on display, but we are going to go and see others who are celebrating the Earth, learn more about what we can do to help and maybe make some new friends.

Then, on April 28, we are going to the Youth Center to talk to the kids about environmental issues, answer their questions and spread some more information about going green. We are really looking forward to this because our main goal with Our Green Year has been to help others learn about going green, and help them go green as well.

Only a few days till Earth Day everyone! What are you planning on doing?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 360 of our Green Year: Picking Wild Berries

Well, five days left! We are counting down and are amazed that the entire year is almost over.

Now, as for today's blog, it comes to us courtesy of Jenni who made a good suggestion about ways that we can have some great berries, but without the CO2 to get us the berries, or the plastic packaging that comes with those berries.

It involves picking berries, and before we go any further it is very important that you ONLY PICK BERRIES THAT YOU CAN IDENTIFY AS GOOD NOT POISONOUS. Don't be stupid and just grab a handful of berries that you find in the forest. If you don't know what the berry is, then don't eat it!

Now, in Rossland we had wild huckleberries growing all around us and when we would go on hikes we would pick them. They made great and healthy snacks for both us and the bears who frequented the area.

Now, where we are in Alberta, there are actually plenty of berries that we can eat, especially close to us along the banks of the North Saskatchewan (about two km away from us). As well, on our property there are even raspberry bushes growing! This is great because Layla and I are big fans of raspberries, and to find out we have some growing on this property was a great bit of good news.

So, instead of buying strawberries and other berries at the store and dealing with the travel CO2 and the packaging of those berries, we will instead pick them from the wild here to eat. We will only pick those we can identify as safe (as should everyone else) and we will only pick enough for a pie or a dish, never more than we should have lest we rob local wildlife of this wonderful delicacy.

A cool bit of news. Layla and I were getting a lunch at the organic cafe here and we saw a poster for the Earth Day event we are attending with an exhibit of Our Green Year. It was actually really cool because when we looked on the poster, we saw that we were labeled as special guests, which we thought was a really cool honor and something we were not expecting at all! Thanks Jennifer!

If you are in Stony Plain on April 20, come out and support this wonderful event at the Stony Plain Community Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It helps the local Youth Center and will have many great things to come out and check out! While you are there, drop by our table and say hi!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 359 of our Green Year: Disposing of CFLs

Way back, about 350 days back or so, give or take a few days, we switched our house to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights), or rather our old house in Rossland. At the new ranch, we set up CFLs as well. Some of these lights can last for upwards of 10 years, and that means that even though they are incredibly energy efficient, they will need to be replaced and if you want to be environmentally friendly, you won't just throw them in the garbage.

It is amazing, but only three percent of CFLs are disposed of correctly, or correctly recycled. The rest ends up in landfills and this creates a problem because the bulbs contain mercury. It is unfortunate that such an energy efficient product, that can literally save millions of tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere, can also contain an element that is so poisonous to the environment. Mercury is so bad that if you drop one of these bulbs on the floor, everyone in the room should clear out for 15 minutes so that the dust can settle and the broken pieces can be swept up. Once you sweep it up, seal it in a bag and put it in the trash, most places won't take CFLs like this unfortunately so it has to go in the trash.

Thankfully, recycling CFLs is very easy because many companies and stores will take the old CFLs and dispose of them for you. Home Depot and IKEA are two places that take CFL lights. You can also visit and call 800-CLEAN-UP to find a list of places that you can dispose of the CFLs at.

One cool note. We were at Rona recently picking up another recycling bin for our ranch to help better organize everything and we saw this sign at the checkout. Good Job Rona!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 358 of our Green Year: Renting Bikes

A few times during Our Green Year, we have mentioned ways that we can all go green with vacations. We have already practiced a staycation this year, and next year we are taking the train to visit friends out in Ontario for a wedding. Well, while we are there we have decided that instead of renting a car for getting around, we will go green and rent some bikes.

Jenni was nice enough to suggest to this us by sending an e-mail to us and we really do appreciate it :)

Taking a train is greener than driving that long distance as we showed in the original post, and rather than create more CO2 in the atmosphere, we will bike around. Of course we did address biking out to Ontario but it is 3,000 kilometers and we just can't take that long of time away from our company.

So, Min, Jay, Faith, Stacey, and The Dude, we will be seeing you next year and we will be visiting your wonderful town on bikes, not in a car.

Thanks again Jenni for suggesting this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 357 of our Green Year: Blue Planet Products

A little while ago, I saw a commercial from Canadian Tire that advertised their Blue Planet products. I was intrigued because of their promise to plant a tree for every Blue Planet item bought, so I thought I would look into it.

From April 11 to May 8, 2009, anyone who buys a Blue Planet product will have a tree planted in their name. According to Canadian Tire, roughly 100,000 trees should be planted, and that means millions of tonnes of CO2 being taken out of the atmosphere as a result. Since these trees are only planted when you buy environmentally friendly Blue Planet products, you are creating a double whammy of help for the environment.

The products that come as part of the Blue Planet line include CFL bulbs, rechargeable batteries, energy meters and natural household cleaning products. Even reusable shopping bags, lawn products and solar panels are included in this.

So, not only are Layla and I spreading the word about this great initiative, we are also going to pick up a few products that we need, or will need in the future, to get a few trees planted to help out the environment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 356 of our Green Year: Banning Leather

A long time ago, way back in the summer, Layla and I banned beef in our lives because the livestock industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. Well, today we are banning leather in our lives because of its effect on the environment.

First of all, the practice of getting leather is not at all green or nice for the animals whose skin makes up that leather. We have heard about a video that shows a cow being skinned alive for its hide. That alone is reason enough for us not to buy leather. It should be noted that those companies that use those types of practices are the minority rather than the majority.

Second, the tanning industry in large scale terms uses a lot of energy, and as we all know, energy means CO2 production usually, and that means greenhouse gases being put into the atmosphere.

To understand the effect of the tanning industry on the environment, here is the process.
  1. The hides are prepared by using salt.
  2. The hides are soaked with perfectly good water to remove all that salt.
  3. The hides are then treated with one or more of the following chemicals to get rid of the hair: sodium sulfide, sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrosulfite, arsenic sulfide, calcium hydrosulfide, dimethyl amine, sodium suphydrate
  4. Once the hair is gone, the hides are put through another salt and suphuric acid treatment.
  5. The hides are soaked in water again
  6. The actual tanning is performed with chromium sulfate.
Instead, Layla and I will stick with our commitment to buy green clothes only when we need them, and from now on leather is out of the question for us.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 355 of our Green Year: Bulk Spices

What a crazy day it has been for us. First we saw we made the Edmonton Journal, page 5!, and thank you to everyone who came by to drop us a line on our blog. We appreciate it! Then, we had another interview with Global who were great for coming out and doing the interview with us at our farm! Thanks so much :)

As for today, it is a short blog because it has been a long day and it is also Easter Sunday (Happy Easter everyone!).

As I have mentioned before, Layla really enjoys making organic dog treats, and with those dog treats it is important to have the right spices like Careb, which is the chocolate alternative for dogs because dogs cannot have chocolate (it can be dangerous in certain quantities).

We are going to be filling up bulk items with reusable containers or bags, but we have found that our local grocery store does not carry a lot of bulk spices. Usually you have to buy your spices in small containers or small plastic bags that are very hard to reuse. Not to mention that we keep all our spices in nice little containers in the cupboard, which makes these other containers kind of useless to us.

So, from now on we will be buying our spices in bulk, using our bulk containers. The organic store where we live carries some spices in this manner and we will be searching out other places that have spices in bulk. We don't need a lot of spices, but those we buy will be bought in a manner that eliminates packaging.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 354 of our Green Year: Gauze over Band Aids

Today was a pretty eventful day for us. Not only did we do a fair-trade and organic Easter egg hunt at the ranch (Happy Easter everyone!) but we also were interviewed by the Edmonton Journal! Thanks to Andrea and Chris for taking the time to come out and talk with us, we really appreciate it!

As for today, we are using a tip that we will need whenever we have a cut or scrape. Typically, we will reach for bandaids, which are great, but the problem that arises from them comes from their packaging. Bandaids are packaged in boxes, which sometimes have plastic wrapping inside, which then has bandaids that are individually wrapped, which then have two strips that you rip away so that you can stick the bandaid to your boo boo.

However, there is another way to treat wounds and it is gauze. Gauze is a mesh fabric that actually make up part of bandaids. Rather than buy all the other stuff that comes with the bandaid, we are just buying a roll of gauze instead. Packaged simply and there is plenty to use, gauze is a good environmental solution for minor cuts and scrapes.

Another great thing about gauze is that it has many uses beyond first aid as well. Some of these uses include:
  1. First, you can cut the gauze into small two inch square pads and use that to remove makeup.
  2. You can hold up plants that need to be tied to small supports (like new trees or tomatoes) by using rolled gauze. Gauze is soft so it can hold these plants without injuring the branches.
  3. For the seeds you plant in your garden this year, you can put rolled gauze over the row of seeds to protect the seeds from birds and insects, while still allowing water and sun to get through.
  4. You can brush your dog's teeth with gauze by just wrapping a bit around your finger and wetting it.
So, for us from now on it is gauze instead of bandaids.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 353 of our Green Year: Local Flowers

Layla and I have an upcoming anniversary and that means giving gifts for each other, although its not really required. Typically, I like to give Layla a bouquet of flowers on our anniversary (cliche I know) and I have thought about that and how to make sure it is green this year. Last year, Layla gave me a pot with a flower seed in it for my birthday, and I wanted to do something a bit different, so I am going to get her another bouquet of flowers, but will do it in a green way.

First, I am going to get flowers that are native to the area of Alberta, or at the very least Western Canada. Second, I am going to get them from a greenhouse that is here and which grows it here. This is because I want to lower the carbon footprint associated with those flowers. The less those flowers have to travel the better. Since I also want to get flowers native to Western Canada, even the seeds won't take long to travel here.

Lastly, this helps to support the local economy, which is very important in these trying economic times.

In addition to the flowers, we will also try and plant some trees, give money to an environmental cause and, as luck would have it, on our anniversary we are speaking to some kids about the environment at a youth club. That means for this anniversary, we are using sustainable flowers as gifts, planting trees and teaching kids about why they should care about the environment.

Sure we could not buy each other gifts, but our anniversary is about showing love and nothing is as lovely as flowers and the environment :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 352 of our Green Year; Bulk Food Bags

Layla and I do a lot of cooking, and Layla enjoys making dog treats that are safe and organic. Some times this means going to the organic store or elsewhere and buying bulk items. However, when we get something in the bulk containers, we have to use a plastic bag and plastic bags are a no-no in our household. So, we need to find a new option.

The first option is to just reuse the plastic bags we already have in the house so that we are reusing items and getting more use out of them.

The second option is to use small cloth bags, but so far we have been unable to find these types of bags.

The third option is to use small containers that we can store the bulk items in. This will cost extra money because the weight of the container will go into the cost of the bulk items, but at least we can reuse these items over and over instead of plastic bags. These could include yogurt containers, small glass containers and more.

We are going to try the third option and hopefully the store does not have a problem with it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 351 of our Green Year: No Highlighters

Well, only two weeks left to go! It is crazy to think we have done 351 blogs throughout this year, but now that we are close to finishing Our Green Year, we realize what a monumental effort this has been at times. Given all of that, we would do it all over again if we had to because it was simply great.

Now, getting to our post for today. In our work as professional writers, we have found that on occasion we need highlighters, especially when we are doing research for a book for a client. However, recently when I went to look at buying more highlighters I began to think about the effect these have on the environment. First of all, you have to look at their manufacturing where several chemicals are used to create the color that we see on the paper. While most highlighters these days are water-based and alcohol-based, they still contain some chemicals and those chemicals leach into the landfills when they are thrown away. Some contain xylene and volatile organic compounds that leach their way into our environment. As well, there is the plastic housing of the highlighters to consider.
Of course all this amounts to only a little bit in each highlighter, but multiply it by millions of highlighters each year and that is a big problem.

So, from now on Layla and I will be 'highlighting' by underlining things in the paper using our biodegradable pens.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 350 of our Green Year: Organic Honey

For the past few years, there has been a condition going through bee colonies around the world where the colonies collapse as the bees abandon them, or die in them. Many feel that it is as a result of climate change and how some beekeepers handle their bees and harvest the honey. Two years ago, I interviewed a beekeeper about colony collapses for the paper I was editor of and he felt that it was because bees are often transported almost constantly throughout the year in the United States, and many chemicals are used for the harvest of the honey that spreads throughout the colonies.

As a result, Layla and I will be purchasing organic honey that is also relatively local to where we are. Under law, honey cannot be labeled organic if its production contains any trace of chemicals, drugs or antibiotics. Some beekeepers use sulfa compounds and antibiotics to control the diseases of bees, and carbolic acid to remove the honey from the hive. As well, some use calcium cyanide to kill colonies before they get the honey out.

Organic honey is safe to eat and the beekeepers take the organic part of the name very seriously. They safeguard a natural habitat for the bees, providing them their nourishment in a natural way as nature intended. Bees are not exterminated at the end of the season either, instead the beekeepers honor the natural life cycle of the bees and rarely transport them anywhere.

So for us, it is organic honey all the way.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 349 of our Green Year: Adding Green Tips To Email Signatures

Today, we have an easy and short green tip. Each day, Layla and I send out at least a dozen e-mails to clients, friends and family. Since we send out those e-mails, we thought that it would be a great idea to add something to those e-mails that helps other people go green. I had seen this before on e-mails sent to me and read about it on Green As A Thistle as well.

So, from now on we will add a tag line to our e-mail signature that will urge people to go green and offer them a green tip as well. Something like "Do you need to print this e-mail? Save paper if you can!" or "Remember to put your computer in standby when not using it!"

Those little tips might be just enough to get someone to think a little bit greener in their day-to-day lives.

Also, a bit of good news. Layla and I currently have one of our companies on a green web host server, which uses green energy and carbon offsets so that the servers don't contribute to greenhouse gases (a very serious problem). Well one of our subsidiary companies is now listed on that same green webhost, as are two of my parent's company websites. All were switched over from a web host company that did not use green options.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 348 of our Green Year: Understanding Waste Decomposition

Many times throughout Our Green Year, we have used one of our blogs to help spread information that we can all use to make better green decisions. Recently on Green Living Tips we came across a list of waste decomposition rates, and we thought this was a great thing to center a blog around. The reason is that when people understand how long it truly takes things to break down in nature, they will make better green decisions. Too often people throw something away and assume that it will just eventually disappear.

Most people will be surprised by just how long things take to decompose. Both Layla and I were.

Here are decomposition rates of various items we all throw away, again courtesy of Green Living Tips, along with some of the events that occured that same number of years ago to put it in perspective.
  • Glass Bottle: 1,000,000 years. Roughly one million years ago humans were just learning to walk upright.
  • Mono-filament fishing line: 600 years. Six centuries ago it was 1409. That was over 80 years before Columbus landed in the New World.
  • Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years. Four and a half centuries ago it was 1559. Back in that year, Queen Elizabeth I was crowned Queen of England.
  • Disposable Diapers: 450 years. See above.
  • Aluminum Can: 200 years. Back in 1809, Charles Darwin was born in England.
  • Boot sole: 80 years: Back in 1929 the Stock Market crashed, paving the way for the Great Depression.
  • Tin Can, Leather and a Styrofoam Cup: 50 years. Back in 1959, Fidel Castro took control of Cuba.
  • Nylon Fabric: 40 years. In 1969, man landed on the moon for the first time.
  • Plastic film canister: 30 years. In 1979, the Edmonton Oilers joined the NHL and Wayne Gretzky played his first NHL game.
  • Wool sock and Cigarette filter: Five years. In 2004 I first met Layla and George W. Bush was re-elected as President of the United States.
  • Plywood: Three years. In 2006, Layla and I were married and the Edmonton Oilers came within one game of the Stanley Cup (Yes, I am an Oilers fan :) )
  • Wax milk carton: Three months. In January, Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States.
  • Apple core: Two months. In February, a Russian and American pair of satellites collided over the Earth.
  • Newspaper: Six Weeks. In March, NASA's Keplar mission is launched to search for extrasolar planets.
  • Paper towel: Four weeks. In March, see above.
So, by looking at these decomposition rates we can learn to recycle and reuse so that these items don't end up in the landfills where they can sit for decades, centuries or even 1,000,000 years.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 347 of our Green Year: Shaving Green

As most of you will figure out from pictures of me on this blog, I have a beard. However, while I have a beard, there is the need to shave my neck and parts of the face to ensure the beard doesn't start to look too shaggy.

Disposable shavers are out of the question because Layla and I stopped buying disposables months ago. Each year in the United States, 2,000,000,000 disposable razors are purchased, and that means 2,000,000,000 razors end up in the landfills each year.

We figure that using an electrical razor is better than the alternatives because it lasts for years, you don't have to replace it and it only uses a small amount of electricity. However, what if you don't have an electrical razor? What can you do? Here are some quick tips to help you.

You can try and extend the life of your disposable razors, if that is what you buy, by limiting how much you rinse it. You can use the razor until its blunt or rusts. The rusting happens quickly and that makes it go dull. To slow down the rusting, only rinse your razor minimally and flick off excess water when you are done with it. Then, put it in a container of olive oil. You can greatly increase the life of the disposable razor by doing this.

As for shaving cream, well it contains many chemicals that you may not want touching your skin. Courtesy of Green Living Tips, here is some of the ingredients found in shaving cream:

Palmitic Acid
Stearic Acid
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium benzoate
Lauryl alcohol
Stearyl alcohol
Irish moss
Dimethicone PEG/PPG-20/23 benzoate
DMDM Hydantoin
PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol ether
PEG-40 Hydrogenated castor oil
Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate

Naturally, you may not want that on your skin. Not to mention that goes down the drain and then out into our natural environment. Not all gets removed in water purification processes.

Instead, look for some natural shaving creams, or even look at making your own natural soaps for shaving by doing a search on Google!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 346 of our Green Year: Greening Our Easter

Well next week is Easter and as Layla and I have done for Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, we are going to green it up.

There are several great ways that you can green Easter, without sacrificing those precious memories of chocolate that we all have for the holiday.

First of all, you can look at the basket that you are using to collect eggs and choose one that you can reuse. You can reuse baskets for gathering flowers, vegetables, or to hold things in the living room like magazines. They can also make great holders of fruits in your kitchen.

Second, instead of buying the fake plastic type grass that comes in baskets that you find in stores, use real grass.

Next, you can choose not to use real eggs but papier-mache eggs that can be reused over and over again through the years. This makes a great option if you don't want to use eggs. If you decide to use eggs, use eggs that come from grain fed, free range chickens.

If you choose to use real eggs, then use natural dyes instead of dyes that come from chemicals. Your local organic store should have some natural dyes that you can use.

Fourth, don't buy any of those small chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. There are dozens of these eggs per plastic bag and that means a lot of foil wrapping. Instead of buying those eggs, give gifts to your children that they can reuse.

On that same point, remember it is the experience that makes Easter fun, not the toys or candy.

Speaking of candy, if you decide to give chocolate, please choose organic and fair trade chocolate. Fair trade chocolate is chocolate that comes from farmers who got the cocoa in conditions that are not borderline slavery, and all the farmers who sell fair trade cocoa are paid what they should be paid.

Enjoy your Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 345 of our Green Year: Making Pot Pourri

Months ago, we banned buying air fresheners in our house because they carry particles that can be carcinogenic, and that just happens to be where the chemical smell comes from. However, when we made our own air fresheners, we found it was not as easy as you would think and did not work all that well. To compensate, we would open our windows to clear the air rather than buy air fresheners.

Well, now thanks to Daily Eco Tips, we have a new way and it comes by making our own pot pourri. By making our own pot pourri, we can eliminate the need not only for chemical air fresheners, but also those air fresheners that come in plastic containers and use an aerosol-based spray.

Pot pourri can be made easily. All it takes is picking some flowers and using their petals, grabbing some pine needles, some leaves and other outdoor offerings from plants. That way, you can put it altogether into a bowl and allow the fresh smell of the outdoors to fill your home. While opening the windows can do this, on those cold and windy days, using what nature provides may be the best option.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 344 of our Green Year: No Polyester

Layla and I have tried to green our wardrobe through a number of methods during Our Green Year. We have limited our clothing purchases to only when we need clothes. We try and only buy our items from thrift stores so we are not buying new clothes. If we do buy new, we look for clothes that are made from organic cotton and from hemp. Today, we go another step further and ban polyester clothes in our home.

Polyester is often thought of in terms of the polyester suits that existed in the 1970s. These clothes were not attractive yet they sold like hot cakes during that decade. These days, many clothes are made from polyester rather than cotton. However, polyester is made from a nonrenewable crude oil that is a heavy producer of pollution due to mining and manufacturing of it.

While it may seem pointless to ban polyester since we only buy second-hand and natural fiber items, there are several other items that are made from polyester. Polyester fabrics are used in bed sheets, curtains and draperies. In addition, it is used in rope, and serves as stuffing for comforters and cushions.

So for us, polyester is banned in our household in all its various forms.