Posts filed under ‘Reducing Our Impact’

Raising Environmentally Conscious Kids

I was tagged by Late Bloomer to share my “Top Three” ideas  on how to raise environmentally conscious children. Little E is still…well little! These ideas are pretty general but appropriate for the preschooler set.

Set an Example & Get them Involved – This one is pretty obvious but so crucial it is worth repeating. To raise environmentally conscious children we have to be environmentally conscious parents. We have to make environmental choices in our day to day lives and model these choices. We don’t have to be perfect…because nobody is. We need to involved our children and talk about why we do things (or don’t do things) and how our actions impact our environment.

Know Your Neighbours! – easy for me to say living in a cohousing complex and all but I really feel that knowing the people around you and creating a community allows you so many ways to share resources. Be it a borrowing a cup of sugar from the people next door, carpooling or passing on children’s clothing – sharing resources has many environmental benefits and knowing your neighbours opens the door to these opportunities.

Get Out in Nature – To raise children that want to protect the environment and make environmentally conscious decisions they need to know intimately what they are protecting. It seems that children are not getting as much free time to play in and learn about the natural world. This is even more important for those living in cities. We live in a very urban community and try to get out a few times a week to “the forest.” It may be a patch of undeveloped land between a local park and the inlet below or the North Shore mountains. We dress for the occasion in all our rain gear and the walk is not so much about the destination but rather the journey. At this time of year the goal is to get muddy, to roam freely and explore nature.  If this resonates with you I highly recommend Last Child in the Woods…a great read.

Since I was tagged with this post I thought I would pass this exercise onto a few other bloggers, hoping they will share their ideas own ideas. I’m tagging Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly and Jane at Little Seedlings.

February 17, 2008 at 4:45 am 5 comments

2º of Fear and Desire

For those local readers this sounds like a very interesting event happening throughout Metro Vancouver during February and March.

2-degrees-of-fear-and-desire.jpg

2 degrees of Fear and Desire is theatre without a play – just us and our fears, desires, and challenges facing global warming. Facilitated, or joked,  by Headlines Theatre’s David Diamond, the audience is invited to use theatre techniques to delve deep into their community’s and their own experiences, to turn the spotlight away from the spectacle of environmental devastation and shine it in the mirror.

2 degrees of Fear and Desire events will happen at intimate venues across Vancouver, plus dates in Richmond and North Vancouver. Each evening, the stories onstage will come from the audience, and together we will grapple with our daily choices in the face of global warming. It’s theatre without a net: exhilarating, engaging, and fun.

For more information on this event, specific dates and locations near you click here.

February 5, 2008 at 5:42 pm 1 comment

Things I LOVE – All Natural Home Cleaning

I’ve talked here quite a bit about the things we’ve done as a family to reduce our impact on the environment, but one thing that I haven’t touched on yet is the one thing that I think is essential for both frugal reasons and environmental ones. Now I don’t really love cleaning my home but the task is made much better while using all natural cleaning products. I’ve used store bought green cleaners for years – good for the environment but not the pocket book. I always use much less than what the manufacture recommends.  The product last a long time however it feels like I’m always having to buy more and with living on three floors I’ve been looking for something more economical that I can have on each floor. In terms of store bought green cleaners I’m partial to the Ecover line of products and am still using the Seventh Generation laundry detergent to wash our clothes. 

Recently I have made the switch to DIY cleaners made from recipes containing Dr. Bronner’s, lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, my favourite essential oils and water. The cost is dramatically less, its fun mixing up the solutions and best of all they work. My home is clean and there are no toxic chemicals or nasty smells…mostly you smell a light lavender-vinegar scent. The little one loves to help and has her own spray bottle and cloth.

Surface Cleaner:
2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
10 – 15 drops of lavender essential oil
Fill bottle almost full with warm water
add 2 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s

Glass Cleaner:
1/2 cup vinegar
10 – 15 drops of lavender essential oil
Fill bottle almost full with warm water
add 1 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s

Bathroom Cleaner:
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tsp Baking Soda
10 drops of lavender essential oil
Fill bottle almost full with warm water
add 2 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s

September 7, 2007 at 3:51 am 1 comment

The 11th Hour

If you have been living under a rock or totally off the grid (good for you), however, you may not have heard about Leonardo DiCaprio’s new documentary, the 11th Hour.

The film is a new feature length documentary focusing on our environmental crises caused by human actions and their impact on the planet. It explores how humanity has arrived at this moment; how we live, how we impact the earth’s ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course. You can view the trailer below:

I managed some time away from the little one and a movie date with a good friend this past weekend. Of course we went and saw the 11th Hour.

The 11th Hour is packed full with a wide range of people (Stephan Hawking, David Suzuki, Bruce Mau, etc.) and information about our current situation here on earth, how we got here and what we need to do NOW to make change. Unlike previous eco-documentaries that opt for manipulative scare tactics, this film’s strength is in its directness, from start to finish. The movie will definetly appeal to a wide audience—and most likely a young one. I hope that it becomes required viewing in grade schools in years to come.

The take away message … CONSUME LESS. LIVE MORE.

Along with the film, the filmmakers created www.11thhouraction.com, an action website based solely on helping people identify the things everyone can do to become more sustainable. (more…)

September 4, 2007 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

“B” is for Beg, Borrow and Barter

letterb.jpg

One way of reducing our consumption of resources, save money and build community is to get the word out about what you need and then borrow or barter for it. In our consumerist society this is so often forgotten. We all need to beg, borrow and barter for things more often.

Bartering in Action
Through various work connections we bartered computer services for a new computer. Great! Wounderful! Our old computer was running out of hard drive space and a little too slow for our needs. The new machine is efficient, fast and has more space than the old one.

At the same time our neighbours had put the word out that their computer had died and they were in need of a new one. Well we moved hard drives around and used our old computer box to build our neighbours a new to them computer. The same neighbours are in the middle of a bathroom renovation and have an old bathroom cabinet they no longer need. You guessed it…we are in need of a cabinet in our bathroom. So they now have our old computer happily humming away at their house and we have a newly installed bathroom cabinet. Bartering really does work!

Borrowing in Action
As I’ve mentioned before we live in a cohousing community where sharing resources is a central theme. If I need to trim the plants in my garden I simply go to the Garden Shed and borrow whatever tools I need. If I’m canning some Summer Salsa I simply go to the Common House and borrow a canner and all the necessary tools. If I need my carpets cleaned I can put the word out to my neighbours and we can hire a company to come in and clean all our carpets at the same time, usually for a cost savings.

Why can’t this model of sharing resources be incorporated into the design of our cities? Why does every household need a lawn mower or other items used infrequently? Could neighbourhoods have a central coop where they could go to get a tool that they need when they need it? This wouldn’t have to be limited to tools…what about camping gear, sports equipment, children’s toys, etc.???

P.S. – The Summer Salsa turned out great. It’s from this wounderful book on home preserving.

September 2, 2007 at 7:22 pm 1 comment

Greening My Kitchen(ware)

kitchenware.jpg

No, I’m not painting my kitchen green…though that might be a nice change. I have been working to replace many of my not-so-environmentally friendly kitchen items with items that are more “green” and healthier for my friends, family, community, and ultimately the earth. This is an ongoing process as I am not greening my kitchen overnight. I’m scouring local thrift stores for second-hand alternatives and at the same time purging the unhealthy items as I go.

Cookware
The first to go was all my Teflon™ coated pans. Why oh why were these in my house in the first place???

It has been reported as far back as 1997 that tetrafluroethylene – a major component in Teflon™ – causes “carcinogenic activity” in rats and mice. Apparently this chemical doesn’t leach into foods from cookware but to be on the safe side I am getting it out of my kitchen. You can read more about this here.

I am moving to cast iron for my cookware. I have found a few second hand cast iron pans and love them. Don’t be scared by the idea of having to season your pan, it’s actually really easy. For my baking needs I am moving to glass dishes such as these new ones and these great vintage ones.

Glass, stainless steel, and cast iron are all tried and true for safety. In fact, cast iron can add needed iron to your diet.

Reusable Kitchenware
Durable, reusable and longlasting kitchenware will significantly reduce my consumption of resources saving us a great deal of money (getting items second-hand only adds to this cost savings). The following are some ideas for reusable and longlasting items to use instead of disposable kitchenware:

  • Reusable Coffee Filters – I love my reusable filter that I have been using for over 6 years. Yes, it gets washed. Paired with my favourite organic fair trade coffee makes for a great morning ritual.
  • Cloth towels and napkins – I’ve mentioned this one before. To cut down on excessive washing we share one napkin (the family napkin) during casual dinners with the hubby and little one. When we have guests everyone is offered there own.
  • Glass baking dishes – I’ve found a number of these at my local thrift store.
  • Cloth bags for shopping – don’t forget to take your produce bags too!
  • Reusable lunch and water containers – Love the laptop lunch bento box and Kleen Kanteen for the little one. I am enjoying my Sigg water bottle.
  • Glass or stainless storage containers – I’m working on replacing my vast Tupperware collection with glass storage containers and stainless steel bowls with lids
  • Rechargeable Household Batteries – are there any other kind!

Any other suggestions or ideas for me?

August 29, 2007 at 9:18 pm 2 comments

Adventures in Canning

peaches.jpg

In an effort to eat as local as possible and savour the bounty of summer well into winter, I’ve been picking, purchasing and preserving large amounts of my favourite fruits. I’ve made strawberry jam, blueberry/raspberry jam and today my neighbour and I canned 40 lbs of peaches (20 lbs each).

The How:

1 – You can use a “syrup” to can the peaches or you can simply use water. Sugar has no preserving qualities and is used mainly for taste. I decided to use a very light sugar syrup. To 6 cups of water add 2 cups of sugar (yes this is the light version!). Heat to simmering. Next year I would like to try a honey based syrup.

2 – Wash peaches while you boil water in a large pot, enough water to cover a the peaches. Reduce water to a simmer after it boils.

3 – Dunk the peaches in the hot water for 20 – 45 seconds. Move them into a bowl of ice water. Skins will come right off after they cool for a few more seconds.

4 – Cut and pit peaches into whatever size you would like.

5 – Hopefully you have started your canner water to boil and washed your jars. If you haven’t, now is the time. Simmer the jar lids and rings, then cover and set aside. Scald the quart jars in the boiling canner water or run them through the dish washer.

6 – Pack your peach slices into the jars as tightly as possible, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top.

7 – Using a ladle or large spoon, fill the jar with the syrup to ½” of the jar top.

8 – Using a small spatula, try to remove as many air bubbles as possible from the jar. Slide the spatula down the sides of the jar to remove the bubbles.

9 – Remove a ring and lid from the hot water and tighten on the jar.

10 – Place in the boiling water canner and process for 20 minutes.

11 – Remove the jars and let cool overnight. In the morning, check the seals, remove the rings, label and store in a cool dark place.

I can’t wait to open a jar on a rainy day in December and think back to summer.

August 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm 1 comment

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I am passionate about reducing my impact on the environment and am learning to live simply and live green. I am learning the age old arts of home food preservation and cooking from scratch. This is yet another eco-blog and a place for me to really channel my passions for writing, photography and sustainable living.
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