Wednesday, October 03, 2007

improvement

Edited: Hey it's Delurking Day! Which doesn't mean that you have to comment, or that I feel hostile towards my lurkers. Quite the contrary: I love my lurkers with an endless curiosity. So if you're up for it, I'd love to hear from you. The very kind Morrigan did it... you can too. Even if you just want to tell me your favourite colour (mine is brown... could you tell?).

I meant to post about this AGES ago, but for one reason and another, I haven't. Last month, the BlogHers Act Canada Eco-Challenge urged us to reduce the packaging we use.

Because I only drink tea and it's near impossible to get a decent cup of take-out tea, disposable cups are not such an issue for me. I already had one of my generously proportioned mugs from home at work (because in my world, if you're going to go to the trouble of making a cup of tea you may as well make it a BIG one), since about June. I do drink from plastic water bottles, but I re-use them or often use cups from the cafeteria. The cafeteria also provides plates and metal utensils, further reducing disposable containers.

But I really suck with plastic bags. I've been collecting canvas bags slowly, and I've been pretty good at using them when I'm out picking up a few items with the stroller. But I really sucked at remembering to bring them with me for the big weekly grocery shop in the car. Last month, inspired by a few bloggers, I decided that any shopping trip I forgot the bags I would buy another canvas bag as a sort of penance, which would at least reduce my plastic bag consumption by two or three bags. The result? I only forgot the bags once, and since then I have had two full shopping trips where I didn't need any additional plastic bags. I have also been using a reusable lunch container, because I used to use plastic bags, which often got gross and I'd throw them out after a single use. So far so good, except that my new lunch bag is something I got from Pizza Pizza as a promotion not long ago, and it says, "Hot and Fresh!"

Also, this past week we rented one of those big bins to throw garbage in as we decluttered. I was really conscious of the fact that all that stuff goes straight to landfill, so I made sure to only put stuff in it that couldn't be recycled or donated. It required a few extra bags of recycling and a cartrip to the local good will store with a full trunk, but it was worth it. I also made sure not to put anything toxic in the bin, like old batteries or paint cans. I may not have it down as well as Mad, but I'm working on it.

For October, the challenge is looking to reduce the toxic chemicals in our food and retail products. I find this a little more daunting.

However, after clicking over to the Environemental Defence's Toxic Nation, I realize that I am already doing some things that could help. For example, I don't use any anti-bacterial products, for four reasons: 1) they don't actually work, unless you leave them on for like 30 minutes 2) the active ingredients are often quite damaging to the environment, forming dioxin or other nasty compounds in the presence of sunlight 3) they contribute to antibiotic resistance even more than overprescribed antibiotics and 4) it's not actually desirable to kill all the bacteria on your skin or anywhere else on your body -- they help keep you well and if they get depleted, they leave room for the really nasty microbial critters. I tried, to no avail, to get my workplace to stop using antibacterial soap in the bathrooms, a vestige of the SARS scare (which is VIRAL, people, NOT bacterial). To my knowledge, it's still there, and it still pisses me off.

I don't use many cleaners in my home. Well, ok, that's mostly because I'm a slob, but it's also partly because of all the nasty shit they put in those things and don't tell us about on the labels. Wherever practical, I use simple, old-school cleaners like vinegar or baking soda or plain old soap. And the cleaning service who comes in once every two weeks to scrape the scum out of our kitchen and bathroom only uses environmentally and people-friendly products. There have been studies that show that children from very clean homes have more allergies than children from slightly dirtier homes with pets and dust. So I comfort myself that I am reducing Swee'pea's allergies by being a slob.

We don't use non-stick pots or pans, unless we're visiting Grandma and Grandpa. I always thought it was just Sugar D's paranoia, but Toxic Nation says those surfaces actually are toxic.

There's a lot more I can do, to increase my awareness and lobby for change. I've signed Toxic Nation's petition to urge the Canadian government to ban Bisphenol A, a hormone disrupter found in baby bottles and other hard plastic containers and food cans. I've subscribed to Toxic Nation's e-updates.

Two things I'm going to try to do this month: find a plastic bottle to drink from that doesn't contain Bisphenol A and using more dried beans and legumes instead of canned.

What are you doing?

20 comments:

kgirl said...

We just bought Bee a Born Free sippy cup. No bi-A, but it does leak, so be careful when you put it in your purse.

We are also in the midst of buying some new new baby stuff, and are trying our darndest to make sure that everything is as locally-produced as possible (my new, awesome sling is made in TO), or at least uses organic/non-toxic materials, like Sophie the Giraffe and some organic bedding.

Morrigan said...

I am a huge fan of the Sigg water bottle. Made in Switzerland from aluminum with enamalled interiors, they are lightweight, reusable and just plain fun (you should see the kids' designs!). They are pricier than most plastic bottles, but last forever. The Sigg site (http://www.sigg.ch/) tells you how they're made and this site has the best prices I've seen in Canada http://www.northern-spirit.ca/index.php?cPath=21.

I also carry an assortment of canvas bags, walk to do most of my errands and drag a buggy for large jobs, use environmentally friendly cleaners, conserve water/electricity/resourses to the best of my ability and have learned to tolerate some discomfort in an effort to do so. I also recycle with an almost religious fervour and am trying to simply reduce the amount of stuff we consume. But even with all that, I know it's just a drop in the bucket and there are so many areas where I could improve. My next big "project" is an attempt to eat more local and organic food.

b*babbler said...

I totally forgot to post on this also. Thanks for the reminder!

The bag penance idea is terrific, as I keep forgetting the bags we've purchased for my big shops. Hitting me in the wallet almost always makes me start remembering though.

Beck said...

Great post - and I have to make the switch to dried beans, too.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

That's a great idea -- to buy a canvas bag if you forget yours. I keep trying to remember to bring brown paper bags -- we have so many, I figure it's best to reuse them first -- but they've never made it out of the car...

I just started (in Sept!) doing monthly enviro-related resolutions. I haven't decided what to do this month -- probably something about gardening, about reducing the amt of water I use in my yard/garden.

Mad Hatter said...

Hey,
Let's start a club: Slobs saving the planet. I was nodding my head so vigorously at your para on that.

cinnamon gurl said...

Ooh, Jennifer, the best way to reduce water usage in your garden is to use plants native to your area. You have some beautiful native plants where you are and I could recommend some books if you want.

Mouse said...

I've been meaning to switch us to dried beans because of the bisphenol-a in tin cans, but so far the main result has been that we're just not eating beans and canned veggies.

I've had a rough month environmentally since whenever we travel, there's really no way to avoid buying cans and bottles of drinks in the airport (what with the current rules on liquids). But I'm getting back on track now.

ewe are here said...

Well then, my children should be 110% allergy free!

heh heh


And I'm with you on bringing bags to the grocery store, etc., and I have a couple of canvas bags hanging off the stroller I push the wee one around in at all times.

flutter said...

wow. What AM I doing?

deb said...

I'm delurking but have little else to add. I feel bad about all that I should be doing but am not.

cinnamon gurl said...

Hey Deb. Don't feel bad... there are many, MANY things I don't do but could (did you SEE Mad's list?!?)... we do what we can, when we can... I'm a big fan of self-forgiveness and taking the path of least resistance.

dawn224 said...

Delurking for today! Hello!

Kyla said...

I like the sound of Slobs Saving the Planet. ;)

bubandpie said...

Yellow!

(Not that I'm a lurker or anything.)

nomotherearth said...

I'm on the lookout for a Klean Kanteen. It's not plastic, but it's all kinds of enviro goodness. They make different sizes and they have a sippy cup adaptor. You might try that. I'm finding them sold out in a lot of places right now.

Mimi said...

Hi! I wish I coulda helped with the decluttering, but alas ...

Anyhow, I'm trying to let my inner slob become my inner environmentalist. I'll be posting about chemicals later, but we've been trying for years on this front, and we've just gone back to Scary Laundry Soap, urrrr, because everything else left our clothes dirty, and I'm just not willing to be dirty. But I feel so sad!

Denguy said...

I used to work in the publishing industry, I have loads of canvas book bags of all sizes.

I don't much approve of the plastic re-usable bag that Sobey's peddles, the canvas ones can be laundered. Besides, why exchange the plastic grocery bags with another type of plastic bag?

Christine said...

dude. you are amazing.

what am i doing, in general?

I've become a pro about reusable shopping bags. besides that i think i kind of suck!

(no-- I am actually trying, but i don't want to write it all down right now. . .)

crazymumma said...

I re use all of the lunch baggies. I pull a wagon for my groceries instead of using a car. I use a travel mug. Mostly I remember my shopping bins and canvas bags.

I try and use eco friendly anything when I can, price issues do arise however....

I rarely clean my home.