An Effort in Green

A record of my efforts to live a more sustainable life.

Some feelings, and some changes

You've probably noticed my blog postings becoming a little sparse lately. OK, a lot sparse. Admittedly, my heart just hasn't been in it. This is an affliction that often affects environmental bloggers, and others who spend a good deal of energy trying to change their habits and how they affect the environment. It's not that the changes in themselves are hard. Sometimes they are, since our societies were built on environmental degradation, and fighting against that can be a challenge, but often the changes are easy. What's hard is thinking about it all the time. Sometimes it's just easier to let go and do things the way everyone else does them. Except, once you've come this far, it's too late for that. Your green conscious nags at you constantly. It's exhausting.

Therefore, I need to make some changes. Breathe some new life into this blog. For one thing, I will no longer be posting my plastic collections. In fact, I will no longer be collecting my plastic. I feel that I've reached a point where the act of collecting is no longer causing me to make changes. I've come to see it as a minor annoyance, and tend not to think about it as much as I used to, meaning that it's not doing it's job of making me more aware. Also, the plastic posts have taken over this blog. As long as I had those to post, I didn't have a strong enough incentive to actually write something. Hence the atrophy of this blog over the past few months.

So, it's time to start writing about other things. This should also give me more incentive to learn about other things. I will, of course, continue to do everything I can to avoid disposable plastic. And if I think of new ways to do that, I'll still talk about them here. But I'll also broaden my scope to other topics as well, of which there are an abundance in the huge topic of environmentalism.

Now, I'd like some input. What would you like me to write about? I've got a few ideas up my sleeves, but are there specific topics you want to know more about? Maybe you're interested in vegetarianism, trying to live car-free, or trying out vermicomposting? Let me know! Leave your idea in the comments, or send me a private message through my contact form. I'm writing this for you, so I want to write about what you want to read about.

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: June 2011

Recyclable Items (8)
  • 2 soy milk cartons
  • 2 orange juice cartons
  • 1 strawberry carton (PETE 1)
  • 1 sushi container (PS 6)
  • 1 disposable cup (PS 6) (normally I would avoid this kind of thing, but a little girl was selling cups of Kool-aid... how could I refuse?!)
  • 1 package from picture hanging nails

Non-Recyclable Items (25):
  • 3 Twizzlers bags
  • 1 chocolate bar bag
  • 2 perogies bags
  • 1 spaghetti bag
  • 1 pillow wrapper
  • 4 carton seals
  • 1 pill package
  • 1 poster frame package
  • 1 CD wrapper
  • 3 DVD wrappers
  • 3 waffle bags
  • 2 turnover filling packets
  • 2 icing packets

Total Items: 33

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: May 2011

Recyclable Items (6)
  • 2 orange juice cartons
  • 1 honey jar
  • 1 strawberry carton (PETE 1)
  • 1 microwave dinner container (PP 5)
  • 1 Chinese food container (PS 6)

Non-Recyclable Items (12):
  • 2 orange juice seals
  • 1 ice cream treat wrapper
  • 1 noodles bag
  • 1 ice cream carton seal
  • 3 waffles wrappers
  • 1 pill package
  • 1 mint wrapper
  • 1 Blush Berries bag
  • 1 risotto bag

Total Items: 18 (a new record for a month, and pretty close to a record if you average out the weeks, too!)

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: April 2011

Here come the several months of updates on which I've fallen behind, and then an announcement on some changes that are going to happen here at An Effort in Green!

Recyclable Items (10)
  • 1 shower curtain ring package
  • 1 knife package
  • 1 package from bag clips
  • 2 pieces of Styrofoam from toaster (PS 6)
  • 3 orange juice cartons
  • 1 cookie package (PETE 1)
  • 1 soy milk carton

Non-Recyclable Items (28):
  • 1 shower curtain bag
  • 2 wrappers from shelf liners
  • 1 wrapper from kettle
  • 2 bags from popcorn maker
  • 1 bag from pepper mill
  • 1 package from paring knives
  • 1 wrapper from toaster
  • 2 bags from electric mixer
  • 4 carton seals
  • 1 Tostitos bag
  • 1 Skittles bag
  • 1 DVD wrapper
  • 1 CD wrapper
  • 1 brown sugar bag
  • 1 wrapper from router
  • 1 pasta bag
  • 1 waffles bag
  • 1 pill package
  • 1 Soda Stream sample syrup package
  • 1 icing tub
  • 1 toilet paper wrapper
  • 1 Mini Eggs bag

Total Items: 38 (still a lot of moving related stuff)

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: March 2011

An explanation for my absence: In February I was feverishly job searching. Since then, I have been working full time, and in the process of moving. Now we're settled into our apartment, but we still don't have Internet set up. And that's how I came to be sitting in the St. Boniface library hurriedly publishing this post. Sorry for the delay!

Recyclable Items (10)
  • 3 orange juice cartons
  • 2 soy milk cartons
  • 1 strawberry container (PETE 1)
  • 1 soft drink lid from theatre (I don't always manage to convince them fast enough not to give me a lid.)
  • 1 spatula package
  • 1 scissors package (and then the scissors totally broke, so what a waste!)
  • 1 package from cutlery set

Non-Recyclable Items (19):
  • 3 wrappers from cookie sheets
  • 1 takeout container
  • 1 pill package
  • 1 waffles bag
  • 1 rolling pin wrapper
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 toothbrush wrapper
  • 5 carton seals
  • 1 taco shell bag
  • 1 apple turnover filling package
  • 1 icing package
  • 1 chocolate bar wrapper
  • 1 jelly bean bag

Total Items: 29 (Not too bad I say, considering all the packaging caused by moving.)

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: February 2011

Recyclable Items (6)
  • 2 orange juice cartons
  • 3 soy milk cartons
  • 1 honey tub (PP 5)

Non-Recyclable Items (20):
  • 1 toothpaste tube
  • 1 licorice laces bag
  • 1 pill package
  • 2 garlic bread wrappers
  • 2 DVD wrappers (catching up on my seasons of The Office)
  • 1 video game wrapper (a Valentine's Day present)
  • 3 carton seals
  • 1 strawberry turnover filling package
  • 1 icing package
  • 2 perogy bags
  • 1 candy wrapper
  • 1 mint wrapper
  • 1 soda crackers package
  • 1 rice pilaf bag
  • 1 other wrapper that I can't remember the origin of (but it kind of smells like chocolate...)

Total Items: 26 (Which works out to only 6.5 per week! Not too shabby!)

How to Save Electricity

Depending on where you live and the source of your electricity, decreasing your electricity usage can be a major way to decrease your impact on the environment. This is especially true if you live somewhere where coal is still used to power your home. But even here in Manitoba where we use the relatively clean hydroelectric power, more electricity used means more dams eventually being built, which means destruction of habitat. So unless you're living totally off the grid with a roof full of solar panels, you could definitely do some good by cutting down on the electricity. So in today's post I'll talk about two really easy ways to cut down on your electricity usage.

Probably one of the easiest things you can do to save electricity is simply to stop things in your home from using electricity when you're not even using them. If you've done a lot of reading about green living, you've probably heard the term "energy vampire". An energy vampire is an appliance that uses electricity even if it's turned off, as long as it's plugged in. You can sometimes identify these things by their lights that exist just to tell you they're plugged in.

This is an easy problem to solve. Simply unplug things when you're not using them! Or, if you don't even want to go to that much effort, do what I do and use power bars for everything. I have a power bar in my room that has my CD player, several lava lamps that I hardly ever use, my Christmas tree-style lights, my laptop, my cell phone, and my camera plugged into it, though not all at the same time. When I'm not using any of them, I just turn off the power bar, and everything is instantly unplugged! You could have a similar setup where you plug in your TV, video game consoles, and DVD player, as long as the DVD player isn't also your clock.

Another easy place to cut down on electricity is your computer. Obviously, the biggest thing you can do is turn it off at night, or whenever you're not going to be using it for quite a while. And when you do leave it on, change your settings to put the computer to sleep quickly, rather than using a screensaver.

Alternatively, when your computer is on but you aren't using it, you could use that electricity to help a good cause, by signing up at the World Community Grid! With their program, your computer can use its idle CPU time to contribute to good causes by doing computations. One of the projects you can contribute to is the Clean Energy Project, so you could even be helping to improve solar power technology! So it's really a win-win.