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.

Why I created this blog

I know it says on my about page why I created this blog, but I think this is something that I could put more thought into.

I blog to keep myself honest. When I post my plastic tallies, I'm embarrassed at the thought of my readers seeing how much plastic I use, even if it is less than the average person uses. It's just one more factor motivating me to make the necessary changes in my life. And when I find I have nothing to write about besides plastic, I know I'm not doing enough. I need to find some other way to decrease my impact on the planet, and then write about it.

Blogging is also a way for me to connect with other people who care about the environment as much as I do. I love getting to know the people who comment on my posts or email me with questions. Having my own blog also helps me get to know other people who blog about similar topics, who are a huge inspiration to me, as well as a constant source of ideas and information.

In short, I blog because I am on a lifelong journey towards a life that doesn't harm the planet (and preferably even helps it), and this blog is like a map that I'm drawing as I go, both to show myself how far I've come, and to guide others who wish to travel the same road.

Girl Geek Winnipeg Blog Challenge

As you may have noticed from the latest addition to my sidebar, I am participating in a blog challenge with Girl Geek Winnipeg. I've been part of this group for close to a year now. Once a month we get together for dinner (often at Aqua Books), and afterwards usually someone will give a presentation on some geeky topic, such as marketing with social media, or blogging.

It was during one such presentation, the one on blogging, that we came up with the idea of doing a blog challenge. This idea has finally come to fruition! I'm very excited. I have tried to maintain my blog while in university, but I know I didn't always do the greatest job. Well, now I've graduated, and it's high time I breathed some life into this creation of mine.

As I complete each week's challenges, I will link to the posts here, so that this post will serve as a collection of all the posts I did for the challenge, which will make me see how the challenge has helped me as a blogger.

For more information on the challenge, and to see the other blogs that are participating, check out the website. And it's not too late to sign up! You don't even need to be a girl, a geek, or a Winnipegger to participate.

Let the challenge begin!

Why I created this blog
How to Save Electricity

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge: January 2011

Well, here goes. It's my first month of counting my plastic by month instead of by week. Since I probably averaged around 10 items a week before, it stands to reason that in a month I'd accumulate at around 40. Yet still I was not prepared. The good news is, I think this change will definitely serve its purpose of further motivating me to decrease my plastic usage. Seeing a month's worth of plastic piling up in the corner was just depressing.

For too long I've just been counting my plastic. It's been at a standstill for so long that it often feels like I can't get the numbers any lower. Now I see that that has to change. Call it a New Year's Resolution, slightly belated. I need to put more effort into analysing my habits and finding concrete solutions. It's time to put the "effort" back in "An Effort in Green".

Recyclable Items (9)
  • 3 orange juice cartons
  • 1 M&Ms tube (PP 5)
  • 2 tic tac containers (PP 5)
  • 1 plain soy milk carton
  • 1 chocolate soy milk carton
  • 1 cannelloni container (PETE 1)

Non-Recyclable Items (32):
  • 2 pill packages
  • 3 cereal bags
  • 1 Toblerone wrapper (when did these start coming in plastic?!)
  • 4 bread bags
  • 4 sponge toffee bags (ah, the holidays...)
  • 1 garlic bread wrapper
  • 4 drink carton seals
  • 1 bag from a pre-ordered book (when did Chapters switch from cardboard to plastic for this?)
  • 1 soda crackers package
  • 1 wrapper from a box of After Eights
  • 2 cheese slice wrappers
  • 2 microwave popcorn wrappers
  • 1 pilaf package
  • 1 pilaf spice package
  • 1 apple turnover filling package
  • 1 strawberry turnover filling package
  • 2 icing packages

Total Items: 41

Now, some analysis. First, a few items are holiday-specific, i.e. the M&Ms tube, the tic tacs, and the Toblerone. They were gifts that I wouldn't typically buy myself. The After Eights and sponge toffee are usually only available around Christmas, so they won't be common items either.

Next: What could I easily eliminate with just a little bit of effort? Answer: the bread and cereal bags. I can get bread in paper bags, it just takes a bit more effort and dealing with salespeople who don't understand why I wouldn't want plastic. Hence, my mom usually doesn't want to make that effort, so if I just went out and bought my own bread this wouldn't be an issue. As for cereal, I need to find a good bulk cereal to replace the Honey Nut Cheerios and Mini Wheats. It'll probably end up being better for me anyway. Also, popcorn. I have a hot air popper. I'm just too picky about my popcorn. Sure, the microwave one has more flavour, but it also has more weird chemicals. So I need to just get over it and butter my own darn popcorn.

At some point, I also want to learn to make homemade versions of the apple turnovers, strawberry turnovers, and cinnamon buns that Jonathon and I so enjoy. But that's a bigger project.

Show Us Your Plastic Challenge - December 26 - December 31, 2010

Happy belated New Year! (Actually it's only one day belated if you live in Russia, Ukraine, or a few other countries, and I'm actually early if you're Chinese! So yay!) It has been a crazy year for me so far. I just finished university, so I'm job searching, and getting used to a somewhat jarring (though definitely welcome) change of schedule. I'm adjusting, though, and I should have some new posts coming out in no time. So,without further ado, here's my tally for the last week of 2010:

Recyclable Items (1)
  • 1 soy milk carton
  • 1 cheesecake cover
  • 1 advent calendar (plastic on the inside)

Non-Recyclable Items (5):
  • 1 poster frame wrapper
  • 1 sponge toffee bag
  • 1 bread bag
  • 1 Swedish Berries bag
  • 1 soy milk seal

Total Items: 8

You may have noticed that this week is actually only 6 days. That's because I've decided to change how I do these tallies. As of the beginning of 2011, I'm going to go by month. The main reason for this is because I want to improve this blog, and I think that decreasing the number of posts that are just lists of plastic items is a step in the right direction. I'm hoping that this will allow me to focus more of my time and energy on other types of posts. Also, this means I'll have a month's worth of plastic piling up, instead of just a week's worth, which should give me some extra incentive to decrease it!