Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Living a greener lifestyle

Chris and Mar's new website (can I link it yet?) is a delightful blog compiling information on living greener, healthier, and earth-friendlier... if I may sum it up thusly. I think it's awesome that we are slowly learning to embrace environmentally sound options in our lives. We live in a privileged part of the world and yet it's so easy to squander all of our resources, to waste when we could re-use, to harm the earth carelessly. It's sort of an interesting conundrum ... it's cheaper to use disposable stuff and to eat non-organic food... and although as one of the richest nations in the world, we have the ability to choose better options ... we usually don't. Our consumerist, get-things-cheaper attitude takes over. We complain about items made in China when they turn out to contain lead or are made of something disgusting, etc. But we usually won't bring ourselves to spend more to buy a locally made item or food product. The almighty dollar governs our lives. Of course, the less we spend now, the more it costs us in the future. Interesting how that works.

As the price of gas climbs ever upward, I find myself wondering how I can lessen my own impact on the earth. Unfortunately there is little I can do about my commute. There is no reasonable transit option and I can't carpool with anyone. I do try to drive the hybrid twice a week (and I am campaigning for hybrid #2 when we finish paying off the first one...) I can't work from home and what's worse, I often have to drive to and from various places while I'm already at work.

So... here are some small things I am trying to do - feel free to add suggestions!:

  • pack a lunch - it means less packaging and it's healthier anyway (I'm doing my best!)
  • lighten up on the gas pedal - it's more gas-efficient. And avoid idling!
  • recycle, recycle, recycle. Ugh, this is a tough one sometimes. But after seeing some shows on landfills and what shouldn't be in them, I'm convinced!
  • grow vegetables - well - this is just a dream for now.
  • get a water meter at our new house - complete with low flow toilets and faucets and showerheads
  • take shorter showers
  • use reusable bags rather than plastic

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Things I take for granted

Recently I was reading Mimi Smartypants (one of my favourite sites to peruse) and she talked about Chicago's public library recently instituting a hold system for books. Wow, weird! We've had that system forever (or at least it seems like it.) I suppose our library system isn't as large as Chicago's, but nevertheless, I'm still surprised. I used to be quite the bookish kid - my brother and I used to take out stacks of books from the library and read them for hours at a time. (When you're kind of a klutz athletically, at least you can be smart academically!)

These days I rarely visit the library. Lack of time, lack of convenience, I suppose. (I used to just visit the branch closest to my house on the way home from school. Now - I'd have to drive!) I think I take the hold system for granted though. Instead of going to the library for a specific book, I tend to go and just browse the fiction shelves for books by authors I've enjoyed in the past, for recommendations by friends, or for staff recommended reads. On the rare occasion, I will actually look up a book and place it on hold, but then I'm bad about picking up my holds too. I know - how lazy can you get - first they bring the book to you and then you don't even go and get it.

I've always found comfort and escape in a good book. In Mexico last year, I finished three books while laying on the beach drinking mojitos, enjoying the sunshine ... ahhh... kinda wish I was there right now. Anyway. I feel like I hardly read any more and it's hampering my vocabulary. I don't even have any good snarky things to say. Maybe I should make it a goal to read more books - but that's a tough goal to keep.

It's funny how life gets in the way of enjoying life sometimes. Most days when I get home from work, I'm tired... and there are so many things to do already. I'm constantly playing catch up on cleaning, for example.

I really should make better use of the library, you know. In Medicine Hat I had to pay $8 for a library card. Yes, I know that isn't a lot, but here, libraries are free. FREE! It's like music to my ears.

Friday, May 09, 2008

What's in your lunch box?

Ever since I started working for a living (what a drag!) I have found that it is very difficult to pack a lunch to work. It's so much easier to buy something from a nearby restaurant than to wake up early and pack myself a lunch. Yes - I realize I could pack myself something the night before, but that requires a level of organization as yet unknown to me. Sometimes, there are dinner leftovers and then lunch is easy ... but even then, there are days in which I don't feel like eating leftovers for lunch. (Wow, I am spoiled.)

So I've been looking around the good old Internet for lunch inspiration. This is made more difficult by the fact that I rarely cook, but let's just see what's out there anyway, shall we?

Lunchinabox.net is a great site devoted to the art of bento. I wish I had the wherewithal to prepare such delightful looking lunches. I mean really, take a look at this yummy zarusoba bento! I'm so impressed that this lady takes the time to create such neat lunches for her little kid. Frankly I think that would cause lunchroom envy. I would love to have the creativity and tools to make my own bento box every day.... and yet somehow - I look at the pictures and think, too complicated!

Here's another one: Laptop lunches. The neat and tidy lunch box is quite visually striking to a disorganized soul like me. Although I'm far too old to be carrying a lunch box to work (I usually just grab some sort of bag and throw food in) (aside: the plastic bag = Chinese person's suitcase) the idea of packing a variety of foods in small containers is rather appealing.

Packing a lunch is not only earth-friendly, it's also friendly to the wallet. I tell myself these things every day and yet often I end up buying something for lunch. So I am hereby making a resolution to pack my lunch four times a week (I like to set lofty goals rather than keeping my standards low) and spending less than $20/week on going out for lunches, coffees, and the like. Since buying the new place I am finally stepping into the world of debt (the old place was only in hubby's name) and thus being a good steward of money is more important than ever.

What do you like to have in your lunch?