Had one of ‘those’ days

It started out fine.  I was happy, joyful even, to be at work.  And then. . .

. . . well, we just won’t go there.

Suffice it to say I was glad, glad, glad to be finished work today.

Highlight of my day, though, was ‘interviewing’ Ms. Austin’s class.  A bunch of Grade 5-er’s who were inspired enough by a video about the evils of bottled water to ban the stuff from their classroom.  So, I thought, this will make a good human interest story for our CUPE newsletter, I’ll just do that.

They were delightful!  There were some serious kids in that class, and I can only hope that they stick to their pledge to drink tap water from now on.  We had a great little chat about other ways to save water and I shared some of my tips and tricks.  They seemed kind of amazed that I was that serious about saving water.

In a country like ours, there is absolutely no good reason for people to be drinking bottled water, unless of course you live in some polluted wasteland of a reserve or next to an abandoned mining pit.  Yes, these places exist in Canada.  But, for the rest of us, we have access to clean, abundant supplies of fresh drinking water.  It drives me crazy when I see people buying bottled water.

I take a stainless water bottle with me wherever I go (I have several).  And if it gets empty I find a tap and I fill it up.  Simple. Inexpensive. Smart.  Nothing to throw away, no petro-chemicals burned needlessly.  Hopefully, I’m keeping my carbon footprint as small as possible.

Personally, I’d like to see all major cities ban the import of bottled water — but, of course, that will never happen.  Somebody’s rights would be violated for sure.  Never mind about mine, and my desire to live in a world not cluttered up with millions of tossed water bottles.

I won’t go into this too much, because it is such a BIG issue — how all that plastic is creating havoc with our planet — the oceans, the ground, the air, the animals, birds and insects — just search the web, you’ll find all the horror stories you could care to read.

I’m grumpy tonight — didn’t intend to go on like that.

My walk this morning was very nice.  Got some pics of a magpie in the top of a tree, and a different view of ‘lake’ Bon Accord.  Hope you enjoy them.

Good night all.

Watchin’ the Olympics

I amaze myself.  I have become a nerdy patriot.  And, I don’t mind admitting it.  Right now, as I blog this I am watching men’s figure skating.  I don’t even like figure skating!  I mean, it’s okay, but seriously, after about the third one, I can’t help thinking they’re just repeating the same stuff over and over — sort of like a Barry Manilow song.  If you know what I mean.  I think what I enjoy most is the music they skate to.  But really, is there any actual belief  that they’re actually dancing? in time?

I’ve really enjoyed these Olympics, though, and it has a lot to do with the fact that they’re on Canadian soil, and that Vancouver has done a spectacular job of showcasing what it means to be Canadian.  The opening ceremony last Friday was nothing short of miraculous.  Stunning, if you want the truth.  There were so many favorite parts, I can’t single just one out.  I thought it very Canadian of the organizers to include all of Canada in the ceremony and not make it all about Vancouver, which they could have very easily, and rightfully, done.  They encompassed everything that is wonderful about our country — our diversity, our talent, our humble acceptance of that talent, our tolerance, our belief that most times less is more, but in the case of something so big, big is completely acceptable.  I totally loved the way they included athletes new and old in the torch lighting ceremony.  Respect, dignity and honour — that’s just who we are.

Okay, so Johnny Weir, the nutbar American skater is on the ice.  Preceded by a bunch of hoopla, but honestly, he’s doing exactly the same thing as the 3 guys before him.  Oh, his program is called ‘Fallen Angel’ it reflects how he feels about his career since Torino.  Huh?  You skate for a living, buddy, you’re good at it, get over it.  But, boy, do I love the music he’s skating to!  It’s gorgeous.

We’ve got the kids I work with doing some educational Olympics.  Math drills, LA facts, and World knowledge — it’s going to be a lot of fun, I think.  That’s how badly I’ve been affected by these games.

Ooh, now the ugly, but very talented Russian skater is on the ice.  Then it’s over.  Will he get the Gold?  Will he match Dick Button’s (who was trash-talking him some bad the other night) record and take home back to back Gold’s?  Seriously, do I care?  Oddly, yes.  Retrospectively, I think I want him to win.  I think it would be neat to see him attain his goal.  Is he doing anything any different from the others?  Actually, I think so.  There is a sense of soul in his skating, that is lacking in the skating of the others.  Their skating was pretty, his is gutsy and provocative.

See, there’s that nerdy me again.  Maybe I just think the Americans have enough medals, already.  Who knows what my motivation is.  Go, Russian guy, go!

Crap!  the American got the Gold.  Well, he probably deserved it, but I think it sucks.  All they’re yapping about is the quality of his execution.  Again, huh?

Okay, so I guess I’ll shut this down.  Canada’s Patrick Chan is in 5th.  I’m trying to be happy about that.

some thoughts. . .

I try, these days, to live as environmentally, and globally conscious as I possibly can.  I think — a lot — about things before I buy them.  How much energy will they use?  How and where were they made?  Are they sustainable?  How much garbage will I be contributing to the landfill when I’m done with said item?  Can that garbage be gotten rid of here or will it wind up clogging some third world country’s landscape?  Will it be dumped in our oceans?  The list of questions I can ask myself is absurd.

Thirty years ago I would not have been asking myself such questions.  Thirty years ago it was all about self-gratification and never a thought to the impact my actions might have on the world.  Now, I know, from having taken a sociology and psychology course or two, that this introspective thinking I currently engage in is a natural progression.  As I grow older, I grow more contemplative, have greater awareness of the impact of my existence and begin to question the ‘why’ of life.  I think this makes me a much more interesting person than I was thirty years ago, but as I age and as I continue on this path of responsible living I sometimes wonder if I’m going to turn in to that old woman we’ve all seen with the yard full of bleach-bottle whirligigs, painted rocks and tin can mobiles hanging from the branches of the trees in her yard.  Will I do my dishes in old dish pan and then carry the water out to pour on my garden?  (Wait a minute!  I’ve already contemplated doing that!)  Surely that’s not a bad thing?  Why then is it that I feel rather geeky admitting that I would do that?  Saving water is something we should all take very seriously.  And yet. . .

isn’t the water we’re using the same water the planet’s had for millenia?  I’ve heard the world doesn’t ever create more water, it just constantly recycles what there is.  So, how can we be running out?  Especially with the glaciers, icebergs and polar ice-caps melting at the rate they are.  We’re more in danger of being flooded out than dried out, I’d think. 

Yes, I’m being facetious.  I’m really quite worried about our water supply and I do all sorts of things that I won’t bother getting into in order to save as much water as possible in my daily life. 

Now, I’m going to talk about something else that I think is quite important.  Deodorant.  Yes, that’s right, deodorant.  I think deodorant is probably one of mankind’s greatest inventions.  But. . . about 2 years ago I started looking for alternatives to the traditional deodorants I’ve been using since I was a kid.  No more Alzheimer causing deodorants for me!  I’ve tried quite a few different ones but nothing ever really truly measured up to what I was used to.  One thing I’m really conscious of is body odour, and I would be mortified to think I stink.  Anyway, I’ve found this great product from a company called Saje.  It’s called Natural Wellness Crystal Fresh Deodorant.  And it really works!  The ingredients in this deodorant are:  Liquid mineral salts, and essential oils.  The one I’m using right now has lavender, sandalwood and patchouli.  The company is based in Delta, BC, so I even feel great about supporting a product made in Canada.  Even greater is the fact that they don’t overpackage.  There are no extra boxes, plastic wrap or bags to throw away after you’ve made your purchase.  You simply take your bottle or tube or what have you, pay for it and away you go.  I love it; it’s simplicity and value and something that is good for you. 

I just wanted to share all that with you.  And I want you to try Saje deodorant.  Trust me, you’ll like it.

Here’s a link to their site:  http://www.saje.ca

The Commercialization of Green Consumerism

Out for my walk this morning in the fog with Heather.  We have great talks on these early morning jaunts and this morning we got onto the topic of green lifestyles.  It all started with my relating to her a story I’d heard the night before about young people overwhelmed by their debt load after getting out of school and some of the creative ways in which they’re solving their problems.  We segued into how much affluence we have in this country and that we have absolutely no idea of what it means to ‘make do’.  Unlike, say someone in the Dominican making $3.00 a day.  To us, making do is deciding to eat lunch at McDonald’s instead of Boston Pizza.  Tough decision!

Anyway, this got me going on how living green has become the next big growth industry.  Up til now we’ve all been pressured into buying designer clothes, fancy houses, bigger, bigger and bigger flat screen tv’s, new cars, vacation properties — the list just goes on forever.  Now, however, we are being pressured into living green, but living green expensively.  What is, essentially, supposed to be a way of living your life simpler, less expensively and with minimal impact on the environment, has become just one more way for us to live in competition with one another.

For instance, you’re only a cool ‘greenie’ if you pitch your current household linens and buy 100% bamboo, hemp or organic cotton.  Anyone seen the price of a set of bamboo sheets?  Try $400.00 a pop!  A t-shirt made of 100% certified organic, non-rainforest harvested hemp?  A mere $100.00.  Or what about retrofitting your house with solar panels, a solar powered generator, switching to geo-thermal heat instead of good old coal or water generated electricity?  Upwards of $50,000.00 (and that’s only if you live in an area where something like geo-thermal options are feasible).

Then there are vehicles — switching to a hybrid sounds like a smart, sensible, responsible idea, until you start looking into them.  Cost of these vehicles is coming down somewhat, but have you checked into repair costs?  Ouch!  And, load up a family of 4, a few large suitcases, the dog, some camping gear and head out for the back country for some nice fresh air and discover just how economical and comfortable these vehicles aren’t.  Maybe, while you’re away you can have some home renovations taken care of.  How about installing Fair Trade 100% organic bamboo or cork flooring harvested by hand from naturally sustainable forests?  Compare the costs to North American hardwood made from trees raped from our forests, then manufactured in our embarrassingly modern and technologically advanced mills.  The bamboo or cork is only about 3 times the cost, but hey the investment in feeling good about doing something ‘green’ will be more than worth it.

Going natural, it seems, has become just one more way for somebody else to get rich off everybody else’s guilt.  For years I’ve been trying to live a simpler, greener life and I’ve managed without having to spend a ton of money to do it.  It’s all about changing the way you think, not about how you spend your money.

I recycle everything that I can, and as a result when I shop, I shop with recycling in mind.  I don’t buy over packaged goods so that I don’t have a mound of plastic to send to the recycling depot.  I re-purpose things — meaning once an old t-shirt is too grungy to wear I turn it into rags.  We are renovating, and we are doing as much of the work ourselves as we can, we reuse as much of the old stuff as we can and we try to incorporate environmentally friendly products whenever and wherever we can.  But, our retaining wall is still made from pressure-treated timbers and the new eavestroughing is PVC, not artisan-made tin or copper.

It really annoys me that something so simple that could have such an impact on our world and people’s lives is being exploited so that someone else can get rich.  And you just know that the marketing geniuses and corporation executives behind the push to get you to ‘go green’ aren’t driving around in Smart Cars, eating 100% organically grown Tofu burgers, and that they’re not living in some mud hut somewhere with nothing but the skins of animals to wear.

Seriously, people, smarten up.  Live green, but for god’s sake, do it without buying into the hype.