Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nature's Pop!

Do you remember that post where I admitted to being rather lazy? I'd look it up for you, but...well...you know...

My laziness extends to breakfast. I'm not much of a morning person, so I leave the bare minimum to and get up as late as I can. Whatever extra time I have is spent checking out news on the internet, not doing anything that might remotely involve effort and especially preparing a meal for myself. Hell, if it was socially acceptable to sleep in my clothes before going to work, I would.

Well a minor miracle caught my eye this evening as I made my way through the natural section of a nearby grocery store.


Whooo!! Organic "toaster pastries" (Pop Tarts, to you and me)!

Ah, memories or making Pop Tarts for myself when I was kid...Still about the only "cooking" I can pull off without injuring myself or a neighbor. And like every kid I'd always take my first bite too early and burn the tip of my tongue on the goo inside.

So now, are these healthy? Well...They're healthier. Bearing in mind that they're a little smaller, here's a brief comparative study:

Pop Tarts (62g) / Toaster Pastries (52g)

  • Calories: 254 / 200
  • Calories from fat: 99 / 35
  • Fat: 17g / 4g
  • Sodium: 170mg / 125mg
  • Iron: 6% / 8%

The rest is pretty comparable. And then you factor in the organic part. But to be entirely honest, when I stagger out of bed tomorrow and burn the tip of my tongue on one of these bad boys, I won't be thinking about how I'm eating 55g less sodium. I'll just be diggin' my toaster pastry!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Skin Deep


Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by the researchers at the Environmental Working Group.

Skin Deep pairs ingredients in nearly 25,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn't require companies to test their own products for safety.

Click on the bubbles to go to the site.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Make Your Facebook membership Count

Like many others, I've gotten addicted to Facebook.

I was recently invited to join a group in order to help them win a contest run by a radio station, 102.1 FM. The point appears to be that the group with the highest numbers of members ("friends") listed will receive $7000 to be applied towards its cause.

Seems simple enough, and if you already have a Facebook profile, you might just be able to help support a cause you believe in. Check out the various groups in the standings; they cover a number of different types of charities whether it's helping kids, battling cancer, animal shelters, etc. Pick one, join it, and your work is done.

The contest ends May 25th, I believe.

Pizza With a Conscience


Right on. That's my favourite kind. ;-)

I came across Galactic Pizza in a grist.com newsletter. If I can recap relatively briefly, it's pizza delivered by a superhero driving an electric car, made in a wind-powered building, and that includes organic and hemp products.

Dang! There's an awful lot to like in there! I'd love to be able to sample their product, but they're in Minneapolis.

I wish them a great deal of success, but being that grist had themselves heard of them from MSNBC, I gather they must be fairly well known at least in their own area. In looking into this, I found articles in newspapers from Alberta, Florida and Kentucky.

Very cool. Click on the superhero above (whom I can only assume is the Veggie Avenger) for their website.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hair Die


Even though the environment is one of (if not "the") top concerns of Canadian voters according to a number of polls, I don't discuss politics much on here.

There are a variety of reasons for that. Among them...

  • Unless it's specific to the environmental or personal health, it's off topic.
  • It's a topic that you're either quite interested in, or bored senseless by. If you fit the latter category, you'd probably see the subject matter and leave right away.
  • I'm a Green Party member, but I believe that saying so on this blog creates a perception that I am only due to their environmental stance. And that's not true.
  • I don't want to come off as a shill. I'm the same with vegetarianism. I'm very willing to discuss it, but if you come off as though you're trying to cram an issue down people's throat, you end up having the opposite effect that you wish you could have. You turn people off.

That said, I came across a link that I want to share as a result of keeping tracking of the Green Party across the country. Recently, the Guardian, a newspaper covering Prince Edward Island (like the dew, apparently...I like that) ran a story about how the Greens had selected 18 candidates to run in the pronvincial election there.

Like many only online newspapers, the option to leave a comment is available. Someone (scroll to the bottom of the page if the article is still available online) asked, perhaps sarcastically...

Hair dye damages the environment. Does the Green Party support a ban of hair dye. Do any Green Party members use hair dye????

The PEI Green Party Leader had answer within an hour a half:

...you are absolutley (sic) right that hair dye damages the environment, not to mention what it does to human health. You ask if any Green party members dye their hair. Can't speak for others but I don't. I did the research and some of the writing for the Less Toxic Guide.

There you go. And neither do I, despite the apparent glee with which people like to point out to me that I'm getting a little more snow on the roof these days. Well, I've always said I'd rather look like Phil Donahue...


...than Uncle Fester.



So believe me, I'm not losing any sleep at night.

Besides, when you colour your hair, you eventually reach an age where it's painfully obvious that you're hiding something. My personal opinion is that you're better off trying to grow old with a little dignity.

And now, for no particular reason, here's a picture of Donald Trump.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

55% Is Better Than Nothing

One of the subjects that I first started to learn more about when I first began my little health-conscious environmental journey was hemp.

I already knew that the perception that many people had of it was off, but what I didn't know was how potentially beneficial if could be if people cleared their heads and really looked at what can be accomplished with this stuff. Man, I was ready to buy hemp clothes, bed sheets, paper, condoms, the whole nine yards.

Problem. Hemp-based products cost an arm and a leg. So much so, that I can't even justify it as a long-term "investment", like I do with paying a bit more for compact fluorescent lights. Have a look at Downbound.ca for an example. There are only so many $45 t-shirts I can afford, even if they do end up lasting longer.

Earlier today I was walking through The Bay at Place D'Orleans. On my way out, I came across a clothes display flanked by a sign about giving something back to the Earth. I had a look and the clothes on the table were either made of organic cotton, or a hemp and cotton blend (55% hemp, hence the title of this post).

Being that they weren't entirely made from hemp, the prices were a bit more reasonable. A t-shirt went for about $20 whereas the shirt I bought was $30. It looked a little something like this...


...except darker, with short sleeves and two breast pockets.

Okay, maybe it didn't look much like that at all, but you get the idea. The brand name is Mantles, though they don't appear to have their own website (if not, feel free to join the 21st Century any time now, Mantles). The tag claimed the following...

Hemp fibers are strong and durable and has the look and feel of linen. When blended with natural fabrics, it creates stronger, long-lasting garments that support sustainable farming. The ideal plant for sustainable crops, hemp does not need pesticides or fertilizer to grow.

Righteous. A paper wrap-around also asked how much one ton of recycled paper saves. According to them...

  • 17 trees.
  • 2 barrels of oil
  • 1 pick-up truck amount of landfill space
  • 60 pounds of air pollution
  • 4100 kilowatts of energy

So I'm pleased not only that I was able to find an affordable middle point, but also that I'm able to purchase these at commonly found store like The Bay.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'll Huff and I'll Puff...

...But I don't think I'm blowing this house down...

BRYN WEESE / The Nugget (North Bay)
Local News - Monday, April 30, 2007 @ 08:00

Although hundreds huffed and puffed their way through Albert and Martha Attema's homestead Saturday, the straw bale home was still standing after the local Green Party riding association open house fundraiser was over.

Hundreds of onlookers packed the 2,000 square foot home between 1 and 3 p.m. for tours of the one-storey, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home built with straw bales and cement that is completely "off the grid."

Solar power and, more recently, wind power are the only sources of electricity for the Attemas, who have lived in the Peever Line eco-friendly home since December 2004.

"They never expect it to look like this," said Martha, who was busy answering questions about how she and her husband built the home and how they manage to live without conventional power.

"I really like that people are interested and asking a lot of questions. That's our whole goal, our whole mission in life, to inspire people to go green."

Interesting. Mrs THIT and I were considering vacationing in the North Bay area this summer (I used to live there and loved the place). Wonder if we'd get the opportunity to check the place out. Not that I'm considering going that route, mind you, what with having a newly-built home on the way, but it may be good for an idea or two.

Speaking of that, the Green Energy and Transportation Show is on this weekend and we may be in the area right around that time. We may sneak in and have a look at what they have to offer. My schedule is affected by the fact that I'm currently between homes, so I can't get directly involved in events like I did last year, but this one seems to be falling into place. I hope to be able to report back about some nifty tip or gadget I've come across.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Nature Canada's Photo of the Month

For April. Far out.

Wendy Schuck from Radium Hot Springs, BC took this photo of a curious bobcat looking right into her patio window. Wendy said "it was having difficulty walking through the deep snow so it was taking advantage of the cleared areas around their home."


Window or no window, I'd be running like Ben Johnson.

Monday, May 07, 2007

New Word For Today: Flexitarian

A work acquaintance who was made aware of my vegetarianism gave me another dose recently of what I believe is the most common response I get when the matter is brought up.

"I could never become vegetarian. I love meat too much."

*sigh*

Of course you could. It's no incredible feat. I was as big a meat-eater as anyone.

On the other hand, a number of people have told the Mrs and I that they respect that we've made this decision (at least partially) for moral reasons. This leads me to believe that there are some that really would like to do it, but truly don't feel they'd be capable.

I came across a new term last year in discussion with a buddy on a message board; Flexitarian. The definition varies somewhat, but the simplest (and my least favourite) is that of meat-eating vegetarian.

Right. That sounds awful contradictory, doesn't it? I tried to find a more detailed description, and Wikipedia provided it.

Flexitarianism is the practice of eating mainly vegetarian food. Flexitarians prefer to eat vegetarian food, but make occasional exceptions for social, pragmatic, or nutritional reasons...For example, a flexitarian might make only vegetarian dishes at home, but eat dishes including meat at the home of family or friends.

There you go. Makes sense? It does to me, because I spent the better part of a year saying I was vegetarian when I wasn't. I'd make exceptions for football tailgate parties and such. Probably no more than once a month on the average, but I was still not truly vegetarian. I was a flexitarian and didn't know it.

I eventually reached a point where eating meat made me slightly ill and the thought was outright repulsive to me (Yay! I washed my own brain!) . I decided to do away with those exceptions. NOW I'm vegetarian.

As far as flexitarianism goes, I like this quote from an about.com article:

However, as PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich says, “If people influenced by health consequently cut back on fish and meat consumption that helps animals. If two people cut their meat in half it helps as much as one person going completely vegetarian.”

Can't argue with that math.

So if you've ever considered vegetarianism, regardless of reason, and shrugged it off as some unreachable goal, give flexitarianism. My guess is that you'll realize one day that you've gotten far closer to being vegetarian than you thought you could achieve.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Not Satisfied With Just Pushing Daisies?



Dang it, I'm SO doing this.

Huh...later though...

Advocates urge Canadians to be green in death

Updated Mon. Apr. 30 2007 7:49 AM ET

Canadian Press

...When pondering the spectre of death, generally the environmental impact of one's burial is not top of mind. But several companies and groups in Canada are banking on the hope that it soon will be.

Few people realize the harm traditional burials, and even cremations, do to the environment, says Caley Ferguson, vice-president of Northern Casket.

Ferguson displayed his company's nature-friendly "Enviro-Casket" line at the Green Living Show in Toronto over the weekend.

He says, "It's sort of one last way to thank Mother Nature."

Traditional caskets use metal hinges and fastenings, several layers of varnish and lacquer, and fancy fabrics for the interior - all of which are left in the earth to seep into groundwater once the body and wood decompose.

And with cremation, those materials - right down to the mercury in dental fillings - are burned up into the atmosphere. The process of cremation itself is not very energy-efficient, with mass amounts of fuel needed to burn a body at high temperatures for a considerable length of time.

Enviro-Caskets use wooden hinges and braces, undyed and unbleached cotton fabric and are finished with either natural walnut oil or beeswax. All the products used will completely degrade in 30 to 60 years.

/

The neighbouring booth at the consumer show takes it one step further. A natural casket is all well and good, but who really needs a casket anyway? Or a cemetery for that matter?

"Instead of (using) an embalming fluid and being put in big caskets, what we're hoping to do is for people to have a choice to be wrapped in a biodegradable shroud or put in a pine box and into the ground, and to create a park as opposed to the cemeteries," says Janet McCausland, executive director of the Natural Burial Association.

According to the association, there are more than 200 natural burial sites in the United Kingdom and five in the United States, and it hopes to bring the concept to Canada.

/

Bodies buried in the ground must be marked, so instead of tombstones, such sites would be marked with a tree or stones embedded flat in the ground.


Here it is:



Doesn't look all that different. But then, at that point, vanity shouldn't be a real concern...

Green Mortgages?

Mortgage Specialist


Apparently, the Conservation Council of Ontario and Citizens Bank are the first to offer "green mortgages" which include certain benefits for being environmentally conscious. It might have been an interesting option to look into, but it doesn't appear as though they offer it in our area, unfortunately.

Go Green with the new Ontario Green Mortgage

If you are looking to buy a home in Ontario, care about the environment and are committed to doing all you can to help make a difference - just like we are - then the Green Mortgage is for you. It's a mortgage that helps you identify changes that can be made in your home to help the environment while reducing your energy costs and saving you money with our competitive mortgage rates at the same time.

Find an Ontario mortgage specialist near you.

What comes with going Green?

With the Citizens Bank Green Mortgage, you get all the features and benefits of a traditional Citizens Bank mortgage: including flexible payment options, a choice of financing and a complimentary Home Advantage package, which includes a line of credit of $10,000 at prime and retail savings on furniture, d├ęcor, paint and home appliances.

PLUS, you'll also receive a complimentary Green Gift Package:

  • A blue curb side recycling box
  • Compact Fluorescent Ener-lights, courtesy of the Conservation Council of Ontario
  • Coupons for energy efficient products and services from local businesses
  • A complimentary Green$avers Home Energy Audit ($250 value) which will give you an overall picture of how you are using energy in your home, identify potential problem areas and recommend steps that can be taken to make your home more energy efficient.

Plus, for every Green Mortgage funded, Citizens Bank will make a $100 donation to the Conservation Council of Ontario. Beyond this, the Green Mortgage offers our usual low, no haggle rates, approval process and servicing.