Thursday, January 31, 2008

Red Dot Program

I was pleased to be made aware of this program earlier today while watching the news.

Canada Post uses red dots to flag households that have said NO to Junk Mail. The Red Dot Campaign reminds you of your choice to say “NO” to unwanted advertising.

Our collective voice urges advertisers to be mindful of their use of paper in print advertising.

The intention of the Red Dot Campaign is to urge advertisers to re-allocate their advertising investments into socially responsible initiatives.

I posted about something similar before here.

Newer developments such as the one in which we now live are magnets for this kind of stuff, of course. The other day, I actually mistook a stack of flyers for the Saturday newspaper it was so damn thick. I couldn't believe it.

And I was disappointed to not have my paper yet! Cripes, it was nearly 7:30! It was almost outdated already!

The whole stack went into the recycling box in no time. Except the elastic. I keep those. :-)

I find it hard to believe that pizza places, gyms and the like will be deeply intimidated when they come face to face with a red dot on my mailbox. Certainly not to the point of refraining from paper spamming me. I also have no idea what percentage of my flyers come from Canada Post. But if I can stop even a small percentage, I'll make the token effort.

Edit: Here's a CBC article about this campaign.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Food KM (or Miles)

This is a great little website that was introduced to me by the folks at Green Communities Canada.

Our goal is to try to reduce food miles or kilometers by connecting consumers with the people that grow, produce, retail or serve healthy locally grown food.

The intent is that you should be able to simply enter your postal and view your results. Of course, as often seems to be the case for me, it had to be a little more complicated. Our new home does not yet appear on maps. For that matter, we don't even have a street sign yet, making even ordering a pizza a chore (though not to the point that I would actually, you know, cook for myself). So running a search on this site was a little tricky.

But apparently successful! I was given results for nine farm/farm markets, one baker and two restaurants within 50 miles. Very nice!

This will give us some ideas for "exploration" come spring. It should also come in handy for anyone attempting to follow the 100-mile diet. Looking forward to putting it to good use!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What The Hell is Wrong With Off-White??

When Mrs THIT and I set off to purchase our current home, the gentleman at Tamarack Homes with whom we dealt ended the process with a peice of advice that stuck with me: "Have fun with it".

It was one of those extremely simple things that you know, but you just need to be reminded of. And throughout the entire affair, whenever I was faced with a task that is not normally in my nature to enjoy, I remembered his little peice of advice and approached the situation with that specific attitude.

"What's that, bunny? You want to go to Home Sense again? Son of a bi...Huh...Actually, that sounds delightful! Let me get my jacket. And wallet, of course."

"Come again, cupcake? You wish to visit the Tamarack Design Center again? Even though we were there just last weekend and it's extremely doubtful that anything has changed since? I...guess we can do that! Yes, I'll bring the camera."

Here's something I had not realized though (and it's probably "a guy thing" that caused me not to). I thought once we moved in and furnished the place we could, you know...Enjoy it for a while!

Apparently not. The first coat of dust barely had time to settle before talk turned to...painting.


By then the "have fun with it" mantra had been kind of stored away. I didn't think I'd need it anymore. We were settled in!

But Mrs THIT came across a little ditty in the Ottawa Citizen recently which perked my ears and may make the whole project slightly more interesting to me. The Citizen is quite good at providing environmental tips and such, and last Saturday's Homes section had a list of 11 products to "turn up the enviro thermostat in your home". Among them was Safecoat paints.

This was hyped as a product ready go from "niche" (how do you pronounce that? "neesh" or "nitch"?) to mainstream and available from The Healthiest Home and Building Supplies. The claim:

The Safecoat products are premium quality and perform as well as and, in many cases, better than most mainstream, toxic brands on the market. They contain no formaldehyde, ammonia, precursors, acetone, phenols, or phthulates. Safecoat paints have almost no odor during application and are odor free once cured. And clean up is a snap with warm water and a bit of SafeChoice Superclean.

All right, well...That's a start. The store is on Holland avenue though, and I can't help but recall that so is The Table restaurant. I friggin' love that place and I shall (pretend to) put my foot down and request...Nay, DEMAND...that we eat there if we go to that paint store.

Even the best relationships require a certain level of negotiation...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Update on Kindness Meters

This is something I posted about previously being mentioned again in the Ottawa Sun. I'm still surprised at how successful these turn out to be.

It appears Ottawa is trying hard to be kind to its homeless.

Oh no! Will this affect our rudeness rating?! ;-)

Only a month after the city announced it was going to install six kindness meters in the Byward Market to help raise money for Ottawa's homeless community passersby have deposited $1,000 into the meters.

"That's impressive," said Rideau-Vanier Coun. Georges Bedard. "Obviously it's caught on and demonstrates the generosity of the people of Ottawa."

The meters were the idea of Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien, who in the 2006 municipal election criticized the homeless community and those who panhandled. He asked people to stop giving panhandlers money and instead give to the organizations that provide services to the homeless because many of the individuals were using the money to buys drugs and alcohol.

"This is a good beginning," O'Brien said after learning of the amount donated to the meters over the past four weeks.

Bedard said because of the obvious success of the program he would like the city to consider installing more kindness meters in the downtown core as well as possibly elsewhere across the city.

"This is $1,000 that won't go towards drug use," he said.

Bedard said he was surprised with the amount deposited to date because there has been very little advertising towards the project.

The mayor's office said yesterday that they have had several inquiries from legal firms and local media outlets interested in sponsoring the meters.


The money collected will be handed over to organizations such as the Ottawa Mission and Operation Go Home.

Speaking of Hemp...

It looks like its popularity may be on the rise. This is an Ottawa Sun article from earlier this week.

Heather Heron wants people to know hemp fabric is about so much more than those gaudy-looking, rough, hooded shirts for sale in environmental shops.

"They're making so many beautiful blends of it," she said, "you wouldn't know the difference between that and a really beautiful piece of linen."

The 34-year-old Ottawa native was back in her hometown from California over the holidays, holding a trunk show for her spring/summer 2008 eco-chic handbag line.

Heron uses organic European hemp, hemp-silk blends, and other ecologically sound fabrics to make her bags, which have been carried by everyone from Reese Witherspoon to pal and fellow Ottawa native Alanis Morissette.

"I'm just really excited to show them," she says, "because so many of these fabrics are so new, and they're not shown to the mainstream."

Heron's designs have been available in select American shops, and through the online site But she just landed her first Canadian store: Finn Boutique, in Toronto's Yorkville.

Interest in such eco-fashion seems set to explode, and like Heron, Canadians in the industry are playing a major role in propelling it.

Julia Roberts has dressed her daughter Hazel in Fig Organic Kids Fashion, an offshoot of Twice Shy. The Whistler, B.C.-based company, started by Canadians Jen MacCormack and Michael Ziff, is dedicated to using certified organically grown cotton.

In September, fashion publicist Kelly Drennan, of Third Eye Media, organized an eco-fashion fundraising gala before Toronto Fashion Week.

She chose 10 Canadian designers and charged them with making couture out of fabrics made from soy, hemp, bamboo and organic cotton.

Six of those designers have since placed eco-friendly fabric orders for their fall 2008 collections, says Drennan. She is further spreading the word by choosing a new roster for the second show, now planned as an annual event, in June.

"For me, anyway, it started with the designer, getting the fabric into the hands of the designer," said Drennan. "And getting them used to working with the fabric and seeing how easy and gorgeous the garments could be."

There are many reasons for the current push to eco-fashion, says Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based group which partnered with Drennan on September's show.

Cotton, for example, is very tough on the Earth.

"It uses up a lot of water, it also requires a lot of pesticides," he said. Alternatively, bamboo and hemp are "incredible, resilient plants that don't need a lot of care."

Pesticide residues can linger in fabrics, says Smith, who adds it's not uncommon for manufacturers to also apply "weird and toxic substances" to clothes.

For example, he explained, flame retardants are frequently coated on kids' clothes, and those have been found to be bioaccumulative, meaning they stay in the body because they aren't susceptible to its normal breakdown processes.

And he says much of what is labelled "wrinkle-resistant" has most likely been treated with formaldehyde.

"Not good," says Smith.

A lot of people are jumping on the eco-fashion bandwagon right now but Lisa Tant, editor-in-chief of Flare magazine, sees this as a lasting trend which will take more than one or two seasons to take hold.

"People really are interested. They want to make a difference," she said. "And fashion is such a form of self-expression, it's one of the best places to do it."

A lot of products still seem pricy as hell though. Hopefully as demand, availability and competition increase, the cost will take a turn in the opposite direction.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

THIT Year-End Clean Up!

You may have made note of a new feature on my little blog. It's part of my reorganizing as I start year three of my education.

I've added the "labels" feature so that I (and you, if you're so inclined) can more easily locate a specific past post. From time to time when writing a new one I would consider making reference to something I'd already including, but trying to remember specifically when I added it here can be tricky after two years.

This, of course, necessitated going over each and every post to add the label. That was about 375 posts when I began doing it. There are things on here that I don't recall writing, and others I wish I hadn't said or that I'd researched better, but that's why I describe myself as being 'in training".

In addition to reviewing all my posts, I also reviewed the comments that were posted (and removed a little spam). There were a handful I'd never seen before. If someone writes a comment after the post has "fallen off" the main page, I seldom go back to see if one's been added much later.

One unseen comment was in regards to my purchase of a hemp wallet. I was lightly chastised by "kelly" for not looking around more and getting hosed on the price.

Well...She was right. At the time, I did look around and did not find any options that were far better. And I was quite pleased with my purchase, as that post explains, but one thing that I was not able to evaluate at the time is durability. When it comes to durability, sometimes only time can tell, right?

That wallet got roughed up fast. There was a hole starting on the back of it and another through the change pocket. They're partially my fault for carrying too much change, but I admit to a fair bit of disappointment when I started noticing the wear and tear so soon after my purchase.

So I tried all over again to find a quality hemp wallet. And this time it took me about 40 seconds to come up with a far better option.

I got the green one. I found it on the Good Humans site that is now linked at bottom right. I was happier with it from the moment that my hand made contact with it. It's obviously more durable, has more room for coins, the cards are all in one spot...and it was about half the price of the one I bought from Downbound.

We'll see how long this one lasts.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Give Meaning

On Christmas day, I posted about a site called "Changing the Present". Knowing that not everyone is confident that charitable donations accomplish anything but padding someone else's wallet, I included a link to Charity Navigator for those who might wish to investigate further.

The problem with Charity Navigator is that they evaluate U.S. charities only. And even in that, not everyone is convinced as to how useful they are. Edit: Another option which hadn't occured to me when I began writing this post is I don't know if they are considered reliable, but they are a Better Business Bureau website.

I looked for something similar in Canada but came up empty. Until later that day! Preparing to check my Yahoo e-mail inbox, the following was the highlighted story on Yahoo News:

VICTORIA - The six-figure income, the prestigious job at Apple, the status of being a teenage Internet whiz kid and the endless good times wore thin and wore out Victoria-born Tom Williams.

He was 25 years old and having an early mid-life crisis.

Meaning had been sucked from his life, says Williams, so he dumped his job, salary and lifestyle and started selling philanthropy online to make his world real again.

But he couldn't bury his entrepreneurial gifts and quickly discovered his keen marketing skills are handy tools when it comes to the charity game - a business, he believes, badly in need of a shake-up.

"Absolutely, and it's high time," Williams said recently in Victoria. "Frankly, the issues are that we don't know where our money is going.

"The big charities are continuing to get a disproportionately large amount of donor dollars and the smaller organizations who are sometimes doing grassroots work in communities across the country and other ones, are starved for cash, having to literally consider shutting down their operations," he said.

In 2004, Williams returned to British Columbia and launched He is the chief executive officer.

He believes his online charity can change the charity industry, change lives. It changed his.

"Never had I had more energy or passion," Williams said.

The site is here. You can click on the "Important Issues" link under "browse" to locate causes regionally.

Now they don't evaluate charities, as such, but...

GiveMeaning™ Projects all have tangible, measurable charitable goals, and only registered charities may be chosen to carry out those goals. When you donate at, you have the comfort of knowing:

* 100% of all money donated goes directly to charity
* you will receive a tax receipt, as permissible by law (in the U.S. and Canada)
* you can measure your ‘Return on Generosity’ by viewing progress updates and more on each Project’s webpage
* your personal information will never be shared, and you will never be spammed – by us, or anyone

And, should a Project target not be met, we will give you the option of re–allocating your donation to another Project. When you donate to a GiveMeaning Project, you always have choice and will always know what happens to your money.

That last bit is interesting. It would appear then that the funds are actually not distributed unless the goal is reached? I need to look over the site more thouroughly, but I like the sounds of it on the surface.