Saturday, May 31, 2008


This was posted on the Green Party's Facebook page. Much the same as youtube, eco-tube is a video upload site with a focus on environmental news, tips, etc.

Here, for example, is a message from the Blue Man Group, in their typically odd fashion. I absolutely love these guys. I made a trip to Las Vegas a few years ago and my primary goal was to attend their performance at the Luxor. Mission accomplished, only to find out that they were coming to Toronto the following year. And now they're coming to Ottawa, so I'll try to attend that as well.

Drinking Aluminum

I've reached something of a milestone at my place of employment. As of the end of June, I'll have put in a decade.

Actually, I was hired in February of 1998 but I was made permanent in June of that year. They choose to not count those four months for some reason. I suspect it has to do with how soon they'd haev to award me additional vacation days. Whatever. Might be that way everywhere for all I know.

Now I won't go into a great deal of detail because I've heard of people getting in trouble over posting work-related matters on blogs and such. Anyone in my little circle knows what company I'm referring to and for those that don't, it's not that relevant anyway. The point is that as a result of my reaching this little milestone, I was awarded a very modest shopping spree through the company's catalogue of promotional items.

On the downside, my "allowance" was modest to the point of making it difficult for me to find something I could "afford". On the upside, I quickly spotted a link for "eco options". All right then, so let's do that!

To my surprise, they offered shirts made of bamboo. That was something that I would have thought too obscure still for the company catalogue. Very pleased, but I can't afford them anyway, so let's move along.

I ended up holding true to a vague promise made at the end of this post. Corn plastic mugs were available and I went for one. It's this kind...

...though not that specific one, sadly (I'm eh eh...I like that). Mine bears the company logo (it is, after all, a promotional item), is yellow and only slightly less bright than the surface of the sun.

The link in that post for info about corn plastic is no longer active, so let's throw down a refresher:

Corn-based plastics take just 45 days to biodegrade in a landfill. Normal plastic can take thousands of years to decompose. Corn plastics contain no petroleum, require 20 to 50 percent less fossil fuel to create and are derived from a renewable resource.

But environmentalists warn that corn plastic also has environmental drawbacks.

“The major problem with corn is that 80 percent of the corn crop is paid for by the taxpayers through subsidy payments to producers,” said Jeff Webster, secretary of the agricultural committee of the Sierra Club, a national environmental group. Industrial farming also requires huge amounts of gas, coal or petroleum. “There is a very large environmental price associated with corn production,” Webster said.

There's always something to bitch about...

This mug ate up about half my budget, so items such as umbrellas and writing materials were now out of the question. So I stayed in the same category and scored me an aluminum water bottle.

There's a building movement now towards reducing the amount of plastic bottles from which we drink. They apparently release a bunch of chemicals that I can't pronounce into my Greek God bod and that's bad.

The latest research suggests that students should be wary about which plastic water bottles they drink out of. The dangerous chemical bisphenol A can be found in water bottles sold across campus, including Willy's Hawkshop in the University Center.

Bisphenol A is a molecular monomer (simplest molecular structure in the structure of a larger molecule) that is polymerized (bonded in a continuous chain) to produce many of the plastics we use everyday...For many years BPA was considered harmless, but the latest research suggests that exposure to BPA can be dangerous. A research group funded by the American Plastics Council at Harvard University was the catalyst of the widespread use of BPA. This corporate-funded research group concluded after a two and a half year delay, that low-dose exposure to BPA did not constitute a significant risk, according to Frederick S. vom Saal and Claude Hughes in an article published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Since then, more than 115 independent, in vivo studies have been conducted that all conclude otherwise. The latest research suggests that exposure levels below the previously thought of safe limit can disrupt the endocrine system, disrupt cell function, mutate genes, stop cell reproduction, and even hinder testosterone synthesis in males, according to vom Saal and Hughes.

Good. So I'm going to ditch the plastic water bottle the company gave me last year (thanks for trying to kill me slowly, bastards) and move on to my aluminum one. That is, until they find out that drinking from aluminum bottles causes dementia and gonad shrinkage or something and we move on to drinking from ceramic pots strapped around our necks. One thing at a time though. For now, aluminum is boss.

At the risk of appearing like an opportunist, I left only $0.75 on the table after my shopping trip. I probably could have ordered mints as well; in fact my co-workers might have appreciated it! But they came individually wrapped so, well, you know...

The mints, I mean, not my co-workers.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Worm Poop

I know what you're probably thinking; if I have to read one more blog post about worm defacations, I'm going to scream. But bear with me just a bit.

We were at the tail end of one of our many trips to various garden centers around town (a trip any guy absolutely loves, as you can imagine) when I asked Mrs THIT "So do we need anything else?". This was intended to be one of those more or less rhetorical questions which actually meant "So can we finally leave?"

She pondered for a moment then her eyes lit up and she exclaimed "Oh yes! Worm poop!"

Of course. How could I have forgotten?

It would appear that the Mrs once saw a show about green gardening (or something...she's not good at recalling details) and this specific product was discussed. It's quite literally what is strongly implied by its name. I thought it was just a marketing thing.

We were unable to locate said fecal matter, to much disappointment on her part. Me, not so much.

Ah, but I was wrong! The company that produces fascinating!

I subscribe to a newsletter from A link therein directed to this news story about how OfficeMax is using TerraCycle's made-from-waste office products which in turn interested me in having a look at these TerraCycle guys. And wouldn't you know it, they are our worm poo gatherers.

Beyond being about as organic as organic gets, their product is literally sold in recycled plastic bottles. Not bottles made from recycled goods, but the bottle itself, including the squirter thingy. That's why some of their packaging is mismatched. For a better illustration, check out their product line and scroll over the various items. Their Story video is also good and worth a watch.

Their site includes a store locator so I suspect that before long, Mrs THIT and I will be shopping for worm poop more effectively.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Fun Than a Barrel of Daschunds!

Mrs THIT and I had the last week of April off and since we didn't have plans to go anywhere, we focused instead on taking care of a few things around Stately THIT Manor as it nears its first anniversary.

Among our acquisitions was one that I'd been looking forward to getting since before we even took possession of our crib.

Yay! Rain barrell!!

We got this bad boy at Rona. Most are basically large plastic tubs with a screened hole at the top. This one was something of a rarity in that it's a little more fancy in appearance (and therefore, of course, more expensive).

Much assembly was required but we're more than pleased with the final result. It had been sitting in the garage for the past three weeks waiting to be installed when our eavestrough finally got done, and the magic moment took place earlier in the week.

To me, this was a treehugger requirement. Is it going to save the planet on its own? Obviously not. It's really just going to save the water we (meaning "she") would have used gardening. But we are using Mamma Nature's generous offerings, and if she's just as generous rain-wise as she has been with snow this past winter, we should be set for some time.

Perhaps more importantly, we've already received compliments about it. If the neighbours want to play "Keeping up with the THIT's", well, maybe we can start a water-saving trend. ;-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Zenn and Now

Last November, I came across some information about the ZENN car and wrote a brief blog entry about it. Two weeks or so after that, Rick Mercer did a bit about the ZENN on his show.

Shortly thereafter, I took a moment to write to the Ministry of Transportation, inquiring as to why the ZENN car was struggling so much.

I received a response this past February which I'd intended to comment on at the time, but I misplaced the letter so it ended up slipping my mind. I've located the response again and the long and short of it is that the delays are safety-related. Here's an excerpt:

...In reality, there are major safety difference between LSV's (low speed vehicles) and passenger cars - difference that could cost the LSV driver or passenger serious serious injury or loss of life. Our concern is that LSVs must only meet three of the 40 federally mandated passenger vehicle safety standards...

1) Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
2) Seat belt assemblies
3) A specially-created umbrella standard for LSV's that includes various lamps, mirrors, reflectors, parking brake and a windshield.

Only the VIN, seat belt assemblies and windshield components of the LSV requirements must meet performance standards. The other items are only required to be present an operational.

The lack of safety features and performance standards is a cause for concern...

It would seem that Ontario has a five-year pilot testing period that began in September 2006. It allows park officials to operate LSVs in provincial and municipal parks, as well as conservation areas. The ZENN can participate, according to the response (and presumably does?) so that they it can be determined "where these vehicles should be allowed to operate and who should be allowed to operate them".

LSV. VIN. I believe that by 2014, written words will no longer exist. Everything will be abbreviated that way and all communication will look like retarded text-talk such as CU L8R.

Bloody hell, like the suggestion of school classes in ebonics a few years ago wasn't bad enough, now people are deliberately writing like imbeciles to the point that they don't appear able to get our of the habit, judging from the hieroglyphics that clutter message boards now, posing as a language.

But I digress...In truth, the low speed of this vehicle immediately threw it out the door as an option. The Mrs has to take a very busy road to work and having a car tht maxes out at 55 (by memory) just wouldn't cut it.

But the mention of parks is interesting. I think of times I've gone camping and the park staff would pass by in their trucks. What better place to make use of such a vehicle? It's quiet in a place where you want quiet, slow where speed isn't an issue and doesn't have to travel long distances.

Hopefully the ZENN because more common-place in uses such as that one.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Olympic Games or Global Sleepover?

Yikes. I'm struggling with these.

HBC, and Roots before them, were quite reliable for Olympic wear prior to coming up with these monstrosities. You couldn't make me wear that outfit on the right if you held a gun to my head.

Here's another:

A little better. The lady at the left end did okay for herself. But I agree with Mrs THIT that this is reminiscent of that brutal Zubaz phase in the 80's, which was garish even by 80's standards.

There's some heat over the fact that these were made in China. Never mind the whole deal about how Team Canada's gear should probably be made in Canada, considering the quality of toys and pet foods to come out of China lately, if I started getting a little itchy while wearing them, I'd dial up a doctor pronto, Tonto. Being that I'm making every effort to avoid buying Chinese-made products, and preferring to not look like a dancer from Elton John's "I'm still Standing" video, I shouldn't have to face that issue.

The news is not all bad though. CTV explains...

...About 80 per cent of the uniforms will be made in China, and that number goes up to 90 per cent for Olympic wear sold to the public.

Critics say Canadian athletes should wear clothing manufactured strictly in Canada.
Liberal MP Denis Coderre said Canada is missing a "tremendous opportunity" to promote this country's textile industry on the world stage -- and called it an "unacceptable" snub considering the industry's struggles.

HBC stresses the uniforms and gear are "100-per-cent" Canadian and designed by a Toronto-based team, and that uniforms the athletes will wear on the podium and during the opening parade will be 100-per-cent Canadian-made.

But manufacturing the rest of the clothing required the company to turn to the Chinese market, said Hillary Marshall, director of corporate communications for HBC.

"There are some unique aspects to this collection. In particular, it's the first eco-friendly Olympic collection that's been designed for Team Canada, perhaps for any Olympic team," Marshall told CTV Newsnet on Friday.

"It required that fabrics be sourced -- fabrics that are made of things like bamboo, cacona, organic-blended cotton. These are items that help with the technical nature of the product. They help to keep the athletes cool, they have moisture wicking properties, they have cooling properties. Because those are items that are hard to find in Canada, they're sourced mainly in China, (so) we made the product there as well."

Marshall acknowledged cost was a factor, especially considering the quantities of clothing required -- enough to fill 600 stores, including the Bay, Zellers, Home Outfitters, as well as those sold online.

Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, told The Canadian Press the government has not raised the issue of uniforms with the Olympic committee, adding the government likely believes it's impractical to insist on 100 per cent Canadian-made uniforms.

"The reality is that there's no longer manufacturing capacity in Canada that can meet the volume needs that are necessary to manufacture particularly the replica clothing that is sold to the public,'' said Rudge.
Canada's manufacturing industry has been hit hard by the rising Canadian dollar and the flood of cheap foreign imports, especially from China.

Dewar, the NDP's foreign affairs critic, said he hopes the government and HBC will make sure the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver will feature uniforms that are made in Canada.

"Wouldn't that be an embarrassment to have our uniforms made in China or anywhere else for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics? So hopefully someone is doing their homework on that," he said.

Marshall said HBC has already started to design the uniforms for Vancouver, and told CP that the company would be "very happy'' to sit down with Canadian textile and garment manufacturers to explore their ability to provide the volume of clothing needed at competitive prices...

Good to know. Now take it away, Elton!