environment

(Not so) Interesting Stuff

Just thought I’d let you know a few things that have been going on around here:

In an effort to ‘go green’ I have been washing my face with oil for the past 3 weeks.

I have also cut down my habit of daily hair washing. For the past 2 weeks I have been washing my hair every other day. When my shampoo runs out I will not buy more. Instead, I will use baking soda and water.

Likewise, I have once again stopped using shampoo on the little dudes. When the big boys run out of shampoo, we will not be replacing it, either.

I am switching from plastic bottles of hand soap and body wash to bars of soap. (Less waste/recycling.)

On a different note, Mattias broke his leg jumping on a trampoline 4 weeks ago today. Next Monday he gets his full leg cast off. He is doing pretty well, limping along with his bright blue leg.

Brady’s eye has (mostly) stopped dripping dirt. For the longest time, his eye (which is quite watery) was dripping dirty tears that would stain his cheek. It still happens on occasion, but it isn’t constant like it was for a while there.

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Convenience vs Good Stewardship: Dishes

I was standing at the sink, doing dishes and not enjoying it, when I started to think about how addicted to convenience we (as a society) have become.

Convenience is defined on freedictionary.com as:

1. The quality of being suitable to one’s comfort, purposes, or needs
2. Personal comfort or advantage
3. Something that increases comfort or saves work

I guess it’s not a new thing to desire comfort and to want to save on work. I bet you could argue that society’s been evolving all along with one of its goals being to increase comfort by making work easier. But sometimes I think that it is getting ridiculous! For example:

1. We need paper plates and plastic cups so we don’t have to deal with dishes;
2. We can’t live without dishwashers and microwaves to speed things up;
3. We buy in bulk and need massive freezers to store our reserves;
4. We have keyless entry systems, remote car starters, portable dvd players, hand-held game consoles;
5. We must have mobile phones so we can contact the spouse/a friend/the police in an emergency, but not just any phone;
6. We need iPhones and the like, with a massive amount of apps (preferrably free), so we can access the internet, read a book or play a game, at any moment, from anywhere;
7. We need satellite TV and a PVR so we never miss our favourite shows and we can skip the boring stuff;
8. I could go on, but I think I will choose to end it there…

Our current flat has a dishwasher. We’ve been living here since 16 July — so it’s been 4.5 months — and I think we’ve only used it 6 or 7 times so far. Why, you might ask, especially if neither of us enjoy doing dishes? The short answer is that I don’t want to run the dishwasher, wasting energy and water, when I am perfectly capable of hand-washing dishes. But is that the best use of my time?

I want to be a good steward of my time. I want to be a good steward of the world’s resources, whether they are renewable or not. I want to be a good steward of our finances. I want to make every moment of every day count.

I know that because of the age and abilities of the dishwasher here and the number of dishes we have at our disposal, using it will waste energy, time and money. Which means we’re washing by hand.

So maybe, instead of trying to get the dishes done before the kids are in bed so we don’t have to worry about them after the kids are in bed, we just need to suck it up. Some days (most, I think), it will be more important to have some time with the family than to get the dishes done before 8 o’clock. Others, one of us might need to spend some time at the sink, enjoying the sounds of happy kids playing with their daddy/mommy so later we can have a date night — one that isn’t taken up by doing dishes! Instead of thinking of it as a terrible chore, I choose to think of doing the dishes by hand as an expression of love and another chance to make an ethical decision rather than giving in and choosing convenience.


Christmas trees: Artificial vs Real

I have had it in my mind for the last many years that I am doing the world a favour by using an artificial Christmas tree. There was no way that anyone could tell me that buying a real tree each year and then throwing it out 2 weeks later was a better option for the environment (or my pocket book) than buying a fake tree and using it for many years.

For whatever reason, I decided to do some online searches on the subject this evening.

Of course, what I was looking for was environmental and health issues. I was shocked to discover a number of sites that didn’t touch on the subject at all when comparing artificial and real trees! What year is this?! Are people really that out of touch that they can’t discuss the environmental issues?

Anyway, it turns out that there are plenty of organizations (and individuals) that can give loads of reasons for their opinion and against the opposing view. For example, artificial trees are made from PVC, which is not recyclable (see this Greenpeace article for more information) and if they are old, contain lead. Lots of trees have warnings on/in their boxes that tell you not to eat or inhale particles that come out of the box or off the tree. That’s a bit alarming…

On the other hand, real trees are recyclable and, if bought from a local nursery and not the chain store that ships them in, provide work in your community, save on shipping and pollution, etc. They smell good. BUT they are messy and pokey and can only stay up for a short amount of time. In the end, they cost more.

The best option is to go with a live Christmas tree. That’s right, one with the roots still attached. That way you can plant it in your yard after Christmas! (Keep in mind, if you live anywhere cold then you can only have it in your house for a very limited amount of time so that it doesn’t wake up, start to grow, and then die when it goes back out in the cold.) This would be really expensive to do each year. And how much room do you have in your yard to plant spruce trees?

Needless to say, my opinion has changed. I really don’t know what I think any more, but at least I got my butt kicked out of thinking fake trees were the way to go.

What do you think?