Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour Love-In

Saturday we hosted an ‘Earth Hour Love-In’ with a dozen friends and their children. We screened the documentary ‘Garbage Revolution' and from 8-9 p.m. we turned off the lights, turned off the appliances, lit a bunch of candles and played charades in the soft glow of our reduced carbon footprint. Who knew playing charades by candlelight could be so much fun? I suppose if you’re going to be imitating Dolly Parton (I’m pretty sure Karma arranged for me to get that card) it’s always best to be doing it while reduced lighting is in effect. In a bizarre twist our party even made the front page of the local paper!

I personally had a great time (aided by the fact that Ian slept through the whole thing) and I’m pretty sure from all of the laughing that our guests did too. What a wonderful way to celebrate with friends. Let’s turn off the lights every time we get together!

PS: Jen you won the Nature Clean toilet bowl cleaner (you lucky girl!) and Annie you won the PC Green Shopping Bin.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Change#13 - No more magazines

I'm still working on greening our mailbox (what else, could I possibly do, you ask?). Well I cancelled all of my magazine subscriptions this week. I love reading magazines, but lately (in the last 10 and half months or so) I find I just don't have as much time to read as I used to. When I do have time, I'd rather read something that really inspires me, and the two magazines I was subscribed to, just don't fit the bill. Besides, now that I'm 'seeing things green', that pile of magazines sitting in my closet (that I'll be donating to someone) seems like such a waste of trees.
As an added bonus, this also means I'll be exposed to a few less advertisements begging me oh. so. subtly. to spend money on crappy products that promise to bring me closer to that ever elusive state of perfection. It's really no wonder that none of us feels: pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, strong enough, good enough.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Change#12 - Letting it mellow and checking our flappers

A long time ago I walked into a bathroom (I can’t remember whose it was... was it yours?) and noticed they had a wooden sign above their toilet. It said: ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’. At the time I thought “What the hell? Gross! Why would anyone want to let it mellow?” It just seemed really quite strange to me. Several years later, I now realize I was peeing in the house of revolutionaries... if only I could remember who these people were! A big part of being green is conserving water. According to Canada’s supply of fresh water is running out (presumably because we’ve polluted most of it and sold the rest of it to the U.S.).

The GreenLunns have been experimenting with this ‘let it mellow’ business for a while now. Turns out, it really isn’t as gross as I first thought. First of all, it doesn’t smell or anything. Secondly, it’s pretty easy to do; you just don’t flush unless you really have to. If the look of it is off putting, you can just close the lid. Pretty simple change and it’s free (and actually will save us money. Now that we own a home we realize just how expensive water is). So if you come over and the toilet is 'mellow', just know we weren't raised in a barn, we are greening our planet one less flush at a time. This being said, I'll probably go around flushing the toilets before guests come over... and there won't be a 'let it mellow' sign hanging above our toilets anytime soon... Derek wouldn't let me... and besides even I have my limits.

I’m also going to be investigating to see whether either of our toilets have leaks in them by putting a cup of coffee in the tanks. If the coffee leaks into the bowl, then I’ll know we have a leak and need to replace our 'flapper' (or, um, ballcock if you will). I have this sneaking suspicion that our upstairs toilet has a leak. Sometimes when I’m having a bath (an eco-sin I’ll be dealing with a little later) it speaks to me in whispers. A leaky toilet wastes gallons and gallons of water so I’ll be checking on our flappers very soon. The City of Ottawa is offering a toilet replacement program as an incentive to replace all of those old wasteful toilets that use up to 20L per flush. I wonder what kind of toilet we have...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Disclaimer and assorted things

Having given this a little more thought, I realized that our six month experiment regarding Bullfrog Power (to see just how much more it will cost us than the dirty kind of electricity... in hopes of convincing a certain someone that this switch should be a permanent one) will only be accurate if we switch our energy provider once I am back at work (because while I'm home I'm using a bit more energy than when we are both working). So we'll be officially making our switch to Bullfrog Power May 1st (I'm due back at work May 5th).

I'd like to make a few shout-outs to some people in my life who are inspiring me to keep on greenin'. First of all, to my friend Jeff who sent a hilariously funny email to all of his family and friends encouraging them to green their mailboxes too (it was addressed as 'Dear Socially Responsible People') and who just made the switch to Bullfrog Power. Woo hoo! Since his last name is Bean, I can't help but think of him now as 'GreenBean' because, well, frankly it's just too damn cute. Who doesn't like GreenBeans? (with a tiny smidgeon of butter and roasted almonds, YUM!) Go GreenBeans!

And to my friend Tamara who recently gave me a 'few' very thoughtful gifts for my birthday which were wrapped in nothing, accompanied by a homemade card with a hilarious poem she wrote herself and some 'coupons' for things like 'Dinner at her place', 'Babysitting' and 'Dinner at my place where she cooks'. How's that for creative, green and super nice! Go GreenMarshalls!

Also, I'd just like to say that shopping at consignment stores really pays off. Ian needed a fleece one piece suit for those warmer days we've been having, I noticed MEC had them on sale from $75 to $40 dollars. I considered buying him one of those and then remembered my commitment to go green. So I went to Boomerang Kids to check out what they had. For $40 I bought: 1 fleece snow suit, 7 pairs of shorts and 1 t-shirt. All name brand and in perfect condition. The fleece snowsuit cost me $5. Craziness. I may have to get him a few new things when summer hits because they didn't have a great selection of t-shirts, but damn did I ever feel good walking out of that store! The shopping experience wasn't quite the same as Gap kids (sniffle, sniffle) but I imagine I'll get used to it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Free Trees!

The City of Ottawa is giving away free trees on a first come, first serve basis to 're-forest' Ottawa and combat global warming. For more information and to sign up for your free tree go here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Change #11 - Bullfrog Powered!

Recently the two adult GreenLunns had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Me: I’d like to discuss switching to Bullfrog Power.
Derek: What?
Me: We would change our energy source from Hydro Ottawa to Bullfrog Power which means all of our hydro would come from green sources.
Derek: How much does that cost?
Me: I’ve heard it is only $5-$10 more per month than regular hydro.
Derek: NO way. There’s NO way we are paying more for hydro than we already do. That’s crazy. It’s not an investment.
Me: But it is an investment to me. It would mean that all of the electricity we use for the house would come from green sources like wind and water. No dirty coal or scary nuclear energy. It IS an investment.
Derek: No. We aren’t doing it.

Several hours later...

Me: I’ll make you a deal.
Derek: What.
Me: We’ll switch to Bullfrog Power for a few months and if the monthly cost is more than $5 from what we paid for that same month last year I will pay the difference with my own money instead of from our joint account.
Derek: Fine. We’ll do it for six months. After the six months we’ll look at last year’s bills and you’ll pay the difference with your own money, minus the $25 grace (six months x $5).
Me: Good. It’s a deal then. Thanks. This makes me really happy! I’m going to blog about this conversation you know.
Derek: Fine.
Me (to myself in my head): Crap, I really hope it isn’t much more than $5-$10 a month. I’ve got to go check out their website again...

Sooo I checked out their website and here is why I’m so very, very excited about this change:
1) their electricity is 100% green and carbon-free which is very, very important to fight global warming 2) 10% of the profit made by the company is donated to organizations that support sustainability 3) switching is easy, you do it online and it takes about 10 minutes (no special equipment is needed, no one comes to your house) 4) the more people who make the switch, the more demand there is for green energy which means more renewable power is created in Canada 5) knowing that I will have to pay for the extra costs from my own ‘fun money account’ means I will be even more motivated to conserve energy... according to their website it costs most people about $1 more a day than regular hydro, which is, um, quite a lot actually, but I’m hoping that the changes we are/will be making to conserve energy in our home will make up for some of it 6) this change is probably THE most important and effective change our family will make this year in doing our part to fight global warming and reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.

By the way if you want to try it out, there is no charge to switch to bullfrog power, you can cancel at any time and there are no cancellation fees. Check out their FAQs for more info.

Monday, March 3, 2008

10% discount at on g-diapers

My friend Natalie (aka Ecomama) is offering a 10% discount for the entire month of March to anyone who is interested in trying out the new 'g-diaper'. She's one of the first in Canada to be offering this cool new alternative to disposable diapers.

All you have to do is email her at to place your order and get the discount. The page on her site advertising the g-diaper isn't up yet, but you can check out this link to see what the diapers are all about. She sells the starter kits for $38.50 and refill packs are $18.75. If you live in Ottawa you can likely organize to pick up your order (she may also deliver, not sure) and avoid the shipping fees.

It's true that these diapers will cost you a little more than disposable diapers... but isn't it worth switching just to relieve that nagging guilt? Whenever I spend a little more on green products I try and think of it as my way of making a charitable donation to the 'green cause'. Hopefully as more people buy these products the less expensive they will be.

I'm going to go place my order right now before she sells out!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Change #10 - Epost

This week we continue to green our mailbox. In addition to saying no to junk mail, we've also signed up for epost (which apparently is the evolution of mail). Run by Canada Post, epost allows you to receive many of your monthly bills (Bell, Rogers, water and sewer, VISA etc) electronically. Basically, instead of receiving a paper copy of your bills in your mailbox you receive a notice by email that you have received a bill in your 'epost electronic mailbox'. You can even opt to pay all of your bills through epost as well (but I will continue to pay them through online banking).

With all of my bills handy, it took about 25-30 minutes to sign-up (with Ian in my arms, typing with one hand). Some bills aren't available on epost yet (like Enbridge and Hydro Ottawa) so I went directly to their sites and signed up to their online billing options too.

A while ago we changed our settings in our online banking to receive all of our banking statements electronically as well. No more useless statements telling me how little money I have in my savings account.

Incidentally we will also be doing our taxes this week and filing them electronically using quicktax (signing up for epost gives you a 20% discount with quicktax). If you've never done your own taxes, this program makes it super easy. You do everything online, you don't need to download a special program or anything. It took me 10 minutes to do my taxes this year. We've also signed up to get our 'refund' by direct deposit. I also recently opted to receive my monthly Universal Child Care Benefit by direct deposit too.

Do you hear that? It's the sound of a few less trees being cut down.

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