Trashing Stupidity is Ok

Emptying the trashI remember the times growing up when not wearing a seatbelt was pretty common, gravel running with a 2-4 was a Friday night gig, smoking in a vehicle with the windows up or in an office and bar was acceptable, and throwing one’s garbage out the window was a recurring sight. Times have certainly changed, and for the better, in my opinion. People and their health are ‘better’ protected, the environment is being considered, and all around, such changes have left a marked impact on many lives.

All these thoughts are trailing through my mind this morning, as I’m marvelling at the gorgeous Autumn weather being blessed on us as I pole-vault into my daily walk. Sadly, a few minutes in, I stumble across an empty Tim’s cup {with the non-biodegradable plastic lid intact} haphazardly thrown from the window onto the road. And I think, REALLY?

What kind of person still throws their garbage out the window? I am truly mystified. Delinquency indeed comes in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, I think said actions stems from a combination of laziness, self-centred stubbornness and climate change denial. Ignorance about one’s own actions, in this case, is certainly not an excuse. Such careless and disrespectful actions leave me sad and a little bit seething. Just because it’s convenient certainly doesn’t make it right!

I try to think compassionate thoughts, but my no-nonsense environmentalist brain won’t stretch that far today. All I can do is roar an inner growl, pick up the offending rubbish and make a small prayer to Mother Earth for our transgressions. If only our Politicians were as thoughtful and caring in the roles that they fill, cleaning up the garbage and mess that they’re leaving behind instead of stomping all over terra firma and the law-abiding thoughtful citizens of our planet (most of whom are tax-payers supplementing government incomes).

roadstretch-cleanPerhaps if everyone in this world had a daily duty to clean up a mile-long stretch of an Adopt-A-Highway, and/or had the moral obligation to show compassion in some form to Mother Earth, we could literally bag all the offenders and realize that the tiniest of self-imposed actions can all make a difference. The snowball effect would be incredible!

Now if only we could clean up all the political trash, turning the wasteful actions of the delinquent into something positive to help those less fortunate and able.

/rant. Full-stop.

envirothief

The Rain’s Entrance

rainfallThe rain has finally come. Two months of no rain had cultivated a sense of worry regarding the water table levels . Conservation of the precious H2O here on the mountain has been a fervent plea expressed through the weekly web newsletter and with educational signs postered everywhere water is used (whether it be in the bathrooms, kitchen, dining halls, garden, etc), available to all those living and retreating here. For me, conservation at MMC is no different than living in an rV, where limited water stores is very much an issue (especially when boondocking). I’m grateful to have this rV experience behind me, as this helps me to be super conscious of my own usage, assisting and educating others, if the opportunity arises. The Mount Madonna Center (MMC) moves towards its sustainability goals by implementing improvements in water conservation by asking those on the mountain to:

  • Limit showers to 3 minutes
  • Turn faucets off in between tasks
  • Flush toilets only when necessary
  • Use the outhouses whenever possible

Additionally,

  • All water used comes from the property.
  • Rainwater runoff is collected seasonally in three lakes for firefighting, agriculture, and recreation.
  • On-site wells provide for drinking water and domestic water use.
  • All toilets and showers heads are low flow.
  • Treated grey water from the Conference Center and Mount Madonna School is re-used for watering of the garden and landscape plants.
  • Grey water from many of our other buildings is returned back to the ecosystem after treatment via septic systems and leach fields.

morning gloryI am thoroughly impressed and in awe at the environmental policy steps that MMC has set in place to encourage and practice resource conservation. Clean  water is so precious, and not available to all on our planet. The Mount Madonna Center provides an amazing model as to what a community can achieve with thoughtful diligence and proactive steps towards a healthier better planet.

RV Dehumidifiers

With Ontario summer comes hot humid weather (or so it is at the moment!). Humidity and trailers don’t go together so well. Alas, comes the issue of humid closets and clothing. With moisture in freshly washed clothes comes a not-so-fresh smell several days later. So in order to tackle this, we needed some sort of dehumidifier.

Alternative #1

Without wanting to generate even more heat through an electric dehumidifier, I found an incredible product on the market that has served us from the beginning of our RV adventures. When I first initially did some research, I stumbled across an economical alternative at our local Co-op store in Teeswater. It’s called ‘High & Dry’ from Prairie West Industrial Ltd. and is made in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). In our travels, I’ve looked for this product everywhere, but so far have only seen it at the one Co-op store close to my Father’s Canadian farm.

The 3.1 kg bag is dubbed as a moisture remover for basements, cabins, flooded areas, sheds, garages, tents, boats, or anywhere that high moisture is a problem. It’s basically Calcium Chloride in a burlap bag. Since my discovery of this product almost 2 years ago, we have gone through 4 to 5 bags. At around $15 per bag, it’s a very affordable and convenient option. Dependant on the season and destination, the bag lasts us on average for about 3 months and works impeccably well. The diagram on the front of the packaging shows the 7 lb bag secured by a hook over a pail. At first, I thought perhaps I could hang the bag from the affixed shower head but realized that such a heavy item would ultimately pull the faucet from the wall at some point. This called for an alternative resolution. With such a smart creative husband, he came up with the perfect solution. slaDE macgyvered a makeshift collection bin by securing porch screen material loosely over a 5 gallon pail with his work tie-wire. We set the bucket in the shower and it wicks away moisture from throughout the Airstream fabulously!

 

Alternative #2

Another dehumidier option that we’ve invested in is the product called ‘Damp Rid‘. I bought 2 small containers, one to keep in the closet and the other in my electronics drawer. These containers are topped up at the end of my ‘High & Dry’ contents life end (small remnants of calcium chloride replenish these containers every 3 months … therefore renewable and more eco-friendly than just pitching after 1 use).

 

Alternative #3

It was only a few months ago that we stumbled across the product ‘Eva-Dry‘:

Safe, non-toxic, natural defense against moisture and mildew. Renewable Eva-Dry dehumidifiers are filled with silica gel, a very thirsty substance. Odorless silica beads absorb many times their weight in moisture and lock it in so water can’t leak or spill out.

When the Eva-Dry is “full” you renew the silica inside by plugging the unit into any power outlet. Heat gently releases water vapor in a few hours. When the indicator is blue again, Eva-Dry is renewed and ready to go back to work. You can repeat the process for up to 10 years!

I actually saw this product advertised a few months before purchasing and was somewhat leery about it’s proclaimed capabilities. However, I was happily surprised!

Here’s a testimonial: we’ve used the Eva-Dry 500 now for the past 3 months, and I must admit, it has worked extremely well in our closet. In fact, I hope to buy another one to use for the rest of the RV (to replace the Calcium Chloride — if it works as well as the ‘High & Dry’ now, Eva-Dry will pay for itself after 9 months – 1 year comparatively). We’ve plugged it in twice over the past 90 days and I LOVE the fact that this is ‘rechargeable’. There is no need for batteries, chemicals or a purchase every few months. When plugged in, we need an outside power source to ‘recharge’ the silica pellets. So far so good! I like the colourant in the pellets which tell me when the unit needs to be replenished (when they turn bright pink, it’s time to plug the somewhat heavy device in for approximately 12-14 hours — we use a power bar to have it sitting upright during the discharge. The website recommends that “the best place to renew the Eva-Dry is in any well ventilated area or in a bathroom with the exhaust fan on”).

So far, all the alternatives have been great effective options. Economically, Eva-Dry seems to outweigh them all. The ‘High & Dry’ has been the most visibly effective humidity deterrent (to give Eva-Dry a fair chance, we need to buy one for the whole trailer). I’m happy with them all and use all three at the moment for removing moisture in the trailer. I recommend them all!

PS I’ve just discovered online that you can go to a pool store and purchase Calcium Chloride. Not sure if it would be cheaper than the ‘High & Dry’, or packaged as conveniently, but it’s an option for y’all!

Elora

Elora is spectacular. Our current home away from home, where the village is perched on the edge of a dramatic gorge. Elora Gorge is a conservation area where the Grande and Irvine Rivers nestle the rugged terrain and rolling hills, making this area a magical and picturesque dream hideaway. The perfect spot for us to decompress after our crazy past month. And with the generosity of our friend’s 35 foot driveway, we were able to squeak our trailer snugly into a precise fitting refuge meant just for us, savouring in this moment. Yay for kind neighbours and a township that allows for driveway parking.

My favourite memories of our week in Elora? There are SO many … may the photos accompanying my thoughts create a wonderful picture of the beauty found here.

Having Jennifer read her 1.5 hour one-woman play to us in an Irish accent throughout.


Walking with Jen, Roger and their animals.


Savouring the freshly blooming flowers and transcendant in Lilac heaven

Escaping for walks along the Gorge.

Enthralled by the beauty of Nature and evening campfires

Spending an evening with Silver family friends in their gorgeous Elora home, sharing yogaFLIGHT and talking in to the wee hours.

Loads of quiet time to contemplate, take photos and read.

Hard-hitting Alternatives Needed

After opening up the truck doors to my Father’s Chevy farm vehicle, the suppressing and triumphant chemical + dog smells exuding through the orifices of its openings almost knocked me over for dead. After a night of eco-friendly odour blockers, the smell of Febreze remained stubbornly intermingled with the sickly smell of wet dog. Time for more plotting with further research. I’ve been reading about the powers of diatomaceous earth (herein known as DE) + clay as being huge odour sponges. I’m particularly fascinated by the multi-purpose function of DE, in both animal and human existence. Way to get sidetracked from a smelly job at hand. After several hours of much scrutiny over DE’s benefits and claims, I returned to the task of vacuuming up the previous night’s baking soda ash cover from the cushion covers. A very time-consuming task indeed. Because of this, I was hesitant to spread kitty litter / baking soda / borax mixture anew on the cushions, but for now, it was the next best option. Surprisingly, I had a small quantity of DE tucked away for other purposes (it remains poised for eliminating ants, bed begs or other hard-shelled pests) for those ‘just in case’ moments. Now would be an ideal time to test out DE. So without following any real recipe, I threw together a handful of the cat litter and borax, several boxes of baking soda with a couple of heaping tablespoons of DE. When using DE, it’s vital that only Food-grade diatomaceous earth aka fossil shell flour be used. Even with wearing a dust mask and safety glasses — protecting myself from inhaling the fine dust residue and particulates — I could still taste the soda and borax ash mixture. Luckily I wore gloves (I’m not wanting to mess with a potentially caustic recipe: borax can do that) when spreading the mixture on all seated surfaces. The doors were left open all day in an attempt to air things out. Let’s hope that these tricks help to eliminate some of the odour. I’d be foolish to think it could annihilate the horrific stench. Next up: finding a quality charcoal odour absorber, using an enzyme cleaner with a steam cleaning bath to follow (if the current concoction doesn’t fumigate or at least ‘sweeten’ the air ).

Do you sweet reader have any ideas or suggestions for me? Any experience and/or success with eliminating stubborn odours that you’d care to share? Any enzyme cleaner recommendations? Any bad experiences worthy of contributing?

Say NO to Febreze!!!!!! 

Project Laundry

There’s something about hanging out my clothing on the line, a beautiful day shining love and the natural bleaching goodness of the sun down upon my deepest of secret pleasures. Who could imagine being overjoyed at the thought of hanging laundry? I for one. Something about using Nature’s element to its fullest potential gives me great gratification. And when I lay down at night with the smell and feel of clean reverberating next to my body, a sense of calm and enviro-friendly justice in its finest form overcomes me.

There are so many benefits to eliminating or reducing automatic dryer usage in one’s life, with little extra work and numerous benefits associated with the practice:

Air-drying is better for your clothes. Laundry machines toss clothes around, causing wear on the seams and sometimes snagging things with zippers. If you use a washer and dryer, you subject your clothes to twice as much tumbling as you would if you used only a washer. The heat of the dryer causes elastic to break down and T-shirt lettering to peel. It can also distort the shapes of knit garments.

Air-drying reduces wrinkles. If you remove clothing from a dryer immediately and hang or fold it, most items are relatively unwrinkled; however, this requires careful timing. How much time does your dryer save if you have to hang around waiting for the cycle to end or face a session of tedious ironing? Clothes which have been properly hung for air-drying will dry in the right shape, virtually wrinkle-free, and will be waiting when youÕre ready to get them.

Air-drying completely eliminates static cling. Electric dryers produce static electricity by rubbing clothes over each other repeatedly. Avoid this process, and you’ll avoid the static! You’ll also save money on fabric softener. True, air-dried clothes feel a bit stiff at first. Just remind yourself that the stiffness means clothes are freshly washed, and soon you’ll find that those “nice soft clothes” feel dirty!

Air-drying is good for the environment. In many areas, electricity is produced by coal-powered plants. Reduce your electricity consumption, and you’ll reduce the burning of irreplaceable fossil fuels.

Best of all, air-drying is free! If you use coin-operated laundry machines, you know that dryers account for at least half the expense. If you own a dryer, you’re paying for extra electricity and repairs. Just read these tips, set up your own air-drying system, and you’ll never pay another cent to dry your clothes.

Here’s a few stats for you. Did you know that:

  • electric clothes dryers use 6 % of residential electricity in the United States (Project Laundry List)
  • the US Department of Energy rates dryers as the second biggest muncher of household energy (refrigerators rate right up there as first — CNet News)
  • a washer and dryer are found in 9 of 10 single-family American homes (I wonder how many clotheslines / horses are found in the same homes?)
  • clothes dryers are blamed for 15,000 household fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries counted each year by the Consumer Safety Product Commission

 

Wiki-How offers some tips on how to dry your clothes outside. Have fun and experiment with what works for you.

How often do you naturally dry your clothing? Join in on the fun and throw any tips or advice this way :).

Are you prepared?

About this time last year, we meandered our way through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A crazy tourist mecca, but a beautiful part of the country nevertheless. I was reading this story about a Wastewater Treatment Plant spill in Gatlinburg Tennessee and couldn’t help but wonder, how does something like a sewage leak of such gigantic proportions happen in this day and age? 1.5 to 3.2 million gallons of waste leaked into the rain-swollen Little Pigeon River and two workers bodies were recovered. To think, the basin that collapsed was only 15 years old! If such a facility collapses with age due to structural failure, imagine the repercussions of an earthquake, mammoth storm or Tsunami on an area that is unprepared and structurally unsound?! This is a wakeup call to us all: kind of like a literal domino effect. When something such as a treatment plant overspill happens and untreated sewage flows unencumbered in to the water system, envision the environmental devastation plus both the animal and human impact and toll. Food for thought, especially right now when we hear about environmental disasters, such as what recently has enveloped Japan and the oil spill in the Gulf. Tragic and life changing, in all ways and forms. Are you prepared for a natural disaster or environmental emergency in your community? What can you do to to prepare? Here’s an Emergency preparation guide to get you started, or at least thinking.

Diving the Coral Reefs of Belize

Diving, flipping, open, carousing, barrel rolling, succulent open water dives. 2 of them. Tuffey and Victorian Canyons. The coral, spectacular. Life changing, breeding glorious vibrant life. It’s so important that we protect our coral reefs. Seeing them from underwater up close and personal gives new meaning to their beauty and importance. It’s a whole new world in the deep blue seas surrounding a Barrier Reef. Filled with life and vitality, in a constant state of flux, rhythmic and musical. Brutally surreal and present. A fish-eat-fish sort of world where one can never be too ambivalent nor caught off-guard.

As it stands, 75% of our Earth coral reefs are threatened “by agricultural runoff, shipping, overfishing, coastal development, pollution, climate change, warming seas and ocean acidification” as reported by the World Resources Institute, titled “Reefs at Risk.” The report is a follow-up to a 1998 report they did on the same global problem, but this time more detailed.

This article from Care2 shows where the Coral Reef Systems are located and asks the vital question of:

Why are coral reefs important? They provide the highest biodiversity for all marine ecosystems in the oceans. They also host 25 percent or more of all marine fish species. One estimate put the benefits coral reefs provide at 29 billion US dollars per year. They generate billions of dollars per year for tourism and recreation and are the foundation of life for many marine organisms. Reefs around the world have been dying off due to the various impacts caused by human activity. When they are gone, the biodiversity depending on them also goes. As one researcher said, it’s like when everything in the forest is gone except for little twigs.”Coral Reef locations

Zephyrhills: Not So Recycle Friendly

My friend Minna and I went in to town, looking to replenish our grocery supplies, whilst hoping to find a place to recycle our glass bottles (aka lots of beer from the New Year’s celebrations) and Minna’s plastic ‘Zephyrhills Water’ bottles. After much querying and driving around town, we found one sole lonely recycling centre. Sadly for us, they only dealt with recycling of aluminum, tin and other metals. On the Zhills water bottle and website, they clearly state: “We recommend that our water bottles be recycled, not reused. Every bottle produced by NWNA is recyclable, including our clear caps ….. Consumers can reduce the overall environmental impact associated with drinking a bottle of water by 25%, just by recycling the bottle after use. Recycled bottles are in high demand for use in products such as fabric, carpeting and other consumer goods.” Well big flippin deal! It seems that they’re are ALL talk, no action. There is NO public recycling facility in Zephyrhills to even deal with all the wasteful plastic product that this company is producing. I tried truly. I drove all over town, asking shops and manufacturers where I could drop off the plastic and glass recycling that we’ve been toting around for the past few weeks. Nothing, zippo, zilch. I’ve never been a big fan of plastic water bottles (I used to be a proud owner of a Sigg 100% recyclable aluminum water bottle (Lululemon baby!), but it went AWOL when I arrived at our current destination). Love the drop zone, not so fond of the city and corporate politics. Now I’m begrudging of the Zephyrhills Water parent company, especially now. They say:  ‘Less plastic, better environment’. Ok, if this were the truth, people shouldn’t be drinking from plastic water bottles period. And even then, if they do, this eco-logical slogan only works if there are recycling depots available that effectively deal with the burgeoning load of plastic trash mounds! The big recycling question that exists in my mind: where does our recycled plastic and goods go? Check out the 5 Gyres website to be truly informed. Plastic … the irresponsible use of our disposable and ‘plastic’ mentality is a weighty, unyielding incessant and often-hidden worldwide problem. I so want to scream at the top of my lungs: “Stop using plastic (and styrofoam — a whole other issue) wherever you can”. Make it a resolution if you must. Easier said than done, I know. Even the organic produce, the bread, the frozen fruit for our smoothies, the yogurt containers, etc etc that we purchase are often either contained or wrapped in plastic. There’s hardly any escape, even with the healthiest of food choices and options available. “Most of what we eat, drink, or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic- a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we then throw away.” What’s wrong with this picture?? What is the resultant problem of our persistent use of plastic? “The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth.” Plastic is clogging up our oceans, contaminating the food chain and asphyxiating us with it’s toxic fumes and chemical residue.

Recycle FAIL!

It all starts with a mindset and an intention. My goal in this life // to walk softly on this earth. Through example and education, and to finding solutions when roadblocks pop up where I least expect.