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.

The Story of Cosmetics

The ugly truth of toxins going in, toxins coming out? That would describe the ‘Story of Stuff’ project called “The Story of Cosmetics“. In our current day society, a large percentage of what we consume and utilize on this planet has been over-processed, under-tested and mis-handled. The closer we get to natural, the better it is for us. Period. But petroleum products, plastics and chemicals have ‘simplified’ our life, compromising the health of our planet and our bodies. Any personal care product that we use is absorbed by our body’s largest organ, our skin! Whether we wash our hair, brush our teeth, launder our clothes, moisturize our skin or consume as a food / liquid source, the skin will absorb it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Many people are finding themselves suddenly with chemical sensitivities (myself included in that one), and question why? Perhaps it’s due to the onslaught of continued product usage, and the body saying “enough already”? Or maybe it has to do with the fact that chemicals can stay in the body for a lifetime, so past exposures might be responsible for current vulnerabilities and symptoms.

The term cosmetics goes beyond the visage of ‘makeup’.

chemical in our stuffnoun (usu. cosmetics)

* a product applied to the body, esp. the face, to improve its appearance.

* Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and gels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetics in the United States defines cosmetics as: “intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or functions”. Soap is not included in this classification, by the FDA.

I think the true difficulty behind the issues of cosmetics is that North American Federal Agencies are not regulating or labelling many toxic ingredients (substances which may cause cancer or fetal, hormonal or reproductive toxicity), leaving the public at risk, confused and misinformed. I personally try to source natural ingredients with the basic cleansing functions in my skincare products necessary to achieve the results I’m going after (i.e. toothpaste, shampoo, face & body cleanser / moisturizer, etc). I strayed a long time ago from the use of makeup as I prefer au naturel. And Essential Oils fill my sensory needs for fragrance. Plant based authentic 100% aromatherapy. Simple joys, small pleasures. Let’s just hope that essential oils never come under the gun of federal regulation. Don’t get me wrong, quality control of any publicly offered substance is vital. Knowing the quality, grade and authenticity of our cosmetics is necessary, as I personally believe in making educated and qualified self-decisions. However, there’s a fine line between managing for quality vs controlling because of vested interests and misinformation / miscalculation of what constitutes afforded protection.

But that’s another post in the making :).

Check out the shockumentaryThe Story of Cosmetics” … well worth your time, for the sake of your health, your family’s safety and our environment.

There are different ways that we can make a difference.

» SHARE The Story of Cosmetics

» JOIN The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

» THROW A Story of Cosmetics Viewing PARTY!

What is petroleum used in??

Continuing from my blog posting yesterday of our addiction to petroleum and the mess that’s been created in the Gulf, I wanted to break the discussion down in to a more tangible realistic portrayal of how oil is used in our everyday lives. And realistically, what can we do on an individual scale, as consumers, by looking to alternative solutions to everyday products that we use, which contain derivatives of petroleum. I’m only touching the beginnings of potential. Be cre8tive and perhaps suggest some other ways, in the comment section below! I dare you to make a difference and contribution 🙂

SURPRISING USES OF OIL
SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVES
Pantyhose Silk, cotton and wool alternatives exist. Request if not available locally.
Lipstick Ask for organic or chemical-free. Vegan and hemp alternatives exist.
Crayons Beeswax and chemical free is essential.
Gum GLEE GUMis a superb alternative and can be found at health food stores.Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rain forest chicle.In Canada, if you can’t find that, you might find Xylitol-based natural gums at a Korean Supermarket.
Aspirin Please speak with a Naturopath or Alternative Medicine Practitioner.
Willow bark is a powerful healer, when used with care.
Solar Panels Dispose of these properly and ask about petroleum oil-free technologies.
Synthetic Fibers / Polyesters in Clothing Eco-Friendly Fabrics are available. Try to avoid organic blends (where non-organic materials can be incorporated).
Contraceptives
  • Natural, Vegan or Lambskin condoms
  • Organic Lubricant
  • Birth Control That’s Au Naturel
  • IUD
  • Vasectomy
Toothpaste My personal favourite: Toms of Mainetoothpaste was the first natural toothpaste to be given approval from the American Dental Association.Here’s a recipe from the Instructables site for making your own toothpaste!
Mouthwash My recipe:

* 8 oz water
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 4 drops peppermint oil
* 4 drops tea tree
* 1 tbsp 3% peroxide

My homemade mouthwash recipe has a fabulous minty taste and helps prevent bad breath.

Baby food Vita-Mix — make your own!
Petroleum jelly (otherwise known as petrolatum or soft paraffin)
~ sometimes blended with paraffin wax and used in medicines and in many toiletries and healing moisturizers
Make your own with Beeswax as the main ingredient or try the natural vegetable product known as Cremerlin.
Petroleum (or paraffin) wax
~ used in packaging, candles, matches, shoe polish, and even candy making
Beeswax or soy wax
Asphalt Alternative asphalt solutions: Solid Earth, Ecogrid (a permeable paving solution)
Disposable Diapers Cloth diapers, foregoing diapers or at least using disposable diapers that are chlorine-free or made from recycled materials.

51 days and counting … where does our personal responsibility lie?

“Some 25 million to 39 million gallons of oil are estimated to have gone into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.”
Lest we forget, our oceans have no borders, boundaries or barrier walls. I’m of the belief that powerful ocean currents could potentially make this an epic global catastrophe, especially with the ominous hurricane season threatening the deep south. Additionally, 20-60% of crude oil evaporates. Tell me that this won’t settle on to our crops, in to our water system, dispersed in the air we breath. MILLION of GALLONS. Gasp ….. This is has gone on far too long. 51 days to be exact.

I want to provide you with a few excellent links to further educate yourself on the oil spills devastating effects:

A pictorial of the BP Oil Disaster … Forgive Us. http://www.greaterfool.ca/2010/06/04/forgive-us

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Mote’s Response http://www.mote.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=Gulf%20of%20Mexico%20Oil%20Spill&category=Marine%20Policy%20Institute

A link for visualizing the BP Oil Disatser http://www.ifitwasmyhome.com

What happens to the oil when a hurricane strikes? http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-to-the-oil-when-a-hurricane-strikes-2010-6

Oil on the Water: The Physics of Oil Spills http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37517080/ns/disaster_in_the_gulf

http://oseculoprodigioso.blogspot.com/2007/06/clemente-francesco-neo-expressionismo.html

© Clemente, Francesco - Neo-Expressionismo

How many more days will this continue?? And what can I do in the here and now? Where does my personal responsibility lie? Is it time for a reset on the way that we live? Where can we make better choices in reducing our consumption of fuel, plastics and energy?

Examining the life we lead, slaDE~ and I currently tow our Airstream, our home, behind us as we pursue our dreams. I’m grateful for the relatively good fuel mileage that we get at approximately 15-17 mpg when towing the trailer, 22-25 mpg with the truck on its own. The question is, how can we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels? I’m seriously invested in finding a solution to alternative fuels, such as bio-diesel, to fuel our diesel truck. I would love to see the production of algae and kelp as an alternative fuel source. I wonder if kelp could be grown in the Gulf (kelp grows at astonishingly quick speeds), feeding on the hydrocarbons for energy in the spilled oil?  We could go farther in living a cleaner greener more respectful energy efficient lifestyle … and solar power is one of the most attractive sustainable options that I’d love to add to the Airstream (our current solar panel is dysfunctional). Additionally, a solar oven perhaps? Continuing to use our solar water heater (a black plastic camp shower bag that heats up the water for washing dishes, etc) is a proactive solution which I enjoy. Eating locally grown organic food is a positive step to the greater good. Reducing (and recycling where necessary) our use of plastics is a biggie, especially as plastics originate from fossil fuels. Composting any organic matter (think digging holes across America), and recycling our belongings, allows us to keep our disposables out of the landfill … an incredible bonus. Any other ideas out there for maintaining a environmentally friendly lifestyle on the road?

As a side-note, jumping out of planes for recreation has me torn … a guilty passion which uses huge amounts of fuel. Not sure how to address this one without giving up on my dream of flight??!

Mea maxima culpa …. Collectively WE are responsible for Nature and Mother Earth.  Where would we be if we lived on an empty planet, void of the green and beauty of nature? What if the rainbows of colour didn’t exist for us to to paint our dreams around, fashioning and moulding a kaleidoscopic canvas of beautiful vision? What kind of future would we hope for, dream for, breath in?

Alone we must survive, but why not make it a better place for all? Nature helps us to thrive, be alive and blossom. The call is strong and alive, present in every media angle we may subscribe to. Stop pollution where you can, be vital, function beyond the extraordinary, make a difference and be an advocate and champion for our environment, our planet, our Mother Earth. Step by step, breath by breath, one by one, we CAN make a difference.

Our spirit may soar free,
but why live life just for me!
With time, I will stagnate and die.
But can I do this before merging with the sky?
Can I learn the lessons before crashing and burning?
Or will I offer to others a bittersweet yearning …

For comfort, for joy, for simple pleasures found in Nature.

Spreading my happiness at being one with my Mother,
she that giveth plenty and to which I shall one day return.
From dust to ashes I will bequeath my final responsibility.
Returning to the Earth, to my roots, to my ancestors.
The ultimate score. The life’s lessons, visions, touchings and inspirations which I may have left behind, fostered for future generations.
Let your spirit soar in the least destructive way you know.
Be kind to your Mother.
For one day, you shall return.

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

~ © Katherine  sKY:: Weishar

Airstream Spring Cleaning & Project Laundry

1n June 2008, slaDE~ and I spontaneously bid and won our Airstream dream trailer off of eBay, about 6 weeks before our wedding. Although we stayed in our trailer during the wedding week whilst home on Dad’s Ontario farm, we really didn’t get a chance to explore it’s nuisances and beauty. Fast forward just over a 14 months. Ontario-bound we returned, leaving our careers and life in Calgary Alberta behind, looking to live full-time in our Airstream trailer. As expected, October in Ontario was quite frigid, and as we readied our Airstream to journey south for the winter, a thorough cleaning in the bitter cold temperatures was the last thing on our minds. So with a brief overall clean, we headed south for 5 months and enjoyed a hectic schedule with varied climates, until our return to Canada last month.

rugWith the breath of Spring in the warm cleansing air, I felt the need to clean and fully aerate our beloved home. It was time to purge the previous owners from our treasured ‘Airabella‘: this meant scrubbing the dirt and grime from every window sill, and eliminating the rug which darkened our trailer floor. Sunday was a hectic day … from dawn to dusk, I had many chores to keep me on the go until my collapse at 9pm. First on my list: cleaning out the pantry and organizing our closets and dressers of clothing and items that I hadn’t a use for over the winter months. With the limited space that we have, I still manage to cram in a ton of clothing and specialized foods along with my aromatherapy oils, books and stuff. However, I’m finding that running out of room for storing our every day needs is becoming an issue; hence, prioritizing, packing away and storing unnecessary artifacts in the cubby hole was top on the list of my agenda.

no-rugNext up: removing the navy rug from our trailer, exposing the light-coloured laminate under-flooring. WOW. What a HUGE difference! Although I enjoyed having carpet to warm our feet during the winter months, I found that keeping a rug clean was challenging in such a small area. Little did I realize how much dirt this floor covering harboured. Eek! Having ‘wood’ totally lightened up our living area whilst also creating the illusion of more space. It also allows for a more hygienic space to breath, work and play in. Seems that in my older age, I’m growing more sensitive to chemical smells, cigarette smoke, dust mites and artificial anything. Every little bit helps in keeping a clean home that I can retreat to and hibernate in!

The final item on my list for the day: getting our laundry done. Whilst living on the road, finding a place to wash and dry our clothes in a eco-friendly manner can be a somewhat challenging task. So when an opportunity arises for me to hang out my laundry to line dry, I happily jump at the chance! Both cold water washing and hanging out our clothing provide us with an effective way to save energy, money and time. Small steps, every day in every way possible DO make a difference to our environmental impact on the planet.

The Truth About Coffee Cups and Nothing But the Truth

Do you make a frequent trip to your favourite coffee shop [insert emporium of choice here], but feel somewhat guilty about the disposable cups you might use each visit, only to be pitched and unrecycled?

This is an AWESOME way to recycle used coffee (paper) cups!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Coffee-cup-sphere-lamp

coffee-cup

I’m a huge fan of saving Mother Earth, in every way I can, even if it means saving each and every coffee cup that per chance I might use (I tend to reuse my stainless mug for hot drinks).

http://www.instructables.com is a wonderful website for ideas, tips and tricks.

Here’s a startling and scary fact from an article put out by Dalhousie University [Halifax, Nova Scotia]:

“In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages. If put end-to-end, those cups would circle the earth 55 times. Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010 enough to circle the globe 88 times. Based on hot cup usage in 2005, the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of those cups could have heated 8,300 homes for one year.” WOW. A frightening statistic indeed!

coffee

Did you ever wonder why the coffee giants in this world haven’t hopped on board the Green bandwagon / train?? Turns out, that there have been almost no eco-friendly alternatives (and I say almost because, at our wedding, slaDE and I bought compostable coffee cups for our guests to use, from a company called Green Shiftout of Toronto, Ontario). In fact, ALL of our dinnerware at the potluck wedding feast was biodegradable (corn or potato starch based), with composting stations set up everywhere = NO WASTE.

In a normal conventional hot beverage cup, its inner surface is lined with a petroleum-based plastic (polyethylene) to prevent leaking, and thereby making it non-recyclable or compostable. This fact alone makes me wonder what interaction there is when a petroleum derivative is heated up = ingesting refined hydrocarbons.

Do the Earth and your body a favour … ReDuce, ReUse, ReCycle!

Tips for committing to change for a better planet: 10 by 10

Here’s a mammoth posting for Earth Week, cutting out the clutter and getting straight to the point of focus on environmental issues.

These tips come from a website called: 10 By 10 ~ the website offer ways for you, as an individual, a chance to voice your commitments to change and thus to creating a better planet. 10 By 10 asks that you choose a minimum of 1 to a maximum 10 of the commitments (which I list below).

What commitments are you willing to make and uphold?!!! If you’re like me, try to do as many as you can rather than limit yourself to just 10, each and every day.

Together, we can make the world a better place. Be a Eco-Hero! 🙂

Continue reading

Cleaning out the …..

Clutter. Stuff. The ultimate treasure hunt, leading me down a memory lane extravaganza. For me, the task of the century, the epitome of my mental clutter resides in the cubby hole downstairs in my Father’s basement. A 3.5 foot tall cement alcove, covering the width of the ENTIRE farmhouse, solely built to withstand the elements of earthquake, flood and even possibly fire. Built to store and stockhold all that belongs to his children. I’d say 90% of what is hidden in its depths belongs to yours truly. sKY, the pack-rat. Who would have ever thought that a world traveller, perpetually in adventure backpacking mode, could retain and stockpile so much STUFF?! But somehow I managed. After each traverse into the big wide world, I came home, unloaded, started over and took off in a new direction. Only to leave my discarded belongings in limbo, waiting patiently for a day such as this. I think my Dad even got tired of finally moving and shifting my stuff around whilst I was off gallivanting. And now, the task resides with me. Head on, no holds barred confrontation. Empty it out completely, stack it in the barn, and attack it with wild abandon. 30 some odd years of pat-racking everything that symbolizes my being, my wants, desires, dislikes. Everything that I own and covet …. STUFF. Now begins the process of emptying, sorting, filing, cleansing, purging, donating, recycling, freecycling, eliminating, selling, organizing, repairing, repacking, labelling and putting away all that doesn’t find a useful / needed place within our new home, our Airstream. Everything. All that fills my life, clutters my physical being, hidden in nooks and crannies long forgotten.

DeClutter Mind Map by Paul Foreman

De-Clutter Mind Map by Paul Foreman

I suppose the process began in Calgary. What a painful experience that was! How could we have possibly contained so much in 500 square feet? But we did. And with only 2 weeks to deal with our STUFF (plus everything else that goes with leaving a job, a home, a lifestyle, our community, a life and our friends), I was traumatized. S T R E S S F U L was the name of the game (thank you Robin and TJ for saving our butts in the final hour). My inner yogi basically flew out the window, and has yet to return! All the skills and abilities and advice I so often extolled to my students took a u-turn and was nowhere to be seen. Overwhelmed, drained, energy-sucking, vitality draining vampire. Stuff.

© clangnuts.com

The Evil Clutter Fairy © clangnuts.com

People say that we are brave in the new life we are about to embark on. I say that bravery starts on the inside, dealing with STUFF. It takes courage and honesty to approach the task of decluttering both our inner and outer worlds. slaDE~ and I started the process last night. To say that our process started out smoothly would be like saying that I fear nothing in this life. Quite the opposite. I fear everything and anything. I’m a huge scaredy-cat. Facing change and the unknown are 2 of life’s biggest challenges. Forever and always. My nemesis. But that’s okay. I know that I’m not alone. And slaDE~ is patient and willing to accompany me on this journey, of de-cluttering the possessions that WE own. However, single-handedly I must evict the cubby hole of all its belongings, sorting, organizing and cleaning my way through it in whatever way possible. The onus is on me. For only I can decipher the meaning and depth of it all. Where to start? Unload it ALL into the barn, and sort through each and every container, one rubbermaid box at a time. Bit by bit, piece by piece, breath by breath. Oh yes, with kleenex and camera at hand. It’s going to be one heck of a memory hike. I’m actually starting to look forward to it :).

Bone tired

The last few days have been so incredibly busy. Part of transitioning into a full-timers’ lifestyle is making sure that our new home is clean and comfy. Basically, we’re starting from scratch and we want to make sure that the mice which visited our Airstream trailer this past winter are completely gone and forgotten. Hence, the rental of a carpet and upholstery cleaner.

12 litres of vinegar + 14 litres of water + hundreds of drops of essential oils (orange, lemon, lavender and tea tree) = 1 disinfected and sparkling clean 1991 Airstream + 26 cushions (bed and couch, believe it or not) + 1 1994 Mercury Cougar (our current car :)) + 1 2004 Dodge pickup + 1 International big truck (for good measure).

So very tired, but at least I smell good and clean :). We’re that much closer to living in our new home. YaY!