Summer Time

It’s summer! We have moved. We have a back yard with a compost and a clothes line! Yaaaay! We are growing yummy things to eat, as well as Marigolds because we got seeds for free, and the wee one really wants to eat them, but I don’t think you can. I am working at a local natural food store. I am not going to make excuses for being so long between posts, as I am sure you are all used to it by now!

I did want to share some exciting news posted by a good friend though. Just in case you are not the type to click on links. Here it is copied below!

Austin, Texas is already home to Whole Foods, but that won’t stop a group of entrepreneurs from founding a new grocery store right in the natural food behemoth’s backyard. While the new store In.gredients will also specialize in local and organic ingredients, there’s one major difference between this venture and its hometown competion: In.gredients promises to be the country’s first ever “package-free, zero waste grocery store.”

The idea is so simple, it’s surprising that no one in the United States has implemented it yet. (The United Kingdom, on the other hand, got the bulk food-only Unpackaged in London last year). Just like many people bring tote bags to the grocery store, shoppers at In.gredients will be encouraged to bring their own containers to pack up items like grains, oils, and dairy. If a shopper doesn’t have his own containers, the store will provide compostable ones. It’s as if the specialty bulk food section rebelled and took over the rest of a traditional grocery store. In.gredients will replace unhealthy, overpackaged junk with local, organic, and natural foods, and moonlight as a community center with cooking classes, gardening workshops, and art shows on the side.

“Truth be told, what’s normal in the grocery business isn’t healthy for consumers or the environment,” In.gredients co-founder Christian Lane said in a press release. Americans add 570 million pounds of food packaging to their landfills each day, while pre-packaged foods force consumers to buy more than they need, stuffing their bellies and their trash bins: 27 percent of food brought into U.S. kitchens ends up getting tossed out.

In.gredients’s founders hope to open the grocery store’s doors in East Austin this fall, provided that the funding goes through.

Please please someone do this in Canada. Kingston would be great, though it may do better in a bigger city to start.

Also a local friend has started a blog to share deals on healthy natural food and also perhaps food swaps or food sharing. I really love the idea and I wish there was one in every city.

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Green Eggs for Easter!

I love celebrations. I like parties, eating, dressing up and rituals so I celebrate what ever I can. When I was working in Museums, I researched the history of Easter. It seems that it was a holiday made to cover up the Pagan holiday (ritual) of Eostre, which was a fertility celebration. It included a big ummmmmmm “swinging party”, lets say. Eggs and rabbits were symbols of fertility. Hmmm so whether you are celebrating abstinence, or ahem…the opposite, or you just like to eat chocolate, here are some tips of how to do it garbage free!
1. Collect your onion skins, wilted spinach and other colourful natural items to make egg dyes for Easter, and make your own beautifully dyed hard boiled eggs to hide and them eat. OR you can blow the yolks out and have a fragile decoration to keep forever (or until it gets broken)
OR if you are in Toronto, you can go to Colborne Lodge’s Egg Fun Day and have all the preparation done for you.
2. Don’t buy wrapped Candies and eggs. Chocolate chips can be bought in bulk and they make the perfect bunny droppings (mmm yummy) Also our bunny brought chocolate and yogurt covered almonds and regular raisins, either hid as is, or in a reusable plastic egg.
3. Make handwoven Easter baskets from old magazines OR fancied up strawberry baskets.

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Hip Hip HurRoar (grrrr)

Alright folks, as you know, I now seem to only post once a month or less and there are many reasons for this.
-I have the best ideas for posts when I am laying in bed and too tired to get up and type them.
-I am a huge procrastinator and I waste A LOT of time on Face Book
-I sometimes make such poor consumer decisions now that I am ashamed (like individually wrapped soy cheese because the wee one wants it or the Styrofoam we ended up with yesterday because I forgot the say off the bat at the restaurant that we don’t do Styrofoam)
-I am really busy with raising our daughter, baking and cooking for ourselves and for barter AND launching my home-made natural body products (and crafts) line Hip Hip Horrah.
I’m going to say the biggest reason is Hip Hip Horrah (and the procrastination of it, if we are going to be frank here)
At some point in our no garbage project, I decided to make our own beauty products so we wouldn’t have single use packaging and so I could know and trust exactly what we were putting on and in our bodies. I made toothpaste, deodorant and baby bum salve, which we soon discovered was also good for body butter and lip balm for people of all ages. Then I gave some to family and friends, and people loved it, so I started to sell it.
Really, the whole purpose of making my own products was to avoid packaging. Now that I am selling it, it is all about packaging! When I break down the cost, my customer is paying for the jar, the label and in some cases, shipping. My time and the organic, natural ingredients cost nothing compared to all that. This is partially because I use the most environmentally and health friendly option for packaging(in my opinion ), glass. Glass can be washed out (boiled) and used again for the same purpose without downcycling. In fact, I offer people a discount if they bring the jar back (a return system) But it is expensive and when it comes to me from the supplier, it comes with bubble wrap (which I just discover I can give back to the shipping company to use again), and little wee bits of a Styrofoam like plastic thingies in the lids.
At first I was selling at a Grassroots level, but now that it’s getting beyond that, I decided I should look up rules and licenses etc. The system is not set up for small, garbage-free businesses. So much information is required on the Canadian labels, that I need to move to 2 labels on each jar so it is readable. Also now that I’m selling more, printing on one side of used paper,cutting out and gluing on each label isn’t viable, so I have moved to a sticker (with a backing that is garbage! Sigh…) I mentioned before that I had been reading Cradle to Cradle and William McDonough and Micheal Braungart suggest that we have to tally invention our consumerism, and instead of buying objects that we later have to dispose of, we lease or do terms of service and then the manufacturer reuses or upcycles the product. I see that something like that needs to happen here. For example, everyone could come to my studio (home) every Friday when I have made a batch of salve or whatever and I pour it in their jars. BUT then I am limiting my costumer base AND probably breaking a whole whack of health laws! So instead, I am doing what I really didn’t want to (and what McDonough and Braungart warn against), and I’m being less bad. I am choosing glass for my home-made natural products because it is not as bad as plastics or aluminum. I am doing a paper sticker and looking into soy based inks because it is not as bad as Vinyl etc. I will continue researching my options and improve as new options become available. In the meantime I guess I have to push companies and public officials to change the rules and create the products I want to buy (as well as a market for them).

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I’m ready, I think.

I have been thinking for a quite a while about switching from toilet paper to cloth, because our daughter uses cloths when she uses the potty. She’s switching to using the toilet more and more and I hate that it means moving to toilet paper too, but she wants to be grown up and that’s what we grown-ups do. I wanted to make the change to cloth rather than having her move away from it, but it seemed a bit “out there” even for me and I live “there”. When some one says “out there” they mean the place where the weirdy beardies like Sarah McGaughey live. Yes, I really was called a weirdy beardy, and yes, I liked it.
A while ago Kyle and I had a little communication glitch that resulted in there being absolutely no toilet paper in the house on a day of a blizzard. I decided to try using the wee ones cloths. It was way easier than I expected. I’m going to go into detail now so if you are squeamish, stop reading now!
Pees were no problem. It seemed natural to use cloth. As for poos, it was way easier. It took one warm soft wet cloth to get a very clean bum rather than wads of scratchy paper, and it was really easy to rinse and throw in a bucket after.
Kyle still thinks the water usage for cloths make it equal to toilet paper, but I don’t buy it. I didn’t use much water to rinse and when they are washed in our little portable machine and hung to dry, I’m sure the water usage is less than the water, energy, chemicals, plastics, and carbon that go into making (even recycled) toilet paper. Unfortunately there are no unbiased studies that I can find on the topic-the one study of cloth diapers which claimed the energy and water usage was equal to that of disposables was very biased. Firstly, it was funded by PAMPERS. Secondly the studied diapers that were washed industrially with bleach and dried in a dryer. Thirdly they didn’t study the water or energy used to make the disposables.
Back to me, my daughter didn’t want me to use her cloths again, and I haven’t been able to buy or make them yet. I’ve read about using old flannel sheets (cut up into small squares and sewn around the edges) and I think it’s a great idea but I haven’t done it yet. I may just order these ones and some bamboo wipes from the same seller. I can make them but there is such a line up of things I have to sew before I get to them, and I want to make the change soon. In fact, just this second I set a deadline for myself to do it by the end of February.
Obviously this isn’t for everyone. I am not at all bothered by bodily fluids.* I still find poo and fart jokes hilarious. I use reusable menstrual pads and cups. We used cloth diapers and natural infant hygiene when our little one was a baby. Scatological is one of my favorite words. I can’t believe I didn’t make this change before. I also can’t believe I could come up with a funnier title for this post!
* Just to clarify, I am bothered by unknown bodily fluids, like huge puddles of urine on my doorstep (dog, person???) or puke on the sidewalk, but my own or my family’s or friends is not a problem to me*

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Hello 2011!

Wow this blog is 4 years old! Happy birth month! I’m trying to decide what to do this year, including specifically with this blog. Do I let it go on this way (posting sporadically and sometimes way off topic), or do I shut it down and start a new blog that isn’t specifically on garbage?
My other huge decision is about THE BOOK. I have been meaning to write a book since a publishing company contacted me in 2007. I have lots of started copies but I keep changing my idea. One is a coffee table book with tidbits from the blog, and my story and recipes pictures drawings etc. One is a kid’s book illustrated with garbage collage. My very first idea and the one I have circled back to is basically a book of my blog entries from the start (with the Tribe blog). It would be cleaned up, made book friendly (links removed, context put in etc.) and have an intro and little explainy bits here and there. I would like to have it on the type of “paper” they use for Cradle to Cradle, which I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying.
I have been invited to join a writer’s group (well actually I was invited in October, but now I finally have time) and I want to have my idea solidified before arriving. So What do you think? If I put my blog posts together as a book with an intro and prologue, epilogue, photos etc, would you buy it, read it, wash off the ink and write your own book on it?

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I’m dreaming of a green Xmas.

Well it’s December 26th, and we have made it this far into the holidays without creating too much extra trash.
Our little one got a wooden guitar for Solstice, and she is still playing with the cardboard box it came in. Kyle got a CD and I got a door mat ( i asked for it and was really happy with it so you don’t need to feel sorry for me or angry towards Kyle-I really really wanted a door mat)
For wrapping, I make gift bags for everything that we reuse again and again.
Mrs.Claus came on the night of the 24th. We had to send a special letter requesting Santa not come in because the child wanted Mrs.Claus and a girl elf to come instead. Even though we are trying to move our celebrations to the 21st, they are very busy at the North Pole so for now we still have 2.
Santa (or Mrs.Claus) fixed my watch, brought the whole family socks, underwear and oranges, and (d’oh) candy canes, which do have packaging as well as organic gummies ( also packaged). I almost got away with no candy canes but I’m a sucker and when the wee one saw them at everyone else’s home and asked, I caved in. Sprout got wooden doll apartments from my brother and a gorgeous doll house built by Kyle. Santa brought some Plan Toy furniture for it (which is packed in paper bags (soon to become puppets) and cardboard).
We had lentil loaf, sweet potatoes, vegetarian gravy, cloud fluff (aka mashed potatoes), squash and blueberry pie as our feast today, and we made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (from bulk ingredients) for Santa and Co. on Christmas eve.

So it wasn’t totally trash free but we managed to not even receive wrapping paper this year. Yaay! Our garbage inventory looks like this:
2 plastic wraps from Cd’s, 5 little plastic doohickies from the socks and undies, 5 bunny gummy packs, and 12 candy canes wrappers. I’m not counting the plastic from the tree lights because it is being used as a ladder for the little dolls in the doll house.
On a slightly different but still related topic:
Before Christmas, I sent a letter to some family and friends explaining we don’t do wrapping paper and we are trying to support sweatshops. I forgot the “not” after trying but everyone knew what I meant so only one person caught it (and is still laughing).
Apparently I say “sweat shop” way too much because yesterday afternoon the girl spent at least an our shopping at the sweatshop in her room, and strangely enough “bought” the things that probably were made in sweat shops. Fortunately today she was back to playing in the doll house.

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Leave it Better

Funny I was just thinking of Mr.Merriwether today and wondering if he had given up on us. Then when I got home, Kyle had found this!
Check out the whole site. Graham is really awesome and the films are too!

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