Converting back to a green life, one week (and nap time) at a time

Week # 3 – Driving me crazy

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January 19, 2014


This week’s post is delayed by a day – sorry. I started writing it earlier in the week, but I was just too tired yesterday to work on it. Had a rough week at work. Wont’ go into details, but got blindsided by bureaucracy. Anywho, onwards and upwards!

This week I’m doing two challenges because one of them is a work in progress and less likely to be successful.

First challenge: I’ve switched back to organic yoghurt. Liberté to be exact. Its made in Quebec, so it’s relatively local, and the company strives to be socially and ecologically sustainable. ( I will happily try any yoghurt made closer to home – I am open to suggestions!) (And for the record – I am not doing product placements in the hope of getting free samples – that’s not what I’m about).

I like the Greek style because it does triple-duty as sour cream and mayonnaise, as well as yoghurt. As an added bonus, the containers can be reused a number of times before being recycled (namely, for FOOD – but that’s a post for another day). The Activia I had been buying came in single-serving containers, and while there was a little triangle on the bottom with a number, I’m not entirely certain whether the city was actually recycling them.

I’ve always been lactose intolerant, but yoghurt was never a problem. I already use organic soy milk instead of regular milk, and I used to buy organic yoghurt all the time. But when I was pregnant (funny how all the changes in my lifestyle can be traced back to pregnancy)and just up until this past year, my digestive system rejected any yoghurt that wasn’t Activia. Not sure of the physiology behind this, but needless to your body changes when you’re pregnant.

I have slowly started reintroducing other types of yoghurt, and luckily Liberté is “safe”.

Finally finished off  my last of the Activia (could justify even less throwing away perfectly good food) and I couldn’t be happier!

Some may argue that in Canada, there’s not that much difference between organic and regular dairy products, because the use of hormones and antibiotics is strictly regulated.

But it’s not just about the hormones. It’s about supporting what started as a family business, the pesticides in the fruits used in the flavored yoghurts, sustainable farming practices, work environment, and the footprint of the manufacturing process.

So that’s challenge number one for this week. On to challenge number two:

My commute is driving me crazy!
So I used to live downtown where I could walk to work.

Then I moved to the suburbs, but within a short walk of five or six different bus routes.

Then my work moved to an area that was accessible by one bus.

Now my work has moved to an area where I have to drive, and it bothers me so much. Mostly, because I feel like I just don’t have any options and I HATE sitting in traffic for both environmental and time management reasons.

On a no- traffic or really good traffic day its 12-14 minutes. Morning rush hour is 30-40 minutes.

I never ever EVER thought I would ever own a car. I had absolutely no intentions of doing so. Whenever we needed to get somewhere, we would take the bus, car pool, or rent a small car. But things change. We bought our first car when pregnant – I was due in February, and my loving husband just couldn’t imagine us standing at the bus stop at 3am while I was in labor.

Before we made the purchase, we studied miles per gallon charts for weeks on end. And finally settled on a little blue Chev  Cobalt. I would have bought a hybrid if we could have afforded it – maybe next time!

And while having a vehicle certainly makes getting groceries and visiting relatives easier, I would like to go car free again someday.

In a way, it’s a good thing we have it, because I wouldn’t be able to get to work without it!  I probably wouldn’t have taken this job if I’d known I would end up working so far from transit.

And the funny thing is, there’s not enough parking at our building either because they’re trying to be a green building (LEED Gold) – so they build it somewhere where there is no transit (a “if we build it, they will come” philosophy I guess).

But I’ve written to the city about the situation, and they don’t have any plans to put a bus route to that area.,

So what are my other options: I can’t walk or bike, because the harbour bridge I need to take to get there doesn’t have a pedestrian/bike walkway.

And I’ve done the math on the buses, and it doesn’t look good.

Using the lovely little feature  Google Transit for HRM, I can calculate my route, and there are a few options. All of which would take me a minimum of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I can’t wait for buses days I have to take my daughter to day care – if she gets sick I have to be there ASAP. Also, she can only be there a maximum of 9.5 hours (Dept of Community services regulation).

I’ve written to the city yet again about the limited transit – at least now they have a plan to move forward. But this will take at least five years.

So my next plan of attack is car pool. I’ve sent two messages to the work electronic bulletin board trying to find someone who will take me as a passenger at least on Mondays. There are a few people, but working out hours of work and work related travel has proven to be a challenge.

I’ve also signed up for – no responses yet.

Am I just making excuses for convenience? Or is this a real problem? You tell me.

So I guess my last option is to carbon-offset my commute.

Using the Standford University Commute Carbon Emissions calculator  and information about my commute and vehicle type, I’ve calculated a daily emission of 6lbs of CO2 (or 1440 lbs per year). Of course, there are lots of websites dedicated to allowing you to purchase specific offsets to support various environmental projects, TerraPass probably being the most well known.

But how can you assign a financial value on environmental impact?

Let’s try it this way:

The easiest way for me to offset my commute is to plant trees. I’ve seen varying stats on the internet about how much CO2 a tree can absorb per year, ranging between 4lbs to 50 lbs – I can imagine this is a very difficult thing to calculate –  the variables are the health and age of the tree, the type of tree, and climactic/environmental conditions where the tree is growing.

If I’m producing 1440 lbs per year, and the average tree can absorb 27 lbs – I would have to plant 54 trees!

A tree from Trees Canada costs about $4.00. So I would need to donate about $216 to Trees Canada to plant enough trees to offset my commute to work.

Maybe I can find a way to volunteer to plant trees in my community . . .but that’s a post for another day!


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