mommyonthegreen

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


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The End is Not the End

April 2016

I know I said I wouldn’t do this, but here is one more blog post.

I was sitting here wasting time on Facebook (it’s amazing how much time I can lose just clicking on the garbage that comes up on my newsfeed) when I could be doing something more productive. Like writing. Or like not using electricity at all. Like reading.

While I’ve been on mat leave I’ve been reading a lot. I recently read the Mitch Albom book “The First Phone call from Heaven”. In the story, one of the characters mentions the phrase “The End is not the End” in reference to heaven, and is also apparently a House of Heros song.

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I’ve also been trying to wean LM. I’ve decided I’m just done. He’s almost 9 months. It’s ok. I did my best. He’s going to be ok either way. Just when I think we’re done, we’re not. He asks for me (he does a little bobbing bird on my chest when he wants the boob. It’s kind of sweet. 🙂  When he’s really hungry he doesn’t care where the food comes from as long as it comes fast!). And I can’t believe I only have three months of mat leave left  😦

It’s time I put this blog to bed and move on. The amount of electricity I’ve used researching and writing this blog is not lost on me. My family needs me. I need me. And as much as I love blogging, it’s taking up more time than I can put into it to make it the way I want it. I’m too hard on myself for not posting or tweeting regularly, or making timely posts related to current events. I often feel rushed when doing a post and I make mistakes.

My plan was to go back to each post, add tags, edit grammar and spelling, add links for interesting things I’ve found out since I wrote the original post, update my progress, etc.  But lets be realistic – as they say “ain’t no one got time for that”!

And I’ve realized, just like I’m not perfect, just like we don’t parent perfectly or the way we might like too, this blog isn’t going to be perfect. So what if it’s not written like a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Just like parenthood, it’s raw and its real. So why change it now?

I started this blog for New Year’s 2014. Today, my 35th birthday, seems like a good day to finish it off.

So as a final post, here are some things I wanted to write about. I’ve been trying to clean out my e-mail accounts, where I e-mail my blog ideas to myself, and I just seem to have so many green ideas I want to write about while incorporating them into events in my life.  I didn’t want to be one of those websites that just lists a bunch of tips without actually trying them myself. But I want to share them for my readers anyway. Who knows, maybe some day I will try them. I guess I can always go back to this list. And some of them just made me laugh.

For each of you who reads this blog, try out a green challenge from the list below. In this way, the blog has no end.

Here they are, by category/topic/tag:

Waste Reduction

How did a sea turtle get a straw up its nose?

Worms could help reduce waste

101 uses for Mason Jars! (well actually just 18, but who’s counting;-) )

The Destiny of Restaurant Crayons

The Unintended Consequences of Banning Bottled Water

Waste Reduction on Campus

Upcycling

Repurposing an Old Toothbrush

 

Food Security/Waste

Tax Break for businesses that donate food

Just Eat it Restaurant Waste Video

Use it don’t lose it!

denHaan Greenhouses – local source for tomatoes and cucumbers

Fair Trade Recipes

French Law Bans Food Waste

Ugly Food!

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I was going to participate in the National Geographic Hashtag challenge, but as with a great many things I ran out of time. So here’s the photo

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#UglyFoodIsBeautiful

 

Sustainable Seafood – Loblaws

 

Infant Feeding

Breastfeeding Dairy Free

Lactose Overload

Breastfeeding & Alcohol Consumption

Formula FYI

Pump & Dump

 

Sustainable Diapering

The Diaper Divide

7th Generation Training Pants

 

Environmentally Friendly Sanitary Pads

Now that Aunt Flo is back in my life I’ve been thinking about this a little more.

The Honest Company

Goodbye Diva Cup

 

Environmentally Friendly Funerals/Burials/Estate Planning (not that I plan on trying these any time soon – for all the right reasons!)

Refound!

Burial Pods

 

Pets

Our kitty has recently had some health problems, which got me thinking about this even more

Ethically Sourced Pet Food

Crystal Cat Litter

Silica Cat Litter

Ecofriendly Cat Litter

Homemade Cat Litter

Homemade Cat food

More Homemade Cat Litter

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Natural Pest/Weed Control

Ants

 

Water Conservation/Pollution

Drugs in Drinking Water

The Surfrider Foundation

Gold in Sewage

Water used to grow favourite foods

Microbeads Banned

 

Eco-friendly Shopping

The True Cost of Clothing

Germs in Cloth Bags

The Green Mom Review

Toxic Items at Dollar Stores

Chemicals in Dollar Store Products

Dollar Store Product Contaminants

 

Parenthood

Advice to Fathers

The Most Expensive 2-hour Nap

A Day at Home with a Newborn

10 things kids should see their parents doing

Journey from Anti-Vaxx to Science

Please don’t visit my Newborn

10 ways to really help someone with a new baby

 

As I’ve said before, through this blog, I’ve learned that as with every thing in life, we have to make decisions. Just like we can’t always be that perfect parent, we can’t be the perfect environmentalist. But we try. We try and we hope it’s enough.

And then there’s this guy. Am I him? I don’t think I want to be him. If you can’t follow my blog, follow the frog.

http://www.upworthy.com/never-before-have-i-laughed-so-hard-at-one-guys-non-attempt-to-save-the-planet?g=2&c=ufb1

 

THE END

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February

February 2016

I come to you today from my dining room table. And no I’m not writing about food, I just needed to relocate my writing space while we have some renovations going on in our home office. Renovations which will hopefully create a warmer, cozier space for me to be creative, and save some energy as well. I’ve been hungry for this space for a while.

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And that’s not the only thing I’ve been hungry for. According to one of my favourite authors, Barbara Kingsolver (or her sources at least), the word for February in Cherokee (and other Native American languages) is “hungry”.*

Not that I’m starving by any means, but my weight loss struggle continues. One week I’m down three or four pounds, only to gain one or two back the next week, then stay the same for two or three weeks before dropping another five. I’m sure there’s a physiological explanation for this, but I’m not inclined to look it up.

I’ve been trying to be really diligent and careful about what I eat, and even my husband is noticing. I’m also frustrated at the lack of healthy options this time of year. Local produce, other than root vegetables, is hard to come by this time of year. In the words of Ms. Kingsolver, the time to think about eating local is in August, not January or February. After the spring and summer we had this year, I of course had very little put away in the freezer. And the grocery store isn’t much help either. All produce is ridiculously expensive, organic or not, and the winter has been full of recalls – spinach one week, cantaloupe the next.

I’ve also decided to stop buying almonds. We had been eating almonds regularly, but was recently reminded of how fattening they can be (though good fats I know). More importantly, they require a lot of water to grow and are often imported from California. Not the most eco-friendly nut choice.

Nevertheless, I am trying not to let this all get me down and I keep plugging away. In the back of my mind I know my weight loss goals may have been unrealistic (the timeframe in which I wanted to lose the weight, not the overall weight loss) and I should be proud of how far I’ve come. In fact, at the 6.5 month mark I am back in the 180s (only a few pounds above my weight when we moved into this house nearly ten years ago), and only have twenty pounds to go. This is cause for celebration, allowing myself the occasional beer- local of course (and no, the irony of consuming beer over almonds while trying to lose the baby belly is not lost on me. And yes I’m still breastfeeding I’m being careful. Just give me a break;-) ).

Garrison Brewery makes a lovely Nut Brown which both my husband and I have been enjoying in place of a Stella or other import. I don’t usually like dark ales, but this particular brew has a milder flavor, is not as thick or bitter as some others I’ve tried and leaves almost no aftertaste. I’ve also had a chance to test their geekier flavours at Hal-Con – The Klingon War Nog and The Vulcan Ale – both of which are potent but excellent.

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I’ve been in a happier place lately too (and no not due to the beer). We’ve made it through the darkness of January and are almost through February. Longer days, milder, damper weather and the sweet songs of birds mean spring is just around the corner. While we’ve had our fair share of snow, so far it pales in comparison to the Snowmageddon of last winter I still feel traumatized by.

Whenever possible, I’ve been feeding my soul with good books. I hope to post my mat leave reading list here on the blog when nap schedules allow. Recently I read Margaret Trudeau’s book Changing my Mind; probably one of the best I’ve read this year so far. Her story is encouraging to anyone suffering from mental illness, and a good education for the rest of us. I’ve learned a lot from her, and Wil Wheaton, who I’ve recently started following on my Facebook page and twitter. From both of them I’ve been reminded that it’s ok, and “normal” to feel sad and down sometimes. That it happens to all of us, and you just can’t let it consume your whole being.

With spring on the horizon I’ve also been doing lots of spring cleaning. I’m still using “green” cleaning products as much as possible, a challenge I started back in Week 34. Lately I’ve been doing less actual cleaning and more just “purging” of stuff. We have too much stuff, stuff that other people could probably use. Closets and storage spaces are getting a thorough inspection by me. And there’s a lot to go through. I had no idea how much stuff we held on to.

It all started after LM arrived. With an extra person, even if a mini-person, our house is feeling smaller day by day. Also, everything we had held on to from MD that we now knew we weren’t going to use (mostly clothing) was given away to friends of mine with little girls. And as LM keeps growing we’re continually giving things away. A good friend of mine just had a little boy too so lots of stuff went to her, and my sister in law is due any day and she doesn’t know the gender.

Other items, baby and non baby alike, are going on Kijiji and HRMGiveaway or to the Fairview Family Resource Centre.

Anything that we don’t think can be used by anyone but may have a purpose are going to Value Village. I was encouraged to learn that they have a textiles recycling program. Horray for the three Rs!

The basement reno also has encouraged the purging process. We had a lot of rearranging to do to make room for the contractor. And I just have the time. Between feedings (including trying new solid foods) the inevitable diaper changes and household chores, on days we can’t get outside because of the weather and now that LM is finally sitting on his own and content to play with toys in a semicircle around him, I have a little extra time to sort and get rid of things.

And one of these days I’ll open what I’ve started calling our Pandora’s box. An unlabelled cardboard box that’s been sitting on the same shelf in our basement since the day we moved into this house nearly ten years ago. I have no idea what’s in it. For a long time I was afraid. Very afraid. But not curiosity is getting the better of me, and plus I just want the shelf space.

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Well, here goes . . .

Cheers!

If you don’t have a Value Village in your area, use this nifty textile recycling search tool.

*Animal Vegetable Miracle

List of CFIA recalls 

Harder to loose weight breastfeeding

Losing weight after baby #2 

 

 

 


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Pooped!

October/November 2015 – Updated February 2015

I have to say that LM is a better sleeper than MD, at least right now. Sure I’m up a couple of times in the night, but he usually sleeps a four or five-hour stretch before waking, then another couple of three hour stretches before waking for the day. He’s even slept a few six and seven hour stretches! (Would love to find a way to keep that up!) He also seems to be a better napper, so far. So while I’m not fully rested, I definitely don’t feel the same level of exhaustion that I did at this point with MD.  I’m a bit worried that I might still hit a wall, but my husband just says that we’re pacing ourselves better this time. I also find that getting up at about the same time every day (even if I’m tired), maintaining a semblance of routine, napping when he naps, and getting some regular exercise and eating well has done as much for my energy level as sleep.

In fact, I’ve even had the brainpower to think about this blog! Over the last couple of months we’ve been experimenting with the disposable diapers I described in a previous blog post (see The Home Stretch). Here’s what I’ve found:

PC Green (~24 cents ea.) – these were my favourite. These were the most absorbent day and night and best at containing blow-outs, easy to put on, and I just like the look of them better. The price point is the best as well.

Seventh Generation– (~37 cents ea.) – I liked these diapers. They were great for daytime usage, however did not contain blow-outs as well as some other diapers we tried, and were not as absorbent overnight.

Naty (~38 cents ea.) – these were by far my least favourite diaper. They were not very absorbent at all, day or night, number 1 or number 2, did not fit well, and to be honest I kept putting them on backwards because I could not easily tell front from pack (important for middle of the night changes).

I also tried another brand, BabyGanics from Babies R Us ($ 16.99 per pkg of 40 stage 1 (8-14lbs) or ~ 42 cents ea.). This brand also claims to be chlorine free and made from plant-based materials (which all paper or cotton diapers would inherently be). The company also makes a whole line of “eco-friendly” and “baby-friendly products”. These were the most expensive diapers I tried, which is unfortunate because they were a great diaper as well. Easy to put on, looked great and most importantly were very absorbent day and night.

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For the record, a package of Pampers Swaddlers size 2 is ~44 cents each – making the “green” option less expensive for once!

For comparison’s sake, I would also like to try Huggies Pure and Natural. They claim to be made of organic cotton. I think I used them with MD, but I can’t find them locally at the moment.

Huggies is a division of Kimberly Clark . Interestingly, they’ve been working with a group in New Zealand to create a composting diaper. You can read all about it here. I wonder if they could do that in Canada?

The Honest Company also makes diapers, with the same green features as the diapers I’ve listed above, and are only available online as far as I can tell.

We also have a whole bunch of regular disposable diapers that my mother-in-law bought us. At first I was offended – like, doesn’t she know me well enough by now to know that I would be using cloth or at least an “eco-friendly” disposable diaper? Like couldn’t she just have bought us a package of those? Is she trying to get under my skin on purpose? But since then I’ve learned to follow MD’s idol’s advice and “let it go”. I think her heart is in the right place and she really was just trying to help us out. And to be honest, the diapers she bought us certainly come in handy when we’re running low on the ones we bought and I can’t get to the store, and don’t have time to do laundry! I also shouldn’t be a hypocrite. I mean, come on, we just put a whole other person on the planet with their own ecological footprint! And the way I’m going through granola bars in their shiny disposable wrappers, and the amount of paper MD brings home from daycare probably balances out anything we gain by using reusable diapers.

When LM was about eight weeks old we started experimenting with the cloth diapers again, a few days a week. They still don’t fit super well because his thighs are still small, but other than that so far so good. I picked up a few extra supplies, such as bioliners and Allen’s detergent, from Nurtured, but other than that I don’t feel like investing a whole lot into them when we don’t know how much longer they’ll last. I’ll let you know how it works out!

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Update – February 2016

Well we’ve been using the cloth diapers for about four months, and I think they’ve just about reached their best before date. We were told by Nurtured that their life expectancy is about two years, and after using them on and off for about 18 months with MD and now four months with LM, we’re just about there.

We’ve been doubling up on the inserts to improve absorbency, but they’re really only good for short-term usage (a couple of hours). The microfiber liners have just worn out. I don’t really feel like investing in new ones, because once I go back to work (in six months time – yikes!) I know I’m not going to have time to do the extra laundry, and I don’t want to take the diapers to daycare again (they nearly ruined them the last time. While they were completely open minded and supportive of us using them, they kept using diaper cream with them which is a huge no-no in the cloth diapering world, because it makes the covers impermeable to water).

There are a few other reasons why we’re going to take a break from the cloth for a while:

  • Now that LM has started solids, his poop is really gross. Like, I know, poop is gross no matter what, and I don’t understand why I didn’t have this problem with MD (maybe I didn’t notice because my wonderful supportive husband was washing the diapers at that time, or maybe I’ve developed a weaker stomach with kidlet number 2).
    • We’re using bioliners, these just go in the garbage too (we don’t flush them – see Week # 6), and while it is less waste than a disposable diaper it’s still waste.
  • He seems to get a bad diaper rash whenever we use them.
  • It seems like they’re getting too small. There’s lots of room around and in the thighs, but in the rise they seem a bit short, like they’re crushing his “jewels”. He is the same size now as MD was at a year old!
  • Most importantly for us right now, while the water usage washing cloth is supposedly still less that the production of disposables, what we didn’t take into consideration was the wear and tear on our washing machine and dryer. Which both seem to be on the fritz lately, and I don’t want to be stuck with a pile of dirty diapers that we have to run to a laundromat!

We’ll hang on to them for a little while longer in case we change our minds again, but I suspect they will find another life for another baby via Kijiji. So at least someone will still be using them.

I’ll be disappointed and sad in some ways to see them go, as cloth diapers are something I really believe in, but at least I can say I tried them. For a short time at least, I practised what I preach. Some might say I’m not dedicated enough. But I’m going to try to not be too hard on myself. We all have to make choices and we all do our best. And like being the “good enough mom”, maybe I’ll have to learn to be ok with being a “good enough environmentalist”. Besides, there are probably some other areas of our lives where we can make changes that will have a greater, more lasting impact. And when I figure out what those are, I’ll write about them here. And speaking of poop, someone needs to be    changed . . .


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Week # 52-1 – Where Do We Go from Here?

A new year brings new adventures. My daughter is at swimming lessons with my husband right now, something she hasn’t done since she was a baby and I did a parent and tot class with her. She loves the water so I’m sure she’ll be fine. It’s hard to believe she’s the same little girl that four years ago I could hold in one arm up against me in the water , and now I can barely lift her at all.

My bulging belly doesn’t help that, though. While the nausea and fatigue have started to fade (this is the first week I’ve really felt like myself in a long time), I am starting to put on weight; I’m afraid we may have to start telling folks earlier than we’d hoped.

Husband is starting to get used to the idea of having another little one pitter-pattering around the house. We’ve had a number of tete-à-tetes in the past couple of weeks to try to sort out or feelings about the changes that will be coming. I know he’s scared and is having “buyers remorse” so to speak. I think neither of us really thought it would happen again.

And I’m terrified too. Terrified of balancing it all, terrified that I’ll experience post-partum depression and do something to harm one or both of my children. Or that something will happen during the pregnancy, or labor and delivery that will change all of our lives forever.

But I am by nature an optimist, and I can’t dwell on the negative. I also feel contentment. I longed to again feel what it is to bring life to another human being, to feel them grow and move inside me, and to clutch them to my breast and provide nourishment. I long to give another grandchild to my parents and my parents-in law – we may be their only chance at another. And I long to give my daughter something I never had – a sibling. So when my wonderful yet terrified husband asks for the umpteenth time, are we sure we really want this baby, I can unequivocally say yes.

I am also a realist this time. The first time around I was surrounded by moms who insisted that being pregnant, having children, breastfeeding was the most wonderful thing they had ever experienced. That they loved being pregnant, loved being a mom, couldn’t wait to do it again. That they found time to spend with their partners when the baby slept. That there’s lots of support for new moms. That their mom and mom-in law came and stayed with them. That I would love being a mom too.

But they didn’t have morning sickness (which isn’t just in the morning) throughout their pregnancy, fainting, nosebleeds, leg cramps, or gain nearly sixty pounds. Their placenta was where it was supposed to be, they breastfed without difficulties, they had family close by, and they had babies that slept.

They didn’t know my friend who’s husband lost his job when her son was five and her daughter was 6 months and she had to go back to work. Or my other friend, who’s daughter, her second child, was born with an extra “pseudo” kidney and one of her “normal” kidneys was non-functional.

Now I know how hard it can be. I know it will mean sleepless nights (which isn’t all that different from what we experience now) and less time to myself. But I also know that I the learning curve won’t be as steep, that I don’t have to– and won’t- put as much pressure on myself, that we won’t balance it all all the time,  and that the proportion of time that it’s really hard is so small compared to the proportion of time they are in our lives, learning new things every day, pitter-pattering into our room hugging us and kissing us and saying “I love you Mommy” – driving us to our wits end all the while because it’s probably 4am – but loving us all the same.

Speaking of time to myself, for now the blog goes on.

And I deserve to take a moment (while I can!) to celebrate this accomplishment. Because I made it! I actually made it! Here I am, one year later, still blogging! According to Statistics Brain only 8% of Americans keep New Year’s resolutions. Even I had my doubts about whether I would keep this up, and it was more challenging than I thought it would be at times, but I was determined to finish what I started.

I definitely didn’t blog as regularly as I had hoped. I just didn’t have time. My daughter stopped having naps about two months into the project, I got sick a lot more than I thought I would, and the technology didn’t always cooperate (as you’ll see about half way through I switched blogging sites). I was disappointed and frustrated at times, mostly at myself. Frustrated that I wasn’t blogging as much as I wanted, or wasn’t posting the blog posts to correspond with news and events. As us Moms often do to ourselves, I was putting way too much pressure on myself. This was supposed to be a fun activity to challenge myself and hopefully help the planet too, not to get famous. It was also therapeutic for me to have an outlet to write again.

And I did learn a lot. I learned that it really isn’t easy being green. Lifestyle changes and consumer habits that should be easy, really aren’t as easy as they should be. Green products really are more expensive, and sometimes that extra expense isn’t worth the extra trouble to find or maintain a product, or the green benefits really don’t outweigh the extra cost where a bigger change might have more of an impact. And I learned what my limits are- what changes we are willing to make as a family and bring us together, and which push us apart.

I was able to make some legitimate changes that I have stuck with, such as taking the bus to work as often as possible, using hankies, having more vegetarian meals, and purchasing clothing only at thrift stores, among others.

There were some changes I made that I didn’t blog about specifically, such as”

  • Using a reusable dish scrubber instead of SOS pads
  • Switching out handsoap around the house and my daughters bath soap for more natural, hand-made and/or environmentally friendly products.

There were some changes that I just couldn’t keep up:

  • Facebook-free Friday rarely happened, if at all – but I did go tech-free for most of Christmas week, so that was an accomplishment;
  • Taking the stairs at work stopped when my office moved to the 17th Although I did try getting off the elevator on a lower floor and taking the stairs the rest of the way, and taking the stairs down whenever I can;
  • The olive-oil dispenser instead of cooking spray didn’t really work all that well, so back to the drawing board there;
  • I definitely didn’t volunteer as much as I would have liked to;
  • And my rock-star showers haven’t changed. But I hope our other water conservation measures – such as using pasta and veggie water to water houseplants, shaving my legs with bathwater, doing less laundry by re-wearing clothes, and sponge-baths instead of tub-baths – help offset that somewhat.

And I attained two of my major goals – getting a new job, and getting pregnant.

I have lots of ideas for other challenges I would like to try, such as:

  • Making our own kitty litter, from sand and saw dust;
  • Using environmentally-friendly driveway “salt” in winter;
  • Making my own insect repellant;
  • purchasing locally milled grains;
  • Find a more sustainable option for menstrual pads.

So where do I go from here?

Do I keep up adding new green challenges to my weekly routine? Or do I work on improving on the challenges I’ve already identified, while improving previous blog posts and adding photos? And how will adding another member to our family (and yes, I know, adding another resource-consuming body to an already over-populated planet) change things?

Or do I take some time to work on projects around the house (something I’ve been putting off in favor of spending time on the blog). Do I stop blogging altogether? IS THIS MY LAST BLOG POST?

You’ll have to keep reading to find out!


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Week #45 – CONtaining my Passion

I wake up in the wee hours and count – 1, 2,3. Good, they’re still there. The multi-coloured paper bracelets that have adorned my right wrist like gold for the past three days. Hours later, as the sun’s first rays of day poked out from the low hanging clouds, typical of November in Halifax, I waited for the bus, my shuttle if you will, to whisk me off to the third day of Hal-Con 2014.

I love this convention. I’ve been faithfully attending each year since its inception- that first intimate gathering at The Lord Nelson hotel in 2010. Since then, it has expanded, experienced its share of growing pains, and come back to life.

Why do I love it here? Because I am surrounded by characters and ideas that have charged my interest since I was a pre-teen. My creativity is inspired by my surroundings (I am writing this while waiting in line). Science fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars, fantasy, revisionist history, steam punk, comics, cartoons – you name it, it’s here. For a weekend, I can be myself. We are all equal and share a common interest. There are no expectations or deadlines to meet. No one cares who I am or what I think or what I do for my day job or what I look like; where I can blend in by being different. (It’s unfortunate not everyone has had this experience, and the convention has struggled with bullying and harassment. But that’s a post for another day #cosplayisnotconsent).

My first encounter with Star Trek was the original series (TOS). I tried, and failed, to see the entertainment value at first, despite my friends insisting that I would like it and being stumped when I didn’t. I don’t know if it was the cheesy 60’s graphics, the over-zealous music track, the adult themes, or the time slot (competing with the NKOTB and other Saturday morning cartoons), but I just couldn’t get into it.

A year or so later (I think I was in Grade 5 or 6), I’m watching reruns of my favourite childhood show, Reading Rainbow, waiting for Bill Nye or something like it to come on PBS. [Reading Rainbow and David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things had first sparked my interest in science. One particular episode showed LeVar Burton on a boat looking at mud samples with a marine biologist – which is when I decided that was what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I eventually did.] This particular episode featured LeVar Burton doing a tour of the set of his other “day job” – Star Trek :The Next Generation (TNG). I have an “ah-ha” moment – “OH MY GOD you mean there’s another one?!?!?” I ran into the living room to grab the TV Guide (no internet back then to check what was on) to see when TNG was due to air next. Successfully located, I spend the hours after supper learning about Picard, Data and the rest. Since then, I was irrevocably hooked.

Back to the present, and Hal-Con. This weekend I had the opportunity to meet Garrett Wang, who played Ensign Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager, a spin-off from TNG and DS9. There were a couple of things that he said during his Q&A Session that really resonated with me.

The first was that STV, with its female captain, was empowering for young women watching the show to see a woman both in a leadership role and with a strongly scientific and technical background. If Reading Rainbow got me interested in science, Janeway kept me interested. I had always kind of looked up to this character. It was so validating for me to hear Wang speak those words, to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. So it seems Garrett Wang and I agree – if you want more women in science, let them watch Star Trek! (Ok, I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea).

The other thing that Wang discussed during his Q&A was his love for travel, and how travelling to non-first world countries puts things in perspective and makes him more aware and grateful for his lot in life (again, I am paraphrasing). This reminded me of the experience I had when I visited India several years ago. My husband was on an assignment there for work, and I went to visit for a week. The people were wonderful, as was the food. However there was more than one occasion I questioned my presence there. I questioned how I could be in a decent, comfortable hotel room, while just across the street I saw children in metal and cardboard shacks, solemnly staring at me.

I had to drink bottled water the entire time I was there to avoid getting sick, and it broke my heart. Not just because of the waste it produced (the government did a pretty good job promoting recycling, and there were huge fines for littering), but also because so many people there don’t have the choice.

This is why, within a year of returning from our trip we sponsored a child through World Vision. The money we give helps provide clean water (through proper wells and plumbing, not bottled), solar lights (no polluting electricity needed), and education to our child’s community, which indirectly benefits the environment as well.

This brings me to why attending events like Hal-Con always make me cringe to some extent. The WTCC does a great job of sorting trash into the correct waste streams by providing colour-coded receptacles throughout the building. But what about the CO2 emissions from all the flights and driving for the guests and participants? And the electricity for the AV requirements. The paper that goes into programs and tickets and whatnot. And the bottled water.

On several occasions I noticed a number of the volunteers (who were excellent by the way) carrying small pallets of bottled water, and all of the guests and conference organizers appeared to be drinking bottled as well. This year when I attended the convention I made a point of bringing my own refillable metal bottle, and packed a lunch as well to cut down on packaging from take-out containers.

This week’s challenge is to continue bringing a refillable bottle wherever I go. I’m usually pretty good at it. The problem I encounter is when I travel, if I’m going somewhere where I don’t trust the tap water, or if I’m travelling by air and only bringing carry on (which is usually the case). Due to the 100ml rule when flying I can’t pack a water bottle, even if it’s empty.

I think I will also suggest to the Hal-Con organizers that next year they provide refillable water bottles with the Hal-Con logo to guests and VIPs, and available for purchase for everyone else, instead of using bottled. I don’t know how feasible this would be for them, but I could help them research the costs. In addition, here are a few other ways the convention could reduce its environmental impact:

  • Offer programs and schedules as a dowloadable pdf, only posting a few paper copies through the building;
  • Use only electronic tickets;
  • I noticed a lot of brochures in the “swag bags” – I understand vendors wanting to advertise their goods and services, but maybe they could do so in the form of something more useful, like a coupon (a few vendors did so this year). Any printing that is done should be done on non-glossy recycled paper using biodegradable ink.
  • The convention organizers might also try offsetting the CO2 impacts through a volunteer tree plant (reminiscent of the DS9 episode The Children of Time, where Worf and Dax’s Klingon descendants help the colonists plant their field before sunset. Can you imagine a group of Klingon cosplayers tree planting with Evergreen! Community service and free advertising!).
  • Travel & accommodations: Delta hotels, the hotel chain right next to the WTCC, are already part of the Green Key program which is great. Perhaps the conference organizers could also suggest to guests to fly direct, economy and bring only carry on. But that might be pushing it. Participants might be willing to go the distance though.

Maybe I should volunteer to be the event’s sustainability coordinator! Combining my two life-long passions – science fiction and the environment- it would be a dream opportunity!

All of this led to my thinking about celebrities and charities. You’ll often hear different celebs speaking about mental health, animal welfare, or children’s diseases. For example, one of my favourite actors, Sam Heugan, supports Leukemia and Lymphoma research.

But you rarely see actors speaking out against environmental degradation. I expect this is because it is often seen as more political, and as I heard in one of the Hal-Con panels, saying something unpopular or offensive can really damage your career. The one exception I can think of is Leonardo Dicaprio, who routinely speaks out against oil and gas developments and diamond mining. Having said that, he probably has enough money banked that he can do and say whatever he wants.

I did recently see a video of Batman star Ben Affleck talking about bats, which are threatened by a fungal disease known as white nose syndrome. So I will leave you with that thought and video today.


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Week # 44- Homemade Halloween Part 2

So there goes my theory of prepackaged treats being safer. A child in Halifax found a pin in a wrapped chocolate bar. Is nothing sacred?

And for anyone (such as my husband) who thought my post was taking all the fun out of the holiday – you’re not alone – check out http://www.scarymommy.com/taking-back-halloween/

At least the homemade kangaroo costume was a success. Last year I purchased a costume from Superstore – my daughter saw a pink bunny suit (not unlike that in A Christmas Story) and it was love at first sight. In fairness she has gotten a lot of use out of it – besides Halloween last year she also wore it for Easter and a Halloween party this year, and it is in regular rotation in the “tickle trunk” in our playroom. While i could have found something similar on Kijiji, I’m always a little wary of bed bugs (and there’s also the gas to pick up used items to consider).

This year I was determined to make something from scratch. Well, almost scratch. And I can’t take all the credit – Pinterest gave me the inspiration. Brown sweatpants and hoodie form Value Village for the body; light brown felt from Michaels for the pouch, tail and ears (the felt was made from recycled plastic too!), and paper towel tubes for the tail. Photos to follow soon , I promise!

What else have I been doing for green challenges:

  • Stopped buying spinach in plastic “clamshell” packaging;
  • Only giving my daughter a bath every other night (sponge bath on “off nights” because really, unless she’s muddy or covered in sunscreen/bug spray from playing outside or decided to put her supper on her head, is she really that dirty that she needs a whole tubful of water? And she seems to like the sponge baths anyway. 🙂 )

Now, on to prepare my next costume, for HAL-CON!!!!!!!!!

Every year around this time I turn back into a nerd. Aw, who am I kidding – I’m a nerd all the time! Photos of that to follow soon too.


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Week # 31 – Water Woes, Broken Toes and other Adventures in Greening

August 30, 2014

Wow this summer went by fast. I was afraid it would. But you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. And while I haven’t been blogging as faithfully, I did manage to keep up on a few of my green challenges.

The second wedding this summer, at the end of last month, went off without a hitch. I was able to wear the silver dress I had hoped to (with the help of some strategically placed undergarments), and we had our hair done at an Aveda certified spa. The wedding was beautiful 🙂

I definitely indulged a bit more than I should have though, driving too much, buying to much bulk chocolate, bought a new book rather than waiting for it to come out from the library. But I just couldn’t resist picking up Diana Gabaldon’s new release, and it saw me through the whole summer.

One of our drives did involve my grandfather’s 90th birthday, and we took a detour to Jost Vineyards, picking up a bottle for ourselves and my parents.

I did start taking the bus to the library and then walked back (instead of working-out inside). I’d been meaning to start that challenge for a while. Usually I would drive to the Canada Games Centre every Tuesday for yoga, but I’d make a point of parking in one place and walking to do other errands, like getting gas, picking up groceries, banking, and dropping off and picking up books at the library, so the trip (and CO2 emissions) wasn’t completely in vain. I also picked up a “Share the road” bumper magnet for our car. Which we lost, ironically enough, when my husband put the car through a car wash. Replacing that is on the top of the list for this fall.

As sad as I am to see the end of summer, I do enjoy the foods of this season. It seems like the green peppers I started back in the spring haven’t grown any in height, but the gourds, tomatoes and turnip have really taken off. And I continue to do battle with the Japanese Knotweed.

To keep the garden watered I’ve been using rainwater collected in two buckets at the end of our front. This is not a new challenge for me. I did research more stylish rainwater collectors, but they run a bit out of my budget compared with the buckets I have which work perfectly well. I also used water from my daughter’s kiddie pool to do my watering. And I’ve decided that if I am nominated for the now famous Ice Bucket Challenge I’ll stand in the garden to do so.

Dealing with misplaced water seems to be a regular issue for me. From the time we moved into this house we’ve had water problems, from a leak in the basement the previous owners failed to disclose, to a drip through the kitchen ceiling which required gutting the bathroom. More recently, this past winter we ended up replacing our hot water heater (which, luckily, is leased) when it suddenly began spouting excess water onto the basement floor. While replacing the tank allowed us to upgrade to a (supposedly) more efficient model and gave me the opportunity to turn down the thermostat on the water heater, it did not fix the problem of coming home to pools of luke-warm water on our basement floor. So, a few weeks later, a plumber installed an expansion tank. Which probably wouldn’t have been necessary if the city wasn’t constantly replacing the piping under all the streets in our neighbourhood and messing with the local water pressure. But that is a necessary evil compared with the alternative.

I’ve also started using my daughter’s leftover bathwater to shave my legs, and water from boiled vegetables (such as corn on the cob, plentiful this time of year) to water the house plants.

Lastly, I need to start taking shorter, colder showers. I’ve been putting this challenge off for a long time. I’m famous for long, hot showers – another by-product of giving birth – showers were the only alone time I got in the early days after my daughter was born. In addition to the alone time, the heat not only relaxed my ravaged body, it also helped my milk let-down. But four years later I think it’s time to break old habits.

Now you’ll excuse me while I go back to drying out our camping gear from our latest camping adventure, cut short by a ill-timed rainstorm, and mending my broken toe (the result of a 4am game of musical beds. And no I don’t want to write about it now.).