Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weaving Rush Style

Sometimes I feel a great sense of self when I'm asked for ideas when it comes to certain things.  I seem to be the go to person when it comes to reducing waste among my circle.  And that makes me very proud.  I may not be perfect, but I must be doing enough to get noticed. 

My mom has a set of patio chairs that have been one by one falling apart in the seat.  And she asked me what we could do to fix them, rather than throw them away. 

Well, I just happened to have had some bailing twine sitting in my craft/storage/disaster room.  So my suggestion was to use it to weave new seats.  Though I've had some experience with weaving, I've never woven a chair before, and my mother was just as green as I was on the subject.  Youtube to the rescue!  We found a video and started on our adventure. 

Looks simple enough. And it was!  We couldn't believe how easy it was to get going.  We had a great time, each of us working on a separate chair.  Didn't take long for my giant ball of twine to look a littler less giant, but the weaving looked great. 

After two hours of dragging twine in and out of the chair, neither of us had actually finished one.  It is definitely a process.  We're not too sure how to end our weaving anyhow, seeing as the video did not show how to tie off at the end.  So we left that for another day.  Looking good so far, though!

I always love it when I can come up with an idea for using what I already have instead of having to go out and buy something new.  Though the seat may have made its way to the garbage bin, we managed to save the frame and prevent new products from becoming garbage one day.  And we even used natural material that will biodegrade and go back to the earth.  Good idea, if I do say so myself.  ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Experience with Specialty Coffees

I am unbelievably addicted to coffee.  But not regular coffee.  I need my hazelnut mocha or iced cappuccino.  Every time I go to Smithers, I get an iced capp from Tim Hortons.  And every time I go, I feel bad about the disposable cup. 

I can't seem to help myself in these situations.  The temptation of an iced capp is just too strong!  I've sent in countless letters to Tim Horton's requesting that they develop a reusable version of their iced capp cup, but they always respond that it's just not feasible.  FEASIBLE?  The way I see it, not only will they save money on their disposable cup purchases, they would be making money off the new reusable cups.  I know I'd buy one. 

Then again, they don't have an air of environmental consciousness about the place, anyway.  I was given a couple cold drink cups that look very much like the iced capp cups you get at Timmy's, and I was very excited to try them out.  So I bring my cute pink cup to the counter and ask if they could make my iced capp in my cup.  The girl behind the counter stared blankly at me for a second, then replied, "It won't save you any money." 

Money wasn't the issue.  I assured her that I didn't care about the 10 cents I might have saved, that it was the cup I was worried about.  So she took my cup and I paid for my "green" iced capp.  But then I watched her make my drink in a disposable cup, pour it into my cup and chuck the disposable one behind the counter anyway.  Great!  Now, not only has a cup been wasted, but I also have to do dishes! 

I thought that Starbucks would be better.  They advertise themselves as being a green company.  But it turns out that they still quite often follow the same practice of making the drink in their clear cup, then pouring it into the reusable one.  So if you're getting a cold drink in one of their reusable cups, you're probably okay, because their cups have all the measurement lines.  But your efforts be damned if you would like to use a different cup.  If every company did it that way, you would have to have a different reusable cup for each company! I also understand that if you're going through the drive through and say you have a reusable cup, they make it first in a disposable and pour it into yours when you get to the window. 

I go to a cafe in my little town called Brewstir's Cafe.  I bring in my reusable cup and watch them make my drink in my cup.  Everything I see behind the counter is very reusable.  They wash it all after each use and just reuse it!  Crazy thought, isn't it?  And they are even willing to put my takeout into my own container, they just have to give it a quick wash first, as per regulations.  Good job Brewstir's!  Guess the big guys just can't go that route so they can make every location exactly the same. What a shame....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book review: Plastic Free by Beth Terry

I'm still in the process of reading this book, actually.  But I'm a slow reader (maybe get through two books a year).  I'm only halfway through, but the tone of the book is set and I've made use of the reference section at the end already, so I'll express what I'm getting out of this book so far. 

The full title is Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.   The book portrays the title impeccably.  Beth Terry talks about her adventures with trying to live plastic free, her struggles with convenience and habits, both hers and others'.   She explains the problems with plastic and why we should give a damn about trying to rid ourselves of it.  And she gives as many alternatives as she can fit into this book for common, everyday plastics in our lives, as well as areas where she is not ready to sacrifice certain losses to go plastic free. 

Funny story: I borrowed this book from my local library.  I got my mom (who works there) to drop it off for me on her way home from work.  She hands it to me and to my surprise, it's wrapped in plastic!  And I exclaimed just that.  My mom laughed and said, "I hadn't even thought of that."  They wrap all their books in plastic for extra protection, since, of course, library books get used by many different people.  Oddly enough, the very next day after receiving my newest reading material, Beth Terry had put up a new blog talking about this very thing; libraries and book stores wrapping her plastic-free books in plastic.  The books themselves are even made with as little plastic as possible.  (You'd be surprised how much plastic goes into making the average book.)

The best part of this book is the upbeat attitude she keeps about it all.  Terry never calls anyone down on plastic waste, but tries to educate on why it matters to her, without the nagging or the guilt.  Guilt is something she will not allow herself to go through, and encourages us, the readers, to learn from our choices without guilt. 

I have found the index extremely valuable for quickly finding her opinion and (hopefully) solution to any specific plastic problem.   She has recipes for common foods like ketchup that come in plastic containers, gives ideas for how to make items like pet toys,  as well as many options for where to buy plastic free items such as lunchboxes, water bottles, shower curtains, shoes and more. 

Terry reiterates again and again the importance of just trying to keep at it, and not giving up.  Things we don't think about until it's too late come up again and again, and all she asks is that you try your best to remember for next time.  For example, when you go to a restaurant and your drink automatically comes with a straw.  Did you really need that straw?  Probably not.  Did they ask if you wanted one?  Probably not.  So it is up to us to try to remember to ask for no straw.  These little things that we all take for granted add up.   But it's important not to beat ourselves up over it, either.

For anyone trying to improve in their attempt to reduce waste, this book has some great ideas and some great stories.  She loves to hear from her readers, too.  You can check out her blog at myplasticfreelife.com.