Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let's get a little personal, here...

Over the past few months, I've been suffering from a mild depression of sorts. Hiding away from the world. Tired all the time from lack of sleep. Crying for no reason. The doctors couldn't find anything physically wrong, and I'm going to be seeing a counsellor on Monday. Perhaps it has to do with the miscarriage I experienced in September. Perhaps the daily stress from work is burning me out.

Or maybe, it's simpler than that. See, September is about the time I stop going outside. It's getting too cold to hike. There are no events happening for adults to get them out and about. There's no snow for winter sports.

We got snow, and I mean a good amount of snow, mid-November. By that time, the season of Christmas has snuck up on us. There are preparations to be made! Decorating, purchasing of gifts (and don't forget anybody), planning for dinners, plays to see. Who has time to get outside?

I have been off from work for seven days and still have three days left. It has felt good to chill out after Christmas, get caught up on a few things and just relax a bit. But today I felt truly happy. Happier than I have felt in a while. Today I went snowshoeing.

It really was a bit of a struggle for me. I know I love snowshoeing, but part of me still wanted to just sit on the couch and watch tv all day. A few people have been asking me to go snowshoeing and I just wasn't feeling enthusiastic enough to make it happen. But when I finally went out today and felt the crisp air, heard the squirrels chirping at me and pushed through that untouched snow, I was happy. I asked if I could break trail. I stopped to admire the trees and interesting shapes the snow makes when it falls on fence posts. It didn't even bother me when snow fell off a tree and on my neck. I was happy to be outside!

My connection with nature had been severed these last few months. I wasn't even enjoying my house plants or my cats. I feel like I have re-experienced the true meaning of biophilia and that connection has been reestablished.

It is important for everyone to get outside on a regular basis. Maintaining that connection is imperative to the health of our world. I implore you to experience nature. Get your kids and your friends and your friends' kids and hike, walk, bike, swim, toboggan, ski, snowshoe or whatever! But build that relationship with nature. People who spend time outside are more likely to care about protecting it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You CAN bring your own mug

People amaze me. I realize it's hard for anyone to see through the eyes of another, but sometimes it seems impossible.

This morning, my coworker offered to run across the street to get me some hot chocolate while she was there getting a snack for herself. I said, "Wait!" and quickly gulped down my tea and handed her my now empty coffee mug. She says to me, "You can do that?"

Okay, I get the convenience of being able to grab a to-go cup while you're there. But has the world really come to the point where people don't even realize that they are ALLOWED to bring their own mug? Well, to those of you who don't know, YES, you CAN.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Just wash the damn spoon...

Last week, I was approached by the daughter of a friend who asked if I would be attending the school play that she was in. Not being a Christian and knowing that this was at the Christian school, I knew I would be in for a night of religious Christmas lore, but how could I refuse that adorable, toothy grin?

The play was cute. Particularly, the chickens in the stable. "Cluck" "Cluck" "CLUCK!!" Had to be there. Anyway! It had the usual sound mishaps. A few people forgot their lines. And there was a noticeable wardrobe malfunction (Thankfully, not like Janet Jackson.). But it was mostly entertaining. Unfortunately, the young lady who invited me to the play had only one line. She did an excellent job. They should have given her a bigger part. (Biased, maybe?)

I couldn't help but notice that, as they were talking about sin, they had plastic, disposable table cloths, plastic cups (and, later, styrofoam cups for coffee), paper plates and paper napkins. They did, however, have metal cutlery. Which just confused me. If they were going to have to do dishes at all, why not just wash some plates and cups, too? Might take a LITTLE longer...

It made me very sad to know how much garbage would be added to the landfill from that night. There were easily more than 100 people in that gym.

I am reminded of a quote: "It's pretty that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you're done with it."

I suppose, in this case, the spoon is the only thing that did get washed afterwards, but you get the point.

PS: I apologize if I offended anyone.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crazy? Or not crazy enough?

My employee thinks I'm crazy because I recycle the cardboard on the back of packaging such as for batteries. She thinks that's crazy! I've never considered myself an extremist when it comes to my environmentalism. Not even kinda. But perhaps no one would think that of themselves.

I never preach. It's really hard when, for example, someone brings me a coffee, just out of the goodness of their heart, in a disposable cup. I never want to be one of those people who makes someone feel bad for doing something that, in their mind, is a kind gesture. Even if it goes against my beliefs.

So how far is extreme? Would it be wrong of me to say something if I get that gesture of coffee? Maybe I'm one of the very few who think about every plastic sticker on every piece if fruit.

And sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I hate feeling guilty about buying myself a Pepsi. About not getting my meat from farmers so I can avoid the styrofoam packaging because it's just way damn easier to get it from the grocery store. I don't feel that I have the time to make my own ketchup, nor do I want to live without it. So, no, I definitely don't think of myself as an extremist.

I do, however, buy bar shampoo to avoid the bottle. I use tooth tabs instead of toothpaste that come in a recycled cardboard box instead of a plastic tube. I give packing peanuts from my inventory orders to the local stationary store so they can resell them rather than them having to buy more.

I may not be an extremist, but I try...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gift Wrapping

Over the last few years, when it came to birthdays and Xmas, I have gotten into the habit of saving any gift bags I get so I can reuse them. Living in a small town means that I don't have easy access to a lot of "green" wrapping alternatives such as recycled gift wrap, so I figure reuse, reuse, reuse. There's no need to just throw out what is still perfectly useful.

This year, though, for my store, I needed a wrapped box that looked like a present to be a draw box, and I needed it fast. So I ran to the store and got a roll of wrapping paper. Of course, there was plastic shrink wrap on it and it meant using tape. I felt guilty about the whole thing.

But as I was wrapping, childhood memories of telling everyone to stay out of my room while I meticulously folded every crease perfectly and made sure every corner lined up perfectly came flooding back. I remembered my love of choosing which paper to use with which ribbon, which bow for which person and loving the beautiful disguise for each gift.

Gift bags just don't have that customizability that wrapping paper offers. So I decided "not to waste" the rest of the roll and did all of my presents. It meant that all of my presents would look very similar, but I happened to have had a little bit of curling ribbon on hand, so I was able to make them somewhat individual.

In hind sight, I probably could have donated the remainder to someone who would have gone out to buy some anyway, but it was just too much fun. I won't be buying any more, if I do run out. I'm thinking, though, that I may support my somewhat local craft store and invest in some hemp twine to dress up some newspaper and use that to wrap presents instead.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Why didn't I think of that?

I listen to 102.7fm The Peak Vancouver and every hour or two they play a snippet from The David Suzuki Foundation's "Queen of Green". Usually, she says something that seems somewhat obvious to me. And I suppose this was no different.

Today, she mentioned harmful chemicals in fabric softener and dryer sheets. Well, I already knew this, and right now I'm not using anything in my dryer. Sure, my clothes are super staticky when they come out, but at least I'm not contributing to the landfill or releasing nasty toxins. I had tried Method's dryer sheets, and they worked okay. But they come in a plastic wrapper. Those dryer balls would probably work, but they're plastic, too. They also claim to only last 100 loads or so, anyway, so they're practically disposable. Not any better than dryer sheets, really.

It was the Queen's solution that caught my attention. Felted wool dryer balls! Works just like the plastic ones, decreasing drying time, reducing static and softening clothes, but completely biodegradable! She mentioned that you could purchase them here and there, but I happen to have a very talented sister who just so happens to felt.

I texted her immediately to request a set, and she's now on a mission. She is going to use me as a guinea pig and if all goes well, she might even try to sell them.

For those of you who don't have a talented friend or relative (or self), you can get them on $20 for a set of 4 seems pretty standard. But for me, I'm very excited to get my hand-made, felted wool dryer balls in the mail!