Monday, January 21, 2013

I'd rather be geocaching

My number one favourite hobby is geocaching. If you don't know what that is, please visit and check it out, because it's awesome. In a nutshell: geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers hidden by other geocachers. So basically, I use multi-million dollar satellites to look for Tupperware in the woods.

These caches, if large enough, typically hold items for trading when the cache has been found. You take one, you leave one, etc.. Normally, you find little toys and knickknacks. Sometimes you find really cool stuff. I have a cutlery set for travelling that I found in a geocache. There are also trackable items with a code on them that you can enter on the website and see everywhere it's been in the world.

Why am I talking about this? I just wanted to give a little insight for those who don't know what it is before I talk about what I do to make it as green a hobby as possible.

First, all the items I trade are not purchased new, but usually given to me by people who wish to declutter (My mother-in-law gave me a collectors spoon with a lovely First Nations design just last week.), or found at the Free Store (the trade shed at the dump). Occasionally, I will purchase some neat little things at the thrift store. Reusing unwanted items, rather than increasing the need for new materials.

Second, the containers I use to make new geocaches are never new. I use yogurt containers. Peanut butter containers. Margarine, pill and ice cream containers.* I remodel birdhouses to become the container. The bags I use to help keep the logbook and trade items dry are usually bread bags that I get my mother to save for me. (I also use these for my litter removal.)

And anyway, this hobby usually requires hiking or canoeing or they are right in town. So it gets me outside, which I love and is good for me. It's a little harder in the winter, especially since I have already a found every cache within 50km.

So! What's your hobby? And what do you do to try to make it as green as possible?

*I would like to add as a side note that these containers are purchased due to no alternative for these items in my town otherwise. Believe me, I miss having my milk in reusable glass jugs. But we just don't have those amenities here. I will be purchasing my peanut butter from the next town over in a reused glass jar from now on, but my husband still loves his Skippy. And I try to buy the largest size of everything possible. More volume typically require less surface area to contain it per unit.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

There is always HOPE!

Healthy Options for People and the Earth (HOPE) Society is an organization in my community that I quickly got involved in when I moved back in 2010. Our objective:

"Healthy Options for People and the Earth Society (HOPE) is a grassroots group of Houston B.C. residents who are dedicated to build and nurture our local community by encouraging sustainable choices through partnerships and education."

Mostly, we run the farmer's market in town. But we also do a few minor environmental things around town. We also make a point of doing something every Earth Day and run the Serendipity craft sale every year in November.

Thursday night we had a meeting to discuss our "vision". We felt kind of lost as to what is under the scope of HOPE and what really is beyond our jurisdiction. We discussed a lot of things, including the negative connotation of "environmentalist", and came up with the mandate given above.

I have always felt that even though this group is Earth-friendly, we haven't done anything focused on reducing garbage, which is my biggest environmental concern. And when I brought this up at the meeting, I was surprised to see everyone completely agree with me. We had a mini rant about how everything is unnecessarily over-packaged. From the the giant plastic box that ear buds come in to every piece of meat being on a plastic moisture absorber sheet, on a styrofoam container wrapped in plastic wrap (and then put into a plastic bag at the till in our particular Super Valu).

So I realized that people are aware of this, but even those in my stewardship group (because "environmental" is a bad word :P) don't talk about it. But how will anything change if we don't talk about it?

PS: First picture is of a seminar where we are drawing a map of where our tomatoes come from. Second picture is of our farmer's market. Also, I really wish I had the option to get my meat from a butcher or something where I can get it in waxed paper. There are some downfalls of living in a small town.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hair ties should not be a "consumable" product

This morning, like most mornings, I did my hair for work, which involves four elastics in order to keep it all out of my face. Only today, I had a hard time finding four elastics. They are pretty standard with an elastic core and a polyester covering. It didn't seem like that long ago that I bought a pack of 30 tiny elastics and 15 big ones.

Every time I have to buy something, I try to think of how I can go about finding the most eco-friendly option. Elastic (probably not natural rubber) and polyester are not biodegradable materials. If it takes such a short amount of time to go through 15 large hair ties due to over stretching, breaking or losing them, it's time to find a different option.

So what do I do? Google it!! There are tones of websites with so-called environmentally friendly hair ties, but pretty much every one I found makes that claim with "recycled materials". Okay, so using recycled materials is slightly better than using raw, but that means that someone needed the raw material in the first place. They probably feel better about using new material knowing that it will be recycled into something else when they're done, but it still creates the need for new plastic. I could not find one place claiming to have natural rubber and/or organic cotton or hemp. Or something biodegradable. That's what I was hoping for.

So I guess, before my last little stash of elastics dies, I should find some natural rubber bands and sew some cotton cloth over them for some homemade scrunchies. Unless anyone can give me some ideas of good earth friendly hair tie options?