March 15, 2010

Are we setting the Stage for disaster by the way we live in our Homes?

Hubby and I went for a walk last evening around 7:30 pm — as we try to do most days — in our SW Calgary neighbourhood. As we ventured down a walk way that leads to the pathway system, I heard a noise I haven’t heard in many, many months.

I stopped dead in my tracks, as I could hardly believe me ears! I looked at the house on my right to verify with my eyes what my ears have heard. What could this sound be?

Would you believe it was an air conditioning unit . . . running full tilt?

No, sorry, I stand corrected . . . it was two air conditioning units, running full tilt!

This is March, people. March! And what was yesterday’s high? According to Environment Canada, Calgary experienced a daytime high of 8.5 °C at 4:00 pm.

Granted this home has many large windows facing West . . . and it is larger than the average Calgary home, so they must be entitled, right? They can afford it. And when you can afford it, you have license to do whatever you want . . . right??

I’m not the greenest person I know. I wasn’t even an early adopter to having a recycling program in my household (much to my current regret). I have never hugged a tree, and don’t even own a pair of Birkenstocks.

But you don’t have to be a member of the Al Gore fan club to see that our planet is hurting. That brown layer of “air” over

Smog hovers over Calgary

Smog hovers over Calgary

 downtown isn’t something as scientific or innocuous as “an inversion”. It is smog. Smog generated from our vehicles, furnaces, and overall heavy use of electricity in our daily lives (can you say, “coal fired generation plant”?)

Well, here I sit on my computer sucking up some of that very electricity that has some poor soul shovelling a little more coal into the fire (figuratively speaking), so I am hardly one to say.

But certainly that doesn’t mean we should use it willy-nilly . . . does it? I mean, couldn’t you just open the windows for an hour?? It must have been all of 5° at that time of day.

I live in a home that has its summertime challenges to keep cool during those rare few weeks of 30° weather in Calgary. And much to my children’s chagrin on those nights when they have trouble falling asleep, I refuse to get an air conditioner. Just because I have not yet figured out how to live my same life “off the grid”, doesn’t mean a girl has no morals.

Instead, I run around my house early in the morning, opening all the doors and windows to let in all that free, cool air. When the outside temperature is just a few degrees below the inside temperature, I run around again closing all those windows and blinds. To make my life even more complicated, I do the whole routine over again in the evening. Phew!

Yes, it’s cumbersome. And it does take time. I know few modern lives can afford the . . . oh, 5 minute investment each run-around cycle takes.

(Okay, my sarcasm has probably leaked out a little . . . why don’t I just say what I really think?!)

While we may not be able to solve all the world’s problems . . . ever . . . we certainly can do something. Maybe it’s a matter of re-defining “affordabilty”. What can we afford to not keep doing to give our children . . . heck, ourselves . . . a taste of the world we knew as children?

What if it really were as simple as all of us learning to open a window, put on a sweater, turn off that light, decrease the wattage, put up with a smaller TV screen, walk to the mailbox, bus stop or store . . . and use that household item a little longer instead of pitching it to buy a new one . . . just because we can afford it?

Please join me in making those small sacrifices that really do add up! And who knows . . . maybe we’ll be on track to simultaneously solving another increasing North American problem that annoyingly sits just above our belts!

Filed under: Living green — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:06 am
December 21, 2009

Got the Holidays all wrapped up? Think again . . .

The holidays seem to be the time when people throw in the towel  in just about every area of life. We eat more, exercise less, spend more, ditch budgets, and even waste more than usual.

According to, 25 million tons more waste is created over the holiday period, than a typical period during the rest of the year (in the United States . . . there’s most likely a similar amount per capita here in Canada).  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful lot to me!

Well, if you’d like to avoid contributing to massive amounts of holiday garbage, here are a few alternative ideas for wrapping up your Christmas gifts:

  1. Use cloth gift bags
  2. Invest in re-usable hard-sided gift boxes (one of my favs!)
  3. Re-purpose used materials that you already have around the house (newspapers, fabric)
  4. Hide gifts instead of wrapping them, and send the recipient on a treasure hunt
  5. Make re-usable gift tags for each family member

If you must purchase wrapping paper, keep these points in mind:

  1. Only purchase wrapping paper made from recycled materials
  2. Avoid papers that have non-recyclable content (glitter, metals, coatings)
  3. Save and re-use wrapping paper from year to year
  4. Go easy on other materials like ribbons, tape and other adornments

It’s the small changes that we make with consistency, that end up making the biggest, and most lasting, difference! Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas season.

Filed under: Living green — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:04 pm