Project Carbon-Neutral

For the past few weeks, I’ve been busy with a new project that I’m really excited about. It is, as is almost everything we do, a work in progress, but it is far enough along now, that we can announce it’s creation to the whole world. I’m excited about the whole idea and about all the plans how they are coming together. Please have a look and let me know what you think.

Earth Hour
We did it and we didn’t die. We turned off all ‘non-essential’ appliances for one hour Saturday night as part of Earth Hour. It turns out that a) for only an hour NONE of it is essential and going for the jugular main breaker was not a hardship at all and b) it was, in fact, rather enjoyable.
Dinner was ready just as it was time, so we hit the breaker, lit some candles and sat around the kitchen table. We spent the whole hour there, eating and talking and telling stories. We were all surprised to see that at 8PM, the sky was still light.The glowing the sky and the streetlights meant that it didn’t actually get really dark in the house until 830 or so. We didn’t notice that is was especially quiet in the house, but we did notice how much of the ‘outside’ we could hear – people out walking, dogs in the distance.
Toward the end of the hour, I got to thinking (uh-oh!). We do different kinds of detoxes all the time – food, electronics, news – where we black out some of the non-essentials that assault our senses and our bodies and send us into overload and toxicity. That one hour, with the house darkened and quiet was really nice. I’m thinking we should add it to our regular rotation of black-outs even if only for our own sanity. Mark doesn’t think this is a very good idea at all as there are way too many clocks to reset ;)

Green BinAnd in other news; It’s Here! It’s Here!!
Halton Region is finally implementing a green bin programme. I don’t know why it has taken so long (and I’m sure there are very good and valid reasons for it), but it has been so frustrating to see other communities get their composting programmes and not us. The bin, along with a smaller kitchen bin, was delivered Saturday. Inside were all the destructions and free samples of approved biodegradable liner bags. The bags smell vaguely like food. Like wet popcorn or something. Of course, a quick look at tells me that compostable bags are often made of starch from corn. Well there you go. That explains the popcorn smell. Maybe. We won’t use the little bin in the kitchen as I have a most excellent stainless steel compost bucket that I use. Plastic absorbs the food smells and gets all bleh. The stainless is perfect and pristine after years of use. Beauty.

We have, and use, a large composter that sits in our backyard. While we can, we’ll put our food scraps in there. Being vegetarian, there are no bones or meat scraps, so very little food goes in the garbage when we are using the composter. BUT. It gets full. Especially in the winter when the cold slows or stops the composting process. Typically, it is full before the middle of January and we have to stop using it. Some years, I have simply put food scraps in buckets with lids in the garage through the winter, where the contents freeze and do not smell or rot. But Spring can sneak up on you and suddenly you have buckets and buckets of slop and you are trying to find an afternoon to spend pouring it all into the bin. And a couple of very mild Winters made this plan of action not really feasible. So now we have a back up plan. Besides all those tissues and stuff, our food scrap overflow will now be composted. Yay!

Seriously, this makes me really happy :)

On Monday, it was a sunny day, warm, even. It looked a little bit like this:

Fall Leaves

and like this:

Fall Leaves

However, this evening, it looked like this:

Early Snow

:D And there was much rejoicing.
Of course, none of the snow stuck, but around here, snow is always a good thing.

It is, obviously, cold. Is the heat on? Nope. Cave men managed to survive winters without central heat, I’m sure we can go another few weeks without ours. But warm socks and a sweater are definitely required. Cozy, non? My knitting seems to have taken on a renewed urgency, though.

I forgot to post a picture of the finished team scarves:

Team Scarves

I’ll make another batch this weekend and be done with it.

Pumpkin pie:

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

All gone :)

Project Carbon-Neutral: Reel Mower.

In my on-going quest to reduce our ecological footprint, I have annoyed my husband by insisting he trudge through four feet of snow to put the kitchen scraps into the composter*, I’m usually the only person stopped at the railroad crossing with my engine off and I’ve gained a reputation for keeping my house uncomfortably cold in winter**, but as is the case with any on-going project, I can become weary of the details (and the complaining) and things start to slide. But after seeing An Inconvenient Truth last week, the motivation is fresh and the desire is strong. Look out world husband! ;)

This has lead to the creation of our own family quest: [echo-y voice] Project Carbon-Neutral.

Ok… we’re still working on the name… But game is ON!

Our My first step toward fufilling this quest was to purchase a reel mower. This was a no-brainer, since I’ve been wanting to replace our gas-powered mower with a push mower, so it was a matter of just getting up off my butt and doing it. I got this one: Lee Valley 20-inch Reel Mower.
It’s easy to use – not difficult to push at all. As you can see in the photo, our lawn was *really* long, but the mower did pretty well, considering. I must confess that Mark did use the gas mower to get the last bits of really tall grass that the reel mower couldn’t cut. So, for regular mowing, it does a beautiful job, but it’s not so great for clearing brush :P

Totally carbon-neutral? I don’t know. And I don’t have enough information at this point to have any idea of how hard that would be. But I’ve started gathering that information and wondering where all my untility bills are and hopefully, I’ll have a better idea soon.

In the meantime, given the current government’s talk of pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, I find it disconcerting that this (cached) Government of Canada Climate Change web site (where “you can learn about the science, impacts and adaptation to climate change…”) is “unavailable”. hmmm…

* I have since come to my senses. Well, sort of ;)
This is Canada: the composter doesn’t work in the winter because it freezes. Luckily, temperatures in the garage are below freezing as well, so we just use a sealed bucket in the garage for kitchen scraps. Whenever there is a thaw, we just dump the contents of the bucket into the composter and then it all goes right again in the Spring.

** Seriously. Warm socks and a sweater and you’re all cozy and happy. Socks and a sweater and you’re saving the world, Bay-bee!