Earth Hour 2012: Small action, big change …

Today I was pleased – even a little surprised – to see that our building had posted information about Earth Hour in our elevators. Mr. Green and I will be joining our neighbours on Saturday to send a message that we’re committed to lasting efforts that will protect the future of the planet.

Will you join us?

More about Earth Hour below:

“Hundreds of millions of people, businesses and governments around the world unite each year to support the largest environmental event in history – Earth Hour.

More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011 alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going Beyond the Hour to commit to lasting action for the planet. Without a doubt, it’s shown how great things can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.”

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March 30, 2012 · 7:53 pm

What if …

Earlier this week, Mr. Green and I had dinner at the Eaton Centre food court. Admittedly not the most nutritious meal, but when we’re hurrying and looking to fill-up on a dime, vitamin quotients and calorie counts are overlooked.

It was my first time at the “Urban Eatery” and I noticed something surprising: very little waste is generated by the hungry shoppers dining in the subterranean fast food wonderland. Gone are the Styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery, and here to stay are reusable plates and nicely weighted cutlery. Imagine?!

Seated on an Ikea-esque red plastic chair I wondered, what if all food courts were like this? Consider how much less waste would be destined for the landfills! And what if all fast food restaurants started using reusable place settings for those dining in?

I wasn’t able to find any stats about fast food waste in Canada or information about the waste the “Urban Eatery” figures it’s not producing, but surely, places like this are making a difference.

Consider what your “what if” might be. Mr. Green and I are great believers that little changes in behaviour can go a long way – like going out for dinner rather than ordering in (not such a tough thing!). So what if you car pooled, or walked to work more often? Maybe you turn your computer monitor off when you’re away from your desk, or you turn off your idling engine. Consider the impact you could have on the planet if you just committed to one small change …

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Deck the halls with a “green” Christmas craft

Inspired by greener living guru Danny Seo and craving a craft, this Christmas I was thinking about how I might decorate our place in a “greener” way (and on the cheap). What did it take to find the answer? A trip to Anthropologie!

Look at this clever little tree made from a magazine.

Made from a Reader’s Digest!

As discretely as I could, I examined the tree from all angles and tried to discover how the magazine had been folded to form such a darling little tree. More than one shopper looked at me curiously, no doubt wondering why I was spending so much time with the floor display and not drooling over the cozy sweaters.  I snapped a few pictures and raced home excited to tell Mr. Green about my craft discovery. He was pretty jazzed that I’d found a way to “upcycle” my old magazines.

Though I was inspired to decorate for Christmas, I think these little trees are a great decoration to leave out through the winter.  Here’s how to make your own:

 1. Crack the spine of a magazine by folding it open several times.

2. Fold the top right hand corner of a page down to the spine to form a triangle.

 

Repeat this step on every page. Try and be as precise as you can, and if you want to save your fingers use a ruler to help make the fold.

3. Fold each page a second time to form a men’s necktie shape. Take the right hand edge and fold inwards to the spine. Again, be as precise as possible.

Do this second fold on all pages.

4. This is the trickiest step. Fold the tail, or the bottom of the page up into the fold to form a flat straight bottom edge.

 

5. Once you’re finished with the final folds, arrange the pages to form a tree shape. You can use a spray adhesive and some glitter to add some sparkle to your tree, or you can top it with a Christmas ornament like I did.

*Despite believing I’d found something unique, the credit goes to none other than Martha Stewart for this upcycled idea.

 

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This one’s for you, Barb

They say as we get older, time seems to pass more quickly. Though my 30s are still dawning, I am definitely feeling as though time is flying. And perhaps that’s why, in my mind, my last blog post doesn’t seem like all that long ago. But a dear colleague pointed out that it has been “Meatless Monday” for over a month!

Truth be told, Mr. Green and I have had a busy fall with lots of fun adventures. For instance, a few weeks ago we visited Prince Edward County – a lovely collection of small towns south-east of Belleville and along the banks of Lake Ontario. Friends of ours gave us the gift of a second honeymoon when we got married, and we really enjoyed exploring the County at their recommendation. We just loved it.

Here are some greener highlights:

It will come as no surprise that Mr. Green is pretty big on fuel economy. We don’t own a car, so when we travel outside the city we turn to our friend Sandra at the Budget on Bloor to sort us out. This weekend we were treated to a fuel-effcient sporty Fiat. Though not much larger than a bicycle, it was exactly what we were looking for – and it was great on fuel.

 

 We stayed at The Merrill Inn and were treated to small-town hospitality from the minute we arrived.

And everywhere we looked, we were reminded of the Inn’s commitment to the environment. From their large refillable toiletry bottles – no freebies to take home here – to their locally sourced menu. Look at this lake perch!

 Our friends also treated us to a class at one of the local cooking schools – From the Farm Cooking School. We spent the day with Cynthia Peters – personal chef and food writer – touring around picking up ingredients for the lunch we made together in her beautifully appointed farmhouse kitchen.

She took us to Fifth Town Cheese, the greenest dairy in North America, and we sampled some of the most amazing cheese ever. The best part? (Well, apart from the being green thing) They have oodles of yummy goat and sheep’s cheese – a huge bonus for milk-sensative me.

We toured several wineries and even a vodka distillery, 66 Gilead Distillery. Imagine? Locally sourced vodka … pretty awesome. The Pine vodka tastes like Christmas in a glass.

We had a perfect greener weekend and we’re looking forward to going back!  

 

 

 

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Meatless Mondays

Okay, so in our house nearly every day is meatless … but in honour of “Meatless Monday” – the American public health campaign, turned global movement for better health and a healthier planet – I thought I’d share what we had for dinner tonight. 

When the days get shorter and I start to feel that crispness in the air, it means not only that it’s time to rotate the clothes in my closest (I dream about big, beautiful walk-ins with sky-high shelving and storage), but also that it’s soup season again! 

Tonight, I turned to my dear Lucy Waverman for inspiration and whipped up a yummy Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Kale:

 1 bunch Kale or Swiss chard (I like Kale)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 cup chopped onions

1 28-oz (796mL) can tomatoes, chopped with juices

4 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, or ¼ tsp dried

½ tsp Asian chilli sauce, or to taste

1 19-oz (540mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Parmesan or Roman cheese grated, to taste

I like to toss in other vegetables that are kicking around the house … carrots and celery work well, and I sometimes add a starch – rice or potatoes.

Cut away stems and any tough or wide centre ribs from kale and slice them. Roughly chop leaves.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, or until golden. Add onions and kale stems and ribs – and any other raw vegetables – and sauté for 2 minutes, or until soft.

Add tomatoes, stock, rosemary and chilli sauce and simmer for 20 minutes. Add chickpeas and simmer for 15 minutes longer.

Add kale leaves and simmer for 5 minutes, or until leaves wilt. If you anticipate leftovers, reserve some kale and add before you reheat your soup. Kale gets pretty brown and unappetizing looking the longer it’s cooked, so reserving a handful will brighten your soup when you’re enjoying it later!  

Season well with salt and pepper. Serve with sprinkled cheese and fresh bread – or, Mr. Green’s homemade croutons.

Mr. Green’s homemade croutons:

2 cups roughly cut dry (read: stale) bread – baguettes and Italian, or French loaves work best

1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp truffle oil, olive oil will also work well

Salt and pepper

Toss ingredients in a bowl.

Bake in 350 degree preheated for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you’re looking for more meatless inspiration … you could try what Stella McCartney tweeted she’d be enjoying this evening: Jamie Oliver’s Crispy and Delicious Asparagus and Potato tart

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Seeking a greener life? Eco-concierge to the rescue!

I came across this story in the NY Times … An interesting concept for those who don’t know a Mr. Green:

“Personal Eco-Concierges Ease Transition to Green”

Jennifer A. Kingston

They will run your errands by bicycle, recommend a spa that gives vegan manicures or buy organic clothes for you and your dog. They will even book you a dream vacation and buy the appropriate carbon offsets.

Green living is just so much easier when you have your own personal environmental concierge.“The problem with going green is that people think it takes so much work, so much effort, so much conscious decision-making,” said Letitia Burrell, president of Eco-Concierge NYC, a year-old business in Manhattan that tries to make it easy for people to rid their homes of toxins, hire sustainable-cuisine chefs and find organic dry cleaners.

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It’s official: We’re Mr. and Mrs. Green!


Some time has passed since my last post, but I’m trying to reinvigorate this blog now that Mr. Green and I are married (!!) and we have some more time on our hands. We had a blast planning our “big day,” and we’re so pleased that we were able to plan a wedding that stayed true to our greener values. For instance …

I mentioned our wonderful florist, Alison, from Coriander Girl … boy did she ever do an amazing job. Our flowers were sourced locally and looked just beautiful. I had long dreamed of having peonies in my bouquet and with a late spring and cool start to the summer my dream came true! The table arrangements were gorgeous and exactly what I was imagining. And those Ikea glasses we bought as vases have found new homes with our guests where hopefully they will be reused for many years to come.

I loved my dress that was made here in Toronto, not China. Our food was grown close to home, and it was so fun to walk between our venues rather than hop in a limo (I hate limos anyway).

One thing we did that will have the greatest impact on the environment was that we purchased offsets in India through The International Small Group & Tree Planting Program (TIST) in lieu of favours, so that our wedding was carbon neutral.

TIST strengthens poor communities by empowering subsistence farmers to reverse the effects of deforestation, drought and famine. In turn, these farmers reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by planting diverse tree species, implementing conservation farming techniques and reducing fuel use with efficient stoves.

Mr. Green consulted a couple of his colleagues with offset expertise to determine our approximate footprint, and then we bought offsets to neutralize the environmental impact of our wedding – and our overseas honeymoon.

Offsetting is a great way to reduce your impact on the planet, and, like in case with TIST, a way to improve the lives of people in developing countries. But instead of turning to offsets as the sole way to reduce the effect of our wedding on the planet, we did what we could to minimilize our impact by making responsible environmental choices at every step of the way. And I think that’s the way we should use offsets – rather than thinking they give us a free pass to be wasteful, we should think of them as a way of complimenting our greener activities.

Apart from our day being greener, it was absolutely perfect – far exceeding our expectations.

We felt relaxed and happy all day long, to the point where our cheeks were sore from smiling and laughing with all our guests.

It was so special to be surrounded by our family and friends, and to feel their love and excitment for us.

I’ll never forget how I felt the moment I stepped into the church … The sun came out and there was Mr. Green waiting for me at the end of the aisle to start our lives together.

I was calm and beside myself with joy. After our beautiful ceremony we partied!

The kitchen utensils my roommates and I used as microphones while dancing in our unversity kitchen made a nostalgic return, and we were so pleased to see everyone having such a good time with them.

Thanks to everyone who made our day so memorable xoxo

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