Archive for September, 2010

Green phones


Via Mobilkoll (mobile side) and Treehugger (green life side) I have seen that Sony Ericsson has released a new concept phone with environmental goodies:

  • bio-plastic housings
  • recycled plastic keypads
  • zero charger with 3.5mW standby power
  • HTML based e-manuals
  • game style educational application ‘Ecomate’
  • environmentally conscious packaging.

Not bad, not bad. I like the packaging and the owl thing ^_^

But most important is the environmental warranty, that states: “when any Sony Ericsson product is taken to a designated collection point, Sony Ericsson will recycle this product in an environmentally sound way. This warranty is valid globally, regardless of where the product was originally purchased”.They have already 500 collection points.

Awesome, that is some fact and more than just words or concepts.



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VANCOUVER — Neighbours Kate Sutherland and Julia Hilton have hatched a mini-revolution that has transformed two blocks of east Vancouver into a true urban village.

“Julia had land and I didn’t, but I have a passion for growing things,” Sutherland explained. They thought they would work together to grow vegetables, but like true revolutionaries they cranked up a tiny propaganda machine in the form of a simple flyer they distributed to their neighbours, recruiting more than a dozen to the cause.

“We made up a very simple leaflet and handed them out on [Hilton’s] street and my street,” Sutherland said.

Thirteen people came to the first meeting, intrigued by the idea of eating local by growing their own food. The Two-Block Diet was born.

They started a sprouting station to grow tomatoes from seed and then built a greenhouse to protect the seedlings; then came the communal compost. From there, they began to organize weekend work parties to convert unused backyard space into gardens.

“Not having a community garden, we help each other grow food on our own plots,” she said. “Eight of us will show up in one back yard for kind of a barn-raising.”

Many of the neighbourhood’s backyards were entirely transformed in the process.

“We were having work parties about every two weeks at somebody’s home while we were establishing gardens,” Sutherland said.

Buoyed by the success of their first harvest, some Two-Blockers are now keeping laying hens. The arrival of bee hives this year has the neighbourhood salivating for the season’s honey harvest.

As food production ramps up, the group has started to preserve its bounty.

“We applied for a small grant and bought a pressure canner,” Sutherland said. “We brought in peaches and used the local honey when we canned the peaches.”

In less than two years, Hilton and Sutherland’s Two-Block Diet group has evolved from potlucks and planning sessions into a self-sustaining urban village in the Riley Park-Little Mountain area, where sharing labour and food are the natural way of things.

Now that the need for transformative work parties has diminished, the group mostly gathers to order seeds and plan their gardens and, at harvest time, to preserve.

“People are growing two to three times what they were two years ago,” Sutherland said. “But for me the real payoff is in the sense of community.

“I lived on this block for 12 years and had never been inside most of my neighbours’ homes; now I have been in all of the members’ homes,” she said.

When a gardener’s husband fell ill, the Two-Blockers organized a meals-on-wheels program, taking turns bringing fresh meals to the couple while he convalesced.

Eager to spread the revolution, Hilton and Sutherland have created amanual for people who want to start a group in their own neighbourhood, condensing their two-year experience into a two-page tip sheet. You can even ask a member of their group to attend your first meeting as a resource.

Click here to read the manual

Click here to read Randy Shore’s blog, The Green Man

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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There is a painless way to get your kids (or anyone else in your house) to douse the lights when they leave a room.

WASTE NOT | Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the times were desperate around my house. After what seemed like eons of continual nagging by me and my husband, our children, lovely individuals all, continued to leave the lights on when they exited their rooms, or any of the other spaces in our home they frequented with regularity.

“Turn off the light when you leave a room” is one of our basic house rules, along with “Do not take hour-long showers” and “Avoid drinks in disposable containers” if at all possible. But where wasting water and steering clear of junk plastic seemed to click with my tribe, remembering to douse the lights remained an issue.

The Genesis Of A Bright Idea

The moment a light is turned off, it stops using energy. BC Hydro suggests turning off lights whenever a room is unoccupied, even if it’s only for a few minutes. The powers at Hydro understand that breaking bad habits can be hard, so they offer suggestions on their website like putting little reminders such as Post-it notes next to light switches to trigger the appropriate action. Riiiight. Been there; done that; didn’t find it effective.

What I did find effective is something that might turn off a few readers because it takes the responsibility for the crime out of the hands of the perpetrators. The solution came to me one morning when I was turning off the lights in their bedrooms for the zillionth time and thought what if they didn’t need to remember to do it; what if the lights turned off automatically?

So here’s what I did. I purchased 30- and 60-minute countdown timers (Decora Plus electronic timer switches by Leviton are $36 to $39 each at the Home Depot) and had an electrician remove the old on-off models and replace them with timer versions in my children’s bedrooms and in the bathroom they share.

There were a few complaints at first, and some of their friends thought it was pretty funny, but once everyone got with the program, there was no more wasting energy—and I didn’t have to nag ever again, about that anyway. (Oh yes, and my worry that if I adopted this system my kids would never break their bad habit has not proved to be true.) —Ruth Rainey

You can see Leviton electronic timer switches at www.leviton.com


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Here are come cosmetic recipes from The Health and Environment Awareness Project, The McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women, Breast Cancer Action Montreal:

Cleansing and Exfoliating Grains

This exfoliant is used to stimulate and improve circulation to the skin, slough off dead skin cells and polish the skin.

– 1 cup finely ground oats
– 2 cups white, cosmetic grade, clay
– 1/4 cup finely ground almonds
– 1/8 cup lavender
– 1/8 cup roses or chamomile

Grind the individual ingredients in a coffee or nut grinder – mix together with clay.  Store dry.  Moisten a small amount of exfoliant in the palm of your hand, apply to face and energetically but gently rub over face and neck. Rinse. 

Avocado Carrot Cream Mask

This mask combines avocados, which are rich in Vitamin E, with carrots, which are high in beta-carotene and antioxidants, and cream, which is high in calcium and protein.  These ingredients will rebuild skin collagen, improve tone and texture, and fade age spots.

– 1 avocado, mashed
– 1 carrot, cooked and mashed
– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 1 egg, beaten
– 3 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  Spread gently over your face and neck, and leave in place 10-15 minutes.  Rinse with cool water and follow with your favorite toner.

Spa Index Lavender Hand and Foot Wash

Use this wash to relieve red and inflamed hands and feet

– 1/2 cup dried lavender flowers
– 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage
– 2 cups of water
– 8 drops of lavender oil

In a saucepan, combine lavender flowers, sage and water. Simmer, covered, on low heat for 20 minutes. Strain mixture through cheesecloth and let cool. Discard the solids, retain the liquid. Add Lavender Oil, shake to emulsify, and then apply to hands and feet with a soft wash cloth or cotton pads. Repeat as necessary, or desired.

Herbal Spa Wrap

– 1 cup corn oil
– 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
– 1 tsp. dried thyme

Combine ingredients and massage into skin, wrap arm with towel to lock in body heat. Lay a heating pad over areas for five minutes at a time.

Rosemary Salt Bath

– 1/4 cup fresh rosemary
– Cheesecloth
– String
– 1 cup Epsom salts
Put rosemary in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with a length of string. Add Epsom salts and the rosemary pouch to warm bath water climb in, and soak.  After bath apply body lotion to damp skin.
Simple Mint Cleanser

– 2 1/4 cups whole milk
– 4 tablespoons fresh mint (any kind), washed and dried
Blend milk and mint in a blender or food processor.  Leave it to infuse in refrigerator for twelve hours.  Soak a washcloth or loofah in the cleanser and rub it over your skin instead of soap.  It’s particularly good for delicate skin.  Store remaining cleanser in refrigerator.

Household Cleaner Recipes from The Health and Environment Awareness Project, The McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women, Breast Cancer Action Montreal
Measurements for the following cleaner recipes need not be exact. (Note: usually a clear, unscented liquid, vegetable liquid soap is available at most health food stores).
Mirrors and Windows

– 5ml (1/3 tsp) vegetable liquid soap (optional)
– 45ml (3 tbs) white vinegar
– 500ml (2 cups) water

Mix in spray bottle. Use newspaper or a cotton rag to clean. Or use pure white vinegar and newspaper to clean windows
Disinfectant Spray

In a spray bottle combine:
– 90ml (3 tbsp) vegetable liquid soap
– 30-drops tea tree essential oil

Fill spray bottle with water
All Purpose Paste Cleaner

(This recipe must be completed in the order presented here, essential oil optional)
– 500ml (2 cups) baking soda
– 125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable based soap

Mix into a paste, then add:
– 60 ml (2tbsp) water
– 60ml (2 tbsp) white vinegar
– Mix into paste
– Add 10-20 drops of your choice essential oil (Tea Tree oil for disinfectant cleaner)
All Purpose Scented Scouring Cleaner

This recipe is an excellent replacement for powder scouring cleaners like Comet or Ajax.

– Baking Soda
– Essential Oil of your choice
– Fill a parmesan cheese shaker or sealable cup-shaped plastic container with baking soda. Add 5-10 drops of an essential oil of your choice. Mix.
Floor and Wall Cleaner

– 60ml (1/4 cup) white vinegar
– 4l (1 gallon) warm water
– Mix in bucket
– Use mop or sponge
Silver Polish

– Bowl
– Aluminum Foil
– Baking Soda
– Warm Water

Place aluminum foil at the bottom of a bowl.  Fill with warm water. Place silver in water, sprinkle with baking soda. Allow to sit for about 1 hour.
Alternate Silver Polish

For small items, rub cream toothpaste into polish with finger or cloth. For bigger pieces, use baking soda and a clean, damp sponge. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Rub the paste into the silver with cloth. Rinse with hot water and polish dry with a soft, clean cloth. For badly tarnished silver, leave the baking soda paste on the silver for an hour or so, before cleaning off with the help of the sponge and hot water.

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Talk about spending dumb—gentlemen, stop the insanity by saying no to the multiple-blade shave.

SPEND SMART | George Giannakos is 24 years old and has been shaving with a safety razor for almost five years. He learned how to shave using a multiple-blade system, but when his dad brought home a steel safety razor with a single, double-edge blade, the very one pictured here, and began using it routinely, it wasn’t long before George and two of his three brothers slipped into the groove. Now, five years on, two of the initial three and their father continue to shave with safety razors and see no advantage in returning to a multi-blade world gone mad.

What’s So Great About The Safety Razor?

Not only is shaving with a safety razor way, way less expensive than using a multiple-blade system, it’s an equally bona fide way to shave. Quick history lesson: According to Wikipedia, the multi-blade system was devised by Gillette (and competitors) as a way to distinguish themselves in the marketplace (the double-edge blade is a generic, ubiquitous design) and to brand their own unique blade systems. Gillette’s two-blade Trac II disposable cartridge razor introduced in 1971 unleashed the blade wars that continue today. (In an interesting aside, King Gillette, the company founder, is considered by many to be the father of freebie marketing. During WWI, he gave soldiers free safety razors with the world’s first disposable double-edge blades to get them hooked on a throw-away product. It worked.)

Multi-blade shaving is funny when you think about it, says Robert Graham, co-owner of Momentum Grooming, where Giannakos purchased his safety razor. “How can five blades dragged across your face be good for your skin?” Graham says there’s no hard evidence that more blades do a better job than one blade can do. “It’s all about marketing, really.”

Momentum sells everything you need for an old school shave: safety razors ($38 to $92), stainless-steel blades ($8 for a pack of 10 German blades—that’s five to seven shaves per blade), badger brushes (that along with hard soaps create the “Santa Claus lather” you see in movies) and alcohol-free, plant-based shaving creams and gels that hydrate and slick the skin for just pennies a shave.

Some guys are reluctant to try a safety razor because they assume they’ll get more nicks, cuts and razor burn if they use one, and that shaving will take more time. “You’re not going to cut yourself any more than you would with a multi-blade razor,” says Graham, “and the learning curve is about two shaves. If it currently takes you five minutes to shave, you might add two minutes to that time initially. After that, it’s business as usual.”

Giannakos loves the ritual of shaving with a safety razor (he’s so hardcore he’s now learning to use a straight blade), using the badger brush to make big lather that feels “like a cloud” on his face. “Razors are a classic case of bigger not being better,” he says, “What was wrong with three blades, or two? Hey, what was wrong with one?” —C. Rule

In Vancouver, Momentum Grooming is located 1237 Burrard Street, 604-689-4636; check out their products and services at www.momentumgrooming.com

Source Frugalbits!

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When it comes to certain kinds of cleaning jobs, distilled white vinegar really is the liquid miracle it’s touted to be.

What is it about ordinary distilled white vinegar that encourages list making? Google “vinegar” and you’ll see what I mean. Here are a few of the crazy numbers vinegar lovers throw around in their effort to woo you to their website:  “74 Little Known Uses For Vinegar,” “1001 Things To Do With Vinegar” and, I kid you not, “A Billion Bitchen Things To Do With Vinegar.”

These kinds of hysterical pronouncements give vinegar a bad name. There’s no way I feel encouraged to try a product that can serve a billion purposes, particularly when almost all of these claims are little more than a few sentences that are part of a list.

As the numbers climb higher, every claim about vinegar starts to feel like a joke. Give me one “researched and proven” reason to use this product, and I will turn right back around (thanks, Tracy Chapman). Turns out I didn’t have to look very far to find three.

3 Shockingly Awesome Things Vinegar Can Do For You

Make The Interior Of Your Microwave Look New
I’d been using chemical-laden Vim (my all purpose cleaning agent of choice) to clean the inside of my microwave,and was not feeling good about it even though it did a decent job. I’d read that distilled white vinegar was more effective for this task, and now that I’ve tried it, I know it’s true.

Here’s what I do: Mix half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl and bring this mixture to a rolling boil inside the microwave (about four minutes—when you open the door, liquid should be dripping down from the top). Then use a sponge (with both rough and smooth sides) to wipe out the gunk without a huge amount of effort.

Remove Stains From Grout Around Shower Tiles
When my tile setter installed large, gleaming white tiles with white grout in the shower surround in our new bathroom, I asked him to recommend an effective grout cleaner that wasn’t laced with scary chemicals like I believed Tilex to be, and he brought me a grout eraser. It works pretty well if you use it consistently, but I don’t like the way its edges go round and require sharpening against a rough surface like cement. I wanted something that was even more effective and easier to use. When I tried distilled white vinegar, I was gobsmacked by how well it worked and how effortless it was to apply.

Here’s what I do: Use distilled white vinegar at full strength, applying it repeatedly to the grout using an old toothbrush with relatively hard bristles. I don’t even rub very hard. If I hadn’t seen the results with my own eyes, I would not have believed that common vinegar could be this effective at removing stains from grout.

Eliminate Clothing Odours In The Wash
The first time I dumped vinegar into my washing machine along with laundry detergent, I was worried that my clothes would come out of the wash smelling like vinaigrette. That didn’t happen, and the odour (baby pooh residue on tiny jeans left in a plastic bag “to bake”) did not dissipate immediately, though it absolutely did after another two times—and two more cups of vinegar—through the wash.

Without question, distilled white vinegar in the wash can eliminate certain odours in clothing (stale smoke is a good one), though I haven’t found it to be super effective on body odour in workout gear. Maybe that’s because I don’t put vinegar in my wash routinely but wait until I have a particular odour I want to eliminate. Maybe a preemptive vinegar strike is what I need to resolve that.

Now that I’ve found three irrefutably  worthwhile ways to put vinegar to work around my house, I’m beginning to wonder about the legitimacy of a lot of those other claims.  If you’ve found an awesome and bona fide way to put distilled white vinegar to work, please tell us about it so we can start adding more legitimate numbers to our list.  —C. Rule

WARNING, WARNING: Never, under any circumstance, mix vinegar with chlorine bleach. The dangers are too great. When acids are mixed with bleach, chlorine gas is given off. This is quite toxic and can be a considerable health risk. If you are thinking about mixing vinegar with another cleaning agent, please read the label on that product to make sure it does not contain bleach.

Source Frugalbits

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Green Schools

 This program is easy and exciting for kids to run!

And it does not involve new curriculum. Your school is probably already very active in taking environmental action. The Green School program provides recognition and focus to that effort. Build a strong school image in the community. Materials such as certificates, the trophy and the banner can be presented in special ceremonies involving local dignitaries and the media.

This program encourages students to be environmentally responsible and to take personal action at school and with their families. Classes undertake projects to communicate about or to enhance the environment. Classes then log their project results and report them to SEEDS. By keeping records of their achievements, schools gradually work towards 100 projects to become recognized as an environmental Green School. Some schools go on to achieve Jade status (250), Emerald status (500) and ultimately Earth School with 1,000 completed projects. There are 246 Earth Schools in Canada.


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