The Power of Blogging and Social Networks

Many people lament the rise of social networks. Critics will say that people stop having face-to-face contact with each other and instead we all sit in front of our computer screens, sometimes pretending to something we are not. However, I think many people are now using social networks and blogging to make connections with new people. These connections can become powerful, positive forces in our lives. My experiences with blogging and social networks have been amazing. I have met new people and had new experiences as a result of my involvement.

Take this week we have Wandering Coyote visiting. We have reading and commenting on each other’s blogs for quite some time. We ended up bonding over our mutual disgust of the ‘Our Green Year’ bloggers. We exchanged emails and discovered we had a lot in common. We had been talking about how nice it would be to get together. So when the idea for this trip came we both agreed that she would stay with us. It has been fabulous! We all got along so well right from the beginning. It was like we have known each other for years!

Published in: on March 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm  Comments (8)  
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Puck Flastic

I got the most amazing gift from a friend. It is a ceramic cup, with a silicone lid and it says ‘puck flastic.’ I loved it! It will go and sit proudly on my desk as of next week. Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time know that I have been working towards improving my personal relationship to the planet. Some of the ideas I think have been fabulous others though, I have thought to be a sham.[1] Regardless, I have started to engage with how horrific I am in terms of recycling and other environmental issues.

We are now recycling more at home. As time goes on, I keep trying to divert some from the garbage to the recycling. It is working. Our recycling is way up and the garbage is decreasing. Our ‘zero food waste’ program is working really well. We are not throwing food out and/or wasting it.

Then there is plastic. Saying that plastic is ubiquitous is like saying rain is wet. When you start to take stock of the amount of plastic we consume on a daily basis it is staggering.[2] Instead of looking at national or international numbers, just look at your kitchen. If examining the whole kitchen is too overwhelming, then just look at your refrigerator. Most of the condiments are now in plastic bottles. Meat is wrapped in plastic, deli meats come in little plastic Ziploc bags.  What was wrong with wax-lined butcher paper?

How long do we use things? Not very long is the answer. They are meant to be disposable and like good little consumers we dispose of them, one way or another. Even if we recycle the plastic, how much energy is used in this process? The thing about plastic is that it is forever. It does not break down in landfills and there is really nothing that can be done with it once it is made.

What have I done about this? Well, not much yet. I am trying to re-use things like Ziploc bags. I am trying to make sure all plastic goes into the recycling bin. I am looking for alternatives to products in plastic. I carry water in my car with me so that I will never, ever have to buy a bottle of water.

I am curious what some of you are doing about recycling and plastic. What are your thoughts? What changes have you made?


[1] Check back on the ‘Our Green Year’ series of blog posts. There are several posts in the category. Here is the link.

[2] I am not going to bother to pull stats to try to illustrate the problem. If you want them they are everywhere on the internet.

Published in: on January 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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The “Our Green Year” Twits*

It has been a while since I have felt compelled to blog about Craig and Layla Baird, the authors of the “Our Green Year” blog. They finished their ‘green year’ back in April and since then most of their posts centre around them receiving media attention or blogging about green solutions that require a great deal of resources.

My main beef with this blog has always been the assumption of privilege. In the beginning almost all of their green ‘tips’ were only possible because they worked from home. You can read about these ‘tips’ in other entries (see below). When I challenged Craig on this observation (and others as well, he took offence). When you work from home, in a rural area and you don’t have to commute you have a lot more time to do ‘green’ things. Many of the things they suggested also took a very ableist tone.  Early on there was a post about how healthy it was (not to mention good exercise) to mow one’s law with a push mower. I got seriously annoyed when Craig pontificated about the benefits of manually breaking up ice and snow. Much of the blog took an elitist, ableist and privileged point of view.

Another major issue I had with this blog was the lack of critical thinking. At one point, Craig and Layla decided to ban all things “Albertan” (see some of the entries below for more on this). They did this because of the Tar Sands. They were not quite sure how this would work as they had family in Alberta. Later on they made a big announcement about how they were now moving to Alberta and they commented (on the original entry, in red no less) that they were moving to Alberta and they thought it was a good thing because Alberta really needed to hear their message. I am sure that many ‘green’ Albertans must have taken offense to this self-aggrandizing statement. Now arrogance has been added to the mix.

At the end of their ‘green year’ they committed to posting once a week on their green activities. They have not really managed to meet their goal of posting weekly. One of their favourite things to blog about now is when they are ‘featured’ somewhere whether it be at a childrens’ event, being featured as part of the ’50 most influential people in Alberta, and a couple of weeks later announcing to us that they had been featured on Alberta Primetime on Access as being two of the most influential people in Alberta. Now it seems that most of their posts centre around other people realizing the wonder that is Craig and Layla Baird.

The only reason I can think of for them getting this kind of attention is that people are not really reading what they put together in their blog. Seriously folks, these people use coffee grounds to wash with, think nothing of peeing on ‘the ranch’, and banning places of which they are now considered ‘influential’ people.

Let’s not forget the whole reason for this enterprise – they plan to write a book. They also state loud and clear on their blog that they are happy to do speaking engagements. I guess when you are chasing the bucks, accountability can be sacrificed.

The last couple of posts have really annoyed me. I will be the first to admit that at times I can be petty. But as far as I am concerned if you are going to hold yourselves up as knowledgeable about everything ‘green’ one might expect that you actually have some knowledge. Craig recently posted an entry which was a video tour of his garden (boring) or at least it was until he referenced his many ‘species’ of pumpkins. I almost fell off my chair in fits of laughter.

On July 7, 2009 Craig posted, perhaps, his most privileged post to date. Entitled “A very Green Way to Mow the Lawn” it sports a picture of a beautiful horse eating the grass. I am not even sure where to start on this one. This post has very little relevance to your average person. How many of us could afford to have the land required and the horse to put on it to mow the lawn in this manner? Is it even green to keep livestock like cows and horses? They consume a great deal of food and produce a lot of manure and methane gas. They can only forage (mow the grass) for a short time every year. The rest of the year they must be kept in barns (no doubt heated barns as the Bairds live in Central Alberta) and they must be fed. How much energy and fossil fuels goes in to growing and transporting the feed for the Barid’s livestock?

This again raises my point about critical thinking. These two are incapable of analyzing what they are doing and seeing the consequences (sometimes the unintended consequences). If you are new to my blog, you may ask why I don’t ask them my questions directly. I used to post comments to their blog and ask questions, make remarks about ableism, pointed out how they were privileged and how they were also hypocritical. They eventually decided I was too ‘combative’ and they banned me from making comments.

One of their favourite arguments to throw at me was to say that at least they were doing green things and to question what I was doing. Quite the pathetic thing to say when you have nothing else to come back with. I am all for doing what we can to mitigate our damage to the planet while we are here. I have no need to list the things that I do or do not do. Suffice it to say, I work at it.

In my opinion, the Bairds are jumping on the green bandwagon (I hope it is being pulled by a green energy source). They accept everything they perceive to be a ‘green act’ at face value and they rarely (if ever) delve any deeper. I find this quite sad as they are squandering an opportunity to do something really good.

Other entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

*H/T to Wandering Coyote for the inspiration for the title.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 12:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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Wooden Buttons redux

I went to my favourite clothing store the other day and bought a blouse that had wooden buttons. So now the test will be to see if the wooden buttons break. I am still not convinced that plastic buttons break at all like Craig does from Our Green Year. I sure hope none of the buttons break because they did not supply a replacement. I will keep you all posted about the state of my buttons as I know some of you will be waiting with baited breath to hear what happens!

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Plastic Buttons

Ok, so apparently plastic buttons can break. Who knew? Well apparently Craig over at ‘Our Green Year‘ knew. Deb will get right on chopping down a tree and whittling herself a new button. Maybe she could just use one of the bigger pieces of hog fuel in the yard. I just hope she has all digits intact once she is done.

Published in: on April 25, 2009 at 10:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Greenwash – Part 3

I neglected yesterday to address Day 340 of the “Our Green Year” blog. This entry needs to singled out as a clusterfuck of all that is wrong with this blog. This blog post focuses on using natural remedies for some very serious medical conditions and problems. Even though Craig assures us that he and Layla are not doctors they feel no hesitation in recommending ‘natural’ cures to their readers.

So, let’s begin with the advice dispensing:

If you are feeling down, instead of taking anti-depressants, you can put a couple of drops of lavender oil on your temples. This can temporarily relieve anxieties and help calm you. Having lavender smells in your home or office will also help.

First of all, doctors do not prescribe anti-depressants for those ‘feeling a little bit down.’ Instead they are far more likely to suggest counseling, self-care and making some changes in one’s life to improve mood.1 If someone has severe enough depression that it requires anti-depressants then a little lavender oil on the temples is not going to help. Clearly neither Craig nor Layla or anyone close to them has suffered from depression or they would not write such drivel. As someone who has recently joined the ‘anti-depressant’ club as a result of chronic illness and anxiety I have to say that a little lavender oil would not have done anything for me. I only went on the anti-depressants when my anxiety and depression were almost debilitating. If counseling, self-care and making changes in my life didn’t work why would lavender oil? Moreover, the insinuation that people who are ‘a little bit down’ would take antidepressants is insulting. Mental health is a very complex and serious issue and not one to be taken lightly. Quite frankly, I was insulted by this post and I am sure many others were as well.

Continuing with the ‘mood’ theme:

Another tip for your mood is to buy 100 percent natural flower essences. What are those? Well they are flowers you grow outside with nothing but water and the sun. Flowers are a great way to add nice aromas and balance your mood.

Now everyone likes to get flowers. They smell nice and looking at them may make you feel a little happier especially if they come from someone special. I am at a loss as to what they could do for one’s mood pharmacologically speaking.

This one is great:

If you are having troubles with high blood pressure, try some nice herbal teas or use some dandelion tea.

I think if you have high blood pressure you need to be making dietary and exercise changes and taking medication if it is recommended by your doctor. I am not sure which herbal teas he would be referring to but I think if you drank any tea that had any affect on your blood pressure and you were taking medication, you may lower it to dangerous levels. This piece of advise is dangerous. Please, consult your doctor before you take any herbal remedies to deal with high blood pressure.

More condescension in this little exercept:

If you have trouble with diabetes, asthma or any number of conditions, you can contact a herbalist and see what options are available to you. Make sure you choose someone who has credentials and training with herbs and you should be able to get some very beneficial herbs.

I am sorry but people don’t ‘have trouble with asthma or diabetes’ they have them. End of conversation. Quite frankly as one who has asthma I would not give up my inhalers for any herbal remedy. If I am having an asthma attack I need to fix it, now! People with diabetes risk losing limbs, their sight and kidney function if their disease is not managed. I am not sure what a ‘herbalist’ can do for these conditions but I would bet they are far better treated by a medical doctor.

Craig ends this post stating:

So, unless it is a severe medical issue that only a doctor can help with, we will be using natural remedies for minor things like colds, flus, aches, pains, headaches and more.

Given that he has addressed severe medical issues like depression, diabetes and high blood pressure as diseases that can be treated with natural remedies I wonder what he would consider a serious disease?

1 I am also pretty sure they are not going to recommend lavender oil. Just my thoughts but hey, I am not a doctor.

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 10:46 am  Comments (9)  
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Ha, ha, ha – Snow on April 1

Well, sadly, it is not an April fool’s joke – it is for real: we have snow this morning!!!

Now that I am mostly over the plague, I will be back to blogging next week when I am on holidays! The Our Green Year people have been very busy…

One other good note: Tucker is much improved. Expect a full update soon!

Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 8:56 am  Comments (1)  
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The ‘Greenwash’

Back in December, I think, I was basically told that I was no longer welcome to comment on the “Our Green Year” blog. It seems that they did not like my comments and questioning of what they determined to be ‘green’ acts. They felt I was negative. My goal was to engage in some critical thinking around some of their supposed ‘green’ acts, ask questions and seek clarification. Apparently this was too much for them. In my opinion, I think this is lazy blogging. Part of the reason people allow comments on their blogs is so that readers can engage in a discussion about an issue. Comments give the blogger the chance to think about their points from a different perspective and to clarify their beliefs. Getting rid of the ‘challenging’ readers only demonstrates, to me anyway, that the blogger is lazy and is not interested in engaging in further discussion. If you only put comments up that show everyone agreeing with you or if you ban difficult commenters your blog lacks validity. I still read the blog but I have not been able to comment so I feel I must do so now before my head explodes.

I do not have a vendetta against Craig and Layla Baird. I believe that they believe they are trying to do something good. The green movement is like any other bandwagon issue that has come along. Everyone jumps on, proclaims they are good for doing it and everyone who asks questions or criticizes the movement is the enemy. The bandwagon effect turns people, who can normally think critically, into the slavish masses for the issue. In fact several times the only arguement they could come up with was to tell me that what they were doing was really hard and that I should do it too, which completely misses the point.

So, let’s begin:

Here is the latest post on being green while staying in a hotel:

Sometimes we all need to travel, and when we travel we usually stay in hotels, motels, or inns. In hotels, we use towels and they are washed after one use (although not in all hotels), we sleep once in beds and the linens are cleaned, and generally the overall process is quite wasteful. That is not even considering those little shampoos, soaps and more that are individually wrapped. As well, glasses are wrapped individually in plastic.

This is a big waste.

As a result, when Layla and I have to travel and stay in a hotel, we will not only bring our own towels, but we will bring our own toiletries. This way, we do not use what the hotel provides, we do not waste plastic, and we use what we already have and which is environmentally friendly because we try and buy only green toiletries.

First off, they ignore (or are ignorant) of the fact that many hotels have implemented ‘greener’ practices when it comes to doing laundry. Every hotel I have stayed at for many years gives you the opportunity to not have fresh towels every day. Then there is the fact that they are now going to lug their towels and toiletries to the hotel. Now, if they are flying or driving they are going to be increasing the weight of their luggage – thereby increasing the amount of jet fuel required to get them to their destination. Then they are going to take home the wet towels. To what purpose? Again there will be increases in fuel required to get their baggage home with wet towels. Why not just pick a green hotel, recycle the little plastic bottles and use your towels more than once if you are staying longer than a night?

Another major issue I have with this blog is their engagement in slacktivism as a way of going green. This entry sums it up nicely:

Over the course of Our Green Year, we have signed several petitions. We have signed petitions to stop the seal hunt, save animals and today, to save tiger habitats.

Tigers are one of the most endangered species on the planet, but they are also one of the most recognizable. It is feasible that within the next few decades, we could see the complete loss of this amazing animal due to habitat destruction. This would be a huge loss for our planet.

In Sumatra, only 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild. Once they are gone, that is it. This is due to illegal logging that is destroying their habitat, and the practice of clearing forest for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. In the past 22 years alone, 50 percent of the forests in Sumatra have been lost.

So, to help stop the logging of tiger habitats, we are signing the petition to do something about it (we hope).

You can do the same at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/275606122

They have signed many petitions on the internet to save everything. What good does this do? Petitions in general are not all that effective. But at least petitions that are signed, by someone going door to door, at least have some validity and can be used in the political process. Seriously, what good do they honestly think they can do by signing a petition in Canada to save Tiger habitat in Sumatra? I am sure there are many things contributing to the loss of habitat for all sorts of species all over the world. It is not simply a matter of the people living their not knowing what they are doing. Likely, they are trying to eke out a living. This one in particular interests me. My favourite coffee at the moment is Starbucks Sumatra. If some information had been presented about habitat destruction being linked to coffee consumption, ‘my coffee consumption’ in particular, I would feel compelled to research it and if the evidence was compelling change my consumer habits. They missed a big opportunity here.

All of their homemade ‘green’ toiletries’ have truly made me laugh! Here is a recent one:

Way way way way back near the beginning of Our Green Year, man it seems so long ago, we made a sugar scrub as a way of making our own type of body wash that can be used in the shower.
Today, we are going green with another body scrub, and this one is one I like. For me, nothing beats the smell of coffee in the morning, I love to drink it but I have never thought of using it in a body scrub. Turns out, you can and it is good for the environment because you are recycling the grounds.

Typically, we compost coffee grounds, but on occasion we are going to try making a coffee grounds body scrub. It is quite easy to do.

All you need is five teaspoons of ground coffee that has been used (recycling!), one teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of essential oil. Mix it all together and when you are in the shower, put it on with a circular motion. Leave it on for five minutes and then rinse it off. By putting a catch int he drain, you can then get the coffee grounds and compost them afterwards!

Not much more to say!

I loved this post because it is clear that it has not been investigated very well:

At the ranch, we have a fire pit in the front yard where we can sit and relax during the summer evenings. Well, this summer that fire pit is going to serve another purpose beyond just providing us heat. We will be cooking on it.

Layla and I love to go backpacking, and when you backpack, you have to cook your meals on a fire. There is nothing like it and we decided that this year, we will cook more food on the fire and less in the kitchen.

There are a lot of trees in the area, and some have fallen down. As a result, we will be using that wood (as long as it is not serving as a habitat for something) for our firewood. We are also getting our firewood from a sustainable source. Then we can cook our food over the fire, rather than in the kitchen on the stove.

It is not perfect, but it is just another solution that we can use to go green in our cooking, no different than how we use the fireplace inside to heat the house up so we don’t use the furnace as much.

Burning wood spews pollution into the air. I have recently read about some small towns in the north where they have pollution and smog days due to wood burning stoves. How can think it is more environmentally friendly to light a fire outside and cook over it? It is fun and enjoyable but not green. It is far more green to use electricity produced by hydro-electric damns than to burn wood and add particulate matter to the atmosphere.

This next post is hysterical and obviously written by a man:

Well, the next one is about going to the bathroom, but it is going to the bathroom outside. Now, this is only for ‘number one’ and not all the time (it gets to -40 here…..). However, by going outside to pee on occasion, there is less in the toilet and that means less flushes.

We are on a ranch, with no neighbors around, plus lots of trees so there are no chances of someone coming across me in the middle of my business.

Sure this is an odd one to do, and an unconventional green tip, but going green involves a lot of things, some of which we don’t always think about.

So, for me at least, when I am outside I will use nature as my bathroom to help conserve water in the indoor washroom

How the hell is it green to have untreated human waste going into the ground? They live on a ranch where animals graze. This makes no sense to me. Many countries in the developing world suffer greatly from being surrounded by untreated sewage. Why on earth would they want to turn their ranch into their bathroom. I am also pretty sure it is only the guys who would be doing this as it is so much more difficult for women.

Here is another rather lame post about visiting National Parks. I love how Craig spins it to make it seem green but he forgets a few things:

If there is one thing Layla and I enjoy doing, it is hiking and snowshoeing. There is something about being out in the wild, being a part of nature and listening to the sound of silence wafting through the trees. We love nature, hence the reason why we are trying to do our part to save it with Our Green Year.

Today, we are asking that if you want to do something to help nature, you can visit a national park. Here in Alberta, there are plenty of national parks and we are going to be visiting several of them this year (including on our proposed two week hike from Jasper to Banff this year!). The reason visiting a national park is green is that not only does it help you learn more about the nature that we all seem to be somewhat removed from, it is also because you pay money to be in the national park. That money then goes to help keep the national park going, helping it expand and helping to keep the animals (some of them endangered) safe in their national park home.

Recently, Layla and I, plus two of our friends went snowshoeing on a trail in Elk Island National Park. The money we pay helps that park, and by extension helps nature.

Visiting a National Park may be good for the soul but it does not do much for the park. Craig points out that you pay money to visit the park. Why do you pay money? Well, to clean up after all those visitors. People leave their garbage, they damage sensitive ecosystems and disturb animal habitat and migration patterns. Plus there is all that gas burned to get all those people to all those National Parks to pay money so it can all be cleaned up. Not so green after all when you think about it. If you are backpacking it is usually prohibited to build a fire. I know this from experience. We used to backpack 200 miles a summer when we were kids. My Dad always had his naptha stove and pointed out to us how to preserve the environment we were in, why we could not build fires and why we had to stay to the path.

I could keep going. So, stay tuned as I will focus the critical thinking lens on the ‘Our Green Year’ blog again. Plus I am sure you will all be able to buy the book they intend to publish. I have also wondered what happened to the “Our Green Year Journal” which has not been updated for a long time. I felt this was an integral companion to the blog as it discussed how they were implementing their new found green ways.

In the meantime if you would like a great green blog to read I recommend “A little Greener Every Day.” Robin Shreeves gives practical tips, with solid reasoning behind them. She is also honest about how difficult it can be to choose to go green.

Pet Peeve: Control Freak Bloggers

I keep running across (or into, as the case may be) with bloggers who heavily censor or don’t post comments. I posted before about a blog I was banned from because of comments posted that did not agree with what the author had to say. Another blog I read, Our Green Year,  which chronicles the journey of Craig and Layla Baird as they undergo a personal green tranformation. They have started a companion blog called the Our Green Year Journal where they catalogue the green things they do on a daily basis. They are not allowing comments on this blog as they state it is only a ‘journal (look towards the end of the entry).’

This makes no sense to me. The point of this blog and I assume the accompanying journal is to educate and to provide an example of all the green things they do everyday. I began to notice some inconsistencies between what they say they do on the main blog and what they list they do on the journal. The first major thing I noticed was the reference to chicken, turkey and ham deli meats when they said that they if they were eating meat it was bison. So, I asked the question about the deli meat and questioned how green it was and if they thought it was sustainable. Instead of posting my question they just added it on, in red, at the bottom of the post. It does not matter that, according to Layla, they are only using these ‘deli’ meats to ‘supplement’ their diet. The bottom line is they said they were only eating bison. Besides assuring me that the deli meat is organic they did not address the question of sustainability.

I also have other questions. For example they say that they are going to reuse everything before they recycle it. Yet in their journal posts they just talk about recycling packaging materials. They also talk about bringing plastic containers for things like take out – why don’t they do this for their deli meat that they have wrapped in paper? On Day 39 they talk about reusing items that can be recycled first. Yet almost every entry on the Journal says ‘packaging materials recycled.’ Where is the reusing? On Day 49 they talk about re-using receipts before recycling them yet the Journal does not indicate this activity either.

The burning question I was really hoping the journal would answer is how they find time to do all of the ‘green’ things they have stated they have incorporated into their lifestyle – here is a list of only some of the things that have yet to show up on the Journal:

Day 7: They volunteered with the Green Party. With a Federal Election underway the Journal has not reflected this activity.
Day 11: Layla started to make tin can pen jars to sell through the blog. Has she made any since the Journal started?
Day 21: Apparently the Bairds receive lots of books in the mail and need to recycle (or in their case, re-use first) a lot of packaging material. The Journal has not been up for that long so perhaps they have not received any books or reused any packing material.
Day 23: The Bairds commit to mowing the lawn with a manual push mower. Perhaps their lawn does not need to be mowed even though it is still quite warm.
Day 26: Craig and Layla commit to 5-minute showers with an egg timer! They dutifully record their showering times on the Journal (although, I have to secretly wonder if one of them ever cheats and takes a 6.3 minute shower, but I digress…). They also commit to catching the water that is run before the temperature is correct in a bucket and using it to water the garden. This activity is not recorded. What are they going to do with that extra water in the winter?
Day 27: Are the Bairds still drinking coffee the ‘green’ way?
Day 28: and what about that dandelion tea?
Day 29: composting inside – is this still happening?
Day 34: Saw the end of the dryer in the Baird household. Yet the journal does not indicate them hanging their clothes out to dry. Perhaps they haven’t done laundry yet as they were going to wear their clothes a little longer as they explain in a future blog.
Day 48: Have we been doing any container gardening in the house to clean the air inside?
Day 49: Perhaps the Bairds are not eating much bread. They committed to making their own on this day and this activity is not reflected in the Journal.
Day 56: are they still carrying around their portable bottle composters wherever they go?
Day 60: Craig posted about making their own soda pop. I guess they don’t drink that much as they have not made it yet according to the Journal.
Day 64: I guess you don’t use that much body wash if you only take a five-minute shower.
Day 69: How are they doing on the ‘one-bag’ challenge?
Day 72: I guess they don’t eat much yogurt either.
Day 82: One of my favourite days! I think the Bairds jumped the shark here…now they are going to wash their clothes by hand!!!! But they are having trouble finding a washboard. There has not been any laundry being done on the Journal. I guess they have a lot of clothes!
Day 85: Have they had the scythe out lately? Or maybe the grass and weeds don’t grow.
Day 90: Craig and Layla are now collecting the morning dew!!! Are they doing this every day? You sure can’t tell from the Journal.
Day 100: For people who claim not to eat much meat, almost every entry into the journal sees them buying some sort of meat. None of it was bison.
Day 114: Another post on how little meat they eat. Personally, I don’t care if you want to eat meat. However, when you say you are not eating much meat because of its impact on the environment and then eat meat almost every day there is a bit of a credibility gap. The claim to be almost vegan yet they buy locally sourced eggs and organic cream for butter. Why the disconnect?
Day 122: Eating cold food and another reference to deli meat.
Day 129: Having given up potato chips on another day, the Bairds are now making their own pita chips.

Now, here is my question, with all those ‘green’ tasks they have undertaken when do they find time to work or sleep? I am not sure what their goal is besides writing a book. It is certainly not education as evidenced by their refusal to publish reader comments and questions on the Journal blog. I have also posted similar questions to the main blog and they have not been posted either.

I began reading the Our Green Year blog as a way to learn about some things we could possibly do in our house to reduce our impact on the environment. Many green blogs out there are great. They talk realistically about the challenges and pitfalls of going and staying green. It is a shame that the Our Green Blog and the Our Green Year Journal do not fall into this category.

Green

Like most people, I have been reading a fair bit lately about how to become more environmentally conscious. Personally, I think peak oil is going to have a far greater effect on how we live and consume resources than any environment campaign. We can talk all we want about reducing emissions, plastic bags in landfills etc but until it hits us in our wallets we are not going to pay enough attention to make any substantive changes.

I have been reading a couple of green blogs on a daily basis to try and make some changes in our house. We have been using CFL bulbs for a long time and my latest project is to always try and remember to bring the cloth grocery bags. We are batting about 80% right now which is way better than it was for sure. One blog I read is called Our Green Year. At first I really enjoyed this blog. But now it is just getting funny. The things that Craig and Layla are doing, for the sake of the environment, are getting a little ridiculous. Everyday there is a new post and they almost always have the line: “Layla and I _____ (fill in the blank with environmentally pure behaviour).

Here are some examples of things that Craig and Layla have committed to doing:

Day 2: They joined the Green Party
Day 4: The started to store snow.
Day 9: they made milk jug flower pots
Day 14: Sees Craig and Layla washing their windows with socks and vinegar.
Day 17: Now we are getting a solar bbq
Day 26: they began to limit their showers to 5 minutes.
Day 32: they are now bringing their own takeout containers to restaurants.
Day 34: Sees the Bairds giving up their dryer.
Day 45: The Bairds tackle the pesky problem of those paper receipts you get in your cloth bags.
Day 49: Now, they are baking their own bread.
Day 49: The Bairds discover recyclable pens (can you contain your excitement??). Here is a quote from the blog entry for that day: “They are made from corn, and are completely environmentally friendly, so this is big for Layla and I because now we can make notes on our recycled paper with biodegradable pens and be completely net-zero in our writing lives.”
Day 57: Getting rid of pop cans and making their own soda!
Day 58: The Bairds are now making their own butter.
Day 75: Craig and Layla commit to only using one tank of gas per month.
Day 80: They start the global warming diet.
Day 82: Now the Bairds are going to wash their clothes by hand. But, go figure, they are having trouble locating a washboard.
Day 86: In an effort to conserve paper, the Bairds commit to: “We will write small on our paper pads and we will use both sides.”
Day 92: Craig and Layla are now going to collect the water that is run in the shower while getting the temperature correct. They will use this to water their gardens.
Day 96: My favourite day! On this day, the Bairds commit to trying to reduce their possessions to one hundred items. I tried to have a discussion with them about how one would do this (see the comments for that day) but I did not get very far. And, yes, for the record I was freaked out by that thought. We have multiple dogs, dog stuff alone would add up to 100 items: bowls, leashes, collars, brushes, combs etc.
Day 98: Crafting with old cds!
Day 115: Craig and Layla have a new toilet rule. Check it out to see.
Day 122: The Bairds commit to learning to like cold food to save energy.
Day 136: Craig and Layla have assured us that should they feel the need to buy jewelry it will be second hand jewelry.

Honestly, I don’t know how they can manage to do all of this and they are only at Day 138. I mean, seriously, when do they find time to sleep between making their own bread and butter, washing and drying their clothes by hand and sourcing second hand jewelry?

All of this has led Deb to take a fearless inventory of how we could do better on the environmental front:

Christine and I have decided to reduce our Carbon Handprints (anyone can reduce a footprint, it’s so passé).

From now on we’ll be going to the ocean when we need salt. We’ll boil seawater over an open fire in the back yard.

We are going to connect a treadmill to a generator to create electrical power. We will use dog power on the treadmill, hanging a bone from the handle and putting a bowl of water just out of reach.

Our guests will be directed to the closest Gas Station should they need to make use of washroom facilities. Christine and I will train our bladders to fill completely before requiring emptying.

In order to save trees, Christine and I will only purchase one book at a time, which we will both read at the same time. Our bookmarks will be made out of tree bark indigenous to the area.

Again, in order to save trees, we will suspend our subscription to our daily newspapers, and steal those of our neighbor.

In order to save on fossil fuel purchases, we will learn to siphon.

In the winter months, should we have snow, we will assemble our dogs into a sled team, with Clio and Mollie in the lead positions. We will travel only in large clockwise circles.

We will decrease our dependency upon processed food by making our own bread, and baking it in an outdoor brick oven, made with bricks from our neighbors’ deck.

Christine and I will reduce our dependence on ink by filling her fountain pen with the blood we drain from the body of the next Terasen Gas goon that knocks on our door to sell us utilities we already have.

We will recycle by collecting, carding and using all the dog hair in our home to knit an extra blanket to give to Craig and Layla for those nights that they turn their furnace way down.

We will lessen our trips to the Landfill by keeping only one filled garbage bag per week in our bear-resistant container, and adding one bag per house on our street for private pick-up.

Published in: on September 6, 2008 at 8:46 pm  Comments (5)