Posts filed under ‘green’

Girl Stuff

Any guys out there? Er… Move along now! Nothing to see here… Don’t say you have not been warned. Continue at YOUR OWN RISK!!!

Anyway… Girls (I hope!). This is  a Diva Cup… Although I suspect that the only people who read this blog already know that, and are way ahead of me on this, but in case you don’t… This here is a pretty accurate depiction of a Diva Cup. If you still don’t know what it is or what it’s Diva cupfor, you can click on this link and learn all about it. Clue: it’s not kitchenware.

Fellow blogger Crunchy Chicken is hosting a neat little Diva Cup Challange over at her blog, with prizes and all, how cool is that. The challenge consists of trying the cup for 3 months and, hopefully, swear off disposables for life. I realized now I screwed up promoting it, it was only possible to sign up until April 30. Oops.

I ordered mine from here at a really discounted price, and received it yesterday. Just it time to try it out before my time of the month is over. How is it? It’s GREAT!!! I was kind of skeptical at first, how could you NOT feel that, it’s huuuge! But I guess the Diva worshipers out there were right… It IS the greatest thing since the wheel. Really.

TMI follows, look away NOW! I have to say, at first the stem was bothering me but then I trimmed it and now it’s perfect. Don’t even know it’s there. And I am still having a little trouble getting it in and out but I know I will get better with practice… OK, TMI over.

Now that I tried it, here is why I think it is countless times better than tampons and pads:

  1. It’s I-can’t-feel-it comfortable
  2. It’s so much cheaper. By my calculations, it should have paid for itself after six months.
  3. The knowledge that I am never throwing away another crappy disposable is priceless.

So if you are still reading this,I hope I didn’t totally gross you out (too much). GO order it NOW! Really… you will not regret it. And if by chance you are a morbidly curious guy still reading this, you can take the opportunity to inform your Woman (or surprise her :D).

Ok… this was the most embarrassing post I’ve written so far. The end.

Photo from Lunapads.

May 4, 2007 at 7:49 pm 20 comments

Refined tastes

 rice

I have been talking a lot about eating organic and eating local, and eating less meat.  Continuing on the subject of reducing the environmental impact of food, I want to talk about another aspect that has recently been on my mind – refined foods. I am, especially, referring to flour, bread, rice and sugar.

Refining grains, including rice and wheat, consists in the mechanic removal of the germ and the bran, leaving only the endosperm, the starch. As such, refined grains not only loose 90% of their nutritional value and fiber, they also consume a considerably larger amount of energy to produce than whole grains. If this was not bad enough, there is more. White rice grains are polished with glucose, starch or talc (which has been linked to stomach cancer and is still used in some countries), making it nice and shiny.

White flower, in turn, is only white because it’s bleached with ” potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide  or chlorine dioxide gas. Potassium bromate is also known as Bromic Acid or Potassium Salt. It’s an oxidizing agent, can be fatal if swallowed, is harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may also cause kidney damage. Benzoyl peroxide is another irritant that can kill animals, birds, or fish, and cause death or low growth rate in plants. Chlorine Dioxide is also a pesticide and even though it breaks down very quickly, it is ranked in the USA as one of the compounds most hazardous to the environment.”[green living tips].

And that’s not the end of the story. Since all nutrients have been removed from the refined product, these are then often added back as synthetic vitamins, with the associated impact of producing them industrially. To add to the creepiness factor, nutrients are often ‘sprayed’ into the bread mixture.

My beef with refined sugar comes from the way it’s made, which involves either adding sulphur dioxide or phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide, centrifuging and vaccum crystallizing. And brown sugar? I have been shamefully duped  into buying brown sugar, innocently believing that it was less refined than white sugar, and hence, better for the environment. But NO!!! Turns out, most of the brown sugar, including the one I have been buying, is actually produced by adding molasses/dye to … you guessed it…. refined white sugar! What a scam….

Now that I know the truth, I am know that, as a self-respecting  wannabe environmentalist, I have to take some drastic measures and pledging all refined things out of my life!

Rice grains by IRRI on Flickr.

April 27, 2007 at 1:59 pm 11 comments

Meat less!

entrecôte 

My name is Alina, I am a meat-aholic and it’s been 7 days since my last steak. Lori, sign me up for the support group. I mean, stock cubes don’t count, right? I know it may not sound like much, but for a couple of unrepentant meat lovers like ourselves, its a major accomplishment.

Before we started this blog we were eating meat at least once a day,  for dinner and with sandwiches… And for people aiming for sustainability like yours truly, that’s a big no-no.  

Recently we started buying our meat exclusively from the organic butcher, but even so, we were still getting bacon cubes and sandwich hams or pates and such at the supermarket. I still don’t know how Bryce ever agreed to this… He squirmed every time I mentioned ‘eating less meat for the environment’.  But then I also mentioned that eating less meat is healthier, and considering that most of his family is meat and dairy intolerant, he figured it was better to delay his mandatory vegan days for a few years…

And so, somehow, we managed to go a whole week without meat in any way, not even bacon (again, stock cubes don’t count, right? ). It took a lot of imagination just to figure out “What the hell are we gonna do for dinna??” It took a lot of effort not to eat lentils every day, but we did it!

This week we had a stew, with texturized soya protein instead of meat which was reasonable, didn’t miss the meat so much. We had potato hash browns with portobella mushrooms and roasted brie, which was pretty damn good. We had some lentils (doh). We had some veggie pasta with a nice organic kohlrabi salad. 

Less successful was our bean and rice dish from last night which failed miserably, by the time the beans were half-done I had already lost my appetite and was in ‘go to bed’ mode. But not all is lost, we are still going to eat them tonight, hopefully a couple more hours cooking and they should be done 😀 And yes, I did soak them… but only for the afternoon. I am still not very proficient in planning my meals more than a few hours ahead.entrecôte

I have to admit I still shy away from the soya products section… I don’t know what I did wrong but every time I tried to reach out to tofu, things never really worked out between us. Fortunately, Bryce seems to be more comfortable with it so I think we might try using tofu and the likes pretty soon.

All things considered, I would say it was a pretty successful week in terms of culinary prowess and meat-lessness. But I have to say… I am very much looking forward to treating myself to a yummy, juicy, organic entrecôte tomorrow, maybe followed by organic bacon and eggs on Sunday *droooooool*

Photo Courtesy of FotoosVanRobin on Flickr.

April 20, 2007 at 5:02 pm 8 comments

The environmental litter backlash

Disclaimer: This post contains reference to bodily functions… kitty bodily functions

So I put the eco-friendly litter pellets in the litter box, right? Cat should crap on the pellets business-as-usual, right? WRONG!!! Turns out cats are picky ‘goers’, which I should have known by now from that other time he pissed on my beautiful suede boots.

I don’t get whats the big deal with the wooden pellets but the fact is, from the moment I filled the litter box with the cat refused to go anywhere near it. Instead, the little bastard decides some old towel I once used to clean up after him is more ‘cosy’ to crap on… I guess there was some sense to that “mix with usual litter” recommendation. I thought I could outsmart the system, boy was I wrong… Fortunately that all took place in the balcony, and his crappings were very neatly arranged on the towel, so they were easy to clean up…

But of course, for some reason I decide that if I put his crappings in the litter box that would somehow persuade him to go in the litter box… Well, wrong again! In the end, this whole deal ended with an emergency supermarket run for regular litter, after the cat refused to piss or crap for a whole day…

As soon as we removed the pellets and replaced them with regular silica litter, the little kitten sprinted over there and finally did his business. Now I have a bag of wooden pellets sitting around and a cat who runs from them like from Mr. Hoover.I am still going to try the ‘increasingly mixing’ trick but I honestly don’t have much hope for it. That cat is one clever little rascal.  And this is why they say that hell is full of good intentions…

No pictures today… And I’m sure you guys apreaciate that 😀

Edit: The good thing about having an american boyfriend is that he points out that despite the fact that I keep hearing  ‘sway’, it is actually spelled “suede” 😀 Thanks, honey!

April 18, 2007 at 1:27 pm 6 comments

The Full Monty

After a couple of days of whining, I can finally write about something that is really really great. Today I made it, at last, to the only organic shop here in Wageningen. That place is AWESOME! I can’t believe it’s been so long since last time I went there… I lost myself in there like I was in Disneyland… They had EVERYTHING! And I mean, everything you could possible want or need to be a full-time hippie tree-hugger, even things you didn’t even imagine you could find here.

I can’t even begin to describe it. They have an huge variety of all kinds of green clening stuff, natural beauty products, beeswax candles, organic pet food, natural kitty litter, all kinds of organic grains, organic flower, organic bread and Co. organic dairy, organic meat, meat replacements, organic oils, organic wine, organic beer, organic coffee/tea, recycled paper products (yes, including toilet paper in an 8 pack), organic compost, organic pot soil, organic seeds, all kinds of veggies and so on and on and on.

Seriously, everything you could ever wish for in order to be green is there. What I liked especially about the fruit and veggies is that the price tags show right off the bet where the stuff comes from, and the selection of local dutch products is quite big. So if I wanted to be strict about localness, I could. But I don’t want to be so restrictive just yet.

And even more surprising for me is that prices there aren’t even so steep. It’s actually quite comparable to the supermarket in some cases, and especially, if you consider all the embarrassment that store saves you its a real bargain. Don’t have to ask “where does this come from”, don’t get weird looks when I hand them reused bags to put my shrooms in.

Today I just bought some meat-replacement soya stuff, some bulgur wheat and some organic apples. And that all came out pretty cheap consedering I saved 2 euros on sea salt. In the supermarket, half kilo of over-packaged sea salt is 1,5E and there I paid 0,95E for a kilo, and my favourite part is that it saves on packaging and is all natural from the Atlantic.

I think I’m going to do all mt shopping there from now on. I have solved my TP dilemma, my trash bag dilemma (they have corn trash bags that are the right size) and my organic/local/cheap dilemma. Hoorray!

No photo this time… but I’ll post one soon after next time I go there.

April 12, 2007 at 12:01 am 3 comments

Declaration of Principles

Now that sustainability experiments are sprawling at nearly every virtual corner, why not have a go as well? Maybe the originality factor is long gone by now, but hey, the less CO2 the merrier.

Here we set out to live as sustainably as possible, on a measly student budget. So keeping things sensible and economical is the key. We are just a couple of plain, lazy and cheap environment students. We are not about to go to any extremes like giving up toilet paper or olive oil… or TV. Maybe if I had a book deal I would too…

The reasoning behind this experiment is that, a lot of times, reducing your consumption of random useless stuff, together with your consumption of resources is not only better for the environment, it is also better for your wallet. And if we want to have more money to spend on organic, local and fair trade, we can. It is just a matter of redistribution. Save on your bills, buy better food.

The rules we will be following throughout this ordeal:

  1. Reduce our consumption of resources as much as we can (energy, water, etc.)
  2. Reduce our consumption, period. Buy less stuff, produce less waste.
  3. Quantify! Have a true sense of how much waste we are avoiding, how much resources we are sparing, how much money we are avoiding.
  4. Conscious environmental choices. To determine when we should buy local or organic, or both, case by case, in our situation.
  5. Replace eco-nasty products for eco-friendly ones as needed. I decided I’m not going to create more waste by not using what I already have.

Now that the rules are down and we know where we stand, I will make The List of all my environmental bad deeds, and start working on my Environmental Karma.

April 2, 2007 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Mission Statement

2002 was an important year. I was choosing a university and a study program, my choices governed largely by teenage idealism and the desires of changing the world and making a difference. I managed to shake off the influence of ER in my career choice, and rationalized that saving the Environment was a worthier cause than saving individuals. So after careful pondering I decided to go for the provincial “farmer’s” university, and the most green sounding program name I could find, Environmental and Natural Resource Engineering.

However, it was when I decided to dedicate my life to Environment and Natural Resources, that my my enthusiasm waned, my idealism faded, and my environmentalist dreams were devastated. Whereas I had been a fierce recycler up to then, my newly acquired knowledge threatened my most rooted greenist beliefs. It was then I discovered that all those carefully washed and recycled yogurt packages were thoroughly picked out and discarded at the sorting stations. I was told that, sometimes, the impact of recycling paper was worse than the impact if making new, virgin paper from murdered trees, and that dishwashers were, actually, water saving.

And, I have to admit, the anti-environmentalist mind-set that surrounded me forced me into conformity. The word Environmentalist had a very strong negative connotation. It was associated with tree-huggers, Greenpeace boats and weed-smoking, hemp-wearing rasta nuts (not that I think there is anything wrong with these things). So that’s how choosing the Environment made me think like an Engineer, and not like an Environmentalist. An engineer is a manager. Of waste, water, waste water, air emissions and things of the sort but especially of People, all for a not-so-little sum of money. An engineer doesn’t care about the birdies or the fishies. An engineer cares about his job. He cares about having HIS waste collected with the highest possible efficiency, that is, the quickest, cheapest and best. The environment is not an end of itself. It is a quality indicator.

So as an engineer, I learned not to care about the birdies and the fishies, but mostly, learned that one person could not make an impact unless his/her efforts were accompanied by a policy, a campaign and a collective effort. There is no point in doing something yourself, unless everyone else does it too. And that’s why no one ever does anything. We are all waiting for someone else to do it…first.

But now, behold, here is the point of this blog: I have been inspired! I have found all these people on the Internet who WERE actually doing something. Suddenly I felt that I was part of the minority who does nothing, rather than part of the countless people who DO. And those who DO are way cooler than those who don’t (no global warming pun intended).

So, inspired by No Impact Man, among others and, maybe, to some extent, by My Name is Earl (yes, the TV show), I have decided to do something, rather than nothing, to be part of the solution and not part of the pollution. So, I hereby proudly announce to the world, I am coming out of the closet!!! I confess… I am an environmentalist, always have been, even when I thought I wasn’t.

I will report on my struggle to, as No Impact Man puts it, “put my money where my mouth is”. So what’s going to happen? Next, I will define my rules of the game, and see how far I can go to green up my act. I know that so far I have been far from living according to environmentalist ideals, but I am willing to change (and drag my boyfriend along for the ride)..

March 26, 2007 at 2:15 pm 6 comments


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