Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Write What You Know

by Mother Bumper

The saying goes “write what you know” and that little nugget has been spinning around in my head for days now. When I decided to blog about my spastic attempts at adopting a greener lifestyle, I developed a strange writer’s block centred on what topic to write about in my first post, which is never good. I debated what was the most important topic, which topic did I have the most to write about or what would be the most interesting. It was so confusing. So I stepped back and asked myself “What do I know?” After listening to the crickets for a while, I figured it out. Why don’t I start with explaining where the inspiration to live a greener lifestyle came from? Well that’s easy. My own family of course!

When I was a youngun, my parents set a wonderful example and planted many ideas in my head without being too preachy or too hippy-dippy, not that there is anything wrong with hippies. Anyhow, back in the seventies, curbside recycling wasn’t the norm and the era of mass consumption was going strong (as it still is today). In my house, the seventies were in full effect as demonstrated by our wood paneled, orange, red and yellow rec room décor, blue shag carpets and polyester playsuits but my parents were doing things that are only recently being implemented in some Canadian cities.

As far back as I can remember my Dad composted all our food scraps and other compostables like leaves, garden, and grass clippings. He showed me how to build a composter and turn it so that you get the rich, dark soil that will make your garden look absolutely glorious (like my Dad’s does, year after year). My Mom made it easy by putting the collector in the kitchen and it was emptied outside each night. It became second nature and when I moved into my own apartment, years before composting became a city collection service, I often felt guilty throwing food in the garbage.

We also recycled newspapers by making them into kindling logs. We had two fireplaces and there was nothing better than hanging out in front of the fireplace on a cold winter night.

My parents often bought local produce from the farmer’s markets before it became the hip thing to do in town. Back in those days it was in a dingy hockey rink instead of a trendy downtown location like it is today (not that I don’t enjoy going). They still buy as much local product as possible and know many of the local suppliers by name.

They never preached to us about doing these more earth-friendly actions, instead they demonstrated how easy it is to live that way with little effort. This is exactly what I want to do for Bumper and any future siblings. Husband is of like mind and together we are doing our best to get off our lazy butts and leave a smaller footprint.

With this blog, I want to write posts about the choices I’ve made to make my life greener and cleaner. I’ll discuss such topics as cloth diapers and diaper services, food choices, organics, where I shop, and gardening tips, amongst others. I’m also going to write about the things that don’t go so well and maybe even get some suggestions on how to do things better from you. But I’m warning you: I’m lazy sometimes and time is never on my side but this is important to me so I’m going to do my darn-diddly darndest.


I’ve lived in Toronto for six years and in that time I’ve married, become a mom and tried to improve my impact on the planet by living a more sustainable lifestyle, all done with some success. My background is in IT and I have a degree in Psychology. That either tells you everything or nothing at all.


Mamalooper said...

Would love to hear your thoughts on being green around the house - cleaning products, etc. that is. For us, that is the next step along with trying to minimize plastics.

The food thing I found the easiest. Haven't had much in the way of processed food in years and trying as much as possible to eat organic/local. Eating more seasonally is the next step for us as well.

Finally, thinking a lot about paring down. That part is easy. Where to send/give the pared down bits is harder. For example, I have a number of books to give away but it ain't easy to do so. Trolling the used bookstores is not as feasible with a baby!

Lisa said...

I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas.
I think we can all be a little greener.

I'm also with mamalooper on the cleaning supplies
my cleaning lady loves her paper towels and ajax but I know there are better alternatives.

crazymumma said...

I look forward to hear everything you have to say....I am horrified by the size of our (my family) footprint, and I want to learn so many ways to minimize it. But pleas don't come down heavy on me aboutt the Transam...I barely ever drive it....

Penny said...

My background is in IT and I have a degree in Psychology. That either tells you everything or nothing at all.

Love that! I'm a psych major, too.. my friends all ask.. and I can tell them much and in doing so, tell them a whole bunch of not a lot at all.

Nice to meet you!

something blue said...

I love the approach your parents took. It is such a way of life.

Back in the boonies where I grew up, they still don't have curbside recycling! Isn't that insane? Especially since they were one of the first communities in Canada that had interact banking made available in stores. The higher powers can test out banking in small communities but don't see a need for these cities to recycle. This seems very bizarro land to me.

Bri said...

kudos to your parents for following something we all should be doing when it wasn't so hip at that time.
I try to recycle quite a bit around our house, my other half is still working on that!

Mouse said...

I've recently hit a mental crisis due to the dissonance between my desires to be environmentally conscious and the realities of my life. I loved having the green bin the first place we lived in Toronto (but hated the place itself); now we have a great apartment, but no green bin and composting on the balcony is impractical/not allowed. I recoil everytime I throw green bin items away.

And the chemicals! We're pretty good--though there's plenty of room for improvement--about what we eat and use to clean our bodies and clothes, but some of the newer, more convenient cleaning products have seduced us nonetheless.

Looking forward to what you have to say, since all of this is on my mind a lot!

Her Bad Mother said...

What mamalooper said - I'd love to hear about enviro-friendly (and baby-safe) cleaning products...

Haley-O said...

I'm always trying to live a greener lifestyle. I'm looking forward to your tips! :)

mamatulip said...

I love that this is the subject you've taken on here! I try to do what I can here at home as far as recycling goes, and in the spring I plan to start composting (as opposed to putting out Organic trash at the curb, which is what I'm doing right now), but I know I can do more. Like the first commenter said, I'd like to hear more about greener cleaning supplies. Looking forward to hearing more!

Mother Bumper said...

Wow - I'm so happy for all this feedback. Just to let you all know, I'm currently "testing" (in my own little scientific method applied way) a range of "environmentally friendly" cleaning products that are readily (some more than others) in the Canadian market.

tania (urban_mommy) said...

The part about your post I love most is how bonding it was to your family to do this stuff together, in the same way, say, cooking together can either be a chore or a fun family activity - it's all in how you approach it. I think that many feel living green is a chore, something we should do, something we'd do out of guilt, rather than see it as a way to do things together.
As your family demonstrated, living green doesn't have to be righteous, you don't need to write a family manifesto, it can be simple and relaxing and fun.
Can't wait to hear more.

Ali said...

maybe you want to come over and help me with my recycling?

i was nervous about the green bin...but that seems to be the easiest part. i never know what can be recycled or not...and i'm never near a blue box when i need one.

Lioness said...

Give stuff away is easy. Check the yahoo groups, Freecycle. They are all over the place and have a thriving group in Toronto. You can join them here: