27 March 2010

Things I've Learned - Earth Hour

Striving for lucidity in between croupy sleepless nights on Seizure Watch 2010 with The Imp, I've been doing a little thinking as Earth Hour approaches. Last year my husband was working on the pilot of The Good Wife, and The Imp was sleeping, so I spent the designated hour alone, in silence, reading by candlelight in the living room. It reminded me of a time when I was a child in Reunion, and a cyclone knocked out the power for a few days. My mom was away, but I vividly remember sitting at our kitchen table with my dad and my little sister reading by candlelight before bedtime.

This year, as Earth Hour draws ever nearer, what comes to mind is not the turning off of lights for a few minutes this evening, but some of the more substantial groping-for-sustainability changes I've made in my life since this time last year:

1) Transportation:  I've been using my car much less, walking, taking transit, and bicycling much more. The bicycling in particular I've enjoyed much more than I thought I would, and The Imp absolutely loves it; so much so that he often insists on wearing his "bicy hemmet" at breakfast.

2) Household cleaning: over the last year we've been moving away from standard (and often toxic) cleaning products and have been using good old vinegar and baking soda as our cleaners of choice. I first tried it in the bathtub "just to see" and was so impressed with how it worked that I haven't used anything else in the bathroom (or the kitchen) since. It's so much less expensive, doesn't leave noxious smells about the place, and I don't feel like I need to rinse the bajeesus out of the tub before we can let The Imp have a bath in it. So we're saving water too: bonus!

3) Re-usable shopping bags: I'm not rock solid on this one yet; I seem to remember the shopping bags as I walk into the store rather than as I leave the house, but we've definitely cut the amount of plastic bags coming into the house by about 80%.

4) Farmers' markets: being a die-hard foodie, I've been a fan of Vancouver's farmers' markets since they started holding them a few years ago. There's nothing quite like fresh in-season produce. But in the last year, I've been even more focused on buying local, in season, and cooking at home. Bringing my own bags and containers to the markets cuts down on the amount of garbage created too. The vendors at the markets are so excited about what they do; the love of good food is infectious. One Saturday last summer as I was buying tomatoes, the man who had picked them that very morning smiled at me and said, "You can still feel the sunshine on them, can't you?" Enchanting!

5) Re-usable coffee cups: my own personal rule, a New Year's 2010 resolution, was that if I forgot to bring my stainless steel cup with me, I was not allowed to get takeout coffee. As a result I've enjoyed some lovely if unintentional "for here" coffees when I did forget my cup. There's something to be said for just slowing things down for 20 minutes and watching the world go by once in a while. The French have that, like many things, absolutely right.

It's no coincidence that many of these changes have come into play after I became a parent. Something about watching your child grow up makes you intensely aware of the world they are inheriting.

1 comment:

  1. You are my cycling inspiration. My daughter just got her first two-wheeler. Once she's mastered that enough to ride it a few kilometers, I'm getting a bike of my own.