Monthly Archives: August 2012

striving for zero waste: cheap and eco-cheerful at Granville Island

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There are only two more weeks left in summer vacation before it’s back to school time for the kids.  We had a summer meltdown yesterday at our house – I had to listen to my seven year old complain about how the park was soooo boring and how he had already been there twenty times this month (not an exaggeration).  However, we persevered and hit the park under the Cambie Bridge – so cool and shady under there, we stayed for three hours while the boys played on the playground equipment, played a little ball hockey, and chased some bubbles around.  I hardly wanted to leave, it was so breezy and relaxing.  I promised my oldest we would do something a little different today and offered to take the kids to the water park at Granville Island.

Before we headed out this morning, I packed my trusty stainless steel Tiffin lunchbox (from To-Go Ware) so that we could have a zero-waste picnic lunch at the park. I highly recommend getting one of these lunch containers – they are durable and long-lasting and will more than pay for themselves even though they are a lot pricier than other comparable plastic lunch boxes.  I bought my two-tier Tiffin at Choices Market for $20 just last week, and I have used it every day since I got it.

I am having a small love affair with my stainless steel Tiffin. I highly recommend you get one if you are in the market for something to carry your food around in. Also an awesome idea for restaurant take-out!

The water playground at Granville Island is awesome, complete with a ton of sprayers and even a small waterslide (get there early because the line-ups for the slide are ginormous!).  Another cool thing about this park is that since it is run by the City of Vancouver, it is free.  So you can go for a short while and not feel guilty that it cost you an arm and a leg for admission, because, it’s FREE!  The kids had fun running around for an hour or so, then decided there were too cold (how does that happen on a hot, sunny summer day?) so they changed and we headed indoors.  Before heading inside, we had our lunch/snack outside on the benches next to the water park.

Granville Island water park (photo courtesy of RuthandDave on Flickr)

After their snack, the kids asked if we could go to the Kid’s Market.  That place is a parent’s worst nightmare.  There are tons of shops, all geared toward novelty gift items and toys, and a lot of it is plastic.  I overheard one mom say to her kids today, “Mom is such an amazing shopper!  I have spent hundreds of dollars in here in the last few minutes!”  Surely something to be proud of.  My oldest promised that he just wanted to go look, but I did get quite a few requests to buy toys while we checked out some of the stores – his birthday is tomorrow and he is having a hard time deciding what he would like for a gift, and so he continues to ask for most everything that catches his eye.  In the end, we didn’t end up buying anything at the Kid’s Market but had tons of fun looking at all the toys.

On our way out I stopped in at Paper-Ya.  Paper-Ya is located in the Net Loft building at Granville Island and is home to a plethora of beautiful paper and stationery products.  I have been thinking about buying some washi tape (which is essentially decorated paper masking tape) to use for gift wrapping and an upcoming birthday party celebration – I was in luck at Paper-Ya!  I found they have a small selection of beautiful washi tape.  It’s not cheap, but it’s not plastic either.  I’ll be using it to wrap a gift for a friend and anticipate the couple of rolls I purchased will last for years.

Pretty washi tape (photo courtesy of Paper-Ya)

As we headed back to the dock to catch the Aquabus, my kids reminded me that I had promised them a treat – gelato!  I had planned to take the Aquabus back over False Creek to the downtown side where there is a little Italian cafe located a the foot of Hornby St that sells, among other things, ice cream.  But as we approached the dock, there was a sign pointing us around the corner to GI Gelato & Coffee where they make homemade gelato on site!  I bought two cones for the kids and had a few bites of theirs – I highly recommend the Lemon Lime Zest gelato!  Yum.  If you order your gelato in a cone instead of a paper cup, you can avoid having to use those adorable (but useless) little plastic spoons that you find at most gelato spots.

Yummy gelato offerings at GI Gelato & Coffee (photo courtesy of dinehere.ca)

All in all, it was an enjoyable morning and we are home now relaxing in the cool of our small launchpad apartment.  I’m sure will be heading out again later today to enjoy some more summer weather, and striving for zer0-waste then too!  We’ve become a lot more conscious with our consumption habits (which is essential for both aspiring minimalists and those striving for less waste) and although we have still managed to accumulate two more bags of plastic for the documentary we are participating in, I have hope that if we stay the course and not buying replacements for the plastic that is leaving our home that we will be in good shape.  Great shape, in fact.

Do you aspire to reduce your consumption footprint and is zero-waste a goal for you or your family?  I love to hear how others are doing in their journey toward zero-waste, so leave me a comment and let me know how you’re doing!

lolla-spore-looza 2012: otherwise known as involuntary decluttering

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I started to move a few things around in my bedroom closet yesterday afternoon.  I plucked a few of my husband’s suit jackets from the hanging rack at the back of our closet and that’s when I noticed… his arms of his wool suit jackets were covered in mold.  MOULD!  Lots of SPORE-covered MOULD laced the arms of his jackets where they touched the back wall of the closet.

Damn Vancouver rainy season that lasts ten months.  Damn Vancouver condos that are sealed up so tight nothing can breathe.  Damn mouldy-mould that likes to grow in damp, cool, airless conditions.  Damn damn damn.

I’ve not been paying too close attention to our level of stuff lately, probably because we haven’t been accumulating much and things are as minimal as they’ve ever been (unless you open the hall closet, then: look out).  We’ve been continuing to collect our plastic waste in our bathtub, which sure serves as a great reminder to limit unnecessary consumption, but we’ve not been living an austere life.  We’ve been enjoying the summer weather, and have spent time travelling within our beautiful province, hitting the beach, visiting our local parks and even frequenting touristy venues for which we have memberships.  All in all, it’s been a great summer.

So perhaps the time was right for the mould to take hold.  My husband had not been wearing any of his jackets during the spring and summer months.  I’d been ignoring the last few bins of stuff hiding on the closet floor.

But let me tell you, discovering that mould was like lighting a fire under my ass.

I spent a few hours last night throwing mold-ridden clothing away and salvaging two suit jackets of my husbands that just had a tiny amount of moldy dust on them from the other jackets that were harder hit.  Then I felt the urge to purge.  I purged an additional two large garbage bags of clothing in good condition (most  of it was from the kids’ closet, which is in a separate room) and took it all to donation this morning.  I feel better, but still icky.

The thought of mold in our house was enough for me to consider for a fleeting moment a desire to get rid of everything.  My husband’s reaction to having to throw away hundreds of dollars in mould-covered clothing was telling – he asked if anything could be saved and we threw the rest away without a moment’s thought.  As soon as we knew that mould was involved, it took us half a second to make the decision to part with the stuff.

Why don’t those impulses fire as quickly when there’s not an immediate threat?  Why do we wait until there’s a crisis to deal with something?  The decision is much easier then, I suppose.

I’m grateful that this incident was limited to a few wool jackets.  I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse, and I’m so thankful we caught this problem while it was still small.  We’ll be painting the back wall of our closet with mould resistant paint and see what happens.  What we won’t be doing is replacing any of my husband’s lost clothing – he’ll be wearing the two remaining jackets in his closet, because two jackets are enough.  Minimalism for the win!

Have you ever struggled with mould in your home?  I know it’s not a savoury topic, but comments are welcome!