May 27, 2010

green dog

ah yes. a puppy has entered our lives. it is not completely unplanned. we have often talked about it around the dinner table. but i was surprised by how quickly it all really happened! i have always had strong feelings about adopting a pet. we have visited the shelter, and also contacted rescues at different points, but nothing ever quite worked out. until now. friends'(not breeders) dog had puppies, and they needed to be placed in homes. (said mama dog has now been neutered oops spayed.) a puppy answered my condition of chicken-friendliness. or at least chicken-get-along-ness. (they are getting along smashingly!) my current employment situation has me working from home so that was a consideration as well. i have the time to care and train a puppy. so we held a family vote - and welcomed moxie to our family.


and now we are faced with all the accouterments of pet ownership. our choices need to be good for her health and good for our planet.

there seems to be plenty out there for "earth-friendly" pet bedding, feeding bowls, toys, leashes and collars. a google search gives lots of options. we chose to buy local and/or handmade as much as possible. we were very lucky to receive some hand-me-downs from our favourite dogs next door. a carrier was one item checked off our list. a trip to our favourite neighborhood shop, green and greener, provided leash and collar. uncommon goods has some darling chew toys - but we have made a few impromptu chewies with old socks and some organic cotton batting we had on hand. so squeaky - but she seems to like them. i didn't want a plastic bowl, so purchased two small "ferret bowls" at a local pet shop which my husband installed in a fabulous holder.

just for moxie

her bed right now is an old cardboard box with a towel and my youngest's napping blanket - which she generously donated. it isn't a permanent solution - so i ordered a machine-washable felted bed today. i want to make this as well.

and oh yes - the poop. not easily compostable like our chook droppings. i have been doing some reading on hot composting. we will see. and the pee. we aren't investing in pricey training pads since i'm at home but have put down some newspaper when we have to run out on an errand.

and of course there are the myriad of food choices, bath and beauty choices and so on...

here are some other resources I found useful:
Pet food ratings
Natural Resources Defence Council's GreenPaws initiative to get improved Federal protection for chemicals going into pet care products

i know there is much i've missed here - and i am curious - how do you keep your pet keeping green?

May 13, 2010

rechargeable batteries

having a baby monitor finally got me on the path to re-chargeable batteries. i KNOW. what took me so long? honestly it was the initial cost and then all the bad reviews of rechargeables that i read oh so long ago. but battery technology has changed by leaps and bounds - even in the last couple of years.

i broke down and bought an energizer recharger to charge batteries for the baby monitor. i was in line at walgreens - realized the three AAA's in it were about to die soon and i WAS NOT going to just buy more cheap batteries to keep throwing them away [ahem i mean recycle them. luckily where i live it's easy - you just put them in a plastic bag on top of your garbage can and the city recycles them. you can use this site to find a recycling spot for your batteries in the states].

i bought the sort of lame energizer re-charger that i spied amongst all the normal akaline batteries. i say sort of lame because it DOES work - i always have charged AAA batteries when i need them [1.5 weeks is about how long they last with how i use the monitor daily]. the lame part is that plugged in the charger has constant green lights. not green when they are finished charging, or green for a little bit, but green all the time. i leave the charger in the kitchen and since i need the batteries so often i have to admit i pretty much always leave it plugged in [because if i didn't i would forget to charge the batteries. i know this for a fact].

i tell myself that it is functioning as a night light - but i do feel guilty about the vampire drain and wish it shut off when the batteries were charged. but that's too complicated a task for my less than $10 charger. you get what you pay for... but i am happy that i have spared almost year and a half's worth of AAA batteries every 1.5 weeks. [that's 156 batteries if my math is right].

it's definitely time, though, to invest in a whole SET of batteries and a charger. the energizer will do AA's too, but i do have things around the house that need C's and sometimes even D's.... [flashlights, portable radio, the all important bubble making machine that my daughter loves]. i know that we'll probably have toys in our future that will need batteries too.

in my quest for better rechargeables i read this article . and am thus really contemplating the eneloop batteries pictured above. you can find a set of 8 AA's, 2 AAA's, 4 C's and 4 D's for under $40 with shipping. here's a list on amazon . that pays for itself after what only 8 packs of $5 batteries. not bad i think.

apparently this new generation of rechargeables holds their charge longer [even away from the charger] and the charger is smart and won't over charge the batteries. two problems i read over and over in complaints about older NiMH rechargeables. my only complaint is that there isn't a 9Volt option. we have a remote that uses a 9Volt and so i'll have to find an alternative for that.

if you want to read all about different kinds of batteries, how they work, and how long they last - i found this very technical [and yet readable] article.

anyone out there have any great rechargeable experience that they want to share??? i'm all ears. i think i'm going to make my final purchase decision by the end of the month. if anyone cares i'll try and post a post script to this post with my choice[s] and how i feel about them.

May 6, 2010

Mother's Day/ Gulf Oil Spill

This Sunday, May 9th, is Mother's Day in the United States and I would like to give a shout out to all the awesome & amazing mothers out there. There is nothing as challenging and as rewarding as being a mom.
As children we love and take care of our mothers. As a mothers we take care and protect our children at all costs; we give them life & food [see above]. I believe that one of the best ways to take care of our children, and our children's children, is by taking care of the Earth, and it, in turn, will take care of us. Hence the name Mother Earth.
And here I was going to create a list of all the eco-friendly ways to honor our mothers, but in light of the recent catastrophic oil spill I would like to share some suggestions I have found of ways to help.

Please do what you can to minimize the damage to Mother Earth and make her a part of your mother's day celebration.
Cheers and Happy Mother's Day!

May 3, 2010

Brown matter

Did you know that most of the greenhouse gas emissions from landfill is the result of decomposing organic materials, which could easily be reduced by composting garden materials and food scraps? Apparently, about 50% of the waste in the average Australian garbage bin could be diverted from landfill simply by composting or worm farming. I found this out via the International Composting Awareness Week (Australia) website. This week (May 2nd to 8th 2010) is International Composting Awareness Week, and there are events here, there and everywhere (in Australia at least) to help spread awareness of the benefits of composting, and how to do it. This annual week event started in Canada in 1995. I found it quite hard to track down information on events there or in the USA (run by the US Composting Council) although I did find lots of composting links all over the Sates in this pdf.

Our household has been worm farming (or vermicomposting) for a few years now, and although I had noticed a distinct reduction in the amount of stuff that goes into our garbage bin, and appreciated the benefits it provides our back yard veggie patch, I hadn't realised that we were also doing our bit for greenhouse gas minimisation. Every little bit counts. If you don't have your own worm farm yet, take a read of Catherine's information packed post about it from earlier this year, or have a think about setting up a Bokashi compost system inside your home.

Now that our garden has taken shape and we have a small lawn to mow, and more plants to prune, I've realised that our worm farm can't cope with all of our decomposable waste. I've been telling myself for the last 18 months that we don't have space for a compost heap, but in the interests of reducing our waste further, and improving our garden's productivity, we're reconsidering some of the corners of the garden where things don't grow so well, and looking at whether we can set one up. There's a great article on "Building Compost Bays" article in the May/June 2010 issue of Organic Gardener magazine, although with rats present in our neighbourhood I think we might need to opt for something a little more compact.